Controlling Airborne Toxins and Allergens: Tips for Protecting Newborns and Mothers
Children require a clean, wholesome environment in which to grow. For mothers and newborns, whose bodies are in the early stages of development, poor indoor air quality can be especially dangerous. New moms are vulnerable to illness, which puts the babies they breastfeed at a considerable disadvantage. Asthma, allergies, and other respiratory problems are dangerous enough; when babies have to cope with airborne pollutants in their own homes, they face a potentially lethal threat. It’s crucial for parents to be diligent about maintaining a healthy living environment. Understanding what creates unhealthy breathing air—and recognizing the symptoms of pulmonary illness (frequent coughing, shortness of breath, chest congestion, and discomfort)—is necessary to keep babies and mothers safe.
Keep it clean
Many indoor airborne pollutants and allergens are transmitted via dust, which makes vacuuming and dusting on a regular basis one of the best ways to establish a healthy breathing environment. If you have a dog with lots of fur and dander, you’re doubling down on the bad stuff, so clean vacuum air vents and ducts frequently. Remember, the more you allow dust, hair, and other pollutants to accumulate, the greater the threat to your child’s health. Purchasing a quality vacuum with powerful suction and brush action, and plenty of attachments to reach behind appliances and under furniture.
A quality air purifier with a HEPA filter is one of the best investments you can make with a little one in the house. It can remove many of the pollutants that cause asthma and allergic reactions. And be sure to change or clean your HVAC filter every six weeks, particularly if allergies are a problem for you or your child.
Tear up the carpeting
Carpeting is a popular choice for children’s bedrooms; it’s soft, warm, looks nice, and can easily be color coordinated. Unfortunately, carpeting is an ideal haven for dust mites, pollen, and a host of allergens. If you’re invested in carpeting, you’ll need a powerful, heavy-duty vacuum to keep up with all the stuff that gets tracked in from outside. Otherwise, it may be time to think about hardwood or tile flooring. You’ll still need to vacuum regularly, but it’ll make things easier (and the air healthier).
Many of the commercial cleaning products you’ve grown up with and continue to use contain toxic chemicals and volatile organic compounds, which represent a long-term health threat to everyone, especially to a newborn’s sensitive respiratory system. It’s well worth the effort to research the bleach-free, environmentally friendly cleaning products on the market these days, or to switch to safe, natural cleaning products such as baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice.
Avoid plug-in air fresheners, many of which contain dangerously toxic chemicals. Try switching to essential oil infusers, use a vinegar-water solution, light scented candles, or set out bowls of fresh coffee beans, which do a good job of absorbing odors. If you have a green thumb, be aware that indoor plants are excellent sources of fresh oxygen and can absorb some toxins, like formaldehyde and benzene.
Air it out
Everyone should open the doors and windows and air out their house once in a while to clear out any lingering bad smells, allergens, and toxins. Just make sure your newborn isn’t close to an open window if it’s chilly outside.
Regular cleaning, dusting, and vacuuming are key to maintaining a home that’s safe for you and your baby. Consider switching to natural cleaning products to keep airborne pollutants under control, and get rid of any old, sodden carpeting in your child’s bedroom.
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