On a recent shopping trip with my family, I walked past a nail salon and nonchalantly looked inside. There, sitting on her mother’s lap, was a tiny little newborn dressed in pink. The mother was having a pedicure. Her newborn looked no more than a few weeks old.  

Nail salons and infants

Nail salons fall into a grey area for pregnant women. The chemicals used in the salon can give off dangerous fumes that, when inhaled, can cause headaches, dizziness, and, in some cases, asthma-like symptoms. It is best to avoid nail salons during pregnancy to protect the fetus from these chemicals. Large salons with fantastic ventilation systems can be safe, but few salons fall into this category. If possible, pregnant women should make an early morning appointment, sit next to the door, and/or wear a mask to prevent inhalation of airborne chemicals. 

Protecting your baby after birth

Pregnant women ask all the time how to protect the fetus from airborne chemical exposure in nail salons, but what about the newborn? This was the first time I’d ever seen a small infant in a salon of this size. The entire building couldn’t have been any more than 500 square feet and I passed the salon around 4 PM – the end of the day after hours of manicures, artificial nails, and pedicures. The baby was not protected in any way and the smell of the chemicals was bleeding out the front door to the sidewalk. 

Dangerous chemicals in the air

Nail salons are not safe for newborns or infants of any age, especially late in the day when fumes are almost overpowering to the adult nose. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are more than 10 dangerous chemicals floating around in the air of your nail salon. Some of these chemicals can cause nausea, vomiting, and difficulty breathing; others are associated with birth defects in pregnant women. 

You have the right to take some time to yourself as a new mother, but the nail salon is not the place for a newborn. The chemical fumes and particulates floating in the air can cause dangerous reactions in adults, let alone immature newborn lungs.  

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