Dealing with the arrival of a newborn can be a daunting task: changing diapers, feeding, dressing, making sure they are comfortable and protected.
Despite our strongest desire to insure that our babies are healthy and happy, we often tend. without even thinking about it to think from an adult’s perspective. And as a consequence, we tend to overlook factors that might not impact your life but could present drastic consequences for a baby.
You are not alone! We tend to ignore things in our life that are automatic. That is a perfectly normal response!
For example, we just assume that our lungs will keep breathing or that our heart will continue to pump.
The big difference in dealing with a newborn is that as adults, our bodies are more evolved. Over time, our immune system has worked to protect us by building up antibodies to disease, pollen, and all the other things we are surrounded by that could affect our health.
Unlike adults, a baby’s system is not as evolved as ours. And this presents problems.
How often do you overlook simple things that, as adults don’t bother us but could wreak havoc on an infant?
Here are some examples:
The first example relates to our pets.
Do you own one? Surely, if you own a pet, it goes outside, to play, to exercise, to eliminate. Have you given any thought as to all the pollen, insects, dirt, feces and other things that adhere to your pet’s feet and hair? And what happens when they come inside? They bring all those things with them!
Unless you suffer from allergies or pet dander, it probably doesn’t present a problem for you but it could affect your baby’s health!
Another example: We all have to go to the grocery to shop as well as buy gas to fuel our vehicles.
Have you ever thought about all the bacteria and viruses you collect, not just on your hands, but on your clothes and skin when shopping at your favorite market?
Or have you given any consideration to the gasoline you buy?
Just think of all the gasoline that has been spilled on the pavement under your feet when you fill your car.
Despite the ban on lead as a fuel additive, it is present in the soil, at service stations and alongside roadways everywhere!
How about that gas pump handle you touched?
When you return home, do you take any measures to rid yourself of these potentially toxic ingredients you came in contact with while at the market or service station?
It isn’t that you are not a good parent if you don’t! But we tend to tune out so much in our busy lives.
Unfortunately, babies bodies are not equipped to tune this “stuff” out because their systems have not developed the immunities we possess.
So when you come home loaded with germs, bacteria, pollen, dirt, lead, gasoline, etc., from shopping or gassing up the car, how is your baby going to react?
How is that lead or gasoline or the spill on isle 9 going to affect the baby that is barely crawling on your floor?
Think about it! Having a baby is kind of a wake up call.
Normally, we think we are doing everything to insure the baby’s safety and it is often assumed we are doing all the right things for them, until they get sick and have to go to a doctor. But is that the time to begin thinking about your indoor environment?
To reduce the amount of “stuff” that might enter your home, consider these steps:
Shake your hair and brush off any clothing before you enter the home.
As soon as you enter, remove outer clothing, coats and jackets and shoes.
Consider putting extra coat hooks or hall trees near your entry and a mat for shoes if you desire (be sure to keep the mat clean!). In some areas of the country, there are “mud rooms” where entrants remove their clothes, boots, etc. and the room is separated from the rest of the home. Though this is an ideal scenario, if that is not possible, at least set aside an area that allows for the easy and comfortable removal of clothing.
Many cultures readily accept the removal of shoes when entering a home but it seems a bit alien in our American society. Despite this, it is very important as it will go a long way in reducing the number of pollutants in your home and protecting baby’s health.
Once you come into the home from an outing, it is a good idea wash your face and hands with soap and water. If that is not possible, you should consider using a good brand of hand sanitizer then wet a paper towel, wash your face and neck and throw it in the trash.
OK, if you do these things, you will have made some major strides in preventing the intrusion of outside pollutants into our home and protecting your baby’s health.
Next, consider your home’s interior:
Your home’s interior consists of all the objects in the rooms, i.e.: tables, chairs, sofas, equipment, fixtures; the floors, walls and ceilings; and air that surrounds you.
Generally, most families of newborns put a great deal of emphasis on the cleanliness of our surroundings. You keep floors clean, bath fixtures, trash emptied, etc.
But how much consideration do you give to the air that surrounds us inside?
If you are like most home inhabitants, little consideration is given to our indoor air unless we smell an odor or begin sneezing from the presence of an allergen.
Relax, that’s normal! But the indoor air we breathe could harm us!
If we analyzed the air inside your home under a microscope, it is likely that all kinds of pollutants are suspended in your indoor air. We can’t see them and don’t know they are there, but most indoor air includes dust, pollen, hair fibers, clothing fibers, dust mites, bacteria and viruses.
Homeowners are often surprised to learn that the air inside most homes is much more polluted than the air outdoors. This is verified by both the EPA and indoor air authorities.
The reason for this pollution in your indoor air can be blamed on “Energy Efficiency”.
In order to achieve a more energy efficient home, we seal the inside of our homes from the outside elements, making indoor air more uniform from room to room; reducing or eliminating “energy leaks” and drafts and reducing heating and cooling costs.
The problem is that when we we “seal” ourselves inside our homes, we surround ourselves with all the suspended contaminates in our indoor air which put our health at risk.
Fortunately, you can make a tremendous improvement in our home’s indoor environment simply by replacing your HVAC Systems Filter with a high quality ac filter or furnace filter.
Nothing else will make a more significant improvement in the quality of your indoor environment and it will rarely cost you much or any more than you are already spending.
Admittedly, not all AC Filters and Furnace Filters are the same: Proper selection of an AC Filter or Furnace Filter is essential!
Air Filters most often sold in Big Box Retailers like Target, WalMart, etc. offer Fiberglass Filters as their primary inventory with a limited selection of Pleated Filters available at a higher price.
As a consequence, the bulk of uninformed buyers go for Fiberglass Filters.
Fiberglass Filters use fiberglass as the filter media.
Not only are Fiberglass Filters less efficient in removing dangerous particulates from indoor air, they could be dangerous!
Here’s why: Fiberglass Filters use fiberglass as the filter media, the part of the filter that the air actually passes through and does the job of filtering the air and removing particulates.
It is normally easy to spot a Fiberglass Filter in a store as they are most often blue in color (but not always….some grey, black or even white in color!)
Fiberglass Filters are traditionally flat as opposed to pleated filters which have ridges. This means that the surface area of the filter media, the fiberglass, has half the filtering surface of a Pleated Filter.
More importantly, fiberglass is a form of spun GLASS!
Consequently, when you install a Fiberglass Filter in your HVAC System, the fibers in the filter material begin to degrade rapidly with the passage of air through the filter media.
As a result, the fibers actually break off and become suspended in the air passing through the ducts in your HVAC System. And the longer the filter is in use, the more disintegration that occurs.
Some bargain, huh? Less filtration AND GLASS!
Breathing in glass, in any form, can’t be healthy but how much more of a hardship does it present to a newborn’s lungs? At best, it can be a potential allergen!
Instead, consider replacing your Filter with a Disposable Air Filter that uses woven fibers such as polyester as the filter media. The woven filter material resembles heavy cloth and does not disintegrate, even after extended periods of use.
The material used in most Disposable Air Filters do not have the health implications of Fiberglass Filters.
Some people try to save money by buying Reusable Pleated Air Filters. Though it sounds good and appears to represent a savings to the buyer, there is a downside.
Reusable Filters are messy to clean and often harbor dust mites, germs, viruses and bacteria because getting them clean and dry before reusing is a challenge. And chemicals used to clean Reusable Filters can emit harmful vapors.
When choosing the an Air Filter, you also need to get one that is Pleated. The pleats virtually double the surface area of the filter media thereby dramatically improving the filtration.
While you are at it, it is wise to find a Pleated Air Filter that also has Electrostatic properties. With Electrostatic Filters, the Filter media is treated with an electrostatic charge. The electrostatic charge is activated as air passes through the Electrostatic Filter causing the entire surface area of the filter media to work like a magnet in capturing more of the pollutants present in indoor air.
With the Pleated, Electrostatic Filter, you get double the filtration by doubling the surface area of the filter media AND you get the extra boost from the Electrostatic charge in the filter media.
MERV ratings are also a very important consideration in choosing the proper Air Filter! The MERV rating is a standard set by an independent organization, ASHRAE, that rates filter efficiency.
Air Filter manufacturers produce air filters in accordance with the standards set by ASHRAE and label their air filters accordingly. The higher the MERV rating, the more efficient your filter becomes.
For example, a MERV12 rated air filter is much more efficient at removing pollutants from the air as a MERV8 air filter.
Though there has been a rise in the introduction of MERV13 rated Air Filters by leading air filter manufacturers due to the emergence of newer, High-Efficiency HVAC Systems, most systems provide optimum performance using a MERV12 rated filter as it represents the perfect balance in most HVAC Systems.
In other words, you get the greatest particulate removal while minimizing restriction or air flow which affects your HVAC System’s operating costs.
In addition to replacing your HVAC System’s Air Filter with a woven, pleated, electrostatic air filter that has a high MERV rating, there are other things you can do in your home to improve both the quality and livability of our indoor air.
Air Vent Filters are a perfect addition to your clean air arsenal.
Air Vent Filters are placed over selected rooms of the home and as the air enters the room from the HVAC System, any particulates not removed by the filter in the HVAC System’s Air Filter may be filtered through air vent filters. These are very inexpensive.
Simply cut the Air Vent Filter to size with standard scissors (they come in 4″ x 12″ size) and place them over the air vent(s) in the room you want to protect such as the nursery.
This little added measure of protection could be important while your baby sleeps!
Many people also purchase Air Purifiers, esp. if the baby has respiratory problems.
If you are considering the purchase of an Air Purifier, there are a number of considerations. For low cost systems, think of buying an air purifier that has ionization.
Ionizers create ions in the area and cause particulates suspended in the air to “clump” together making them heavier and causing them to fall out of the air so they won’t be inhaled.
If your den or baby’s room has a ceiling fan, you may want to consider Ceiling Fan Filters.
These tiny foam filters attach to the top of the fan blade and when the fan revolves, they are electrostatically charged to attract dust, dirt, pollen and other impurities in the air. Too, they make fan blade cleaning a snap! Simply pull the dirty ceiling fan filter off and put on new ones. One “kit” works for any size fan and they are under $4. per fan!
Finally, though it is likely you work at keeping the floors in your home clean, a lot of people do not know that the typical vacuum cleaner blows a lot of the particulate collected while vacuuming back into the indoor air.
Unfortunately, the majority of this particulate is very tiny in size and remains suspended in the air allowing it to be breathed. And since a baby has no nose hair or an evolved immune system, they are the most likely to become irritated from inhaling these particulates.
Try using a HEPA Vacuum or, instead, you can obtain HEPA vacuum cleaner bags that do an efficient job of removing tiny particulates that can affect your baby’s health.