Baby arriving? Detox your home now!

You’re sharing a house with loads of harmful substances, so make sure it’s safe before bubba joins the household.

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Having a baby is surely a joyous milestone to be celebrated. And after raising that glass of grape juice — alcohol is out of the question — it’s time to check off that long to-do list!

Besides getting all your necessities — a crib, bottles and diapers — don’t forget to pay attention to your living spaces. Indeed, ridding your home of dust, dirt and household items that may contain unsafe materials for baby will keep allergens at bay and ensure that your little one grows up happy and healthy. As your vulnerable newborn can fall sick easily, guarding his developing immunity is vital!

If you have a pet dog or cat, you may want to get fixtures like a gate or net to keep them out of the nursery. Don’t let the pet lick your child’s body, as that will spread harmful bacteria. Ensure your pets are clean and well-groomed at all times to prevent worms, ticks and fleas from entering the home.

If you are wary of conventional cleaning materials sold in the supermarkets, you may want to use natural cleaning options like baking soda and vinegar.

Thankfully, sprucing up your home does not mean remodelling it with Extreme Makeover fervour. Even better, you can rope your hubby in to take charge of these simple home improvements! Here are quick and easy but important fixes to carry out…

1. Purify the air

WHAT You shouldn’t wait till Singapore’s caught in the thick of the seasonal haze before installing an air purifier at home. If you or your spouse suffers from chronic conditions like asthma and allergic rhinosinusitis, bubba is also predisposed to developing these health issues as well.
DO THIS Installing an air purifier with a HEPA filter will remove dust and pollutants that are invisible to your naked eye. Dusting and vacuuming the floors regularly can also prevent harmful dust particles from being inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Ideally, do this at least two to three times a week ― if cleaning is a regular part of your weekly routine now, it’ll become less of a chore once baby arrives. Use microfibre cloths, which are more efficient and effective in catching dirt, grime and stubborn stains without leaving unsightly scratches. Don’t use a feather duster as it’ll just spread dust around.

2. Say no to harsh cleaning chemicals

WHAT While bleaching your floors at home can wipe out bacteria and viruses, these harsh chemicals can also be bad for baby’s soft skin. Cleaning supplies that are loaded with chemicals like phthalates and ammonia can spell serious trouble for bubba. Ammonia, for instance, is a strong irritant that can cause breathing issues. Phthalates may lead to birth defects, developmental disorders and reproductive issues.
DO THIS Shop for eco-friendly cleaning products. If these hypoallergenic and fragrance-free cleaners are good for the environment, they are also good for bubba’s health, especially since these should cause fewer allergic reactions.

If you are wary of conventional cleaning materials sold in the supermarkets, you may want to use natural cleaning options like baking soda and vinegar. This natural combination absorbs odours and removes stains effectively without the negative health effects of artificial cleaners.

Ways to keep the air in your home fresh…next!

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3. Toss synthetic fragrances, scented candles and air fresheners

WHAT While you might think that a sweet-smelling room will make it more inviting for bubba, ditch artificial fragrances as these tend to include traces of phthalates and even carcinogens. Scented candles have also been shown to emit formaldehyde — a cancer-causing chemical that’s also been known to cause nosebleeds, sore throats, coughs and stinging eyes. Also, limonene, the chemical that gives off citrus scents, turns into formaldehyde as it interacts with the ozone in the air.
DO THIS Open windows to freshen the air in your room and, as mentioned above, use baking soda and lemon juice to manage odours and stains. Also, indoor plants don’t just please the eye, these will also improve the air quality at home. Besides absorbing toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene, plants also enhance the oxygen levels at home. Try the snake plant, also known as (no kidding) mother-in-law’s tongue. This resilient indoor plant, which needs very little sunlight, can absorb nitrogen oxide and formaldehyde. Boston ferns also require minimal upkeep. Just be sure to place such plants on a tabletop or shelf that’s well out of baby’s reach.

Groom and bathe your pets regularly to keep them clean at all times to prevent worms, ticks and fleas from entering the home.

4. Discard dangerous plastics

WHAT BPA — or bisphenol A — is a chemical compound widely used to produce plastic bottles and food containers. Some research studies have shown that the chemical has been known to “seep” into food or beverages from these containers. Exposure to BPA has been linked to negative effects on brain development and the behaviour of infants and children.
DO THIS Opt for BPA-free plastic products, which you can easily identify by reading the labels. Where possible, you may want to choose food storage options that are made from stainless steel, porcelain or glass.

Besides ditching plastics, minimise your consumption of canned foods, too. Most food tins are lined with a layer of BPA resin. Remember that whatever you put in your mouth may have a negative impact on the quality of your breastmilk!

5. Practise proper pet care

WHAT Your pet is part of your family, but having an animal in your home can be a health hazard if the right pet care is not given. Dogs for instance, can carry fleas and ticks, while cats can transmit bacterial infections through their bites or claws. Make sure your home doesn’t have traces of animal stool as these can carry salmonella.
DO THIS Groom and bathe your pets regularly to keep them clean at all times to prevent worms, ticks and fleas from entering the home. Brush them weekly, wash their beds and blankets often, and replace their toys after they’ve been drooled on and have been around for a while, which collects dirt and dust. You may want to get fixtures like a gate or net to keep them out of the nursery. Don’t let the pet lick your child’s body, as that will spread harmful bacteria.

6. Get rid of smoke in or near your home

WHAT Smoking is bad for you and your spouse’s health as it can lead to lung cancer. Breathing in second-hand smoke can also be hazardous to your baby’s health ― it increases your baby’s risk of respiratory tract infections, bronchitis or pneumonia.

Your loved ones may also fall victim to third-hand smoke ― residual nicotine and other chemical substances in the cigarette cling to indoor surfaces like the curtains, carpets and bedding. What’s worse, these chemicals can’t be effectively removed just by opening windows and airing the room.
DO THIS Stub out the habit. The sooner you quit smoking, the cleaner the air at home, which means a healthier environment for everyone.

Photos: iStock

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