It’s no secret that babies love to explore the world with their mouths. As they are learning to grasp and explore, they will feel compelled to put anything and everything in their mouths. By this point, you should have already baby-proofed your home. No drawer should be left unlocked and no small object should be left unhidden. If your baby can reach it, it’s food. However, there might be a few things you left out of your baby-proofing rampage. If you are or any of your family members are wearing nail polish, your baby could easily ingest some.

Nail polish contains a myriad of harmful chemicals, including formaldehyde. For a baby’s sensitive system, it can be dangerous to ingest even just a little bit. When your baby starts to grasp and explore, he or she will get into the habit of grabbing peoples’ hands and chewing or sucking on them. If you’re wearing nail polish, chips might come off and make their way into your baby’s system. 

If you’re a new mom, you don’t have to completely avoid nail polish. After treating yourself to a manicure, make sure each nail is fully dry before handling your baby. You could also consider purchasing natural nail polish that contains fewer chemicals than the brand names. Once your nails are painted, be extra diligent about keeping your hands out of baby’s mouth. If he or she starts to teeth on your hands, remove them promptly and hand over a teething toy.

Similarly, you should never paint your baby’s nails for the same reason. If you feel the need to do so, you can actually buy a nail polish that is safe for babies. Regular nail polish contains too many chemicals. Your baby will almost certainly end up with those pretty fingers in her mouth. Even if you paint your baby’s toenails, she’ll be at risk for swallowing the chips. Your baby is agile, and toenails are no strangers to their curious mouth.

Technically, you should avoid wearing regular nail polish as a new mom because there’s a good chance it’ll end up in baby’s mouth. At the same time, I certainly understand the need for new moms to feel pampered and cute. It is acceptable, and recent studies support the decision of any exhausted new parent to get that manicure, as long as she promises to be extra careful about contact with baby.

Source: Jane Sheppard: Protect Your Baby From Toxic Exposures. Healthy Child March 2009