Is Your Baby’s Crib Exposing Them to Toxins? Here’s What You Need to Know
During the first days of their life, your baby will need a total of 14-17 hours of sleep a day. (That’s around 1260 hours of sleep before your little one even reaches the 3 month mark!). Which is why for parents seeking out the right baby crib, non-toxic options go straight to the top of the “must-get” list.
Because if your baby is going to spend more hours a day asleep than they spend awake…it’s important to have a crib or co-sleeper that checks off all the right safety boxes for you and your family.
So what certifications do you need to look out for when seeking out a crib or co-sleeper that your baby can call their happy, snuggling place for the first sleep-filled months of their life? And what chemicals come with the biggest warning signs for newborns?
But First: Why Do the Materials of Your Baby’s Crib Matter So Much?
We know you want the best for your baby. That’s why you’re on this page: making it a point to research the products that your baby will frequently come into contact with during their first days (and throughout their life).
As you decide on the sleep environment that’s best for your family, there’s something you should know: not all cribs/bassinets/co-sleepers are made alike. Without knowing what safety certifications and materials to choose, you run the risk of opting for a sleeper that is made with toxic materials which can pose a short-term or long-term threat to your baby’s health.
Certain paints, glues, woods, and plastics can emit harmful chemicals and gasses known to cause cognitive delays, chronic health issues such as allergies, asthma, kidney failure, cancer, and more.
In fact, one study found that infants are exposed to high levels of chemical emissions through their continued contact with crib mattresses. Especially since body heat can increase the emissions your baby is exposed to as they sleep.
Though it’s not uncommon for household products — like new laminate flooring or fresh paint — to emit VOCs, there’s one big difference between these products releasing emissions and your baby’s crib releasing emissions:
Because of your little one’s 14-17 hours a day sleep schedule, they aren’t just exposed to these VOCs for a limited time. They’re exposed to these VOCs all the time.
That’s why getting a mattress and baby crib that you feel confident in is such an important part of prepping for your little one’s arrival.
Crib Safety Standards: What You Should Know
It’s kind of hard to believe, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission (or CPSC: the branch of the United States government responsible for keeping people safe when it comes to the products they buy) didn’t even set a universal safety standard for baby cribs until 2011.
Before then, baby crib production was kind of like the wild, wild west. Manufacturers would set their own policies about what materials they would — and would not — use in their products (with mixed degrees of care for how certain materials would affect your little one long-term).
There were such big differences in how manufacturers chose to construct their cribs (and with what materials) that the Consumer Product Safety Commission now considers antique baby cribs one of their “Most Wanted” and most risky products.
But still to this day, the CPSC is far more focused on how to construct safe cribs than they are on how to get manufacturers to choose non-toxic materials.
Meaning that crib manufacturers are still largely not held to a higher standard when it comes to seeking baby cribs that are non-toxic for your little one. Leaving it to you to seek out crib or co-sleeper manufacturers that hold a higher standard by being fully committed to protecting you and your little one from things like VOCs.
Safety Certifications That Indicate a Non-Toxic Baby Crib
Certain organizations have taken it upon themselves to hold crib manufacturers to a higher standard. In response, certain crib manufacturers have stepped up to the plate to match — or even exceed — these standards. By offering your baby the healthiest products on the market.
The standards listed below are frequently updated to adapt to changes in the market, especially as new technology becomes available to make higher safety standards even more possible. They offer a guide of what certifications to look for when shopping for the healthiest and most non-toxic crib options for your baby.
✔ ASTM International (Formerly the American Society for Testing Materials)
ASTM International was founded 125 years ago with one goal: to make sure that products are made more safely, more frequently.
As the story goes, the organization was first formed by a team of scientists and engineers who were tired with railroad tracks breaking and endangering consumers. In an effort to build consumer confidence and safety, they came together to form what has now become one of the biggest global organizations for holding products to a higher standard.
Their extensive standards (developed by 150 committees made up of international experts in their field) focus on the structural safety of a product — how it’s built, it’s ability to maintain safety with normal wear and tear, the safety of the materials used, the toxins used in finishes, and far more.
When you see this certification symbol in baby cribs or co-sleepers promising to be non-toxic (the way that babybay leads the market by proudly putting all its non-toxic co-sleepers to the ASTM test), you can be confident that you’re choosing a crib for your little one where safety takes center stage.
✔ OEKO-TEX STANDARD 100
The OEKO-TEX Standard 100 label guarantees that each and every material used in the process of making a product is 100% safe for your baby.
That covers all the materials used in the production of your baby crib: non-toxic threads and non-toxic buttons. Non-toxic finishes and non-toxic mattresses.
If there’s an OEKO-TEX certification on your baby’s crib, it means the manufacturer has carefully considered it all — and left no safety box unchecked.
Arguably the most rigorous testing criteria of them all, OEKO-TEX searches for both regulated and non-regulated substances, going beyond national and international requirements to cover every possible concern that could affect your baby’s health. (In other terms: its testing criteria goes well beyond the standards set by organizations like the CPSC).
What Makes a Baby Crib Non-Toxic? (And What Red Flags Say “Stay Away”?)
Certain chemicals in common consumer products get plenty of press. And others are flying under the radar, playing a lead role in your baby’s crib manufacturing while not getting talked about enough.
If you’re on the hunt for a baby crib or co-sleeper that truly taxes being non-toxic seriously (the way that safety-focused manufacturer babybay does), these are the chemicals and products that your crib should be free from:
🚫 VOCs – Volatile Organic Compounds
VOCs are gasses emitted from certain woods, glues, and paint finishes. On items kept indoors, they can be up to 10x more harmful: especially to babies.
Because they spend most of their day sleeping — while continuing to breathe these VOCs in. They’re also still developing in body and mind, which makes them far more likely to be affected by the presence of VOCs than adults will be.
What qualifies as a VOC? Formaldehyde, benzene, phenol, phthalates, and a slew of other gasses that are hard to pronounce. Whatever the name (and the ease of pronunciation), one thing is clear: there’s no reason to want them anywhere near your baby.
When chronic exposure to VOCs occurs, it can cause respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, impaired memory, and visual disorders in the short term. In the long-term, VOCs have been associated with damage to the nervous system, kidney, and liver. As well as greater risks of cancer.
How to avoid:
If your crib has been manufactured with glues, plastics, or adhesives it’s best to look for a “NO VOC” label, or one of the higher-standard safety certifications listed above.
🚫 PVC and Phthalates
PVC and phthalates are often found in soft plastics or as an additive that gives fragrance to products. If a product you’re using smells artificial: it probably is. PVCs and Phthalates are known for making allergies worse in children.
In one global study, phthalates were shown to increase the risk of asthma and eczema. With some even claiming that they can affect a child’s behavior and development over time.
How to avoid:
Choose phthalate-free products when you can, looking at the labels for indication of whether they’ve set a higher standard for keeping your baby from being exposed.
🚫 BPA and BPS
BPA and BPS are often used in the making of clear hard plastics. They have been shown to affect the brain and prostate gland in infants and children, though some claim that these chemicals can affect behavior patterns as well.
How to avoid:
BPA, in particular, is often found in the lining of canned goods across the United States. Looking for canned goods that have been packaged BPA-free can help limit exposure.
Most manufacturers have switched to BPA-free options when it comes to things like water bottles for your children. But it’s still recommended that you seek out glass alternatives if you’d like to limit exposure to BPA and BPS.
🚫 Flame Retardant Chemicals:
Baby products like cribs and mattresses have a long and complicated history with flame retardants. In the 1970s, flame retardants started being added to commercial products in an effort to meet flammability standards.
Fast forward a few decades and several studies have concluded that flame retardants can build up in the tissues to cause cancer, disrupt hormones, and lead to neurodevelopment changes in children.
In a shocking move, one study reported that brominated flame retardants now contribute more to I.Q. loss and intellectual disability than lead.
How to avoid:
The easiest and most effective way to avoid flame retardants is simply to seek out products that don’t use them. Look for baby product manufacturers that proudly declare “no flame retardants” or “flame retardant free.” To keep full confidence that the products your baby is playing, growing, smiling in don’t come with unwanted chemicals in tow.
What about wood? Is that a better baby crib non-toxic option?
This may come as a shock, but not all types of wood are equally safe for babies and children. When it comes to selecting wooden cribs, wooden furniture, or wooden toys that do take top marks for safety, there are two main things to consider:
1). The type of wood used
2). The type of finishes used
Type of wood
Woods that splinter easily are never good options for babies and children, since they can lead to accidental injury over time. When looking for wooden cribs or wooden furniture for your little one, always opt for solid hardwoods. If you need a handy guide of what classifies as hard vs. soft wood, look out for these types as you shop:
Type of finishes
When crib manufacturers choose to use solid softwood or other cheap materials like particleboard and plywood, they’ll often turn to glues and hard adhesive materials to keep them together.
Water-based paints are the only non-VOC emitting paints available on the market.
Though water-based glues and water-based finishes are available, many crib manufacturers choose not to jump through the hoops it takes to replace the more chemically-dense adhesive materials that are still common.
The more toxic alternatives to water-based finishes are likely to include VOCs or other toxins, particularly formaldehyde. That’s why it’s so important to seek out a baby crib crafted by a company that is fully committed to being non-toxic.
So..what’s the best non-toxic baby crib on the market?
In a study in 2014, the Center for Environmental Health found that over half the biggest names in the baby product market are still using harmful flame retardants in their products. And though over a decade has passed since this research came out, the lack of regulation around many chemicals still leads manufacturers to craft cribs and co-sleepers with cheaper materials and more toxic options.
babybay is the ONLY eco-friendly, fully non-toxic, fully attachable co-sleeper on the market. And we’re not keeping that hidden.
Because we believe that when it comes to your family, you should have confidence in the crib that your baby is sleeping in.
What Is Babybay All About?
babybay offers a line of all-natural, sustainably sourced, eco-friendly bedside sleepers to promote a healthy sleep environment for your newborn. Unlike other co-sleepers and cribs on the market, babybay uses no plastics or harmful glues. All finishes are low to zero VOC and certified non-toxic.
Each babybay is expertly engineered and crafted using non-toxic materials:
- 100% natural beechwood
- Water-based wood glue
- Water-based finishes without VOCs
- Metal hardware, made without heavy metals such as lead or cadmium
- No medium-density fiberboard, fillers, or artificial materials. Ever.
When you want the safest option when it comes to your baby’s crib, non-toxic solutions like the babybay bedside sleeper take the guesswork out of safe sleep. Ready to see more about what babybay is about?