Can A Toddler Sleep In A Freshly Painted Room?

Can A Toddler Sleep In A Freshly Painted Room? - Header Image

Key Points

  • In general, you will need to wait two to three days before your toddler can safely sleep in a freshly painted room.
  • Paint releases harmful chemicals into the air until it is dry; these chemicals can cause myriad health problems.
  • By carefully choosing the type of paint you use, you can minimise health risks and speed up the paint drying time.
  • Ensuring good levels of ventilation throughout the room will help the paint to dry faster and the fumes to dissipate.

People are spending more time at home than ever before. While some people are using this rare opportunity to get fit, try a new interest, or pursue a home-based business opportunity, others are tackling home improvement projects they otherwise would have struggled to find the time to complete.

If your home improvement project includes applying a fresh coat of paint to some of the rooms of your home, you may be wondering can a toddler sleep in a freshly painted room? The answer to this question depends a great deal on several factors including the type of paint you have chosen and the availability of ventilation in the room.

Family painting the room together

Can a toddler sleep in a freshly painted room? As a general guide, a toddler can safely sleep in a freshly painted room two to three days (48 to 72 hours) after the paint has dried.

Why It's Important To Wait Until The Paint Is Completely Dry

When asking yourself can a toddler sleep in a freshly painted room, you may be wondering why it's important to wait until the paint is completely dry before allowing the toddler back into the room. After all, as long as they don't touch the wet paint, what's the harm?

Toddler with fresh paint

As it turns out, wet paint can be extremely harmful to everyone, and even more so to those with lowered immunity, including toddlers and babies.

The reason is a set of ingredients called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in many paints. While the word "organic" is good news when shopping for baby formula and even bed sheets ,but when it comes to paint ingredients it means that the paint includes carbon.

VOCs are not exclusive to paints, but can also be found in pesticides , cleaning fluids, cigarettes, and air fresheners. VOCs in paint turns wet paint into a gas at room temperature, which means that – until it is completely dry – the wet paint on your freshly painted walls will be releasing gas fumes into the room.

These fumes react with nitrogen oxides and sunlight – both naturally present in a typical room – to produce a type of ground-level ozone layer.

Exposure to VOCs for very short periods usually won't cause any harm, but exposure over long periods – such as when sleeping in a freshly painted room overnight – can cause myriad detrimental health effects, as outlined below.

The Potential Dangers Of Inhaling Paint Fumes

When considering the question can a toddler sleep in a freshly painted room, it's helpful to understand the potential dangers of putting a toddler in a room with fresh paint for an extended period. Typically, most people – toddlers and infants included – can tolerate the smell of paint for a very short period.

However, allowing the toddler to sleep in a freshly painted room exposes them to the paint fumes for many hours, which is certainly long enough for some of the harmful effects of paint fumes to take hold.

The following are potential problems your toddler could experience if allowed to stay in a freshly painted room overnight:

  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • difficulties breathing
  • pain and irritation in the throat, nose, and/or eyes
  • dizziness
  • lack of coordination
  • rashes and other allergic reactions on the skin
  • coughing
  • nausea

Why Paint Type Matters

When it comes to making your toddler's bedroom as safe as possible, ventilating the room and keeping your toddler away from wet paint are both incredibly important. Equally important, however, is the type of paint you choose. Let's compare the three most common paint types available for interior painting projects.

Water-Based Paints

Water-based paints are very commonly used in interior painting projects. Available in a wide range of colours, water-based paints are flexible, easy to use, and fast-drying.

Oil-Based And Latex Paints

People looking for a smooth finish tend to choose oil-based paints rather than water-based varieties. Oil-based paints are also known to withstand greater levels of wear and tear than other paint alternatives. However, oil-based paints are renowned for releasing stronger smells and taking a long time to dry – in some cases, as long as two weeks.

It is recommended to only use an oil-based paint in a toddler's bedroom if you have alternative sleeping arrangements for your toddler for at least the next two weeks before the room is safe to re-enter.

VOC-Free And Low-VOC Paints

The safest paint type to use in any interior room – especially a toddler's bedroom – is a VOC-free paint (or a low-VOC paint if VOC-free isn't available). VOC-free paints are odourless and do not release any chemicals into the environment of the room, while low-VOC paints contain minimal amounts of harmful chemicals, but usually considerably less than other paint varieties.

When using low-VOC paint, you still need to keep your toddler out of their bedroom for at least 24 hours until the paint is completely dry. VOC-free paints have been shown to trigger fewer allergic reactions even in people with high levels of allergies or who are particularly sensitive to paint odours. VOC-free paints are also considered environmentally friendly due to the reduced number of solvents and chemical emissions associated with their use.

How To Speed Up The Time Before A Toddler Can Sleep In A Freshly Painted Room

If time is of the essence and you need to speed up the paint drying time to get your toddler back in their bedroom as quickly as possible, there are a few things you can do. Most importantly, maximise the ventilation in the room as much as possible.

Fully open all windows in the room and turn on any ceiling fans. If you have portable fans in other areas of the house, bring them into the bedroom to increase the airflow and release the paint fumes as quickly as possible.

Another trick is to position some buckets of water throughout the room while the paint is drying, as the water will absorb the paint vapours. Of course, ensure that the buckets of water are completely emptied and removed before your toddler is given access to the bedroom once again.

Practical Ways To Avoid A Toddler Sleeping In A Freshly Painted Room

Ideally, when undertaking an internal painting project, it’s a good idea for the whole family to spend a few nights away from the home, at a friend or relative's house, or in a hotel. However, this isn't always possible. An alternative is to avoid painting all internal areas at the same time and to spread out the project so that you always have at least one "safe" room for the family to sleep in.

Once the first room you painted has had sufficient time to dry and become completely safe, the family can sleep in that room while the last remaining room is painted.

As always, prioritise ventilation throughout the house as much as possible. Keep Windows and doors open, provided you have a safety screen in place. Use ceiling fans and portable fans to maximise airflow throughout the house.


The dangers of allowing a toddler to sleep in a room with a fresh coat of paint should not be ignored. However, this doesn't mean that you need to put off painting your child's room forever. Instead, by carefully choosing the type of paint you use and making some preparations in advance as outlined in this article, you can give your toddler's room the lively new coat of paint it desperately needs without putting your child at risk.

Rather than wondering can a toddler sleep in a freshly painted room, purchase safe, non-VOC paint and make alternative sleeping arrangements for your toddler until the paint has completely dried. It's always better to be safe than sorry, and after two to three days the paint will have completely dried and your toddler can enjoy sleeping in their room once again.