How to Safely Paint a Crib


Your baby’s crib must be very comfy and secure, since your darling newborn will spend the most of its time there. You may either purchase a pre-assembled crib or have one made to your specifications.

According to nationwide children’s hospital, there are over 10,000 emergency room visits from infants on annual basis and more than 100 infants and children die due to unsafe sleeping environments.

Additionally, many families currently have a spare crib from their older child or have cribs gifted to them by close relatives or friends.  It is up to the parents to decide whether to purchase a new crib or to continue using an existing one.

It makes no difference if the crib is new or used as long as it keeps your child protected and comfortable. Nevertheless, if you want to give your crib a personal touch, one of the best ways to do so is to give it a fresh paint job.

Before giving the crib a personal touch by painting it, you have to ensure of its safety for the baby and make sure that if there is anything missing like a nut, or it’s broken anywhere, repair has to be done. According to the first statewide survey of emergency room care for these injuries, about 10,000 infants and toddlers are injured in crib and playpen incidents each year.

The majority of injuries occurred in toddlers between the ages of one and two, when they were old enough to attempt climbing out of a crib or playpen.

The most commonly injured body parts were the head and neck, which accounted for 40.3 percent of all injuries. Soft tissue injuries were the most common (34.1 percent).

Crib Injury cause graphs

More than 80% of the injuries were caused by cribs, and two-thirds of the injuries were caused by children falling out of their cribs or jumping out. Falling within the crib, hitting or being cut on the inside of the crib caused about 15% of injuries. Getting stuck or wedged in the crib caused about 6% of the cases.

Children with fractures were admitted to the hospital 14% of the time and were more than five times as frequent as children with other injuries.

Between 1990 and 2008, the injury rate decreased gradually, according to the study. However, averages of 26 newborn were wounded per day in crib-related accidents in the most recent years studied.

At the time of writing this article. We are expecting our first newborn (Yay!) and despite the myriad of choices in terms of baby furniture and crib, in particular, we couldn’t find the type of colour we wanted. So, I thought of painting one.

You might be questioning whether painting a crib is safe. Generally, this is a safe technique provided specific criteria about crib material, paint choices, and ventilation are followed.

To safely paint a crib, it is imperative to choose exclusively non-toxic, lead-free paint. For old cribs, the old paint must be verified, and sanded beforehand. Use a water soluble, odourless, paint along with a nylon paintbrush, and the crib must be painted in a ventilated location.

Before you go for the brushes, continue reading to find some detailed guidelines for correctly painting a crib.

Remember the following while selecting the appropriate paint for a crib:

  • Select exclusively non-toxic paints that include no silicates or lead

Also chose low-odour paints that contain no volatile organic components. Bear in mind that although the base paint may be free of hazardous chemicals, they are often included in the tinting process.

  • Chose a Product free of hazardous chemicals

Prior to painting, you should ensure that the product you choose is clean of any of these hazardous chemicals. Sealants and paint additives which have not been authorized to be used on baby toys or cribs should be avoided.

  • Work in an environment with good airflow

Assure that you are working in an environment with good airflow and that you are wearing the proper mask or respiratory equipment for the object being sanded. For wood, you can use a N95 mask; for paint that may include lead, oils, or chemicals, you should wear a N100 or perhaps a P100 respirator.

  • If using an old crib, ensure old paint is lead-free and sand it before repainting

If you’re reusing an old crib, check to ensure that the previous paint is also free of lead and other toxins. Then you should sand the old paint job to make it smooth before repainting over it

  • Use a 100% nylon paintbrush

To get the strongest impact, use a well made, 100% nylon paintbrush (like this one)

  • Do not paint the crib safety features like screws or locks

Avoid covering crib safety features like screws or locks with paint. Detach them if feasible before you start painting and reattach them after the paint has dried.

  • Dry the painted crib in a well-ventilated room

Leave the painted crib to dry in a location with good ventilation and provide sufficient time for it to completely dry.

  • Choose a water-soluble, odourless paint

This type of paint will have considerably less potentially hazardous ingredients. Additionally, you may search for a paint that does not need the use of a primer. Although the use of a primer isn’t dangerous.

  • Preference for semi-gloss paint

The ideal paint finish is entirely subjective. Many individuals prefer semi-gloss paint for its aesthetic appeal, minimal care requirements, and resilience once dry.

Is It Okay to Paint a Wooden Crib?

Generally, wooden cribs are suitable for painting. The initial step in guaranteeing the safety of a painted crib is to ensure that the crib does not crack or rip when painted.

 In any event, consult the crib manufacturer’s guidelines to see if painting is an acceptable option.

Safely Paint your Baby’s Crib: Step by Step Guide

Once you’ve chosen the paint that you believe to be the best fit for your nursery, you are now ready to start. The technique for painting the crib is as follows:

1. Lay the crib on any worn fabric or old paper in an outdoor space

Lay the crib on any worn fabric or old paper in an outdoor space, garage, or unoccupied room. Before you start, make sure that the crib is completely free of dirt and dust.

2. Wipe completely the dust with water or vinegar

Even the tiniest grain of dust may ruin your paint work, so take additional care to remove every little contaminant. Wipe the dust using water and a cloth, or with a vinegar and water solution, or with no-rinse TSP and non-abrasive pads.

3. Fully dry the crib before starting the paint job

Allow the crib to fully dry before beginning the painting process. You may dismantle the crib if required for a complete painting job. Minimize dust exposure by using a mask. I like this one

4. Sand the crib at least once

The next thing you need to do is to sand the crib at least once. Simply sand the surface lightly to make it ready for a fresh coat of paint. It should strip away the previous paint and reveal the bare interior surface.

The roughening up of this layer ensures that the fresh paint adheres to it and does not peel off. Assure that the sanding is uniform to ensure that the fresh paint forms a uniform surface with the wood.

Select sandpaper or sanding sponge with a medium or fine grain. Scuff sanding allows optimum adhesion of the fresh paint. After sanding, use a tack cloth to remove dust.

5. Prime the crib

Priming the crib is a good idea. Add one coat of primer to the crib if it is not previously painted or if you are significantly altering the current color. Allow sufficient time for the primer to dry completely.

The time required for primer to dry varies according to the supplier, the ambient temperature, and the level of moisture in the atmosphere. Consider gently sanding the whole surface once again with fine sandpaper. This extra step may significantly enhance the final appearance of your painted crib.

6. Start by painting the crib’s exterior

Spread the paint in the trajectory of the wood grain using a good quality paint brush, preferably one made of nylon. Avoid over-coating, which may result in staining and leaking.

7. Double the recommended amount of time to dry properly

Allow double the amount of time recommended by the paint manufacturing company to dry in a location with good airflow. Ventilate your home by opening windows and running fans.

How to Deal with VOCs when Painting your Crib

Your kid will spend the majority of their time in the nursery, so keeping good air quality is critical. Sadly, not all home paints are infant safe. Frequently, they are the primary source of suboptimal interior air quality. 

There is a connection between formaldehyde and volatile organic chemicals (VOCs)  released by newly painted interior surfaces and asthma and inflammatory responses in the airways.

If you want to prevent exposing your infant to harmful chemicals, you should examine the kind of paint you choose to paint a cot, nursery, or other piece of furniture.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemical substances that are released into the air when newly painted interior surfaces are exposed to direct sunlight. They are linked to serious short or long-term health problems, including skin irritations, migraines, dizziness, and liver, kidney, and central nervous system problems.

All of these negative consequences of VOC exposure have been observed in adults. When it comes to infants, contact to VOCs should be minimized due to their growing bodies’ sensitivity to these hazardous compounds.

However, it is difficult to prevent exposure to VOCs entirely, since they are found in a wide variety of home goods as well as in ambient indoor and outdoor air. The greatest way to minimize exposure to VOCs is to choose carefully the items we use on and around infants.

This is especially true when we handle anything that emits a chemical into the air, such as when we paint; the quantity of VOCs in the air may be 1000 times greater than the levels found outside. As such, it is critical to select a non-toxic, zero VOC, odorless, and infant friendly paint when painting a crib or nursery.

Which Kind of Paint Is Generally Accepted as Safe for Infants?

Two kinds of paint are deemed safe for infants, zero-VOC paint, and natural paint.

Zero-VOC paints are getting prominence as a more environmentally friendly alternative to conventional paint on the market. Even though the name may deceive you, they nevertheless contain VOCs.

This is because paints must still include solvent or some volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in order to bond to the wall. Still, this sum is negligible in comparison to other options. Thus, zero-VOC paint is still an excellent choice for painting a crib or nursery.

Natural paint is another excellent choice if you’re on the fence about using zero-VOC paint. Natural paints are made using natural ingredients such as casein, soy oils, citrus, linseed, clay, and plant pigments.

Numerous eco-friendly paints, such as recycled paint, milk paint, and plant-based paint, are already commercially available. Milk paints are produced from casein, a protein found in milk.

Since they are composed entirely of natural materials, they are totally non-toxic and do not release volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Milk paints, on the other hand, may be a bit difficult to apply, but when done properly, they provide results that are just as wonderful.

How Can You Minimize Contact with VOCs from Paint?

If you’ve chosen to decorate a crib or nursery with zero-VOC or natural paint, here are some suggestions for minimizing VOC exposure from paint.

To minimize contact with VOC from paint, maintain enough ventilation in the room. Leave the windows open for many days prior, throughout, and after painting a crib or nursery. Purify the air using an air purifier.

Cover your face with a mask. Wear a long-sleeved t-shirt and long pants, as well as gloves, when applying to prevent inadvertent splashing on your skin. While painting, it is essential to use masks to prevent inhaling harmful chemicals.

Paint a crib or nursery well in advance of your delivery date to provide time for it to air out. Resist painting the nursery at all costs if you are pregnant. Allow another person to do it or pay a specialist to do it for you.

Even if you select zero-VOC or natural paint, always read the label and choose a paint that contains NO-VOC or VOC less than 5g/l, as well as checking the MSDS.

Which Paint is the Ideal Choice for Your Crib?

While zero-VOC paints are a safer choice for painting infant furniture, they are far from ideal, since zero-VOC does not always imply no VOC. Natural paints are somewhat more environmentally friendly than zero-VOC paints and is the ideal choice for your crib.

However, you should clarify with the producer whether it includes VOCs or not. Milk paint is the most child-safe method of painting baby furniture.

Is It Appropriate To Paint In The Presence Of A Newborn?

Paints include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that evaporate as gas from a newly painted surface, which may be harmful to a baby. It is strongly discouraged to paint in presence of a newborn as it may be very dangerous to your baby’s lungs and body.

It is prudent to keep your baby away from the home throughout the painting process and for a couple of weeks thereafter, since it may take up to two weeks for the produced toxins to subside.

Will A Baby Get Sick While Teething On A Crib?

Typically, when a baby is teething, they chew on its cot or anything else. Additionally, it is typical for most infants to get ill during teething. Since a result, it’s difficult to tell if a baby may get ill from chewing on a crib railing, as each parent uses a different kind of crib.

In general, it is recommended to avoid chewing on cribs due to the fact that the majority of cribs are coated or colored with standard paint. These paints contain hazardous compounds that are potentially dangerous if consumed.

To avoid a baby becoming ill from chewing on a crib, it is recommended to install crib railings or to paint the crib with baby-safe paints as mentioned above.

How Soon After Painting Is It Okay To Put The Baby In The Crib?

While the paint may dry anywhere between half an hour to half a day after application, it may take a couple of weeks for the toxins to dissipate. As a result, it is recommended that the infant be kept away from the freshly painted room for at least a couple of weeks.

If you’re using non-toxic, zero-VOC paint in a crib or nursery, thoroughly ventilate the space, leave the window open for a few of days, use an air purifier in the room, and wait an appropriate amount of time before reusing the room.

Is Chalk Paint OK For Use In A Crib?

Chalk paint is acceptable for a baby crib as long as the paint and wax are allowed to dry for a month or two before utilizing the crib. If you’re going to paint a crib using chalk paint, start far in advance of your due date to let the paint to dry properly. Additionally, pregnant women should avoid applying paint and wax.

Exposure of a newborn to VOC paints is very dangerous to their health and well-being. As a result, it is preferable to avoid VOC exposure if possible.

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