New parents are usually the ones asking “are carpets bad for crawling babies?”
If this is your first parenting rodeo, I totally get it.
You have a lot of worries and concerns and you’re probably doing a lot of googling right now, that’s why you landed here!
You’re worried about what kind of surfaces are safe for your little one to crawl on – tiles, wooden floors, carpets, etc.
Scroll below for a quick answer on carpets.
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So Are Carpets Bad for Crawling Babies?
Yes and No.
Yes, carpets are bad for crawling babies if the carpet is an old, thick pile that hasn’t been cleaned regularly and properly.
No, they’re not bad IF it’s a medium pile carpet that’s fairly new and/or at least regularly cleaned and well maintained.
Below is a more elaborate explanation of the pros and cons of carpets for crawling babies.
Health Risks of Carpets
Carpets, especially old, worn-out ones can have mold/mildew/fungi issues, which can be detrimental to your family’s, especially your crawling baby’s health.
They can also be a breeding ground for a lot of disgusting stuff such as:
- Germs/ Bacteria
- Insect Feces and Bug Droppings
- Skin Flakes
- Pet Poop and Urine
- Dust Mites
- Mold/ Fungus
All of which can trigger allergy or asthma symptoms in your crawling baby.
Check out the video below to see an experiment conducted by researchers at Purdue University, showing how much dirt, bacteria, pollen, etc., are inhaled by babies while crawling on carpets!
So it can be really worrying thinking of how much gross and appalling materials are in your carpet that can endanger your baby’s health.
On the flip side, there are some benefits to making your babies crawl on carpets.
Benefits of Using Carpets for Crawling Babies
One obvious benefit of carpets is cushioning your baby’s fall or making crawling more comfortable for them – which means less bruising on their knees!
Letting your baby crawl on different types of surfaces can also help with their gross motor skills and build up their confidence,
It makes them feel more capable to explore more and adapt better to their environment.
Aside from these advantages, the same Purdue researchers share that carpets are not that dreadful and it’s actually not a bad thing for infants to be inhaling dirty materials from it, especially during the 1st year of their life and if your baby isn’t a preemie and has a normal developing immune system.
Exposing infants to “bio-gunk” (dirt, bacteria, skin cells, fungal spores, pollen, etc.) – can develop a stronger immune system among babies, which can help them resist asthma and allergies.
A study conducted by the Johns Hopkins Children’s Centre also shows that children who grew up regularly exposed to allergens and bacteria were less likely to develop allergies and asthma.
Those that were exposed to more allergens or a variety of dirt and bacteria, had lower rates of wheezing and asthmatic symptoms, compared to those that had less or no allergen exposure.
But of course, these kinds of studies are not all-encompassing and can change, based on different factors.
Your baby can have a different reaction to your carpet so consider the following if you’re on the fence about keeping or throwing away your carpet.
What To Consider in Carpets for Crawling Babies
Old carpets are typically worn out, and unkept and are not cleaned and maintained properly.
A lot of things could have spilled on it and stained it, and are now stuck in its under paddings – like wine, juice, dog pee, even water.
If not cleaned right away, these will sit in the underpad, causing that stinky carpet smell. Which won’t go away even if you’ve cleaned it a dozen times!
These kinds of old, stinky, stained, and worn carpets can have a lot of molds, mildew, and fungi issues so it’s better to just rip it out and buy a new one.
Piles are the degree of thickness or cushion in a carpet.
The thicker and squishier it is, the more it can keep dirt, and the harder it is to clean.
A high pile carpet can be comfier to crawl on but very hard to maintain and clean.
It can be a breeding ground for all sorts of dirt, bacteria, mites, insect feces, pet waste, and such.
This can trigger asthmatic symptoms in your baby or worse.
Low-pile carpets are the thin ones that are typically seen in commercial buildings with a lot of foot traffic.
These kinds of carpets are easier to clean and maintain but might not be as comfy as high piles or medium pile carpets.
Medium piles can offer the best of both worlds – a comfy and easy-to-clean surface – so consider how much regular maintenance can you allot to your carpet before deciding on one.
Non Toxic Carpet
Older carpets can contain a lot of toxins that can mess up your family’s health.
New carpets that are free from toxic chemical treatments, are zero-VOC, and are free of PFAS are ideal to have.
Or you can also use non-toxic rugs instead, for your babies to crawl on.
Water Resistant Under Paddings
They can be more expensive but at least it’ll give you some time to locate spills and messes and clean them accordingly, which can make your carpet and padding last longer.
Tips for When Baby Starts Crawling
Let them explore various surfaces
It’s great not only for their gross motor skills but also for their overall development, and cognitive skills and for boosting their confidence!
So let your kids crawl in areas that are generally clean and free from choking hazards.
Use a playmat for infants and younger babies who are starting to roll.
You can also use a portable playmat and move it around indoors.
Or use it for outdoor family gatherings and happenings, so your baby has someplace to hang in, without being too confined.
Then consider getting a playpen, to keep them safe.
There are all kinds of playpens – spacious, travel-friendly, outdoor, and adjustable – that can accommodate everyone’s needs.
Your baby might hate it, but it’s useful to have one especially if you just need a few quick minutes to do some chores while still in view of your baby.
Let your baby crawl also on hard floors and surfaces. Mix it up!
And of course, give them some free reign on rugs and carpets.
Baby-proof their crawling space
This goes without saying, especially for younger babies who tend to mouth everything they can get their hands on!
So always make sure to get rid of any small items or possible choking hazards on their way.
Check also buttons, pins, and similar small items on toys and objects that they can easily grab, bite and swallow.
Take note of fabrics, curtains, and whatnot, especially if they’re within reach.
They can easily pull these things and they can get hurt from it!
Don’t forget to keep an eye on your baby.
Even if they look like they’re safe and comfy inside their playpen or you’ve baby-proofed their carpet-crawling area to a T, they will find ways to endanger themselves.
If you need to go to the toilet, run to the door, or be away for a few minutes, you better get a baby monitor so you can always keep an eye on them.
Just again, make sure to hide the wires and keep the baby monitor in a safe place away from your baby!
Carpet-Cleaning Tips for When Baby Starts Crawling
Clean it regularly
Clean your carpet regularly. Vacuum it twice or thrice a week or when needed.
Remember to clean up spills and stains immediately. Don’t let it seep into the carpet fibers.
If you have to make it damp and wash away spills, take note to air the carpet properly and make sure it stays dry.
Schedule professional carpet steam cleaning twice a year.
Use a HEPA vacuum cleaner
A well-sealed high-quality HEPA vacuum cleaner can effectively remove dust mites and other allergens and contaminants that might have been stuck and trapped in your carpet.
Use a towel for your baby
Avoid diaper blowouts, spit-ups, and snack spills on your carpet by using a size-appropriate playmat or a towel or blanket on the carpet, for your baby to play and crawl on!
Use non-toxic cleaning solutions
Read the labels on home cleaning solutions and get ones that are safe for babies and pets.
If it’s not much of a hassle, you can try natural DIY home cleaning solutions such as vinegar, water, salt, baking soda, etc. instead.
FAQ on Carpets
Are carpets bad for babies?
Carpets can be nasty for babies if they’re worn out, old, stinky, and not cleaned for a long time. They can have all kinds of bacteria, germs, molds, allergens, etc., stuck on them, which can be detrimental to your baby’s health.
However, if your baby is growing normally and your carpet is relatively new or at least maintained regularly, it’s not that bad to expose your baby to some dirt and germs from the carpet.
It can train their immune system and strengthen it, making your baby less likely to get allergies or asthma when they get older.
Can carpet make kids sick?
Yes, a dirty, moldy, old carpet can make kids sick.
So if you have one that’s in poor condition and has a stink that won’t go away, just rip it out and get a new carpet, preferably one that’s non-toxic and that comes with a waterproof under padding.
Are Carpets Bad for Crawling Babies: Takeaway
A little bit of dirt and germs won’t hurt your baby, especially if they’re growing normally.
It can build up their tolerance for even worse conditions and elements outside of your home and train and strengthen their immune system.
So having a relatively clean carpet for your baby to crawl on is not that bad nor dangerous.
It’s actually ultimately better to expose your child to all kinds of crawling surfaces that are safe and are free from choking-hazard for their overall development.
But I get where new parents are coming from.
I also tend to over-research and overthink these matters. So it’s perfectly normal to worry about these kinds of things.
So if you’re not really comfortable seeing your baby crawling on a carpet, there are always other options to consider, such as rugs, playmats, or playpens.
Most are meant for crawling, you can easily find non-toxic ones, and they can be used even if you have a preschooler or older kid – they can do gymnastic moves on it too!