When is it safe to decorate the nursery?

The window for safely decorating and painting your baby’s room is between 14 and 30 weeks.

Is it safe to paint the nursery when pregnant?

Many parents want to make their baby’s room safe and beautiful, they rush around in the last weeks stripping wall paper, sanding and painting. However,  mums-to-be should stay away during decorating because pregnant women and their fetuses are vulnerable to toxins from plaster, old paint (which may contain lead) as well as VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) fumes from new paint.

Safe Decorating Nursery Tips

  • Ban pregnant women from the decorating site and close off rooms if possible.
  • Decorate the nursery at least 2 months before your due date, as fumes, dust and general mess can take weeks to disperse. However, your baby is most vulnerable during your first trimester (weeks 0-13) because your baby’s organs start to develop. Harmful fumes or chemicals at this stage could affect your baby more severely, so the window for decorating is between 14 and 30 weeks.
  • Choose safer paint for the nursery that is low or free from VOCs because they emit less fumes and chemicals. Water-based paints are less hazardous than solvent-based ones, but even they might contain metal-based pigments.
  • Check that the paint to be stripped and sanded from old door frames and windows does not contain lead. Lead in paint was banned in Australia in 1906 and the US in 1978, however lead paint was sold and used in the UK until 1992. If your house is older get someone to do paint stripping and sanding for you. If you are unsure get a lead testing kit from your local DIY store.
  • Use your instincts and if it smells too strong stay away. This goes for all baby furnishing too; cot mattresses, carpets, sheets, paint.
  • Make sure any room that is being painted is well ventilated, by opening any windows.
  • Hardwood floors with natural rugs are a good alternative to newly installed carpets which tend to emit chemicals from fibers, dyes and backing material.


Volatile organic compounds in the home, Cranfield University, www.cranfield.ac.uk Stripping Lead Paint, Daily Telegraph, 2009


Tabitha Blue @ Flickr

Comments for 'When is it safe to decorate the nursery?'

One Response to When is it safe to decorate the nursery?

  1. Sally-Anne says:

    I didn’t realise that the 1st trimester was when the baby was most vulnerable! Thanks for this post, think I’ll take a weekend break when the painting starts!

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