Most Cribs Are Toxic, But There Are Safe Alternatives!

February 22, 2012

Recall: Dutalier Drop-Side Cribs

Toxins Where Your Baby Sleeps?

When my husband and I shopped for a crib, in 2009, we were shocked to learn that the government does not adequately regulate some aspects of the safety of cribs. The government is obviously making efforts to regulate the structural aspects of cribs so that children will no longer become trapped under drop rails and such, thank goodness. However, despite much scientific evidence that off-gassing of chemicals known as volitile organic compounds (VOCs), from furniture, plays a part in the development of disorders such as asthma, cancer, immune dysfunction, and infertility (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), the government has not issued regulations in this arena. Furthermore, the current federal limits regarding heavy metals, such as lead, cadmium, and bromine, in coatings on children’s furniture are considered too permissive by experts. California and Illinois have taken the initiative to legislate a lower levels for lead for their states, but until all states or the federal government follow suit it is up to parents to protect our children the best we can.

What are VOCs?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Introduction to Indoor Air-Quality,” the term “VOCs” refers to a wide range of chemicals that are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. Many consumer products release VOCs. VOCs are associated with both short- and long-term health problems, and the concentrations of VOCs in the air we breathe (and present on surfaces) is typically higher indoors than it is outdoors.

VOCs are Emitted From Solid Furnishings

When it comes to hard furniture like cribs, the levels of VOCs emitted is dependent upon the type of wood and the type of finish. I use the term “wood” loosely throughout this post. Formaldehyde, a VOC with enormous health-risks is the most talked about VOC when it comes to wood, but there are many others. Although all wood has a small amount of formaldehyde, press-wood (a.k.a., composite, fiberboard, MDF, veneer, OSB, and some types of plywood) is known to release much higher levels of VOCs than natural, solid wood. This is because manufactured wood is largely composed of resins and glues that are teaming with VOCs.

In 2007, the California Air Resources Board issued limits on the levels of formaldehyde emissions from press-board products sold, used, or manufactured in the state of California. The Air Toxic Control Measure (ATCM) standards they enacted took effect in two Phases, with the strictest phase, Phase 2, beginning in 2010. In July 2010, President Obama signed the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act into law, which is set to bring federal standards up to California standards by January 1, 2013. These measures are steps in the right direction, but studies show that press-board also emits benzene (a known developmental toxin and carcinogen) and toluene (a known developmental toxin, reproductive toxin, and neurotoxin). Furthermore, the replacements for formaldehyde that have been used since the CARB guidelines were enacted, such as isocyanates, are also known to cause asthma, pneumonitis, and cancer. Therefore, even press-board products that claim to be CARB Phase 2 compliant are not anywhere near as safe as good-old-fashioned solid wood with a safe finish. However, when buying solid wood cribs, make sure to verify that any glues that were used are at least water-based and VOC-free, and preferably natural or even organic.

VOCs in the Finishes–We Wouldn’t Want the Lead to Be Lonely

In addition to concerns with lead, cadmium, and other toxins being present on the surface of painted, stained, and varnished furniture, VOCs are also a concern. Paints, varnishes, and stains applied to wood furniture can also emit large amounts of VOCs, regardless of the exact type of wood underneath. Low- and no-VOC finishes are available in the present day, but very few manufacturers are using them. If the manufacturer does not boast about using a low-VOC or no-VOC finish, then you can assume it is full of VOCs. Lower VOC coatings are typically more expensive, so if a manufacturer is using it, they are going to make it known . . . and typically reflected in the purchase price of the product.

Often, when buying children’s furniture, you will see manufacturers say that their finishes are “non-toxic.” Unfortunately, this simply means that the finish adheres to federal safety standards for coatings. However, those standards are not protecting us from VOCs, nor are they protecting us adequately from heavy metals and other harmful substances. In many cases, the federal standards tolerate levels of heavy metals and other known toxins (many of which are carcinogens) that scientists believe are far too high to be safe with repeated exposures.

Another claim manufacturers like to make, in addition to “non-toxic,” is that their finishes are “water-based.” Although water-based is preferable to petroleum-based (petroleum based products are often heavily contaminated with heavy metals), water-based coatings can still contain carcinogens and heavy metals, and emit large amounts of VOCs.

When you decide to begin protecting your family from toxins, you will quickly learn that calling manufacturers needs to become a part of your purchases.  A family who trusts labels to reveal pros and cons of a product is a family who will be exposed to mountains of poisons.  When you call manufacturers to inquire about their finishes, beware of customer service agents who think that their finishes would have to be at least low-VOC or the government would not have allowed them.  I run into this type of customer service agent all the time.  They assume that their superiors would not make an unsafe product for children, so they say what they think they have to say to reassure you.  They read “meets all federal standards” in their handbook and they think that this means that the answer to any and all questions callers may ask is, “it is absolutely safe.”  Wrong!  Ask to speak with someone on the technical side of things and get the name of the finish manufacturer so you can do your own research.

Even if a furniture finish claims to be VOC free, it can still have unacceptable levels of heavy metals, so be sure to ask the manufacturer about their testing protocols for heavy metals before being sold on a crib with a truly VOC-free coating.  As far as the lead and other metals go, ask for the actual testing results, broken down by toxin, and compare the lead levels to California and Illinois levels.  Passing the federal lead standard is not necessarily safe.  Actually, according to scientists, there is no safe exposure level for lead.  Yet another argument for finishing the crib yourself with a food-grade product.  If you are opposed to finishing a crib yourself, see below for a ready-finished solution.  At the very least, ensure that the manufacturer is testing the finishes on each of their production runs.  You do not want to end up with a crib finished with an exceptionally contaminated batch of paint, stain, or varnish.  The only way for a children’s furniture manufacturer to prevent such a situation is for them to test each production run, preferably using a third-party lab.  This is especially crucial for cribs, since many children, like mine, like to gnaw on their crib when they cut teeth.  I am a very light sleeper, so if my child found a way to quietly teeth on her crib rail while I was sleeping, trust me, it can happen to you!  If I ever buy another crib, the only finish it will have on it is one I apply myself with a food-grade product!

There Are a Few Non-Toxic Cribs Out There!

A great option for a non-toxic crib is made by Pacific Rim. It is 100% solid maple and the finish consists of food-grade tung oil and beeswax. These cribs cost around $800, and do have an optional rail to convert them to toddler beds. Pacific Rim also makes other types of furniture you may want for your nursery. One caution though, I have seen Pacific Rim furniture for sale with Varithane used as a part of the finishing, so if you decide to buy Pacific Rim furniture make sure to state that you do not want any polyurethane in your finish. I have also read that the manufacturer will sell their cribs unfinished if the customer desires. I would also double check on the construction of the mattress platform.  If they are using fiberboard when you inquire, then you will probably want one of the cribs from the manufacturer mentioned below instead.  There is typically a 5-6 week wait for this crib, so order early.

In comparing prices for the Pacific Rim crib across the internet, I recently discovered a California merchant called GreenCradle, who offers a wide selection of cribs that are truly non-toxic. Aside from the Pacific Rim crib, the rest of GreenCradle’s cribs seem to be exclusive to GreenCradle. They have a nice selection–most builders of non-toxic cribs offer only a single style. Their cribs are all 100% solid wood and made in the USA. The only finish product used on GreenCradle’s cribs is food-grade Linseed Oil, (a.k.a., Flaxseed Oil, as in the stuff you can buy in pill form in the supplement aisle). GreenCradle states that their Linseed Oil is extracted without use of solvents or heavy metals, and is free of petroleum and other chemicals. It emits no VOCs and is also made in America. GreenCradle’s cribs start at $845, and many have optional conversion kits so the crib parts can later be used as a toddler bed and as a headboard for a larger bed. This brand seems worth every penny–especially since their cribs can be used indefinitely as headboards. The product descriptions on this seller’s site make it clear that they are well-researched and have child safety at the forefront of their minds.

As far as an ideal brand sold at brick-and-mortar stores, I have to say that the only one that I have found that comes close to Pacific Rim and GreenCradle is Romina. Romina states that their finishes are water-based, free of lead, VOC, formaldehyde, and “other toxic emanations.” Romina cribs are solid wood and they use only “organic glue.” Romina cribs are priced from $800-$1200 and are typically available at specialty children’s furniture stores.  However, I would not even buy a crib from Romina without grilling them regarding testing data for their finishes.

What if I Do Not Have $800 to Spend, but I Still Want a Safer Crib?

If you do not have $800 to spend on a 100% responsibly manufactured and finished crib, do not despair. There are several options that are much safer than the vast majority of cribs out there. I like simple designs, so here is my favorite: Ikea sells a solid beech wood crib, called the Sniglar, unfinished, for $69.99! At that price you can definitely afford the gas to drive to an Ikea (relatively) near you! Simply finish the crib with a food-grade linseed oil or food-grade tung oil and you have a largely, solid wood crib with a safe finish. (Do not slather just any linseed oil or tung oil on your furniture!  There is some deceiving marketing with these products.  I will be posting soon regarding non-toxic wood-finishing and will give product recommendations at that time.)  The platform that holds the mattress in the Sniglar is made of pressboard, but this is still much preferable to an entire crib made of press-board. Typically to avoid a press-board mattress platform you have to spend quite a bit of money, and even then it is rare to have a metal platform.  As for the type of glue used, if any, on the Sniglar, you would have to call Ikea.  However, even if they are not using a safe glue, the Sniglar crib is world’s safer than 99% of the cribs out there.

If you do buy a crib with a press-board mattress platform, you can leave the platform in your garage or on a covered porch for a few months so it will not off-gas into the air in your house. You could also attempt to cover both sides and all edges completely with a VOC-free paint or sealer to attempt to seal the VOCs in the press-board. However, I have read that not all paints and sealers have the ability to lock in the VOCs, and I do not know whether there is a safe paint/sealer that has this ability. If you do decide to attempt to paint or seal the press-board to seal in VOCs, you should still allow the board to air out in your garage or on a covered porch, after applying the coating, for a few months before the baby is born. I have also heard of people wrapping the mattress platform in polyethylene or polypropylene sheeting to serve as a vapor barrier (it is now rather easy to find an inexpensive PEVA shower curtain with which you could do this job–do NOT use a vinyl shower curtain). I assume you would just wrap the board like a gift and seal tightly with packing tape on the botom of the board, but sometimes packing tape smells like it releases VOCs of its own. I have also heard that it is possible to buy a sheet of high-quality hardwood plywood, and cut it to fit as a replacement for the fiberboard.  Columbia Forest Products Purebond Plywood, made with a safer, very low emission, soy-based glue.  Purebond plywood is now available at Home Depot and comes in a variety of thicknesses, so replacing to the same thickness as what came with your crib should be relatively easy.

Another option for a finish-it-yourself solid wood crib is Angelline’s Della 3-in-1 convertible crib, which costs $355, including both shipping and the rail needed to convert it to a toddler bed. Since some of the surfaces on this crib are quite large, I would verify with the manufacturer that there are no composites used prior to purchasing. I cannot find any information regarding the construction of the mattress platform, so you would have to call the manufacturer.

A third finish-it-yourself option is the Million Dollar Baby/DaVinci Jenny Lind, which costs about $238. This crib is convertible, but the toddler rail is typically sold separately. I have read that DaVinci cribs are made of solid wood, but I am unable to find any claims as to the safety of their finishes, aside from the industry-standard and worthless “non-toxic” claim. I would stay with their unfinished model if you want a Jenny Lind-style crib. I do not have any information regarding the construction of the mattress platform on DaVinci’s Jenny Lind crib, but I do recall some of the DaVinci cribs having metal mattress supports when I was shopping for my daughter’s crib, so it is worth a call to the manufacturer.

Buyer Beware: Eco-Friendly Does Not Mean Healthy . . . Sometimes it Doesn’t Really Even Mean Eco-Friendly

There are many crib manufacturers that claim to make eco-friendly or “green” cribs. Among these are Pali and Ouef. However, at this time, these manufacturers, and others following their “eco-friendly” lead, make entire cribs of CARB Phase 2 compliant press-board. As discussed above, this does not mean that the press-board will not emit VOCs, it only means that the levels of formaldehyde (one of many VOCs) emitted are under a certain level. Oeuf uses water-based glues and claims that their finishes are water-based and VOC-free. However, because Ouef does use press-board and does not state that their finishes are subjected to third-party testing for toxins aside from VOCs, I would pass on this brand. Oeuf cribs start at around $500, which is a bit steep considering they would be a compromise in terms of safety assuredness.

Pali currently has a couple of models that are solid wood, with the rest of their models containing press-board that is CARB Phase 2 compliant. Pali states that they test their finishes for lead content with every production run, via an independent third-party laboratory that uses Illinois standards. Illinois standards are more strict than federal standards. Prior to buying from Pali, I would be sure that they are also testing for other heavy metals and toxins. Pali cribs start at about $399. Again, in the case of Pali, it seems like you can get a much safer crib for your money. You could finish Ikea’s Sniglar crib with an organic food-grade oil for significantly less than you would spend on any of Pali’s cribs, and most of their cribs are press-board.

What Kind of Crib Did We Purchase Back in 2009?

When we bought our crib, I was only aware of the issues with press-board and had no idea about all of the other points mentioned above. At the time, I only knew enough to search for a solid wood crib. I assumed the government had our back on the safety of finishings on children’s furniture. We ended up buying a StorkCraft crib that I found online marked down to $90, from $300. It was made of solid wood, and the company had assured me that the paint was “non-toxic.” When the crib arrived, it had absolutely no chemical odor, so we decided to keep it. To be on the safe side we decided to air it out for the 6 months until our baby was born. We do not have a covered porch, nor do we have windows in our garage that we could leave open. So . . . we put the crib, along with all of the baby’s other pieces of new bedroom furniture, in her freshly VOC-free-painted room. We installed an exhaust fan in the window, sealed around the fan with weather-stripping, closed the heat vent to the room and the door to the room, and left the window open with the exhaust fan running 24-7 for over 6 months. Based on what I know now, our crib was obviously not ideal. If I could have a do-over, I would marry rich and buy a GreenCradle crib. Just kidding, I would buy the Ikea Sniglar, finish it with food-grade tung oil, and replace the platform with Purebond plywood.  I would likely wrap the plywood in PEVA (using packing tape that had no odor) to serve as a vapor barrier just-in-case.

What if I had no Clue About Any of This and Already Bought a Crib?

Do not despair!  When it comes to VOCs fresh air is your best friend.  Even though it is a pain in the rear, I highly recommend that you purchase all of your baby’s nursery furnishings as soon as possible, preferable six months or more before the birth.  Put it all in the nursery and leave the windows open.  If you are afraid of insects or rain getting in, then install a window fan like we did and leave it on high exhaust at all times.  The window fan cost us $15 at Wal-Mart.

If you have already had your baby, air is still your best friend.  Open the nursery windows as often as possible to let those VOC gasses out.  Open as many windows in your house as often as you can.  Studies have shown that even in areas with high levels of air pollution, the inside air is more toxic than the outside air.  If you are re-using a crib from a prior child, then the good news is that your crib has already off-gassed quite a bit.  The fresh air rule still applies though.

**Please note:  Due to the overwhelmingly large number of requests I continue to receive, via both comments and my contact page e-mail, to evaluate specific makes and models of cribs for readers, I regret that I am no longer able to research cribs for readers as an unpaid service.  As you probably know, it takes hours to research a particular make/model of crib diligently.  In the article above, I try to equip readers with specific questions to ask so they can call manufacturers themselves, in the face of ever-changing models and manufacturing processes.  Please use this information to conduct your own informed investigation.  Please continue to share what you learn from critically questioning manufacturers about particular crib makes and models in the comments section to assist others.  Please continue to share your experiences with purchasing safe cribs.  If, after carefully reading the above article and its reader comments, you feel you cannot make a decision without my input, please inquire about a paid consulting agreement via my contact page.

 . . . Are crib mattresses dangerous too?  Yes they are!   Check back soon for a post on the safety of crib mattresses, non-toxic wood finishing tips, and a non-toxic solution for babies who like to gnaw on their crib rails!

 

Sources

1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1446651/pdf/11291366.pdf

2) http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/info:doi%2F10.1289%2Fehp.0901450

3) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22259847

4) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22047167

5) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17357796

6) http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=info%3Adoi%2F10.1289%2Fehp.7610

7) http://www.epa.gov/iaq/voc.html

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{ 117 comments… read them below or add one }

Antonia July 14, 2012 at 09:35

Hi, thanks for the great article!

I’d just like to add couple comments. Another safer option for a crib that I have found are cribs that are GreenGuard certified (max of 0.0135 ppm of formaldehyde), which is about 5 – 20 times less formaldehyde than the CARB Phase 1 and 2 emission limits (which range from max of 0.05 ppm – 2.1 ppm depending on whether it’s MDF, plywood etc.). I bought my crib from a company called Natart that manufacturers all their cribs in Quebec (I live in Toronto – I don’t know if Natart distributes in the US, but probably). All of their cribs are GG certified and they are in the process of certifying their other furniture. Mine is solid oak and I bought it for $800 Cdn (it is a 4-1 convertible crib – with a kit it converts to a double bed).
As for mattresses, Naturepedic sells organic mattresses that are GreenGuard certified ($300-$400 Cdn).

Also…in addition to using air to help reduce toxins, I’ve read that household plants are great at removing formaldehyde and other toxins. The most effective ones are: boston ferns, aloe vera, pothos, philodendron, spider plant, chrysanthemums, peace lilies, dracaena warneckii, etc…

: )

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse July 14, 2012 at 12:34

Great point about plants improving air quality, Antonia! Thanks for the information regarding Green Guard Certification too!

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Brittany January 2, 2014 at 20:39

I am also looking at Natart cribs, specifically the Natart Paris in linen. Have you had a chance to look at the company? If so, is it something you would recommend? As the previous commentor posted, their cribs are GreenGuard Certified, but I also noticed that some of their cribs have a wooden mattress spring, which I am unclear about. Any knowledge would be helpful, as all the information is overwhelming. Thanks ahead of time for the advice!

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Ashley July 15, 2014 at 11:16

Hi there
Thank you for the article! Very helpful. So I am wondering… My Husband and I are thinking we will get a used crib like off of Craigslist. Obviously I will be sure leave it outside anyway for fear of bugs coming in with it…. Do you think that a used crib will already be “aired out” so to speak? Combining that with a safe mattress… I am hoping that will be pretty good?

Thanks for your help :)

Ashley

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse July 15, 2014 at 16:49

Hi Ashley. Yes, I think that a used crib would definitely be less of an off-gassing risk. Just be extra careful in determining whether or not the model you are buying has been recalled. This site can be helpful to that end: http://www.cpsc.gov/ . I think the used crib and safe mattress plan is a good one. Just be careful when your baby starts mouthing, since you will not necessarily know the level of safety of the finish.

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Marni July 24, 2012 at 20:48

Hi, We are thinking about buying the singlar crib. Any reason not to just leave it unfinished? Thanks!

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse July 24, 2012 at 20:56

Absolutely none that I can think of aside from it perhaps being more prone to drying out and developing spots if water or drool touches it. I think it would be fine as long as you monitor it for rough spots as it ages and undergoes seasonal changes in humidity. We have a few pieces of wooden furniture in our home that were never finished (we thought we would have time once our daughter was born . . . ha, ha, ha!) and it still looks and feels smooth.

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Katrina September 15, 2012 at 15:47

Another cheaper line of non toxic cribs you can find at Walmart is Babymod. http://www.walmart.com/ip/Baby-Mod-ParkLane-3-in-1-Baby-Convertible-Crib-Amber-and-White/5983290

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse September 17, 2012 at 14:39

Katrina, thanks for sharing about the Babymod cribs. However, based upon the Wal-Mart listing to which you link, I would be concerned with what type of glue is in the crib and precisely how safe the paint is. The ad states that the crib is made of solid pine and wood veneers. Wood veneers have to involve glue. I do not see where the ad states that the glue is VOC and formaldehyde free. Also, it states that the paint is “non-toxic,” but that doesn’t really tell us much other than that it meets federal regulations for toxicity. Federal regulations are not strong enough. Neither are the JPMA guidelines when it comes to toxicity. I would want to know that the paint is free of heavy metals and VOCs. I made a quick attempt to determine the manufacturer of Babymod cribs, but could not find anything conclusive. I did find a suggestion that they are made by the Million Dollar Baby/DaVinci Company. Without knowing the manufacturer of Babymod cribs I cannot call them and determine whether or not this is truly a non-toxic crib. Is it safer than a crib made out of chip board/fiber board/MDF/composite/paper board/press board? Maybe, because, in theory, it might have less glue . . . but then there is still the issue of the paint. My guess is that it is not a completely safe crib. If the manufacturer used VOC- and formaldehyde-free glue and VOC- and heavy metal-free paint, they would be bragging about it, as it would be an important selling point . . . and, undoubtedly, it would be easy to figure out who manufactures Babymod. Until we have more information on the Babymod line, I am going to stand by the Ikea Sniglar being a safer option. It is 100% solid, natural wood, and therefore involves very little glue. The Sniglar is also unfinished (so paint is not a concern). Thanks for posting.

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mei September 26, 2012 at 15:32

I also found this interesting thread on the Million Dollar Baby response blog.
https://milliondollarbaby.zendesk.com/entries/20233617-formaldehyde-undetectable-in-all-mdb-products
Would appreciate your feed back.

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse September 28, 2012 at 13:04

Thanks for the link, Mei! I find it interesting that they claim that their lead and formaldehyde levels exceed government standards, but then they go on to say only that their formaldehyde level is undetectable. What about the lead? It could simply be an oversight, but I find it a bit fishy that they are not releasing the exact level of lead. Since the government levels are too high, “exceeding federal standards” on lead does not mean much to me–I think they should publish their testing data.

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse September 28, 2012 at 13:29

Now that I read the “page 4″ data that you linked to above, they are releasing their level and it is lower than the federal guideline. However, as stated on this page the EPA wants less than 15 parts per billion of lead in drinking water as an “action level,” but states elsewhere that no amount of lead consumption is safe for humans. Million Dollar Baby is wanting us to consider 10 parts per million (0.001%), which is much more than something measured in parts per billion, as safe. I do not buy it. Now you can argue that your child will not consume the finish on his/her crib, but my daughter gnawed her crib rail like a baby beaver . . . so, if you want to play it 100% safe, I would stick with an unfinished solid wood crib and seal it with food grade tung oil or linseed oil if you want a finish. Beware of the tung and linseed oils for sale in hardware stores, which often contain toxins.

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mei September 26, 2012 at 16:35

Hi Nicole,
Thank you for your insightful blog.
It seems like the babyletto cribs by MDB also stacks up rather well against most of your criteria you’ve pointed out.
It is made of solid wood, with metal wire mattress board.
On the paints, check out their claim on page 4 of their safety page:
http://www.babyletto.com/safety
On the Formaldehyde/VOC emissions check out their claims in the link below
https://milliondollarbaby.zendesk.com/entries/20233617-formaldehyde-undetectable-in-all-mdb-products

Finally, what if I had an option to buy a used 2006 OEUF crib, and updated it with a current mattress board with no/low emission. Will I have beat the issue of the MDF body of the crib, given it has had 6 years to off gas?

Thank you for your input
Mei

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse September 28, 2012 at 13:44

You are most welcome, Mei. Please see my comment about their “page 4″ claims below. Solid wood and metal mattress support are absolutely more desirable than any sort of MDF. I think you will need to make a decision about whether or not you are willing to accept any level of lead in the finish (see my EPA links below).

If the 2006 OEUF crib includes CARB Phase II compliant MDF (the year of purchase does not necessarily tell us whether it is CARB Phase I or Phase II compliant, since some companies used CARB Phase II Compliant before they had to and there are reports of some retailers selling CARB Phase I products after the date for CARB Phase II had passed), then it seems possible that it may have finished it’s off-gassing. However, you still would have to track down the safety level of the finish they used in 2006. That might be a bit tougher than getting them to release their current data to you.

Don’t forget to look into what kind of glue was used.

Good luck in your shopping and thanks for posting:-)

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WOW! October 21, 2012 at 12:32

Nice article, it is indeed good to be cautious. Now please take your OCD meds and relax!

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse October 22, 2012 at 14:15

Every claim I made is easily verifiable. You might consider doing some research before you call those who have done the research “OCD.” Keep relying on what is commonly considered “safe,” rather than digging deeper, and you will end up as unhealthy as the common person. Modern medicine will keep you alive despite illness; however, the quality of that life is determined by the choices you make. The health of a child is determined by the choices his/her parents make.

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Chris November 4, 2012 at 00:42

I wish i could “like” this comment 100X!

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse November 5, 2012 at 08:57

Thanks for posting Chris! I have been called OCD many times. However, again and again, in doing research to “prove” that I have a DSM diagnosis, folks learn just how inadequate government standards are in terms of protecting us and our children and come back to me and say, “I can’t believe it, but you were RIGHT!” Let’s hope that “WOW” does some reading and that his/her kids escape the fates of kids whose parents choose to be “sheeple.”

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Julia October 25, 2012 at 14:54

This is great! Thanks so much! I found Green Cradle as well when I was doing research but Pacific Rim was new to me. What are your thoughts on Young America cribs? http://www.youngamerica.com/about/young-america I am just starting the crib search with my baby due in early March.

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse November 5, 2012 at 09:10

Hi Julia! Thanks for posting. According to the Greenguard web site http://www.greenguard.org/en/manufacturers.aspx they are looking at VOCs when they certify products for their indoor air quality certification. You can read more about their certifications here http://www.greenguard.org/en/CertificationPrograms/GREENGUARDVerifications.aspx . However, I would still want the brand name and testing data of the finishes from Young America as it pertains to VOCs and heavy metals. Also, Young America notes on their “about” page that they used maple veneers. A veneer is an extremely thin layer of real wood glued on top of something else. I would want them to tell me what exactly is under the veneer and what kind of glue they are using. If they truly believe they are selling a safe product, they will have such data and be happy to share it with you.

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Jen October 30, 2012 at 12:52

Thanks for the article. I was planning to buy a Hensvik crib from Ikea which does have fiberboard and acrylic paint. I do have a few months to air out the fiber board. Do you think this is an ok choice?
http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50213565/

I was also looking for your article on crib mattresses. Can you please send me a link?

Thanks,
Jen

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse November 5, 2012 at 08:51

Hi Jen! Thanks for stopping by. Airing out fiberboard for a few months is definitely better than not. Just make sure that you are not breathing the air if you are pregnant (that is why I used an exhaust fan). I do not know anything about the quality of Ikea’s acrylic paint and its level of off-gassing . . . but, again, airing out is always better than not. I have not yet written my article on crib mattresses–illness in my family has kept me from blogging as much as I would like to these past few months. I recommend you look into 100% natural latex in extra-firm, or go with Naturepedic. You can get 100% natural latex from SleepEZ’s web site. After months of deliberating between those two options, I chose to put a Naturepedic quilted deluxe mattress on my toddler’s “big girl bed.”

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Helen November 9, 2012 at 21:00

I just wanted to say thanks, this is a great post. My mind is really boggled looking into cribs. I am splashing out on an natural latex mattress (OMI brand) as I figured that was the highest priority for a safe sleeping environment. So was hoping to save money on a crib, by buying second hand (hoping it had had time to off-gas), but with all the recalls and safety issues, I’m not so sure. I’m going to go to Ikea tomorrow and check out the Sniglar as you suggested. Thank you.

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse November 10, 2012 at 11:11

Yes Helen, safe bedding is indeed mind boggling. I think the unfinished Sniglar is an affordable and safe bet:-)

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Helen November 9, 2012 at 22:07

Hi Nicole, I have a question for you about putting a Linseed finish on the Ikea Sniglar crib. You said don’t buy the stuff from the hardware store, where should I buy it? Do I just use raw lindseed (or flax seed) from the fridge at my local health food store? And do you have any tips on how to apply it (e.g. sanding, drying time, how to apply etc)? Thank you.

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse November 10, 2012 at 11:09

Hi Helen, thanks for stopping by:-) The next time I finish furniture, I plan to use a pure Tung Oil like this product. I plan to follow the seller’s instructions and use the Citrus Solvent product they recommend with it. They have many recommendations that I think will help you. I would worry about health food store linseed oil going rancid (think stinky) or growing mold, since the manufacturer intended for it to be ingested and not put on furniture.

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Helen November 13, 2012 at 00:06

Thanks again. I thought something similar about the linseed/flaxseed oil, in the stores, after all they keep it in the fridge to stop it going racid. I’ll probably either use the Tung Oil or not bother. The Sniglar looks fine unfinished, and given it is is so cheap, I might just risk keeping it that way.

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse November 13, 2012 at 09:33

Glad to hear that you like the Sniglar:-)

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Emily November 17, 2012 at 18:44

Thank you so much for this article! I have been researching cribs and I was just getting frustrated that everything safer seemed way out of my price range. Then I found your article with some cheaper suggestions!
I am looking forward to hearing about your mattress suggestions.

Thanks again.

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse November 18, 2012 at 11:52

You are very welcome, Emily. I plan on writing the mattress article in the future, but health issues in my family have kept me from blogging lately. In the interim, if you read through the comments on this article, I have given away my top picks in the mattress department:-)

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Brenda L November 29, 2012 at 16:57

I was looking for greenguard certified cribs and I found one called BSF grace 4 in 1, I find it hard to believe that a crib so cheap would be made without toxic stuff in it, what do you think?

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse December 23, 2012 at 13:17

Brenda, I do not see legitimate safety claims for the BSF Grace anywhere on the internet, so I really cannot tell you much more than call the manufacturer and ask them the questions I mention in my article. Best of luck and thanks for posting:-)

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse December 23, 2012 at 12:44

E-MAIL I RECEIVED FROM AL THAT HE ASKED ME TO POST:

http://www.costco.com/Cafekid-Alex-Convertible-Crib.product.11757392.html

Any feedback on the above crib at Costco?

Also, appreciate any reco on crib mattress at Costco.

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse December 23, 2012 at 12:51

Al, I viewed the link you sent and do not see where the Costco crib is making any claims as to using safe or even “safer” finishes. The solid wood is obviously better than fiberboard, but my question is, “what is in the finish?”

My recommendations for crib mattresses are here–just read through all the comments.

Thanks for writing!

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse December 23, 2012 at 12:53

2ND E-MAIL I RECEIVED FROM AL THAT HE ASKED ME TO POST:

Just curious if anyone is able to replace the fiberboard with a safer alternative in the ikea sniglar crib: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/60091931

I am absolutely pissed off at Ikea in trying to get safety info on their cribs. It’s easy to say – ‘talk to their safety specialists’. But try it out. All you can talk to is their primitive customer support. Emails will never get response.

It’s just disgusting that it’s almost impossible to find even a pretty basic safer cribs for babies in this day and age. Only a fool can say mankind is more advanced now than 40 years ago. Well.. in a way the doomsday is nearer for these reasons- these so called intelligent animals destroying the mother nature.

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse December 23, 2012 at 12:55

Yes, Al, I agree that keeping one’s children safe from environmental toxins is a frustrating proposition in this day and age!

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Ty December 27, 2012 at 22:22

Nicole,
I am thinking on getting the Ikea Sniglar crib. You mention putting pure Tung Oil. Ikea sells this Bahandla wood treatment oil to use for their cribs. What do you think about this? Do you think it’s ok to use?
http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50070378/

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse December 28, 2012 at 10:37

Ty, I checked out Ikea’s Bahandla wood treatment oil. I think I would want further clarification of the ingredient list before I used it in my home. They list “Linseed oil, Wood treatment oil, Lead free drying agent, Emulsifier.” “Wood treatment oil” is pretty vague and could contain any number of petroleum distillates or other yuckies that can be contaminated with mercury and more. “Lead free drying agent” and “emulsifier” are also pretty vague and leave lots of room for undesirables. I would check out the finishing oil I mention in the comments above (this one) to err on the side of caution when it comes to what your little one will come in contact with. That is what I will use for any future wood finishing in my home. Thanks for stopping by and good luck with your project:-)

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Deborah December 31, 2012 at 14:45

First of all, thank you for all the research you have done, and for all the great information!
We are planning on buying the Sniglar crib and finishing it with the Tung oil. We still need a dresser for the baby’s room though, so i’m wondering if you have any recommendations or ideas for that.
Thanks!

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse January 5, 2013 at 12:27

Hi Deborah! You are welcome. If I were in the market for a dresser, I would go for unfinished solid wood and finish it with the tung oil. If you can find an unfinished solid wood that uses low VOC glue, then even better. However, at least in my little city, unfinished dressers spend a few months in the unfinished wood furniture store prior to being sold, so I would expect that the glue would typically have had plenty of time to off-gas. If nothing unfinished is available, then I would say to let your nose be your guide (as in never buy the super-stinky baby furniture that some baby stores sell) and to allow the furniture to off-gas as my husband and I did using the window exhaust fan in a closed room for as many months as possible prior to the baby’s birth. Thanks for posting:-)

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Amber December 31, 2012 at 20:14

Nicole, thank you so much for all your hard work on this topic! I am so grateful for the help in researching this! I was wondering if it’s possible to just simply sand off a finish and use one of your recommended finishes instead….we happen to have a challenge with both space and the cost of the truly VOC free cribs….so we’re contemplating one of the Da Vinci mini cribs. Unfortunately the Sniglar won’t fit in our room.

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse January 5, 2013 at 12:38

Hi Amber! Thanks for posting. I used to be all about re-finishing furniture. However, since I started researching toxics, I am less enamored of it. When you sand off the finish, you are creating particulates of whatever the manufacturer used in the finish. These are not healthy to breathe as they can end up putting a variety of chemicals in your body via your lungs (your lungs are rich with blood vessels, so the bloodstream is never far away from what we inhale). I would warn against anyone who is pregnant sanding anything except solid unfinished wood–and even then you need to wear a mask. If the non-pregnant partner or a friend is going to be doing the sanding outside, while wearing proper airway protection, then that is a better scenario. However, I would still worry about what might be left behind on the wood from the manufacturer’s finish. Especially, since babies tend to gnaw on their cribs while their parents are in “new parent sleep comas.” If a Da Vinci mini crib is all that will fit in your room, then perhaps you will consider the several months of airing out with a window exhaust fan in a closed room that my husband and I did. Perhaps when your baby is big enough to start gnawing on the crib rails you can have someone sew you some organic cotton guards for the rails so baby does not get finish in his/her mouth. They are sold in store in fleece, but fleece can be coated in formaldehyde, so that is why I suggest you have someone who sews make you some out of safe, organic cotton. Best of luck in your search!

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cana January 4, 2013 at 00:09

Do you know anything about Spot on Square cribs? Would love to hear your feedback on them. Thanks!
cana recently posted..Determining Whether Your Household Cleaners Are Increasing Your Risks of Chronic Disease Just Got a Lot Easier!My Profile

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse January 5, 2013 at 13:07

Hi Cana. Spot on Square’s web site does not give enough information about the materials used for me to say whether or not the are safe. They claim to be “Non-Toxic,” but that claim can be made as long as they conform to government standards–but government standards are inadequate. They claim to be sustainable, but this does not mean safe. Often when products are “sustainable” they use press board/composite/fiberboard/veneer/chipboard, which can mean more glue and more VOCs than you would get with a solid, real-wood crib. Thanks for posting!

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Melissa January 4, 2013 at 10:28

Hi Nicole – First off Thank you so very much for all your research on here! I’ve been pulling my hair out trying to figure out a safe crib to use. Have you looked into Boori cribs? They are GreenGuard certified for Children and Schools, which is a tougher criteria than their regular certifications, but all that means is that they are low emitting, and not completely non-toxic. They also use a Polyeurthane finish, however claim to use no glues in their cribs and an organic oil finish on the inside of the drawers. However, they are manufactured in China. I guess, it’s just tough to figure out what to use. I would also use Green Cradle, but they are costly, and well it takes them 12 weeks to make something. Finally, are Moses baskets safe in the meantime if we should go with Green Cradle? Wanted your thoughts there! Thanks!

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse January 5, 2013 at 13:25

Hi Melissa. The fact that Boori cribs are GreenGuard certified is great in terms of VOCs. Remember, as you said, that GreenGaurd is certifying “low VOC” not “no VOC.” If you do go with Boori, I would be sure to air out using a window exhaust fan in a closed room, as I describe in my article, for as long as possible before baby’s birth. Also, remember that GreenGaurd says nothing about the possible presence of heavy metals in Boori’s finishes. I would ask Boori if they have testing data on their various finishes. If you do choose a commercially finished crib, I suggest you have someone make you some safe, organic cotton crib rail covers when your baby is old enough to start gnawing on the crib rails (see my response to Amber). Yes, Chinese polyurethane finishes make me nervous. I hope they have wonderful control over their factories and raw ingredients, but, when an item changes hands that many times, who knows. The advantage of buying an unfinished crib is that you know exactly what you did or did not put on it. (See the safe tung oil finish I recommend in the comments prior to yours.) Moses baskets could be a problem if they are made of non-organically grown grasses or if they have any sort of sealant applied to them. I have not researched them, so I have no idea if there are non-toxic ones out there or not. Thanks for posting!

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Kim February 13, 2013 at 12:16

Thanks so much for your blog..I’m in the midst of trying to find non-toxic baby products for our first baby and have found your blog so informative and helpful!

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse February 19, 2013 at 10:51

You are most welcome, Kim! Thank you for stopping by. Congratulations on your first baby!!!!

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Kim February 13, 2013 at 14:21

Can you recommend infant bouncers and swings that aren’t flame retardant, and not insanely expensive?

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse February 19, 2013 at 10:49

Hi Kim! Last time I looked for a non-toxic bouncer (about three years ago) I could not find anything reasonably priced that was ideal . . . actually I couldn’t even find anything that was 100% ideal. My compromise was to buy one of the simple, bare-bones ones that basically consist of a coated wire frame with a piece of fabric that drapes over it and suspends the baby. I washed the fabric part 3 times, with extra rinses, in safe detergent to try and rid it of any chemicals left from manufacturing. You can often velcro safer toys for the baby to bat to the velcro tabs that come with the seat; rather than letting your baby bat toys of unknown construction. For any parts that cannot be removed or washed (e.g., parts containing foam like the arch piece often does) you can either remove completely or air out for a very long time. You can often snake the fabric part off of the foam, so it can be washed (we do this all the time in the NICU in between babies). For the swing, I did the same thing as with the bouncer. I looked for a simple design that I could mostly wash. I bought a second-hand one with no foam pieces. I liked the idea of second-hand, because it had had time to off-gas. I stripped all of the fabric off of it and washed it as I did with the bouncer. It did not have a plastic tray or anything, so I did not have to worry about what my baby was touching. Hope this helps, and good luck in your search:-)

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Kim March 5, 2013 at 17:39

Thanks so much Nicole, this is really helpful info and so appreciated. I will definitely keep referring to your blog!

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chris February 16, 2013 at 20:46

Nicole-
What crib would you recommend in the 600-900 price range? I went into Green Cradle today in Sherman Oaks, and looked at their cribs. Beautiful, but 1300-1600 at the end of the day. Right now looking at an Oeuf Sparrow and a Young America Kudos. I realize that Oeuf isn’t greenguard certified, and Young America is for Children & Schools. Is there a better option that I should be considering? Should I not be considering either of these options? Many thanks in advance.

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse February 19, 2013 at 10:34

Hi Chris. I do not have any specific recommendations in the $600-900 range. When I was doing the research for this article the Ikea Sniglar stood out because it was at a low price point and had most of what a non-toxic crib should have–with the cautions I mention in the article. The Pacific Rim was the gold standard at a high price point. Unfortunately, there was not anything like the Pacific Rim at a lower price point when I was researching for the article. Keep in mind, as I have said elsewhere in the comment section, that GreenGuard is certifying in terms of VOCs, NOT finish contaminants (like lead, cadmium, etc.) in paints and finishes. For that, you would have to call the manufacturer. Their typical response is that they follow all government standards; however, the government standards are inadequate. That is why I recommend an unfinished crib. If you desire a finish, you can do it yourself with the pure tung oil I recommend and link to elsewhere in the comment section. Good luck with your search and let me know if you find a safe crib in that price range–I will gladly update my article. Thanks for writing.

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Organic Mama February 23, 2013 at 01:55

Nicole,

Thank you for all of your research! It is so wonderful to have your website as a resource in making such important decisions for our little ones. I am considering purchasing the IKEA Sniglar crib and finishing it myself. I read your comments regarding the use of linseed oil or tung oil as a safe alternative to paints. However, I’m not thrilled with the look of the oil on natural wood. I did some research into non-toxic paints and found a brand called Mythic Paint (http://www.mythicpaint.com/index.aspx). This paint brand seems to be truely non-toxic and safe. In your opionion, do you think this would be a safe paint alternative? I appreciate any thoughts or suggestions you may have :)

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse February 23, 2013 at 12:31

Hi Janell. Thanks for writing. I too am not crazy about the look of oiled wood; however, I think this is one area where we moms need to put our aesthetic sense completely aside. I would potentially paint my walls with Mythic Paint; however, I would not paint my child’s crib with Mythic Paint. Now that I have had a child and have seen exactly how much paint a child can and does chew off of its crib, while its parents are sound asleep, I just wouldn’t risk it. Remember, Mythic is low VOC, which is a statement regarding what it releases into your air. “Low VOC” says nothing about what heavy metals or other contaminants might be in its pigments ready for your baby to ingest. I see on their “FAQs” page where they state they are “lead free” and free of some other contaminants. However, remember, lead below a particular level can be legally referred to as “lead free.” While that might be good enough for a wall that your baby is not likely going to be able to gnaw, since it will be supervised during waking hours, I do not think it is safe enough to be on a crib. If I had a “do-over,” I would not risk a painted crib again. Remember, there is absolutely no safe level of lead ingestion, and the same can likely be said for some other heavy metals and such that find their way into paints and pigments.

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Organic Mama February 24, 2013 at 22:10

Nicole,

Ok, I had a feeling you would say that and it makes sense to me. Are there any safe covers for the crib rails and sides that would protect my baby from ingesting the paint? I have heard that there are crib rail protective covers that you can place over the crib rails to prevent the child from chewing into the paint. However, if there are not any safe rail covers, I will simply go with the linseed or tung oil as you suggested.

Thanks again for all the help!

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse February 25, 2013 at 12:17

Hi again! I used some covers that were made out of fleece that had phthalate and PVC free backing, which was the best I knew to do at the time. However, I have since read that micro-fleece is largely treated with formaldehyde:-( If you could find someone to sew you organic cotton quilted crib rail covers with organic cotton batting inside, then you may have plan . . . as long as your baby doesn’t try to bite the vertical slats while laying down like my child did. Also, my eager beaver eventually learned to pull back the cover and gnaw on the wood on the top rails too. If I ever have another child, it will be the Sniglar all the way. Never under estimate the will of a teething baby;-)

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Organic Mama February 24, 2013 at 22:14

Nicole,

One other question – I was planning to paint the walls of the nursery with Mythic Paint, since it seems to be a better, safer paint than many of those on the market. However, I was wondering if you know of any other paint brands that are better or have no VOC, as opposed to the low VOC contained in the Mythic Paint brand.

Thanks!

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse February 25, 2013 at 12:31

I used Fresh Aire Choice paint (purchased at Home Depot) to paint my child’s nursery back in 2010. It was the only paint I could find at the time that had zero VOCs in both the paint and the colorant formulations. The colorants were vegetable based. At the time, other paints were only making “low VOC” statements about their paint bases, and were neglecting to release information regarding their colorants. Unfortunately, I heard that Fresh Aire Choice paints have been discontinued. I hope it is not true.

I would look into Mythic for the walls if it were me. They say in their FAQs that customers can request a copy of their MSDS. I would also ask them if their no VOC claim holds true for their colorants as well as their paint bases.

I have heard of people using milk paint on walls. You might consider that choice too, if Mythic does not meet your needs. The site that sells the oil finish also sells milk paint. Again, I would ask for an MSDS and in-depth information.

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Erica March 2, 2013 at 11:52

I got this info about the Land of Nod furniture…what do you think?

Conformity Certification based on Third-Party Testing
Products:
Straight Up Crib, Straight Up Toddler Rail
Sleigh Crib, Sleigh Toddler Rail
Time to Turn In Crib, Time to Turn In Toddler Rail Andersen Crib, Andersen Toddler Rail
Low Rise Crib, Low Rise Toddler Rail
Finishes: White, TTI White, Natural, Clear, Espresso, Grey
CPSC product safety regulations being certified:
16 CFR 1303 BAN OF LEAD-CONTAINING PAINT AND CERTAIN CONSUMER PRODUCTS BEARING LEAD-CONTAINING PAINT
16 CFR 1500 MECHANICAL HAZARDS
16 CFR 1500.44 FLAMMABILITY (SOLIDS)
16 CFR 1219 SAFETY STANDARD FOR FULL-SIZE BABY CRIBS
CPSIA 2008 Section 103 Tracking Labels for Children’s Products
CA PROP 65 PHTHALATES (COMPOSITING)
CPSIA TOTAL LEAD CONTENT IN SURFACE COATING AND SUBSTRATE
CPSIA PHTHALATES
UNIFORM PACKAGING AND LABELING REGULATION
ASTM F1169-10a STANDARD SPECIFICATON FOR FULL SIZE BABY CRIB
ASTM F1169-09 Section 6.1 SPINDLE/SLAT STRENGTH TESTING
ASTM F966-00 CONSUMER SAFETY SPECIFICATION FOR FULL-SIZE AND NON-FULL-SIZE BABY CRIB CORNER POST EXTENSIONS
ASTM F1821-09 SAFETY SPECIFICATION FOR TODDLER BEDS
Manufacturer:
El Greco Woodworking
608 Allen Street Jamestown, NY 14701 Custodian of Records: Alexis Singleton
El Greco Woodworking, Inc. 608 Allen St.
Jamestown, NY 14701 alexis@elgrecofurniture.com
Date and place of manufacture: November 2011 – present. Jamestown, NY
Date, place and third-party facility where product was tested: November 2011
Bureau Veritas
100 Northpointe Parkway
Buffalo, NY 14228

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse March 24, 2013 at 12:53

While they have obtained some certifications in terms of lead content in their coatings, I would want to see full testing data for all harmful heavy metals and the levels, not just lead. Also, is the finish no VOC? Unfinished, 100% solid real wood is the safest for your baby. Finish yourself with a non-toxic oil such as the one linked above if you choose. Anything less is a compromise in my opinion.

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Kk March 21, 2013 at 16:01

Hi thanks for this great article – I also “thought” I did my research and purchased the higher priced restoration hardware Tate crib made of hardwood http://www.rhbabyandchild.com/catalog/product/product.jsp?productId=rhbc_prod241077

I phoned them and they said it’s a birch veneer finish but had no more information on vocs. However they do mention in their frequently asked question “are our products safe” this: Restoration Hardware is committed to providing safe, high-quality products for your home. We require all toys and decorated holiday product lines to be tested by an independent laboratory and to meet all applicable lead paint specifications set by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, as well as any separate state requirements.
Our no-VOC (volatile organic compounds) satin interior paints contain significantly fewer polluting toxins and are odor-free and mold-resistant. All Restoration Hardware Baby & Child cribs are tested to the highest safety standards. Each crib undergoes rigorous testing by independent laboratories for compliance with current ASTM (American Society for Testing and materials) crib safety standards and all of our cribs meet or exceed these requirements.
Certain Restoration Hardware Baby & Child bedding collections have received rigorous Oeko-Tex certification ensuring that every textile component – from thread to button to fabric to dyes – is free of harmful toxins or irritants, is biodegradable, and recyclable. Certification also guarantees that all stages of the production process are eco-friendly and do no generate air, water or noise pollution. The European Oeko-Tex ecological certification process tests for more than 100 harmful substances.

Our baby is 3 months and should be moving to her crib now – it was delivered last week and seemed to have an odor so i got suspicious and started researching and found your excellently researched and thorough article. Now I’m wondering if I should return it. Have you any information about birch veneer or this crib? Thank you so much.

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse March 24, 2013 at 12:23

Hi Kk. Thanks for stopping by. My question would be what is under the veneer, being that a “veneer” is a thin layer of natural wood laid over something else? My guess is that it is CARB Phase 2 Compliant MDF under the veneer. It sounds like you were trying to avoid particle board in the first place–which I highly recommend. If the crib has an odor, does it really matter what they are telling you about it? I have learned to trust my nose–where there is stink, there are likely VOCs. Basically, they are telling you that they adhere to governmental standards, but, as I state above, there are many of us who feel that government standards are not stringent enough. I recommend that you go with a 100% solid wood unfinished crib, like the Sniglar, and either leave it unfinished or finish it yourself with the pure oil finish I link to above in the comments. I also recommend that you air out the particle board base of the Sniglar for as long as you can keep your baby out of the crib. Either way, the base of the Sniglar should off-gas less than an entire crib constructed of particle board with unknown quality of finish (as evidenced by the smell). I recommend against painting cribs, since I have never heard of a child who does not try to teeth on their crib.

As for their textiles, Oeko-Tek is a good certification to have, but it says nothing about their crib. I think they were trying to dazzle you with information and make you forget about the fact they sent you a crib that is off-gasing into your home.

I hope this helps with your decision:-)

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Jenny April 12, 2013 at 00:32

I too am in the market for a non-toxic crib and mattress.. I wanted to share a consideration with the Ikea Sniglar crib. Although the crib itself may be great, Ikea cribs are a custom size and require you to use their mattress. All of their mattresses contain polyurethane foam, which is toxic unfortunately. Hope this info helps.

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse April 19, 2013 at 15:17

Thanks for sharing that insight, Jenny. I have not heard complaints from others about the Ikea Sniglar crib not accommodating other brands of organic mattresses. If anyone has any perspectives to add on this subject, please post them.

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Toni April 14, 2013 at 16:33

Thanks for the advice! We are really tight on our budget so we’re going to go with the Sniglar and replace the mattress board and use the tung oil. I did notice on the Real Milk site a suggestion of using “citrus solvent” for an all natural finish. Do I need to combine it with the tung oil or can I just use the tung oil alone? Thanks again!

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse April 19, 2013 at 15:15

Hi Toni, the citrus solvent can be used mixed with the tung oil to make the first layer of tung oil penetrate better, according to the milkpaint site. However, be aware that (per EWG) d-limonene has the potential to combine with any ozone in the surrounding air and create formaldehyde. I am no chemist, but I suspect that, in a well ventilated area, and allowed adequate drying and airing time, it would be fine to ensure penetration of the first coat by cutting it with their citrus solvent as the milkpaint site suggests. After letting the first coat air out and dry for quite awhile, I would then do coats of plain tung oil. Again, this is just what I would be comfortable with, being that it would be much safer than conventional finishes even with the citrus in the first coat. I also think that the milkpaint site has a good point about orange groves. Furthermore, when we peel an orange in our homes the natural d-limonene in the peel is probably freed and is not doubt forming some formaldehyde if there is ozone in the room (which there likely is if you have a computer in the room as far as I know). I suspect that this formaldehyde is a drop in the bucket compared to the emissions of press-wood furniture and conventional finishes. Try as we might, I do not think we will ever be zero formaldehyde. Natural wood itself emits a bit of formaldehyde, so it might even be the case that, once the citrus solvent evaporates, the total formaldehyde emission would be less than with naked wood. I personally would buy the particular citrus solvent from the milk paint site. They seem to be as concerned with purity as we are.

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Lucaspup5 April 18, 2013 at 19:41

Hi, I just want to thank you for this incredible info! I was so overwhelmed with this decision & your article helped so much. I live in PA & drove today to the angel line warehouse distributor & got my Della 3 in 1 unfinished for $300. (No shipping fee since I picked up!) it is made of totally solid wood and has a metal base for the mattress. I’d love your advice on mattresses and finishes. The owner really recommends finishing it or it will warp from moisture/humidity. I also saw all their finished products & smelled some out of the box and they did not smell like chemicals at all! I think the stores sell these cribs for $600+ so it
was awesome o get one direct from Ken. Thanks again for sharing- I think $900-1500 for a nontoxic crib is highway robbery and don’t understand why doing the right thing for our planet is so expensive! I’m so glad Della has an affordable Eco friendly option! Although it is made in china and the wood is probably not sustainable :(
I wih it were easier and less expensive to do the right thing!

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse April 19, 2013 at 15:08

Hi Lucaspup5! You are very welcome. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story! That is great that you were able to go and pick up an unfinished, solid wood crib directly from a manufacturer, and even better that it has a metal base. I love your out-of-the-box thinking on this one! Yes, I agree that it could warp from moisture or humidity if not at least finished with a food-grade oil finish. Some folks are willing to risk the warping, but I understand that some are not. I am glad that their finished cribs did not smell like chemicals, but remember that we can smell some VOCs, but we cannot smell heavy metals . . . so the smell test is not always fool-proof and that is why I tell parents to ask the manufacturer for the raw testing data on their finishes. I agree that it is unfortunate that doing the right thing for our planet and our children is so expensive that it is out of the financial reach of many. Thanks again for sharing! I hope parents in the PA area reading this are able to do as you have done!

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Lucaspup5 April 20, 2013 at 19:26

I forgot to mention- their warehouse is in Pennsville,NJ, across the river from Wilmington Delaware. I wanted to go see it in person before buying it because I felt like it was too good to be true! It converts to a toddler bed and a full size bed. I love that I got it! A couple questions for you: is it safe for me to finish it with the tung oil even though I’m pregnant? Are there any noVOC wood stains I can finish it with from the local environmental home store? Do you have a blog on crib mattresses? And also, I trying to find a non toxic rocker/recliner. Everyone says those gliders are really uncomfortable and to just get a lazyboy instead. If I got a used lazyboy, do you think the flame retardants/stain guard or other chemicals will have worn off? Do you know of a nontoxic version? I won’t buy leather and google has been no help with the search. Thanks again!

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Krissy April 19, 2013 at 02:12

Nicole,
I am so happy to have found your site. But I’m also in a sheer panic now…my 6 month old has been sleeping in a 100% Ikea bedroom since birth.
I’ve tried to read all the questions but please forgive me if I’m re-asking something. Is there a safe way to seal the partical board furniture?
We did purchase the naturepedic organic cotton mattress from Target. Do you know if that’s truly organic and safe? Also, if it’s sitting on the horrible crib is it just consumed with formaldahyde now and no longer a safe mattress?
Thank you for all your information, research, and help!

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse April 19, 2013 at 14:54

Hi Krissy, in terms of sealants, I think that that would likely just introduce more VOCs into the mix at this point. Unfortunatley, your furniture has likely off-gassed much already. If it were me, I would just air out as much as possible at this point–your whole house, and especially the nursery. The Naturepedic mattresses are great, in my opinion. We chose between the Naturepedic and a 100% natural latex mattress for our daughter’s “big kid bed,” and we ended up going with the Naturepedic because of a strong family history of allergies and the ever-so-slight potential that a natural latex mattress could trigger reactions in those of us in the house who are latex sensitive. No, I do not think sitting in the fiberboard crib will have comprimised your mattress in any way that airing out will not address. Please try not to panic. We can only do as well for our children as we know to do at any given time. You did that. Now you know better and will do better in the future, and your baby will be that much better off for it:-) Thanks for writing. I am glad you found my site helpful.

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Laney April 21, 2013 at 13:11

BTW.. I love you “OCD” referenced above. My mother in law is pressuring us to pick out a crib quickly and I keep wanting to do more research to find the safest crib. Thank you!!! As I have no idea what most of the sites are talking about.

I looked at the link you posted earlier for the Tung Oil, is the Dark Tung Oil just as safe if I want a darker look? It sounds like it is, but just wanted to check.
http://www.realmilkpaint.com/dark_oil.html

Also, about how much finish is needed for the Sniglar crib from IKEA?

And the smallest bottle of citrus solvent sufficient?

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse May 26, 2013 at 11:18

Hi Laney! Keep on with your research! You are doing important work to protect your child! I wish I had listened more to my gut and less to others when I was making important decisions in the past. The Dark Tung Oil has a resin added to it to make the darker color. For a quick overview of what a “resin” is check this out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resin (obviously by no means the last word on resin research, but a good starting point nonetheless). Even with the resin, I suspect that the Dark Tung Oil would be safer than most conventional finishes, but that is just a suspicion–I have not done any in depth research or asked the company for further information on the source of the resin they are using. It will come down to what you are willing to have in your baby’s mouth should your baby turn out to gnaw the rails while you are sleeping like mine did. You might want to call or e-mail them and see if they will tell you more about their Dark Tung Oil. I have not actually finished a sniglar crib, so that would be another question for the Tung Oil seller. They should be able to give you a more educated guess than I about that. It seems like a smaller bottle of citrus solvent would do, since you are only going to be using it for initial coats, but, again, I would ask the seller. Thanks for stopping by:-)

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Kara May 4, 2013 at 16:00

Hi Nicole,
Thanks so much for the info here. It has helped me a lot in my search for a safe crib. In all of my searching, I have run across a company in Canada, called College Woodwork. Their furniture can be purchased unfinished and they seemed to have a handful of different style cribs/furniture. http://collegewoodwork.org/
Their children’s furniture seems to appear under this company site: http://www.kidzdecoeur.com/catalog/collections
I was wary of their finish options for the reasons you have given here… they say that they are safe, but don’t go into details. Basically they say that the furniture is manufactured in accordance with the “Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008” and contain NO lead, phtalates, antimony, arsenic, cadmium or mercury. The unfinished option sounds like a possibility, but I think the price point approaches Green Cradle. We were quoted approx. $750 for an unfinished crib. Just thought that I would share this info. thanks!

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse May 26, 2013 at 11:20

Kara, thank you so much for sharing another option for unfinished cribs with us! I appreciate it! They are difficult to find.

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Rose May 9, 2013 at 11:34

Thanks so much for this post! We are considering IKEA cribs and will definitely check out the Sniglar. Do you know anything about the Gulliver crib (http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/40118818/) and how acceptable IKEA’s “clear acrylic” finish is, as I believe that’s the finish on the birch Gulliver? I think everything else is the same as the Sniglar (solid wood except the top of the mattress frame which is fiberboard; we would plan to purchase this now and let it air out in the basement or back entryway (with screen door open) until the fall (baby is due around Halloween).

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse May 26, 2013 at 11:24

Hi Rose! Thanks for stopping by! I would not risk a “clear acrylic finish” personally. Although the “acrylic” part is certainly better than some of the other finishes out there in terms of the fact that it is easier on the environment (compared to oil finishes, that is), it is still a conventional finish with a laundry list of nasties in it. If it were some sort of “safer acrylic” you can bet the farm that they would be shouting it from the mountains and charging more. My recommendation would be to go for the unfinished.

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Steve May 17, 2013 at 15:43

Thanks for all your indepth research and knowledge. It was to read through the article as well as the comments and your prompt feedback. We’re looking for a crib for our first and have all the same concerns, solid wood, heavy metal free, no/low VOC etc.

We’ve come across the Baby Letto Hudson for a good price and wanted your feedback. It seems to meet most criteria except I can’t find information regarding the VOC.

http://www.babyletto.com/hudson-3-in-1-convertible-crib/

Thanks,
Steve

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse May 26, 2013 at 11:28

Hi Steve! Thanks for stopping by! Without looking at the Baby Letto Hudson crib, I feel safe in assuring you that if their finish were low or no VOC, they would be shouting it from the roof-top and charging accordingly. You should definitely call the manufacturer before proceeding. My guess is that you get the usual response, “Our finishes conform to all government standards.” (Let me know if they are actually more helpful than that or if they actually know what is in their finish, as they will be an exception). You and I want better for our children than those insufficient government standards. It’s a pain, but I urge you to go with unfinished so that you have TOTAL control over what your baby comes in contact with.

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Kylie May 22, 2013 at 11:01

Thank you so much for this wonderful article!! I was wondering if you have any information on the toxicity of the finishes of Bonavita cribs? I bought the Bonavita “Peyton” crib a little while ago, but now after reading your post, I am considering returning it…

Thank you so much!
-Kylie

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse May 26, 2013 at 11:40

Hi Kylie! Thanks for writing! The best information regarding your Bonavita crib will come from the manufacturer. I suspect you will get an answer like what I suggest Steve will get above, but it is always worth a try. Again, from calling MANY manufacturers and grilling them over the past few years, I have learned that those who are selling safer products will always brag about their “safer” finishes . . . if you see no claims to that effect, then you can bet you are dealing with a conventional finish in every respect.

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Bonnie May 25, 2013 at 02:52

Check out AFM Safecoat sealers. We moved into a house covered in weird murals that seemed permanently tacky from so many layers. I was 6 months pregnant and we used the AFM safecoat primer to seal anything in. It worked great and didn’t bother me at all (their products are used for very chemically sensitive individuals). We also used their caulk when we replaced our windows. I bought a small container of the clear sealant to use on the crib, which we realized after we bought it was partially made of mdf :(
I haven’t tried it yet, but I plan on putting it along the bottom portion where the mdf is. It’s supposed to reduce formaldehyde emission by over 96%

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse May 26, 2013 at 12:08

Thank you for sharing the AFM Safecoat info with us, Bonnie! I have only taken an initial glance at them, but their products appear very helpful. I would say at this point that perhaps their sealers would be a good option for sealing the particle board platform that comes with even many of the unfinished real wood cribs available. However, at this point, and without in-depth reading, I would hesitate to put in on a surface a baby might chew. That said, their products sound like a major achievement in terms of indoor air quality if they are indeed capable of blocking off-gassing. Thanks again for sharing, Bonnie!

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse May 26, 2013 at 11:59

Dear Readers,

Please forgive that my responses may be quite delayed for the next few months. My family and I are in the middle of putting our home up for sale (see my smart meter articles) and trying to purchase another home. I am quite overwhelmed with this process being superimposed upon my work duties and mommy duties. Also, please keep in mind that for every “real” e-mail/comment that I get from concerned parents, I get (literally) at least 100 spam comments/e-mails, which makes for a lot of sifting and sorting before I even can get your comment approved to appear on this post (let alone “responded to”). Thank you for your understanding. If you have a question that all readers could potentially benefit from, please post here in the comments instead of privately messaging me. The preceding prevents me from having to privately answer the same questions many times over, which allows me to answer more questions overall . . . and it also benefits other parents.

Thanks and be well!

Nicole

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David June 11, 2013 at 17:11

Thanks for all this information, though it has cost me several hours of sleep searching for various unfinished or truly non-toxic cribs.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the Kalon Caravan crib. They have all sorts of recognitions and write-ups for their sustainable and healthy approach. They claim the finishes they’ve developed in house are “practically food-grade,” and you can also get it completely unfinished as well (though those colors are great). The mattress support, though, is birch plywood with glue they told me is “formaldehyde-free and non-toxic.” I asked for a bit more infomation on the glue. Do you know anything about this company?

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David June 11, 2013 at 21:09

Thanks for all the info, though it has cost me several hours of sleep to paranoid internet research.

Do you have any opinion on the Kalon Caravan crib? They say they are 100% maple, but a representative told me that the platform supporting the mattress is birch plywood. They offer it unfinished, though the colors are beautiful and tempting. They claim their homemade finishes are essentially food grade, but that isn’t described in much detail. The company as a whole seems to have many eco accolades.

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Birgit June 20, 2013 at 02:08

Great post! What about the cribs from land of nod (http://www.landofnod.com/straight-up-crib-natural/f3941) by el Greco?

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Sarah July 4, 2013 at 06:08
kyle July 9, 2013 at 01:08

Just curious about your credentials and qualifications before we trust this info. Or are you one of those bloggers paid by the special-interest group to propagate their agenda?

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse August 21, 2013 at 11:49

Kyle, my credentials and qualifications are on my site for all to read. I promote products I trust–period. In fact, I pay heftily yearly to keep this site up because I care about the health of our children–it is not even close to a wash with what I make on being an affiliate for products I trust and use myself.

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Roberta August 2, 2013 at 11:07

Hi, does anyone have information on the toxicity of Westwood Stratton crib? My son is now 17 months old but he started to chew on it and i am very concerned.

thanks.

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abbey August 6, 2013 at 16:26

Hi, was wondering what you thought of the Stokke crib…

Thanks!

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Amy October 28, 2013 at 19:39

Hi Nicole, I too am curious what you think of the Stokke crib? I’ve searched your blog for posts on the Stokke crib but Abbey’s question is the only reference I find. I’d greatly appreciate your feedback. I did find some feedback on the crib at
http://answers.giggle.com/answers/6890/product/104305/questions.htm
Thank you for sharing all of your research!

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Shannon August 18, 2013 at 21:49

Thank you so much for this article. I can’t tell you how much it has helped. I have just recently learned or opened my eyes rather to all the toxins around us and this was great. Question though, what about other furniture for the nursery or child’s room. I am looking for a dresser and shelves for toys and can’t find anything! Thank you!

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse August 18, 2013 at 22:09

Hi Shannon! Thanks for stopping by. I try to buy all of my furniture unfinished now and finish it myself with safe finishes. Little Colorado is a brand that offers children’s furniture in unfinished solid wood. Last I knew they make great shelves and toy boxes. For dressers, I have had good luck with Whitewood Industries’ products. Their site has a dealer locator that is helpful for finding nearby dealers of their furniture (and other brands of unfinished furniture too). The glues in unfinished furniture are not necessarily no VOC and, just as with the cribs, the other unfinished pieces are not necessarily completely particle board free, so definitely use your judgment and either replace such parts with real wood or allow proper off gassing time away from your baby or child. Good luck with your shopping. I am glad you have become aware of toxins!

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Bethany August 21, 2013 at 11:27

Thank you so much for this article! It was hugely helpful in helping direct my husband and I in our recent purchase of a Green Cradle crib.

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse February 1, 2014 at 14:59

You are very welcome, Bethany!

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G August 26, 2013 at 17:38

HI do you have any safe crib suggestions for mini cribs?

Thanks

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ALISON September 17, 2013 at 18:38

Hi,

Love your post! Do you know much about the Restoration Hardware Cribs? Here is the response I got from my inquiry.
Thoughts?

Thanks!

“All of our finishes and glues are non-toxic. Please note that sometimes there will be an odor from the packing that dissipates very quickly. All of our finishes are soy and vegetable based. All furniture is ASTM standards and is tested by an independent laboratory per these regulations. (JPMA certifies that same kind of testing.) “

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ALISON September 17, 2013 at 18:49

Also, what about the Nurseryworks Loom/Abbey crib, I was surprised that their cribs weren’t listed above

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Emily Beckman September 20, 2013 at 15:28

Hi Nicole-

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your incredibly insightful and thoughtful article. My husband and I are expecting our first baby in January and I am exhausted by all of the products that are out there. Thank you for doing the research for all of us!

Quick question – I did not see any mini crib options on the websites that you recommend. Do you know of any safe cribs that are offered in a mini size?

Thanks again & keep up the good work!

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Kristi October 1, 2013 at 15:50

I am also interested in knowing more about the Westwood Designs Stratton crib. Do you have any information on the toxicity levels of these cribs? They claim to be nontoxic, but after reading your blog I see that we need to dig deeper to find out the true levels of toxicity. Any information you might have on Westwood Designs would be greatly appreciated. This is the direction we were leaning, but I want to make sure we make an informed decision. Thank you.

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Gina December 25, 2013 at 02:42

Thank you very much for your article. It helps me to be aware of the toxic .Do you have any comments about the crib from El Greco Woodworking http://www.elgrecofurniture.com/ ? They used to make exclusively for the Land do Nod? I am not really sure about their coating.

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Jon January 6, 2014 at 12:56

We recently followed the suggestion of purchasing the Sniglar crib from Ikea and finishing it with tung oil with citrus solvent (we purchased the oil and solvent from realmilkpaint.com, as recommended previously). I used four coats of tung oil, which took quite a bit of time but was otherwise pretty easy to do, and it really came out great. Also, we were pleasantly surprised to see that Ikea no longer uses any MDF with their cribs, and the crib base is now made with solid wooden slats. Thanks for the excellent suggestions.

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse February 1, 2014 at 14:17

Great news, Jon! Thanks for sharing and helping others in their decision-making!

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Mona February 1, 2014 at 08:59

Wonderful post, Nicole, about safe, non-toxic cribs! I just bought the IKEA Snigler based on your post and I was extremely pleased to see that the platform is no longer made of pressboard but out of a breathable, mesh fabric! How great is that?

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse February 1, 2014 at 14:16

Mona, thanks for sharing this news to help others with their decision-making!

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Maia April 5, 2014 at 17:29

Hi there,
I also just bought the IKEA Sniglar based on this excellent article. We also discovered that the platform is now made of a 100% nylon mesh, rather than pressboard.
However, I am not familiar with nylon. Is nylon safe and non-toxic for baby?
Any input would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse April 5, 2014 at 20:00

It is hard to gather data on fabrics as there is such a wide variety of processing methods. However, I have read here and elsewhere that, of synthetic fabrics, nylon and polyester off gas the least, but I share your concern on a crib. I think it would be MUCH less off-gassing than with particle board, and probably about the same amount of off-gassing as untreated fleece clothing. For our child’s bed we have bought very wide (10″ plus), natural wood planks, and aligned them without much space in between (1″ or less), to make a very firm slat platform. We always screw them down into the rail with counter-sunk screws to give the bed stability.

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Maia April 6, 2014 at 20:28

Thank you so much for the helpful info! Much appreciated!

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Emily March 4, 2014 at 19:16

Awesome article; very helpful for expecting mom.
Jon or anyone, it would be great if you could post a pic of your Ikea Sniglar with coats of tung oil. Or email me a pic, emilyrae373@gmail.com.
If anyone has a non-toxic crib for sale between now and early August 2014 please let me know. Emilyrae373@gmail.com

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Melissa May 10, 2014 at 00:28

I also just bought an Ikea Sniglar and was happy to see that it doesn’t contain any fiberboard anymore! Given this, is it still necessary to let it off-gas for a time before baby sleeps in it? I’m using a Naturepedic no compromise mattress with it. I’m asking because baby will literally be here ANY DAY now, haha. Thanks!

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse May 10, 2014 at 15:25

Hi Melissa! Congrats on your upcoming arrival! It is always a good idea to air out the nursery regularly. The unfinished wood Sniglar frame should not need to off-gas in the way that a chemically finished crib would. However, I would air out your nursery as much as possible and as frequently as possible from now on, especially if you have other items in it that are new. If you live in a high air-pollution area, then the following may not hold true, but, in most places, the outdoor air is cleaner than the indoor air, thanks to every day household goods and their off-gasing. Even new clothing has residues from the manufacturing process. I prepared my baby’s nursery by airing it out for as long as I could and washing all of the new clothes that would be hanging in the closet and placed in dressers.

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Melissa May 13, 2014 at 13:16

Nicole, Thanks for the information, I really appreciate you taking the time to respond. :)

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Carrie May 22, 2014 at 09:17

Hello,
This was a wonderful help to me! Thank you. Have you posted about finishing wood or crib mattresses?

Thank you!

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Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse May 22, 2014 at 21:27

Hi Carrie! Thanks for stopping by. No, unfortunately, I have not gotten those posts up yet. Life has had some interesting plans for me lately. However, if you read through the comments you will find my recommendations for a safe finish:-)

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