Preparing a safe room for your baby can be quite a challenging task. The things you would normally ignore on any given day suddenly become lethal objects and plants are no exception. Accordingly, if you are looking for an air purifying plant for your baby’s room, you have to be super careful what plant you choose.
Moreover, besides the threats you risk exposing your child to by choosing the wrong plant, choosing the right air purifying plant is also a decorative decision. If you choose something randomly, you could end up with an eyesore in your baby’s nursery.
I found that in choosing an air purifying plant for a baby's room, you have to go for three things. Firstly you have to get a plant that's visually appealing and stimulating, then secondly make sure the plant is harmless and finally, you have to go for a plant that actually does a good job keeping your air clean.
Considering these three factors, finding a good air purifying plant for a baby’s nursery can be daunting for many of us. Accordingly, in this post I have put together some essential information to help you easily jump over this hurdle and choose an ideal plant for your child's room.
However, before I show you the various baby room worthy air purifying plants, I thought it would be useful to start by showing you how vital it is to have clean air in your baby’s room.
Once you have the details on why its important that your baby's room has good quality air, then we can go through the various suitable air cleaning plants and some tips to make the best use of them.
Thereafter, if you want to dig deeper into this whole air cleaning plant story and learn whether air cleaning plants are worth it in your baby's room, I finally take an in depth look at whether plants are an adequate solution for clean air or not in your baby’s room.
Why Is Clean Air Crucial In Your Baby’s Room?
Having clean air in your baby’s room is one of the best investments you can make for your child. A lot of people just don’t realize how damaging poor air quality can be to your child's development.
What makes things worse with babies is that as their body’s are still developing they breathe, drink and eat more in proportion to their body size than we do as adults. As a result with every breath they take a greater proportion of their body is far more exposed to toxic and damaging air pollutants in a shorter space of time.
If your child is continuously exposed to indoor pollutants like Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), pesticides, chemicals from cleaning products, smoke, carbon monoxide, allergens, etc., during their early development stages, they could end up having a host of dangerous life long health problems.
Poor air quality in your baby’s room could see your child suffering from things like asthma, lead poisoning, cancer, and allergies. This is where taking initiatives like using plants to improve air quality in spaces where the baby spends the most time becomes crucial.
One documentary really touched me and hit home on this topic and has left me a lot more sensitive to the issue of air quality around babies and I strongly suggest everyone with a baby or considering having one should watch it.
This video follows a family with a baby battling with air pollution in Mongolia. I just can’t explain things any better about making sure your baby’s air quality is as good as possible.
WATCH THIS VIDEO GUYS.
If you ever find your child unexplainably crying and can’t figure out why, one of the things you should try to check and adjust is your air quality. When your baby's air quality is bad, you can tell quite immediately by the unusual discomfort they loudly express. However, sometimes they suffer silently.
If you find you indeed have an air quality issue, plants are one thing you could use in efforts to improve your baby’s air quality and what better place to put them than in your baby's room where the child spends the greater part of their early years.
With air cleaning plants in your baby’s nursery, if you had poor air quality, in conjunction with other air cleaning measures, you could potentially help swing the needle in the positive direction for your child’s future health and wellbeing. Accordingly, let's now look into the plants that can help you clean air in your baby's room.
7 Good Plants For Cleaner Air In Your Baby’s Nursery
With your baby in the room, you have to be very cautious which plant you choose to put in your child’s nursery. There are many air purifying plants but unfortunately most of them are toxic if not handled with care.
Ironically, some of the plants considered as air cleaning plants even cause contact and airborne allergies for some people. So you really have to tread carefully about which plant you choose for a baby's nursery.
Fortunately, I have looked through all the common plants known to have high transpiration rates and that are recommended for improving indoor air quality and I managed to pick out all the safe one’s for a baby’s room.
The plants I have picked out are non-toxic and are not known to cause any allergies. That said when you are getting an air-purifying plant, do as best as you can to get a female plant.
You want a female plant because male plants produce pollen. Some pollen is harmless but most can trigger allergic reactions in some people. To be absolutely safe you would rather not have any pollen-producing male plant in your nursery.
If your room does not get a lot of sunlight, you also need to go for plants that tolerate low light. Additionally your life is much easier if the plant you select does not need frequent watering as you can neglect it for some time without the plant suffering.
Accordingly, my selection of plants consists of largely low maintenance air purifying plants.
Taking all these factors into consideration, with the need to make your nursery as safe and child-friendly an environment a possible, here are the 7 air purifying plants I believe are ideal in helping maintain good air quality in your baby’s room.
1. Areca palm
Areca palm, is one of the most suitable indoor palm trees. The plant is big but sturdy and so won’t easily fall over. The Areca Palm is also very good at withstanding damage and it's easy to maintain in low light conditions and with occasional watering.
It is non-toxic to both humans and pets. This palm will apparently absorb airborne pollutants like xylene, acetone, and toluene which off-gas from various household furniture and products.
2. Kentia Palm
Another great and safe air-purifying palm is the Kentia Palm. The palm is known for its elegant appearance and its a top choice if you are going for a trendy look in a baby's room. The Kentia is also low-maintenance and is the right plant for you if you struggle to take care of houseplants.
If you take extremely good care of it and place it in a bigger flower pot, the kentia can grow up to 3 meters (9 ft.) tall. It loves humidity but you can get away with watering it occasionally.
It will do just fine in low-light but give it extra light and it will grow a lot more leaves. Water the kentia once a week, making sure to let the soil dry between watering's. If you are over watering the plant, its leaves will start to turn yellow.
Don’t allow it to sit in water. You accordingly need to get a flower pot with good drainage and a fast-draining, well-aerated potting mix. On the flip side, if the plant is not being watered enough, the leaves will start to turn brown.
You should mist Kentia Palm occasionally and stick to your weekly watering schedule to keep the plant healthy. If you are forgetful about watering, another solution is to get a self-watering flower pot.
The Kentia is known to release ample moisture into the air which is great for good humidity in a baby’s room but if you live in a humid area it may be too much. The palm also removes various chemical toxins lingering in your air.
3. Prayer Plant
The prayer plant got its name because of how its leaves fold up at night like hands in a prayer gesture. During the day, the leaves open up and display an awesome pattern.
This plant is really a wonder to look at and will make a great addition in almost any baby’s room. It is however on the harder side to care for when it comes to plant care.
You have to keep its soil moist but not soggy. It also needs its monthly fertilizer all year round except in winter where it goes dormant.
The Prayer Plant loves the sun and moisture. It is claimed that besides removing various airborne toxins the plant helps improve sleep, breathing and mental clarity.
In addition to helping keep toxins out of the air, the Prayer Plant has also been found to have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
4. Cast Iron Plant
Another excellent choice, for your baby’s room from a maintenance and safety perspective, is the Cast Iron Plant. This plant is popular in the Japanese flower arrangement art “Ikebana”.
It's a sturdy plant and though it grows slowly, it grows well in low light conditions and can deal with erratic watering. The Cast Iron Plant can amazingly last you over 25 years if well cared for. I personally find it very aesthetically pleasing with its rich large green leaves.
In addition to its air-purifying qualities, the plant has been widely used for medicinal purposes in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine.
It apparently has diuretic properties and certain concoctions of the plant are known to improve blood pressure, treat diarrhea, abdominal pain, traumatic injuries, and even urinary stones.
5. Maidenhair Fern
The Maidenhair fern is not ideal if you are too busy to care for a plant but I have included it here because it's among the few visually appealing air purifying plants that’s also safe to have around baby’s. It's not toxic to humans or animals and it does not cause allergies.
I think this petite plant is a really pretty air purifying addition to any baby’s room. The Maidenhair loves moisture in the air, and gently moist soil. Its leaves are delicate and long.
They are actually quite fragile and if tampered with will turn brown. If this happens to you though, do not worry as new leaves will grow in place of the brown leaves. Just make sure to carefully trim the brown leaves off.
The plant needs liquid fertilizer once a month in summer and spring. If you care for it well, it will reward you with its arching and stunning presentation of light petal like leaves hanging from dark branches.
It will really keep you company in baby’s room if you take good care of it. The plant is not too difficult to be cared for but it needs daily attention.
I think it is fitting for parents who spend a lot of time in their baby’s room and need a calming activity to do (i.e. caring for a fragile plant) while watching the child. The Maidenhair does not only boast air purifying properties but has also been widely used as a traditional medicine.
The Navajo Native American people smoked it to treat mental illness, while other ancient tribes have used it as a lotion for insect stings. Some infusions of this fern have also been used for rheumatism.
I recommend this plant to you if you have the time to care for it. Yes it likes to be pampered but once you place it in your child’s room, in addition to its air cleaning ability, the look and feel you get from the Maidenhair Fern is well worth the effort.
6. Peacock Plant
The Peacock Plant is kind of in the same family as the prayer plant but it does not fold up in prayer. I personally feel it's the prayer plant’s prettier cousin and got its name exactly for that. Its leaves just look so exotic and have such a striking variegation.
It is a colorful non-toxic, safe and ideal plant for purifying the air in your baby’s nursery. It is not difficult to care for. You just have to keep its soil moist and ensure you provide it with some humidity.
The Peacock Plant is very good at converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. It has a reasonably high transpiration rate making it a powerful candidate for helping you deal with airborne toxins in your child’s room.
7. Baby Rubber Plant
The Baby Rubber plant is a well known ornamental plant. I really love its glossy, flesh, succulent looking leaves. It needs a room with humidity and light but that said its not a fussy plant and it is easy enough to grow with little attention.
It does not need that much watering. Water this plant when the top soil in your pot gets visibly dry. Make sure not to over water the plant.
The plant particularly helps reduce benzene and nitrogen dioxide levels in your air and helps keep your environment cooler.
Its leaves are also good at trapping airborne dust and once in a while you will need to wipe the dust on the leaves off as you notice the dust building up. The plant will also contribute towards adding humidity in your child’s room
So these are the 7 plants I highly recommend to try in a baby’s nursery and here is the list in summary:
- The Areca Palm
- The Kentia Palm
- Prayer Plant
- Cast iron Plant
- Maidenhair Fern
- Peacock Plant
- Baby Rubber Plant
There are many places where you can buy these plants online. If you are in the US or the UK I have listed some places where you can get the 7 plants in the table below.
Best Place To Get Houseplants Online
Online Houseplant Store
5 Dangerous Plants You Should Avoid In Your Baby’s Room
As I mentioned earlier, not all air purifying plants are suitable for your baby’s room and I am shocked to see some of the bad plants being widely recommended to parents on some websites. The thing you have to keep in mind with houseplants in your baby’s room is that eventually your newborn becomes a curious toddler who will touch and chew on stuff.
So, in addition to plants that can spread pollen, you do not want to get anything that can cause contact allergies or anything toxic or poisonous to humans if ingested.
Common air purifying house plants I have seen recommended but should not be for a home with a baby or children include the English Ivy, any Dieffenbachia, the Syngonium, Pothos, Philodendron, the Peace lily and some certain ferns.
These either easily attract bugs and mites, disperse furry like spores in the air that can cause allergies and also pollen. Some of these plants on the other hand are just toxic and dangerous only if tampered with but if you don’t want to take any chances, they are best avoided.
There are many others on the list and I cannot cover everything here. That said, if you are unsure about any plant it's a good idea to ask a trusted plant grower or medical source for advice on its safety.
Based on my knowledge, I particularly tell people to stay away from the following five plants when it comes to a good air purifying plants to place anywhere around your baby’s environment,
- Peace Lily
- Weeping Fig
From research I found that you want to stay away from any Philodendrons. They are quite common and if somehow they find their way to your child or even your pets mouth, they will trigger a burning sensation and swelling of the tongue, throat, and lips. If ingested these plants can also cause diarrhea and vomiting. They are not a good idea in your baby’s room especially when they are able to grab things.
2. Peace Lily
The Peace Lily does make a fantastic indoor air purifying plant as it's quite pretty but unfortunately just like philodendrons, they are toxic. They result in the same burning and swelling reaction as the philodendron if ingested.
3. Weeping Fig
The Weeping Fig is another beauty for the home but unfortunately it can be a source of allergies through the dust mites and pests it attracts. Furthermore, the plant's trunk, leaves and sap can, for some people, trigger allergic reactions very similar to latex allergies. All in all, it’s best to avoid this plant altogether.
Oh how I wish Bonsai’s were not on this list. Unfortunately they also are. If your baby is allergic to birch, certain types of Bonsai are not a good idea. If their particles somehow get into the air through pruning or something or if you touch the plant and then touch your child, your baby could get skin irritation if they are sensitive to birch. So my take is to avoid any type of Bonsai altogether until you are sure your child does not have a birch allergy.
Not all Ferns are bad and I can attest to the safety of the Maidenhair Fern I recommended earlier. However more likely than not if you are getting a fern it's likely to be one of those that releases spores that can trigger asthma attacks and other skin irritations. In particular keep ferns like the common Boston Fern away from your baby's nursery.
Safety Precautions & Tips To Best Use Plants In Baby’s Room
If you have read this far, you are no stranger to the potential dangers plants can cause to your child. I think by now you also understand that plants do need some TLC to do their air purifying job well. Accordingly, here are some quick general tips on safety and maintenance when you put air cleaning plants in your baby’s room.
I think when it comes to safety, the first thing you have to do is have your local Poison Control Institution’s number on hand in case of any emergency. Have this on hand even if you only have baby safe plants around your home.
Next, when positioning plants in your baby’s room, place them somewhere away from the child’s crib and out of reach of your baby if your child has started crawling or has become a toddler.
Your child will spend time unsupervised in their room so toxic plants, especially if you can’t place them out of reach are a complete faux pas.
When it comes to plants, these are living and breathing organisms and even with the plants I have recommended here, do your research before settling on what to get and place in your child's room.
Next, and probably in line with keeping plants out of reach, do not clutter your room with plants. Even if you can take care of all these plants without any hustle, for obvious reasons, you do not want to create a jungle in your baby's room.
Try filling your room with plants and you are bound to attract other creatures into your baby’s room and these can do more harm than good to your child. Be minimal with plants in a child’s room and you save yourself a lot of headaches in terms of tidiness and air quality.
Lastly with plant care, go for organic fertilizers and soils to avoid introducing more harmful chemicals into your home. I also highly recommend self watering flower pots/planters. These can really save you time watering your plants.
Basically self watering pots have a container compartment which you fill up with water and the water drips slowly into your pot watering your plant over periods of up to a month. Less work on your hands.
You can also go the extra mile with soil-free planting. This is better known as hydroculture and entails growing your plant in water while using pebbles instead of soil as the media to hold your plant upright.
The advantage of this approach is you reduce bacteria and mold spores that result from over watering your plant when using soil as your growing media. Just make sure to cover your pot in a way that a toddler cannot get access to the pebbles. The video below shows a great example of an off the shelf hydroculture planter.
Should You Really Use Plants To Purify Air In Baby’s Room?
Ok, yes, I know, you must be wondering why is this guy now asking this question after extensively going through some plants that can help purify the air a baby’s.
Well, when I was doing the research on all this, I stumbled on some articles and blog posts that were completely against the ability and idea of plants purifying air that made me question all these posts flooding the internet about air purifying plants.
Reading through all the articles questioning the science, I thought I would be doing you, “my valued readers”, a disservice not telling you that there are a lot of question marks regarding plants and purifying the air.
This is info you need to know before going out and getting a plant you believe will clean the air for your baby. There are pages and pages of information on whether plants can actually purify air in a home but let me summarize what I believe is true after digging through some of the research.
Based on scientific research, yes it's true that plants can actually get rid of some airborne pollutants through a process called phytoremediation. However their ability to do this in the context of a home is limited.
Most of the research done to test the ability of plants to get rid of pollutants in the air was done with a few plants enclosed in a small chamber. If you replicate that to the reality of your living space, for you to get the same air purifying result you would basically need to fill up your whole room with plants.
Filling a room with plants is just not practical in the context of a home let alone a baby’s room. What’s more Bill Wolverton, the former NASA research scientist who caused the current hype around air purifying plants has also in some interviews doubted the practicality of air purifying plants cleaning the air effectively in a home or office setting.
His doubts come even after he wrote a number of books about air purifying plants.
So my conclusion from the science is that plants are not the crazed natural indoor air purifiers many websites, even respected websites are making them out to be. So should you even put them in your baby’s room?
My answer is YES. Even though on their own they will barely make a dent in your room’s air quality, for me, just the fact they are able to sway things a little in the right direction is enough justification to get an air purifying plant in my baby’s room.
However, I would not solely rely on plants for clean air in my child's room. You have to use them with other more aggressive measures if you are serious about getting clean air in your baby’s room and I discuss these measures in the next section.
9 Additional Measures For Clean Air In Baby’s Room
Bad air quality comes from many sources in the home. Polluted air can enter your home from outside, it can off-gas from paint on your walls, from chemicals used to clean, from furniture, carpets, cooking and waste in the kitchen, from your bathroom, clothes, beddings and the list is endless.
So how do we take all these sources on? The truth is you can’t but with certain steps you can greatly minimize the level of air pollutants that remain from all these sources in your home’s air and more importantly in your baby's nursery. Accordingly, here are 9 steps you can take for clean air in Baby’s room in addition to using air purifying plants.
1. Invest In An Air Purifier
Air purifiers are at the center of my arsenal in improving indoor air quality. This is my number one solution and if I had to choose between air purifying plants and an air purifier, an air purifier would win by a landslide.
Nonetheless, you can use both. Plus plants have the advantage of adding that extra feel of calm and serenity in a room. To learn more about air purifiers, just explore the purify your air category of my website. Alternatively you can jump straight to the air purifiers I recommend and you will find an ideal one for your baby's room.
2. Get An Air Exchanger
Installing an air exchanger and running it in your home will remove polluted and stale air from your home and dump it outside while replacing it with fresh air from outdoors. Generally, if you have a properly installed air exchanger system it will renew the air in all the important parts of your home. If you can get one, run it alongside your air purifier.
3. Open Windows Occasionally
If you live in an area with generally clean outdoor air, opening the windows in your home from time to time to let the air in can do wonders in improving your air quality. Most of the time you will find the air quality in your house is worse than outdoors, especially if you have a tightly insulated and sealed home and you barely let any air flow in and out.
4. Clean With Eco-Friendly Detergents
Your standard Unilever or Procter and Gamble cleaning and washing detergents contain a lot of harmful chemicals that can off gas into your indoor air and some people are actually quite sensitive to these on contact.
Fortunately there are a number of environmentally friendly alternatives to your standard grocery store detergents. Look to more eco-friendly detergents for cleaning floors and surfaces in your home and child’s room and do the same for your laundry.
5. Minimize Usage of Scented Products
Perfumes, air freshener, hair sprays and most toiletries contribute to indoor air pollution. For better air quality around your entire home while you have a baby, you should especially cut down on using sprays and look for eco-friendly baby and adult toiletries.
6. Keep Indoor Humidity Levels Optimal
There are many ways you can control your humidity. Some plants are quite helpful in increasing humidity if your humidity is too low. But generally you will need a dehumidifier if your humidity is too high or a humidifier if it's too low. You need to maintain your humidity level in the range of 35-60%. To make sure you share in range, you can check your humidity level using a hygrometer.
7. Minimize Off Gassing Items In Baby’s Room
To minimize off-gassing in your child's room, try as much as possible to go for GREENGUARD certified or similarly certified furniture and items in your kid's room. These do not emit VOCs that make the air in your child’s room worse. These days you can find a GREENGUARD versions of almost all the furniture and items you will need for a baby.
Check out Naturepedic for GREENGUARD crib mattresses and bedding. Additionally, go for 100% non-toxic eco-friendly versions of things you get for Baby’s room wherever possible. There are a lot of companies offering green baby stuff and here is a good example.
8. Keep Pets Out
This is a no brainer, you don’t want pet hair and dandruff floating in your baby’s room. Your pets can come visit the room, but do not let them dwell. Let them occupy the rest of your home but avoid living them in the baby's room and you have less of a headache keeping the air in there clean.
9. Keep Clean
Cleaning your house often helps with keeping dust and surface allergens. You want to maintain a good bi-weekly vacuuming routine and a quarterly steam cleaning routine. Speaking of vacuuming, you should check out my recommendations on vacuum cleaners especially in homes with anyone who could be sensitive to airborne and surface pollutants.
In the baby's room, clean every corner and move stuff around so you do not miss a spot. Don’t let clutter and dirt build and clean up baby’s mess as that’s where dust mites and other unwanted critters that contribute to airborne pollutants thrive. If you struggle with decluttering, click here for a really helpful guide that will show you how to declutter fast.
This is all I have to share for now on maintaining good air quality in baby's room with air purifying plants.