Is It Safe to Paint a Crib? | Factors to Consider to Keep Your Baby Healthy at All Times 

 November 9, 2022

By  Jaycen Mag

Are you having thoughts of sparkling up your baby's crib? Is it safe to paint a crib? It depends on your paint, ventilation, crib material, and more. 

Key Takeaways

  • Whether or not it's safe to paint a crib depends on factors like paint quality, ventilation, crib material, etc.
  • Paints that emit little (or no) chemical emissions, like natural paint, are ideal for safe crib painting. 
  • Using non-toxic, VOC-free paint and ensuring proper ventilation during your projects is crucial for safe crib painting.
  • If you are pregnant, you must take more care during your interactions with paint to avoid accidents or complications.

A crib is a piece of crucial furniture for any baby’s room. Upon receiving the extraordinary news of a new arrival in their family, most mothers want the safest and most comfortable baby crib for the kids. After all, the latter spend most of their time there.

It’s out of the question whether the crib is old or new for most people—whether it’s an inheritance from an older child, a gift from a close relative, a friend, etc. Would-be mothers want something comfy and safe for their babies. 

Fresh paint may not be necessary unless the old paint is badly worn off or you wish to match the crib color to the nursery décor.

But before you start your baby crib painting project, check the safety guidelines below to paint your crib safely. 

a room with painted crib in it

Is It Safe To Paint a Crib? —Check Your Paint

Best paints are those safe for baby cribs—or the entire nursery. These are paints, such as natural paints, that are free of chemical emissions. 

The right paint should also contain zero to trace amounts of harsh chemicals like volatile organic compounds (VOC). VOC compounds give paints their distinct smell and have the capacity to blend with air.

Based on studies, VOC carries short-term and long-term consequences for whoever inhales them. 

VOC paints can trigger common health issues like liver damage, loss of coordination, headaches, throat, nose, eye irritation, kidney damage, etc.

The degree of consequence is increased indoors, where VOC concentrations are high.

Because infants spend more time in their baby cribs, exposing them more to paint, opt for a baby-safe paint with zero VOC.   

a can with paint and brushes

Most paint also contains alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs) compounds equally harmful to infants. APEs have toxic chemicals such as octyl-phenol ethoxylates and nonylphenol.

They are described as endocrine disruptors— substances that can alter the natural hormonal circle in babies. They can trigger health problems associated with a child's immune system, brain, reproduction, etc. That's why keeping endocrine disruptor products away from a child's reach is advisable. More shelves are also increasingly introducing "BPA-free" products for this reason.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Safe Paint

  • Go for non-toxic and odor-free paint. Again, consider paints with low or no VOC. A low VOC paint should not exceed 50 grams of the chemical per liter. Relatively, a zero VOC paint usually contains 5 grams (or less) of VOC per liter. 

Zero VOC paints usually contain fewer harmful chemicals. However, remember that paint tinting can induce VOC substances into a VOC-free paint. SQAQMD regulations are upfront at regulating VOC amounts both in tinting agent and paint base.

  • Consider paints that don't necessarily require primer. The absence of primers helps cut down the involved chemicals.

  • Shop for lead-free paints. Today, most shelves may pack lead-free paints, but you should read the label.

  • Consider water-based paints. These are majorly lead-free and non-toxic paints.

  • Approved paints by ASTM F963-17 or EN71-3 are considered safer for children's toys.

  • Restrain from sealants and paint additives unless approved as safe spray paint for baby toys.

  • Choosing a good paint finish depends on your preference. A semi-gloss paint may offer durability, low maintenance, and visual appeal.

Examples of  Safe and Zero VOC Paint Brands for Your Crib 

Whenever you have safety concerns when shopping for your baby's crib paint, always check a manufacturer's safety certification. For example, EN71-3 regulates baby toys for safety levels. It ensures babies chewing on these toys won't suffer chemical poisoning. Another entity is the ASTM F963-17—an American equivalent. Here are a few types of paints that can guarantee safety for a newborn:

Milk Paint—Matte Furniture Paint 

Milk paints, including mustard seed’s milk paint, are generally water-based, VOC-free, and non-toxic. This element makes them ideal for a safe crib

They are also planet friendly. Matte furniture paint comes in over fifty different colors. Besides, it's odorless and easy to use. The warm white is also available in a powdered form. You only need an equal ratio of the powder and water, and you're ready to paint. 

Rust-Oleum—Chalk Paint 

Rust-Oleum is a classic manufacturing brand of sheer paint products like chalk ultra matte, suitable for a crib. The paint has comprehensive coverage and superior adhesion.

The upsides of the chalk paint:

  • One coat can spread over a wide area (about 150 sq. ft)
  • Its velvety smooth finish is ideal for a vintage look
  • It has easy use, little prep work 
  • Induce low odor that can fade off with soap and water clean up.

Rust-Oleum–Milk Paint Finish 

Milk paint finish, a rust oleum product, is also safe for a baby crib. Formulated for home decor and furniture, the milk paint can induce an impressive nursery color. Here are some of its advantages:

  • It's a water-soluble milk paint with zero safety concerns for VOC levels, odor 
  • Milk paints require little preparation before the painting starts
  • Blended with various ingredients for minimal chipping off and more durability.
  • The milk paint finish can easily clean off with water and soap 

Lullaby Furniture Paint

Like milk paint, lullaby paints have a gentle formulation with zero odor and a low rate of air pollution, ranking them high among baby-safe paint. The water-based paint comprises about 32 pre-mixed designer colors you can choose from.

The Renaissance Furniture Paint

Renaissance Furniture paint is also ranked high among baby-safe paints. The safe paint is hypoallergenic, non-toxic, and has zero VOC. And, because it occurs in various colors, you can select your ideal.

Safety Tips on Painting Your Baby’s Crib 

Plan for your project and technique with the following guides:

  • Can you safely paint while pregnant? While it might be a favorite pastime activity, painting is not advisable while expectant. This caution is to avoid accidents, contamination, and more. 
  • Are you painting over a preexisting one? Choose a ventilated area, and sand (with grit sandpaper) the original paint till smooth. For protective gear, use a breathing protection or mask (P100 or N100 can suit paints with solvents, oils, leads, etc. if dealing with wood, you can use N95)
  • If you’re painting over paint, ensure that old paint is non-toxic and lead-free. When unsure, scrape it off, or call a local expert.
  • Have fun selecting colors. Consider neutral, bright, or metallic colors instead of traditional gendered ones. They have more contrast with your nursery décor.
  • For a paintbrush that guarantees results, consider a 100% nylon brush of high quality.
  • Don’t apply paint on safety components like latches and screws. Remove them, if possible, before the project and replace them once the paint dries.
  • Let the crib dry in a well-ventilated space; we recommend doubling the standard dry time.
crib and toys in a baby's room

Painting the Baby Crib the Safe Way

After selecting an ideal paint, safe for your child, unleash the fun! Check out the below guidelines on painting your crib safely:

Lightly Sand the Crib

Select an ideal tool; a sanding sponge or a fine or medium 220-grit and 180-grit, respectively) sandpapers. By Scaff sanding, the new paint settles properly. You may use a tack cloth to lose dirt after sanding.   

Apply a Primer 

You may not have an initially painted crib, or you may be looking to change an existing color radically. In either case, use a single coat of primer.

Let the Primer Dry Completely 

Factors that determine whether your primer dries fast are room temperature, humidity level, and manufacturer.

Gently Sand Once More Using Fine Sandpaper

People may call this “giving it a tooth.” It’s a subsequent light sanding that boosts paint adherence on the surface. Again, sanding dust with a tack cloth is necessary.

Safely Paint Your Baby's Crib

Using the 100% nylon brush, coat the paint on the wood grain. Overcome paint dripping or streaking by avoiding thick paint. Check how much paint is necessary for an even clear coat.

Apply a Second Coat

It is necessary and done once the first paint coat gets dry. Smooth out drips and observe brush strokes.

Give It a Few Minutes to Dry 

Again, let your crib dry in a well-ventilated area by doubling up the recommended duration by your manufacturer. Remove any lingering odor by running a fan and opening windows for enhanced safety before crib usage. 

Looking to  Paint a Safe Baby Crib for Your Infant?

Getting your nursery furniture ready can be exciting but drives an equal share of worry and anxiety. By boosting your baby's safety and comfort levels in their baby crib, you can sit back with peace of mind and have a special moment.  

There are also modern-day safety standards for painting cribs. However, always consider non-toxic paint that's VOC-free and undertake the project in an open, well-ventilated space. 

parents preparing the crib for the baby


Are Oil-based Stain-blocking Primers Safe for Crib Painting?

Oil-based stain-blocking primers are generally not safe for crib paint. Essentially, they contain unsafe levels of VOC chemicals that are risky for babies.

Can I Use Any Finish for My Average Crib Painting?

Yes. You can use any finish for your baby's average crib painting. Essentially, this will depend on your personal preference or nursery decor. You can use finishes like glossy (or semi-gloss), eggshell, etc.

Is Sanding Still Needed After Priming My Baby Crib?

Sanding isn’t necessary after priming. It's only crucial when you want to rough the painting area or scrub off a glossy finish. Be careful of sanding dust, which can be a contaminant.

How Hard Is It to Paint the Spindles?

It isn’t that hard to paint crib spindles. You only need a clean and dry sponge to paint the spindles easily.

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