If you’re an expecting parent, then you’re probably having a blast buying all the new furniture for your baby. We know how much fun it can be choosing a brand new crib for your little one, and how much all expecting parents enjoy decorating their nursery.

Parents tend to look for the most comfortable pieces of furniture that would help their baby sleep through the night. While this is perfectly understandable, you shouldn’t just consider comfort over other matters.

In this article, we will tell you exactly what kind of toxins are most commonly found in baby furniture, and why they are so harmful. In the end, you will see why you need to be careful when choosing furniture for your nursery.

Dangerous toxins in baby furniture

Astounding as it may sound, you can find most of the toxins we’re about to mention in plenty of baby furniture and toys. If you are about to give birth to your firstborn, then you may not have paid attention to the labels. But don’t worry, we’ll tell you all you need to know.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) 

The first toxin we will discuss is Polyvinyl Chloride or PVC. This is a synthetic plastic polymer that can be found in most soft children’s products. The upholstery in your child’s crib and the toys you’ve bought for it most likely contain this harmful toxin. What’s even more distressing is the fact that other harmful chemicals are usually added to the mix in order to make the PVC softer and more comfortable. This includes such chemicals as cadmium, lead, and phthalates. Namely, phthalates are a common ingredient in wood varnishes, vinyl, and lacquers.

There haven’t been many studies on how these toxins directly affect a child’s health, but we’re betting you don’t want to risk putting your baby in any danger.

If you want to avoid buying products that contain PVC, you need to buy products with labels that say they are certified PVC-free. Luckily, many toy companies have banned the use of this toxin in their products, so you shouldn’t have a hard time finding the right products. Be especially mindful when you’re purchasing products such as teething rings and soft plastic toys. Don’t be afraid to ask about each product. 

Mercury causes several different problems

Now, this next toxin isn’t one that you can find in toys and furniture. Namely, mercury is most commonly found in fluorescent lamps, small appliances, batteries, and of course – thermometers. However, did you know that there is also a healthy dose of mercury in some types of paint?

If you’re planning on re-painting the nursery for your newborn, then you should first check the label on the paint can before purchasing it.

This toxin can cause a number of problems, especially when it comes to learning and concentration. Furthermore, mercury can cause irritability, tremors, impaired memory, as well as visual and mental problems.  In some cases, it can cause drowsiness, and in others, it can cause sleep disturbances.

Overall, mercury is a pretty harmful toxin that you need to keep out of your nursery at all costs.

Lead can be found anywhere in your home

You can basically find this type of heavy metal in all sorts of items throughout your home. First of all, you can find it in children’s toys, which we’ve previously mentioned. Every parent wants to shower their baby with as many toys as possible. But, you need to be careful before dropping that cute teddy bear into your shopping cart. Always check the product label first.

Just consider this: lead is harmful to everyone, no matter how old they are. But, newborn babies are exceptionally delicate, and their small bodies make them especially sensitive to this toxin. They are prone to easily absorbing and retaining lead.

Another place where you can find lead is in tap water. For that reason, you should completely avoid letting your child drink tap water.

Some other products that contain lead are batteries, ceramics, paint, and pipes. Unfortunately, even if you do shelter your child from this harmful toxin as much as you possibly can, it will still be exposed to it through dust particles.

However, there are some ways you can at least minimize the exposure to lead:

  1. Before using water from the tap to clean your baby’s bottle or pacifier, flush out your pipes. Wait until the water is as cold as possible, and then you can use it.
  2. When you start cooking food for your baby, you should remember to never use hot water from the tap. Instead, always use cold water.
  3. Wash your child’s toys as often as possible.
  4. If you’ve already painted the nursery, but you later noticed that it contains lead, cover up the walls with wallpaper.
  5. Dust the nursery frequently, since lead can be found in dust particles.

If you’re still afraid that your home contains high levels of this toxin, you can also buy a home lead test. Lead can cause the following problems: headaches, behavioral problems, fatigue, weight loss, constipation, muscle, and joint weakness, etc. The bottom line is — you can never be too cautious.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) can cause long and short-term health problems

If you’re not sure what Volatile Organic Compounds are — they are a wide scope of chemicals that radiate as gases from specific liquids or solids. Unfortunately, there is a high level of VOCs in most cribs. Before you purchase a crib, check the type of finish that was used on it. Namely, check to see if there is any Formaldehyde. This VOC is one of the most dangerous ones out there as it can cause short-term, as well as long-term health problems.

Furthermore, you should know that small amounts of formaldehyde can also be found in baby baths and shampoo products. That’s why it’s extremely important to check the labels before purchasing a product.

As for avoiding this VOC in furniture; the best way to do so is to completely avoid buying pressed-wood furniture. You should check the label for products marked U.L.E.F. (ultra-low-emitting formaldehyde) or N.A.F. (no added formaldehyde).

The non-toxic alternatives

Now that we’ve listed the most common toxins found in baby furniture, it’s time to tell you something that will ease your mind: there are plenty of non-toxic alternatives you can purchase.

Formaldehyde-free baby furniture

Prior to the 80’s, almost all furniture was bound with a formaldehyde-based glue. But after that, furniture manufacturers have significantly reduced the amount of formaldehyde in their products. Even better, nowadays you can find baby furniture bound with non-toxic glue.

However, if you’re not sure how you can avoid furniture containing formaldehyde, here are a few tips on what to look for.

Solid hardwood cribs

One of the best non-toxic crib materials is solid hardwood. In case you’re not sure what type of hardwood to look for, here are some of your best options:

  • Brown maple hardwood
  • Walnut hardwood
  • Cherry hardwood
  • Maple hardwood
  • Solid oak hardwood (if it’s 100%)

Cribs without a toxic finish

Remember that any finish that doesn’t have a VOC-free label is toxic. You need to completely avoid buying a crib that has a chemical finish. Sealants, varnishes, and stains all have toxic chemicals, as do water-based finishes. That’s why it’s best to completely avoid cribs with the aforementioned finishes.

You should look for a crib that has a linseed/flaxseed oil finish. This finish is extracted without the use of any chemical solvents, and it’s also petroleum-free and has zero VOC.

Composite woods are toxic

Plywood, veneers, engineered woods, particle board, and other similar woods contain toxic chemicals. Moreover, these chemicals turn into vapors that are completely invisible to us, so we freely breathe them in. While you may not suffer any consequences from breathing in these substances, your baby is far more fragile and could suffer from dangerous health problems.

Also, don’t forget that babies like to use the top of the crib rail as a chewing toy.

Cribs assembled with nails

Look for a crib that’s assembled with nails, and not glue. A crib needs to be well put together, meaning that if it’s assembled with glue, it needs an enormous amount of it in order to hold together. Since glue contains a bunch of harsh chemicals, this one is a no-brainer.


Since your baby will spend most of its first year sleeping in its crib, that means it will breathe in everything that exudes from the mattress. Find a bedding made from chemical-free fibers, so your baby can safely lay its head on the mattress.

Additional tips

Now, we know that the main topic of discussion is furniture. However, your baby is bound to spend a lot of time on the floor, once it starts crawling. That’s why it’s important to keep the floor in your nursery bare or cover it with one of the following types of carpeting:

  • Wool carpeting
  • Synthetic carpeting
  • Cotton carpeting

You can also opt for a cork floor, which is soft enough for your baby to safely crawl on.

Final thoughts

Hopefully, we’ve provided you with information that can help you find the perfect furniture for your nursery. Bear in mind, your baby will lick, chew and eat anything around, which could cause severe health issues. Obviously, you cannot shelter your infant from absolutely every harmful substance in the world, providing it with non-toxic baby furniture is a good start. 

Check every label and ask the seller a million questions if needed. Only purchase the furniture piece once you’re 100% sure that it’s completely non-toxic.

Remember that finding the perfect crib for your newborn baby goes far beyond appearance. It’s a matter of finding one that contains as little harmful materials and substances as possible. And, keep in mind that less is more. Your new born doesn’t need a lot so it’s better in invest in the bigger items and just gather things along the way.