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Paula Kashtan

Is It Safe to Paint the Nursery While Pregnant?

Just picked out a color for the nursery? Get the scoop on what's safe—and what's not—when decorating baby's room.

While the exact dangers of painting aren’t known, it’s best to let someone else handle this job. All paints have chemicals, and though it’s tough to measure how much is actually absorbed while painting, some exposure is inevitable. Plus, there’s evidence linking high solvent exposure with birth defects and miscarriage.

If for some reason you absolutely must paint: Set a time limit; keep the windows open; wear long pants and sleeves, gloves and a screen or mask; don’t eat or drink while working; and use water-based paints, which have less solvents than oil-based ones.

Was your house built or decorated before lead paint was banned in 1978? Then you need to take extra caution. If you have even the slightest suspicion that lead paint might have been used, don’t risk it—hire a professional to take care of the scraping and removing, leave the house while they work, and wait at least 48 hours before reentering the room. Inhaling the dust can be harmful for you and baby.

Also, it’s best to start working on the nursery as soon as possible. Climbing ladders, carrying linens, hanging pictures and setting up furniture will be much easier and safer when your balance, flexibility and energy levels are still (relatively) high.