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Painting your baby’s toenails is often seen as harmless fun and they love the bright colors. It gives them a great opportunity to express themselves and even makes them feel like a little bit more of a grown-up.
But before you break out the nail polish there are some safety issues that you may need to be aware of. Many of the well-known nail polish brands contain chemicals that may affect how you feel.
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Is Nail Polish Safe For Babies & Toddlers?
Most nail polish contains a variety of chemicals and some of these chemicals are endocrine disruptors. These sorts of chemicals can be damaging to a baby’s underdeveloped system.
As babies grow and develop they put not only their hands but also their feet in their mouth. The issue with this is that they may swallow some nail polish fragments.
Nail polish poisoning can be caused by swallowing the actual polish or from breathing in large amounts of fumes.
Obviously, this would require very large amounts of exposure which is unlikely to be achieved from simply painting your little ones’ nails.
But babies do tend to suck and chew on their hands and it is not an easy behavior to stop as this is how they explore the world around them and develop.
Typical Chemicals Found in Nail Polish
Nail polish is colorful and lets people express their individuality, it does contain some harmful and potentially toxic chemicals. Here are some examples:
This is a solvent and is still found in some brands of nail polish. The same ingredient is also used in paint thinners, cleaning solutions, artificial fragrances, and a variety of other products.
There are restrictions on the concentration of toluene that can be used in nail polish, and this is that they can not use a concentration of more than 50%.
Fortunately, there are very few reports of any adverse effects just from painting your nails with this chemical.
Although prolonged exposure and inhaling large amounts of toluene can lead to problems with the nervous system and the upper respiratory system.
Many nail polish manufacturers are now beginning to remove toluene from their products which is great news.
Triphenyl phosphate (TPHP)
This can disrupt the endocrine system and is often used to make plastic and fire retardant. TPHP is found in many of the top brand nail polish available today.
This is used as a hardener and to prevent chipping in nail polish in the same way that those companies that make building products use it. Formaldehyde is used in various brands but you may see it listed under another name such as methylene glycol or formalin. It has been shown to cause some skin irritation and allergic reactions.
These are a collection of chemicals and you will see them in hundreds of products from lubricating oils, nail polish, toys, detergents, and even food packaging. The chemical has been regularly used in baby powder, oil, soap, and even shampoo.
But there are no reports of any side effects from using these products on babies. But there are some concerns for pregnant women, as tests on lab animals have shown that it could be linked to congenital disabilities and developmental problems.
Potentially Baby & Toddler Safe Nail Polish
If you are a nail polish lover and want to share this love with your children you are in luck. Many of the brands have nail polishes that are specifically designed for children, without the chemicals and many are water-based too.
Here are some of our favorites:
1. Karma Organic Natural Nail Polish
Karma organic is made without the use of harmful chemicals such as TPHP, toluene, formaldehyde, or DBP. the lack of these chemicals makes it safe for children, pregnant women, and anyone with allergies or sensitivities to use.
It is available in over 150 color options, meaning that you can replace all your old polish with shiny, organic ones. The entire range is also made in the USA meaning that all their natural products are sourced from local farmers and American businesses.Buy on Amazon
2. BONTIME Non-Toxic Nail Polish
This nail polish is water-based and can be removed without the need for harsh nail polish removers. It does not contain formaldehyde, toluene, or DBP and is also low odor making it safe for both adults and children.
This polish dries in 90 seconds without the need for a UV lamp, lasts between 2 and 4 days and the best bit is that it can be removed in seconds by simply peeling it off from the edge.
This is a great option as there is no need to worry about them getting it on their clothes or your floors as it is entirely soluble and washes off easily.Buy on Amazon
3. Airdom Kids Nail Polish Set
Another great choice for painting your baby’s nails. This set from Airdom is not only water-based, non-toxic, and odorless but it is also dry in 3 minutes and can easily be removed simply by peeling it off.
This means that there is no need for harsh chemical removers. This set comes with a range of colors and even has some glitter colors.Buy on Amazon
4. Piggy Paint 100% non-toxic
This is a great choice for your little ones as it is water-based and 100% chemical-free. The polish is also made in the US and comes in a range of different colors. This particular pack comes in three colors and also includes a lovely nail art set.
For the best results, it is advised to use the base coat and top coat that are both sold separately. Another good piece of advice to extend the life of this nail polish is to dry with a hairdryer in between each coat, this will prevent chipping and scratching.Buy on Amazon
5. Townley Girl Disney Minnie Mouse Nail polish set
This nail polish set is Disney branded which for older toddlers would be a real draw not so much for babies. The nail polish is water-based, non-toxic, and easy to apply.
It is also scented like bubblegum which is nice but I do wonder whether this would encourage children to put their hands in their mouths more often than they normally would.
The set includes a range of different colors and the nail polish is easily removed by just peeling it off.Buy on Amazon
Tips For How To Paint Your Baby’s Nails
Although there are some small risks with painting your baby’s nails, if you still want to go ahead then here are a few tips to help you get the best outcome with the least amount of mess.
1. Place Baby In High Chair
This is a game-changer! Once you place your baby in the high chair they are facing the right way with their feet dangling down, ready to paint.
Give them a few cookies, or fruit (depending on their age) and they will hopefully allow you to get on with the job at hand without too much fuss. If you have any doubts that this works check out the video below.
2. Do It While They Sleep
If they are still not happy for you to paint their nails you could always wait until they are sleeping. This will allow you easy access to both their little feet and hands. It will also be the method that has the least fuss and mess.
It is probably best for them to fall asleep in their bouncer or anywhere where they are in a reclined position as this will allow the best access. You also need to let them fall into a deep sleep before you start painting those little nails.
Some Do’s and Don’ts
Here are a few simple do’s and don’ts to ensure that your baby nail painting is safe :
- DO: Ensure that you check all the ingredients in the nail polish before applying it to your baby’s nails. The best option for babies is nail polishes that are water-based, non-toxic, and that do not contain any of the harmful chemicals we mentioned above. There are some fantastic organic products available that will tick all these boxes.
- DO: Take note of how the polish is removed. Many that are suitable for little ones simply peel away meaning that they need no harsh chemical remover.
- DO: Give the nail time to breathe before reapplying.
- DON’T: Let the polish stay on your baby’s nails for more than one or two days.
- DON’T: Use your own nail polish on your baby’s nails as they will undoubtedly contain some of the toxic chemicals we have mentioned and they will usually require a harsh chemical remover to take it off nails.
The Final Thought
Painting your baby or toddler’s nails is certainly not a necessity and so it is really best avoided for the first few years at least.
But if you can not resist the temptation to get some color on those little nails then ensure that you get your hands on some of the non-toxic child-friendly nail polish that we have mentioned above.