✓ When you have the urge to redecorate, purchase a low- or no-VOC product. Any major hardware or large retail store will have these types of products available.
Carpet and furniture
Fabrics can be welcome hosts of allergens like mold, pollen and dust mites. They also happily trap dust that could contain toxins like pesticides, lead, and fire retardants.
✓ Vacuum frequently with a HEPA filter. Many vacuums have these built-in. There are lots of vacuums to choose from to battle the dust mites.
✓ We suggest replacing your carpeting with wood floors, or redoing the floors found underneath. If redoing your wood floors, don't go the toxic route!
The under-the-sink arsenal: Just like we mentioned in the kitchen section, the same common crew of bathroom cleaners can contain toxic ingredients, too. Manufacturers don't have to list the ingredients on the label.
✓ Shop for natural, non-toxic brands. Any major retailer can provide access to alternative cleaning compounds.
✓ For the safest clean, make your own pantry-safe batch of cleaning supplies using soap, water, baking soda and vinegar.
Personal Care Products: Did you know that most personal care products haven't been tested for safety by the FDA, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Panel, or any other institute? Some of their common ingredients have been linked to health problems.
✓ Ask yourself, "What's in this stuff?" If you can't pronounce the ingredients, consider passing on the product. Try non-scented products. According to Dr. Leon Kircik, spokesman for the American Association of Dermatology, "fragrance is often what people are allergic to."
✓ Check the Skin Deep's cosmetics online data base. You can type in a product or ingredient to find out if there is a known toxic effect.
Sleeping safely: Mattresses are treated with flame retardant and coated in plastic. "Off-gassing" can affect your child's health and development.
✓ Get rid of synthetic mattress off-gas plastic fumes by airing the mattress outdoors before using. Cover the mattress with a cotton or wool mattress pad.
✓ Consider buying an organic mattress. They are a little pricier than the non-organic variety, but isn't your family worth it? If you really can't afford one, try the step above.
Diaper covers: Diapers are definitely in close contact with your baby throughout the day! Could your diapers or laundry detergent contain harmful chemicals?
✓ Use fragrance-free disposable or cloth diapers.
✓ Go green with your diaper choices -- chlorine-free disposables, cotton reusables with flush-able liners. Use baby wipes that don't contain chlorine, dyes, and fragrance.
Lurking in the Toy Box: Do you think toys are safe because they are up on the store shelves? Think again. Your baby might get a taste of harmful chemicals from toys made of PVC or lead and other toxic heavy metals from a doll to a painted train.
✓ If the only label you used to look at when buying a toy was the price tag, we encourage you to check the product for PVCs. Keep an eye on the Consumer Product Safety Commission's list for any product recalls.
✓ Opt for toys made of natural materials like wood, organic cotton or wool. If you receive baby gifts of items you don't want around your baby, gently recycle to the charity of your choice.
It's more than the hazy cloud of toxic yuck that creeps into the air. Unfortunately, you don't have to be a smoker for your child to be exposed or affected. After a cigarette is puffed, it leaves more behind that just its smell. Researchers have found that the residue from the cigarette clings to furniture, clothing, walls, rugs and floors.
Your baby's "tasting is knowing" behavior, or your active toddler's curiosity help them scoop up bits of this dust. The best way to reduce exposure to these toxic chemicals is not to smoke. In the real world, though, someone your baby knows could be a smoker.