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A Greener Home For Your Baby

A Clean Sweep

Babies have faster respiration than adults, which means they ingest chemicals and fumes at a higher rate. Some commercial cleaners may contain harmful additives, so be aware of the following when it comes to keeping house:

"All-natural" claims. The phrase "all-natural" doesn't really tell you how eco-conscious a product is, so seek out these green terms instead: "readily biodegradable," "plant-based," or "dye-" and "synthetic-free." You can also look for the "DfE" symbol (Design for the Environment), which the EPA assigns to safer, greener cleaners.

Lemon scents. The biggest cleaning myth out there is what clean is supposed to smell like, says Jenn Berman, Psy.D., author of SuperBaby: 12 Ways to Give Your Baby a Head Start in the First 3 Years. "It's not lemony, piney, or rose-scented." In fact, these odors often come from potentially dangerous chemicals, so try to use products that are fragrance-free.

Air "fresheners." For the same reason Berman advises steering clear of scented cleaners, Dr. Poulson suggests skipping air fresheners, including sprays and plug-in products. If you need to remove odors, try sprinkling a layer of baking soda on your carpets and then vacuuming it up.

Homemade cleaners. Green products on the market are great options, but you can also mix some up at home. Linda Mason Hunter, coauthor of Green Clean: The Environmentally Sound Guide to Cleaning Your Home, relies on distilled white vinegar (mix it with water for an effective surface cleaner) and baking soda (combine it with water to make an oven cleaner).

A word about floors. Simply take your shoes off when you come in and you won't have to clean them as much.