How Long After Painting a Room is it Safe For Baby?

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Have you heard of nesting during pregnancy? Nesting is the urge pregnant women have to clean and organize their home before their baby arrives.

For some women, nesting manifests itself as a need to vacuum the house multiple times a day or scrubbing the floors with a toothbrush (yes, really!).

One side effect of nesting that most moms-to-be can happily get on board with is the desire to paint and decorate their baby’s nursery.

If you are busy choosing paints for your baby’s bedroom, have you stopped to think about how long after painting a room is it safe for a baby?

In this article, we look at how safe it is to paint inside your home when you have a baby. Keep reading to find out how far in advance you should paint the nursery and how to safely paint rooms in your home if your baby has already arrived.

Can My Baby Be In The Room While I Paint?

Pregnancy can be hard work and not all parents manage to find the time or energy to get all their DIY and painting projects done before the baby is born.

Also, pregnant women are advised to avoid painting projects as much as possible, as the fumes from certain paint can be harmful and dangerous.

Not every baby has a beautifully painted nursery waiting for them when they are brought home from the hospital, sometimes their bedroom isn’t painted and decorated for months.

Whether you are painting your baby’s nursery or another room in your home, it is important to know if your baby can be in the room while you paint or not. 

Over the years paint has become safer and less toxic, but many types of paint are still made with harmful chemicals and release fumes that can cause a variety of health problems.

Even if you are using a paint that has non-volatile organic compounds (more on VOC-free paint later), you still don’t want your baby in the same room as you while you are painting, just to be extra safe. 

A small amount of exposure to paint fumes should not harm your baby. However,  your baby’s health becomes more at risk the longer they spend breathing in the fumes.

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You should not have your baby in the same room as you while you are painting, even if the room is well ventilated. If you have a baby and need to get some painting done, your safest option would be to get a babysitter or friend to take your baby out of the house.

Your baby can stay at home with you while you are painting, just make sure someone is watching them in a different room and you keep the house as ventilated as possible. 

For total peace of mind, plan to stay somewhere else with your baby while professional painters or another family member gets all the painting done.

Reducing your baby’s exposure to paint fumes will help to keep them safe from any of the harmful effects caused by breathing them in.

Can Paint Fumes Harm a Baby?

Gone are the days when parents had to worry about lead poisoning through breathing in paint fumes. Paint has become much less toxic over the years, but the majority of paints do still use chemicals to achieve the desired results.

Lead may no longer be a concern in 2021 but many paint brands continue to be toxic and VOC can be damaging to you and your baby’s health. 

It is unlikely that your baby is going to become poorly from just spending a short amount of time around paint fumes.

Just like adults can be exposed to paint fumes and be fine, a small number of paint fumes should not harm your baby. However, it is always best to err on the side of caution. 

As your baby is still growing and developing, their immune system will not be strong enough to fight the toxins they breathe in when in a freshly painted room.

Exposure to paint fumes can cause harmful long-term and short-term health issues. Exposure to paint fumes can cause the following symptoms:

  • Sore and raw eyes
  • Sore nose
  • Sore throat
  • Itchy/irritate eyes, nose, and throat
  • Headaches 
  • Sight problems
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Coughing 
  • Feeling lightheaded

More serious short term effects from paint fume exposure include:

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  • Difficulty breathing
  • Allergic skin reaction
  • Fatigue with memory loss

Babies and children can suffer long-term health issues from prolonged exposure to paint fumes. Whilst the toxins in the air are at their worst when the paint is drying, paints using a high level of VOC can emit fumes for weeks after the paint is dry.

Here is a list of the long term health issues that can occur after paint fume exposure:

  • Asthma 
  • Eczema 
  • Damage to the immune system 
  • Damage to the central nervous system 
  • Allergies 
  • Liver damage 
  • Kidney damage 

It sounds scary but it is important to remember if your baby spends a short period of time around paint fumes then they should be absolutely fine. The health problems above are usually caused by prolonged exposure to toxic paint fumes. 

What Paint Is Safe To Use Around Children?

Paint fumes can be harmful in large doses and this is why you need to find baby-safe paint to use while you are decorating. It is the VOC that can cause health concerns, and the drying time plays a part too.

The longer a room takes to dry, the longer the toxic fumes are being released into the air. Ventilation is also key, a badly ventilated room will emit toxic fumes into the air for longer. 

If you are concerned about what paint is safe to use around children, here is a list of the different types of wall paint: 

Low VOC paint

Paint that is low in VOC often still has that recognizable ‘paint smell’ but does not smell as strong as paint with high VOC. Some people are concerned that low VOC paint will not give the same results or have the same color vibrancy.

However, in 2021 this is not an issue. There are several paint companies making excellent quality paint that has low VOC and are, therefore, safer for use around babies and children. 

100% VOC-free paint

This is the best paint to use around children and babies. Paint that is 100% free from VOC does not have an odor and will not emit dangerous fumes into the air.

There are several options available on the market if you are looking to use VOC-free paint and you should not have trouble finding a color you love. 

Oil-based paint

Oil-based and latex paints do contain VOC and can also take a long time to dry. Some walls painted in oil-based paint can take up to 2 weeks to dry.

The VOC evaporates into the air as toxic fumes as the paint dries; the longer the paint takes to dry, the more fumes are emitted.

Switch to a low VOC or VOC-free paint, these are usually water-based and are either completely odorless or do not smell as strong as oil-based paint. 

How Long After Painting a Room is it Safe For Baby?

After choosing your paint, it is time to start painting. Before you know it you have transformed your baby’s nursery, but when will the room be safe enough for your baby? Well, it depends on what type of paint you decided to use. 

It is strongly advised that parents use low VOC or VOC-free paint when painting with children and babies in the house. These paints will reduce the number of toxic fumes in your home.

Oil-based paints use more VOC and will take longer to dry, resulting in more potential risks to your baby’s health. Here are the approximate time frames to wait before your baby can go into a freshly painted room:

When is a room safe for a baby when using low VOC paint?

If you are painting with low VOC paint, you will need to wait at least 24 hours before letting your baby spend any significant amount of time in the freshly painted room. 

When is a room safe for a baby when using VOC-free paint

Paint that is 100% VOC-free is usually odorless and water-based. It is not going to cause your baby any harm via toxic fumes and your room will be safe for your baby immediately.

You will likely want to wait for the paint to be completely dry before you let your baby in the room to avoid any messy mishaps, but you don’t need to worry about harmful fumes in the air. 

When is a room safe for a baby when using oil-based/latex paint

As oil-based and latex paints often use high VOC levels, you will need to wait approximately 2-3 days before it is safe for your baby to spend time in the freshly painted room.

VOC paint will continue to emit fumes until it is completely dry, so to be completely safe you may wish to wait until the paint has dried before allowing your baby to spend any long periods of time in the room. 

These are just approximate times, there are a few factors that will influence how safe your freshly painted room is for your baby: 

Ventilation

Rooms should be kept well ventilated during the painting and drying process. If your freshly painted room has poor ventilation, you should increase the amount of time you wait before letting your baby into the room. 

Size

Smaller areas take less time to dry. If you are painting a very large room, you may need to wait a little longer than the advised time before allowing your baby inside (especially if that room is poorly ventilated). 

Your baby’s health

If your baby already suffers from a health condition that affects their breathing – like asthma – you may want to wait a little longer before letting them use their room. It is always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to your baby’s health. 

FAQs

Can A Baby Sleep in a Newly Painted Room?

While it is fine to allow your baby to spend longer periods of time in a painted room after the timeframes stated above, you may have to wait a little longer before allowing your baby to sleep in a recently painted room. You should wait approximately 48 – 72 hours before allowing your baby to sleep in a freshly painted room. 

Can paint fumes harm a baby?

It is highly unlikely that being around paint fumes while you are pregnant will cause any harm to your unborn baby as most modern paints pose very little risk.

How long do paint fumes last?

It very much depends on the type of paint that you are using. Oil-based paints can take up to 2 months before they are completely dry and so stop emitting paint fumes.

The Final Thought 

Painting is an easy way to completely transform the look and feel of a room. If you want to paint when you have a baby at home, it is safe to do so if you take the correct precautions.

Using a low VOC or 100% VOC-free water-based paint is your safest option and these paints still produce beautiful results.

Keep your room well ventilated and, if possible, stay somewhere else for a couple of days while the paint dries. There are plenty of ways to safely paint your baby’s nursery, happy decorating.

Hi, I'm Emma and I'm a mother to 5 beautiful children aged from 1 to 21 years old- life is hectic! I have learned so much along the way, not only from my own children but also through my professional life. In my positions as a Childminder and Teaching Assistant, I have studied Child Development and The Early Years Developing Practice. I wish to share all of this knowledge and help you with your own parenting journey!

Hi, I'm Emma and I'm a mother to 5 beautiful children aged from 1 to 21 years old- life is hectic! I have learned so much along the way, not only from my own children but also through my professional life. In my positions as a Childminder and Teaching Assistant, I have studied Child Development and The Early Years Developing Practice. I wish to share all of this knowledge and help you with your own parenting journey!