Safe Paints For Your Baby's Room

ECOS Paints 12/15/2022
Safe Paints For Your Baby's Room

You're finally ready to take the plunge and paint your nursery! Whether you're expecting your first child or adding to your brood, this is an exciting time. But before you dip into that first can of paint, there are a few things you need to know before you decorate your baby's room. Are you looking for safe paints for nurseries? You're not alone! Many parents-to-be are concerned about the safety of everything in their baby's environment, and rightly so. 

It is important to understand that there is no simple definition for a universally safe paint. Allergies and sensitivities vary considerably from person to person and the application of the paint itself is an important factor in overall safety. With that in mind, there are chemicals which have traditionally been used in paints that are more likely to be linked to an allergic reaction, or other health conditions. In this article, we'll talk about some of the best paints to use in your baby's room and tips for choosing an eco-friendly and non-toxic paint. Keep reading to learn more!

How to Choose Paint for a Baby’s Nursery

When decorating your baby's nursery, be sure to look for paint that is non-toxic* and environmentally friendly. Lullaby Paints is a non-toxic1 paint that is designed for nurseries. It is made with gentler ingredients and does not contain the harsh chemicals commonly found in conventional paints. They're also zero VOC**, so they won't contribute to indoor air pollution.

You shouldn't have to compromise on creating the nursery of your dreams when choosing paint. There are options on the market that provide a safer solution while still giving you the creative freedom to put together your dream nursery. 

What’s in Paint?

Paint is a mixture of pigment and binder used to cover surfaces. The pigment is the colorant, and the binder is the substance that holds the paint together. The most common binders are acrylic and latex. Paint can be made from various substances, including vegetables, minerals, and resins. An option for non-toxic paint is clay paint. Clay paint is made from natural materials, so it's typically biodegradable and non-toxic. It's also breathable, so it won't trap harmful fumes in the room. Milk paint is made from natural materials like milk and lime, so it's gentle on your furniture. It's also environmentally friendly and biodegradable. However, both these paint types can be less durable and more difficult to apply. Each type of paint will have a different list of ingredients. Understand what's in each to make the right decision for your baby. 

Consider the VOCs

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a common concern with paints. These chemicals evaporate quickly into the air and can cause problems like headaches, nausea, and even cancer. You don't want these VOCs floating around your baby's nursery!

Fortunately, there are some low-VOC and zero-VOC paints on the market. They tend to be more expensive than traditional paints, but having a safer nursery for your baby is worth it.

When shopping for low-VOC paint, be sure to read the label carefully. Some paints labeled "low VOC" actually have a comparatively high VOC content. There are conflicting standards that regulate when a product can claim low VOC. This is why it's essential to do your research to determine if it's suitable for your nursery. 

Due to their ingredient properties, zero VOC paints can have a slight odor. Still, they do dry quickly and offer a durable finish for your nursery. Some brands advertise no VOC, but that doesn't mean that there aren't other harmful chemicals within the paint. ECOS Paints shares ingredient lists for our products to help you make an informed buying decision.

To ensure public safety, several independent bodies, like the CDPH, ASTM, and EPA, test materials. Wow, that's a lot of acronyms! Look for brands that conform to the California Department of Public Health standards. CDPH Standard 01350 is one of the most widely used standards to measure building materials for emissions. The American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM) standard D-4236 evaluates paints for acute and chronic toxicity. The EPA's main paint goals include combatting lead-based paint and making advancements toward promoting safer paint products. Look for brands that meet these standards, but keep in mind that each of these standards only tells part of the safety story.

Application of the paint also matters. When painting your baby's room, take steps to minimize the amount of VOCs remaining in the air. Open windows and avoid painting when your baby is in the room. Let the paint dry thoroughly before reentering the room.

Look for water-based or natural paints

Water-based paints are an excellent choice for parents looking for a healthier paint option for their baby. These paints can be non-toxic, made without harsh chemicals or solvents, and made with organic materials. You have less worry about immediate cleanup if non-toxic paint gets on your skin, brushes, or other surfaces. Water-based and natural paints are also less likely to cause allergic reactions. 

Water-based and natural paints are also safer for the environment. In addition, these paint types often carry a lower VOC level. The paint brand should clearly display the primary binder on the product. Most brands will have extensive website information if you need clarification. 

Water-based paints also come in various finishes. This could be eggshell, satin, or semi-gloss. However, unlike oil-based paints, water-based paints have a lower risk of harmful side effects. 

Watch out for APE ingredients and other additives

When looking for safer paint to use around your baby, watch out for any ingredients with the acronym "APE." This stands for alkylphenol ethoxylates, a group of chemicals that are not readily biodegradable and may be harmful to your little one. So before purchasing any paint, be sure to read the label and first look for paints that are labeled "low VOC" or "no VOC." These paints will typically be gentler for your child's space. 

You should also be aware of chemical additives. Traditional house paints may contain xylene, benzene, phenol, and toluene. Each of these chemicals can present an additional health risk to you and your little one. Some substances, like formaldehyde, can be harmful to young children. Toxic chemicals can lead to a variety of  short-term and long-term health issues, such as headaches, dizziness, breathing problems, and lung irritation.

Off-gassing and chemical sensibilities

Off-gassing is a concern for many parents when choosing paint for their nursery. Many conventional paints emit harmful chemicals into the air. These chemicals can cause respiratory problems and other health issues in young children. Choosing a paint that is as safe as possible for your child is important.

If you're concerned about off-gassing, look for a paint with no polyurethane odor*** that conforms to ASTM E544 and ASTM MNL13. These tests measure paints for harmful emissions and certify that they meet their standards. 

Neutral gray painted nursery with white crib

Paint for cribs

Types of furniture paint

Consider the same evaluation of ingredients and additives when selecting paint for a crib. Water-based paint is the recommended type of paint to use on furniture, including cribs. Oil-based paint is generally less environmentally friendly and can be challenging to clean up if it gets on your skin. Either way, it is vital to ensure that your paint is lead-free, as lead-based paint can be dangerous for babies and young children.

Other paint types are becoming more popular, such as chalk paint. Determining if these products are suitable for your nursery takes careful consideration of the ingredients and product certifications. Certifications aren't a catch-all, making it essential to read and understand the ingredient list found in the paint. When in doubt, lean towards water-based or milk-based paint. 

Stains for baby furniture

There are a few options if you're looking for a non-toxic stain for your baby's furniture. One popular choice is beeswax, which is a natural sealant that comes from honeybees. It is non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and dries quickly. Beeswax stain creates a rich look and can help seal old scratches and generate a glossy finish. Additionally, beeswax stain can be a great product if you want a clear finish to enhance the look of wood. 

Another option is a water-based stain. These come in a variety of colors and can be applied with a brush or sponge. When choosing a non-toxic stain for your baby’s furniture, read the label carefully to ensure the product is suitable for you and your child. Furthermore, the cleanup of water-based stains is more straightforward.

Crib painting guidelines

Painting a crib can be a fun way to personalize your child's room. Still, taking the necessary precautions is vital. In addition to selecting a zero or low VOC paint, test the paint on a small area before you start painting. Be sure to paint in a well-ventilated area, and try to avoid getting the paint on your skin. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for application and drying times. Usually, it is best to apply at least two coats of paint for an optimal finish. This ensures that the color is evenly distributed and that there are no thin spots. 

Not that you'll be painting during delivery, but please let the paint dry completely before using the crib. In fact, it is recommended that you paint the nursery two months or more before the baby comes home to allow the paint to fully cure before using the room. Working with a healthier paint product is vital, especially if you aren't able to paint the nursery a few months in advance. You don't want to bring your newborn baby home to a room filled with chemical emissions. 

The type of paint or stain you use may have slightly different instructions, making it important to read the label beforehand. Some products come with prepping guidelines, such as wiping the walls down or letting the first coat sit for a specified time. You want to be sure you follow these guidelines to maximize the color and look of your nursery. 

Can you paint while pregnant?

Paints developed for baby nurseries are designed to be non-toxic and eco-friendly. However, it is always a good idea to take precautions when painting, especially if you are pregnant. In an abundance of caution, it is better not to paint when pregnant. Get someone else to do it. 

Consider wearing a mask when painting a nursery. Although it is uncommon that painting your nursery can negatively impact your baby, you want to be taking all the precautions possible. Do not work on the nursery if you know of pre-existing lead-based paints commonly found in older homes. Lead-based paint can cause serious side effects, such as damage to major organs. 

The Basics

  1. Choose your paint wisely - Look for low or zero-VOC paints. Our Lullaby Paints line is designed for your most precious room.
  2. Watch out for old paint - If you live in an older home, get professional help before removing old paint. While many modern paints are water-based, homes constructed before 1978 commonly used lead-based paints.
  3. Ventilate - Open the doors and windows while you paint the room, and remember to keep the doors open to air out the room while the paint dries. If you begin to get light headed, take a break and get some fresh air. Don't put too much stress on yourself. 
  4. Feet on the floor - The best way to avoid a fall is to keep both feet on the ground. Avoid ladders and, even worse, standing on chairs. Use an extension pole for the paint roller instead.
  5. Ask for help if you need it - If you find yourself overwhelmed or the job is too big for one person, ask for help. Consider hiring a professional painter if it fits within your budget. Putting together your nursery shouldn't feel like a burden. 

Sunny yellow painted nursery with floral decals and white crib

Nursery color schemes

One of the most important decisions you'll make when preparing for your baby's arrival is what color scheme to paint the nursery. You'll want to choose a scheme that is both soothing and stylish. Luckily, there are plenty of options out there that can fit both criteria. Here are a few tips for picking the perfect color palette:

  • Think about your baby's personality. If your child is fussy, opt for muted colors like pale green or blue. If your baby is active and curious, brighter shades like pink or yellow may be more suitable. This factor can be difficult to use if you are painting a nursery for a child on the way. This is why many nurseries have a neutral paint color complimented with colored furniture and decorations. 
  • Consider the room's light. A bright, sunny room will look best with light colors, while a darker room will be better suited to richer hues. If you consistently keep the shades closed, opt for a brighter color. Put a few different paint samples on the wall for a few days. Check back on the colors at all times of the day to determine which one fits the space the best.  
  • Take into account the rest of your home's decor. Choose colors already in your palette if you want the nursery to match the rest of your house. However, the nursery doesn't need to match your home. It's a special room designed for your child, which is bound to change colors as the years go on. Look up inspiration on websites to see which scheme you are leaning towards. 
  • Think about the long-term function of the room. You want to choose a color that can grow with your child. Many new parents lean towards a neutral color that can easily go with different furniture and decorations. If you want to avoid repainting the room again in the next few years, it is worth spending a little extra time choosing the right color. Keep in mind that paint can easily be changed. Don't be afraid to be bold. 

While many parents choose gender-specific colors for their nurseries, others may prefer a more gender-neutral palette. Many unisex nursery colors can be selected to paint a baby's room. Some popular options include light blue, yellow, and green. These colors are often thought to be calming and can help to set the mood for a restful environment. Some parents may avoid brightly colored paints, opting for pastels or neutrals instead. 

What is the best color scheme?

Unsurprisingly, there is no universally agreed upon best color scheme for your nursery. With that said, here are a few favorites:

  • Bright Yellow - Bright yellow is a cheerful and happy color that can be used to paint a nursery to make the room feel sunny and warm. Yellow is also said to promote creativity, so it can be a great choice for a nursery if you want your child to grow up to be an artist.
  • Gray - Gray walls are popular for nurseries because they create a calming and relaxing environment. Grey can also be paired with many other colors, making it a versatile choice for your baby's room.
  • Aqua and Coral - Aqua and coral are two beautiful colors that would look great together in a nursery. Aqua is a light blue-green color that can be calming, while coral is a warm orange-red color that can add some energy to the room as an accent color. Together, they create a balanced and cheerful space where your little one can grow and play.
  • Black and White - Black and white is a classic color scheme that can be used in any room of the house. It's perfect for a nursery because it's neutral and won't distract from the baby's other decorations. You can use black and white prints, stripes, or polka dots to add interest to the room.
  • Mint Green and Navy Blue - Pair pale mint green walls with a navy rug and white furniture for a bright, airy, gender-neutral nursery look. As an added bonus, the dark blue carpet will better hide the inevitable spills and stains.
  • Lavender - This subtle, light purple shade is like pink's more sophisticated older sister. Lavender goes well with whites, grays, or even gold accents for that royal touch.

Once you've chosen a color scheme, shop around for paint samples and test them out on a small area of the wall. Order samples to start your project today! 


We hope you found this post helpful in your search for the perfect paint for your nursery. Our Lullaby Paints are non-toxic and zero VOC, making them better for you and your baby. Our paints are free of harmful additives like APEs, so you can feel good about bringing them into your home. While no company can know how every individual will react to their paints, we strive to make paints that are safe and better for the environment. If you have any questions about our products or want to learn more about color schemes for nurseries, please don't hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to help!

*Non-toxic - conforms to ASTM-D4236, specifically concerning oral toxicity, skin irritation and respiratory effects.

**Zero VOC - conforms to CDPH 01350 (VOC emissions test taken at 11, 12, & 14 days for classroom & office use).

***No polyurethane odor - polyurethane can cause headaches, nausea and respiratory issues. Conforms to ASTM E544 & ASTM MNL13.