Designing a Hypoallergenic Nursery

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Given my textile and environmental allergies, it was a priority when pregnant to design a nursery that was hypoallergenic. I didn’t want to introduce anything that could be a potential allergen for my littles since it is still unknown exactly how heredity or exposure influence the onset of allergies. And as a mom, a lot of time is spent in this room so it was important that I not experience any issues while caring for my littles in their nurseries. 

While hypoallergenic was top of mind for me, I also didn’t want to sacrifice any level of adorableness, either. So I spent countless hours with my laptop perched on my baby bump and walking (er…waddling) through stores hunting for just the right hypoallergenic items (that did not make our nurseries feel like sanitariums)! 

The first task was finding the perfect crib. Since formaldehyde causes lip swelling for me, I knew I needed formaldehyde-free. Certain glues and veneers can also be allergens, so I decided to stay away from any manufactured materials. This left solid wood as the target of my hunt. When I was pregnant with my first, finding a solid wood crib was actually harder than it sounds as inclusions of MDF and other materials were the norm. Today, there is an increasing number of cribs on the market that are non-toxic, solid wood and come in a wide range of styles. From mod or farmhouse, the right one is easier to find now than ever. 

The crib mattress was the next item and this is clutch for a hypoallergenic nursery, especially when you consider that an infant spends between twelve and fourteen hours a day sleeping. So like my own mattress, the most important thing was that it be latex-free and also free of chemicals that could cause a reaction. Again, I didn’t know if any of my littles would have environmental or textile allergies, but with the possibility lingering and half of their day spent nuzzled directly on it, I definitely wasn’t going to select one that incorporated a potential allergen. The crib mattress is one area where style doesn’t matter as much, since you will be covering it with a crib mattress pad and sheet anyways, so as long as it was latex-free and toxin-free, for me, it was a go. 

With the crib and crib mattress selected, the next design element for me was the rest of the nursery furniture. For all three of my nurseries, I turned to vintage pieces for the dresser, bookcase, and changing table. This way, I knew none of the pieces would be off-gassing any toxins that could be allergens for either me or the baby, while newly purchased pieces might. And just as I had for the crib, I selected solid wood for all of the furniture. 

With these largest pieces found, I then turned my attention to the textiles. I knew I wanted cotton but after further researching textiles, I decided that organic cotton was ideal. This meant organic cotton for every single piece of bedding: crib sheet, quilt, sham, and mattress pad cover. There are now oodles of retailers with organic cotton crib bedding of adorable prints and a variety of colors (versus the off-white natural color that once was the norm and is, quite simply, sad).  

In keeping with purity of textiles, I also selected an all natural cotton rug (with no latex backing, of course). A rug and its material is important because, depending on the size of your nursery, can prove to be a lot of surface area. (Just think a 9 x 12 is more than three times the area of the crib mattress). It is also where the littles lay, then do tummy time, then roll, then sit, then crawl. So with so much playtime, especially in the first year, keeping it hypoallergenic is a must. While wool is another wonderful natural material, it can also be an allergen so I stuck to cotton. 

To round out our allergen-free elements, I filled our organic cotton pillow shams with hypoallergenic, non-feather pillows; bought a latex-free changing pad and an organic cotton changing pad cover; and selected beautiful chunky knit cotton baskets in which to organize our toys and diapers. 

Finally, I completed the least exciting but perhaps the most practical purchase for designing (and maintaining) a hypoallergenic nursery: an air purifier with a HEPA air filter. These alleviate a little’s exposure to common household allergens like pet dander, dust and dust mites, pollen, molds, etc. They come in a wide range of price points, sizes, styles, and noise levels (negating the need for a sound machine), so I hunted in-person to decide on the one that best met my budget and expectations. 

All in all, in considering allergies, we spent no additional money than we would have otherwise. Nor did we sacrifice any style. The only additional investment was time, and it was completely worth it as three times over, I designed a nursery we adored and that gave me piece of mind when bringing a little into a small room in a big world. 

The Short of It: 

nursery furniture | solid wood 

crib mattress and changing pad | latex-free & toxin-free

bedding, rug and baskets | organic cotton  

air purifier | def 

all of it | things I loved 

The Safe Haven That is Chick-fil-A

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As a family with allergens, we strive to eat the purest form of any food. On our quest to do so, we learned that french fries (“hots”) are most often NOT simply potatoes cut and submerged in oil. They are potatoes that are egged, soyed, milked, breaded, and generally altered. They also are often cooked in the potential allergens of peanut or soybean oil. 

We have also realized that french fries frequently share fry baskets with other products. This alters the purity of the fries, my friends, as if a basket had shrimp fritters in it moments earlier, it now swims with seafood and gluten. 

So where does one with severe FPIES and a love of french fries go for some good ‘ole hots?! 

Enter Chick-fil-A and their waffle fries. The ingredient list is simply real potato and a color retention additive. They are cooked in pure canola oil. They are also fried in a basket dedicated solely to waffle fries, eliminating the chance of cross-contamination. They are also pure deliciousness, and pair perfectly with lemonade (“made”).

Since discovering the purity that is Chick-fil-A waffle fries, we have frequented the drive-thru lane and bounded through the doors of this Atlanta-based chain too many times to count. Instead of toys for W’s birthday, we received gift cards from family members who know his frequency of requests for “hots and made”. For over a year, it has held not only the top – but the only – spot on our restaurant list as it is the single dining establishment where we know that W can eat with no issues. 

Chick-fil-A has certainly become a safe haven for us in the midst of FPIES. It provides an option for road trips, a place to meet friends for lunch, and a sense of inclusion for W who eats the same thing as his siblings (and let’s be honest, his parents – who can resist Chick-fil-A waffle fries?)!

More hots & made, please!

What’s in my Laundry Room

 

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One of the questions I am asked most frequently, especially by those with newly-diagnosed allergies or parents with children enduring eczema, is “what laundry products do you recommend”?  

First, I strongly suggest investing in a washer with an allergen setting. One of the ways we strive for a hypoallergenic household is to wash our clothing and bedding often and on the allergen setting. 

Second, there is now an abundance of natural and/or free and clear products on the market. I have tried most of these and found that some clean better than others and some cause less reactions than others. While trying them oneself is the only true way to identify go-tos, my four personal favorites in the laundry room include:

1. Tide free & gentle laundry detergent 

In my experience, Tide cleans better than the other brands’ natural products.

2. Honest co. honest stain remover – French lavender scent 

This is hands down the best natural stain remover I have used and the scent is light enough to cause no issues. Seems to be no longer available online, so I am stockpiling it whenever I find it in stores!

3. Dawn ultra free & gentle dishwashing liquid 

When you have a toddler who mostly eats food prepared with olive oil, grease stains are a frequent occurrence. Pre-treat garments by drizzling Dawn over the stain (to absorb the grease) and wash as normal. 

4. Up and Up free and clear dryer sheets

The name brand free and clear caused a skin reaction while the Target brand did not. 

Happy laundering!