Many parents think houseplants and toddlers don’t mix and abandon the idea of keeping them while their children are so small. However, it doesn’t have to be the case as there are ways you can child proof your indoor plants. Furthermore, houseplants look great in any home, even in your baby’s nursery, so it’s a shame if you have to sell or get rid of them (the houseplants I mean 🙂 )
But what plants are safe for your little one? After all you want to choose houseplants that are tough and can withstand a curious toddler poking and prodding at them. Also, they need to be non-toxic in case your child starts to act out like a rabbit and munch on some of the leaves! Here is a list of non-toxic and child safe indoor plants to consider in your home.
List of child safe indoor plants
If you are a plant lover and you have young children at home, it can be tricky to strike a balance between having houseplants you like, while ensuring they don’t pose a threat to your little one. However, don’t worry because here are some houseplants for you to peruse and decide if you want to have them in your home. They all have non-toxic leaves and most are easy to look after, while being fairly tough and resilient.
Bird’s Nest Fern
This particular variety is easy to care for (which is ideal if you have a toddler to look after) and grows slowly to about 2 feet long if you keep it as a houseplant. You can plant it all year around, although it’s best to do it in the spring. Bird’s nest ferns grow best in a slightly shady area with a little bit of sunlight. More importantly for your child, the leaves are non-toxic.
This houseplant has a thick brown stem and curly, dark green leaves. The leaves are non-toxic and quite pleasant to touch. Although the ponytail palm is fairly easy to care for, it does better with regular watering. It’s not the most gracious looking plant to start with at it looks like a rock sprouting some leaves at the base, but it looks better with age.
The parlor palm grows well in areas of low-light, ideally near a window so they get a little morning or afternoon light. They grow slowly, don’t need much water and they function as a natural air purifier. Parlor palms have non-toxic leaves so they are perfectly safe for children and pets.
Calathea Beauty Star
This plant is often known as a ‘prayer plant’ and features striped dark green leaves. The leaves can curl up and face down, pointing towards the direction of the sunlight. They need particular care when it comes to watering though. You can’t let the soil dry out, but you don’t want to oversoak the roots either. Calathea beauty star plants like moist soil.
This plant is very easy to care for, quite tough and features non-toxic leaves, which makes it a great choice if you have pets and young children at home. Make sure you don’t overwater it and place it in a fairly bright spot in indirect sunlight. Pilea peperomiodes is a fast growing plant and you will want to keep a look out for little offshoots, which you can cut off and replant.
Bird of Paradise
This is a large plant that is tough for curious children to push and knock over, which makes it a good choice for your home. Furthermore, the bird of paradise is fairly resilient even if a toddler decides to pick and pull at the stems. Unlike other houseplants on this list, it requires a lot of sunlight and you should try to keep the soil constantly moist in the spring and summer seasons.
If space is at a premium in your home, hoya kentiana is a great choice as you can place it in a hanging basket which keeps it out of reach of young children. It needs regularly watering, but it is a tough and resilient plant.
This plant has green, waxy leaves and when it flowers, it has beautiful star-shaped white flowers. Hoya carnosa requires regular watering when it’s growing, less in the winter. The leaves are non-toxic which make it a great choice for your baby’s nursery or elsewhere in your home.
Despite the name, the Christmas cactus doesn’t have sharp spines so it’s perfectly safe to have around young children. They tend to flower around Christmas time if you place the plant in brighter light (but not too much sunlight as this can burn the leaves). Furthermore, you should water more in the spring and summer.
This plant can flower for months if you look after it well, and it comes in various shades including blue, pink, red, white and purple. As the African violet has bright flowers, you need to place it in an area which is fairly bright, but keep it out of direct sunlight. Try to avoid getting the leaves and stem wet when you’re watering this plant as it can lead to mould and rot.
Boston ferns require a little more looking after than most of the houseplants on this list. You need to ensure the soil never dries out by checking the moisture every day. The best place for them is in an area with higher humidity, which is tricky inside most homes so you may need to mist the plant occasionally as well as regular watering. However, the leaves are non-toxic which makes it a good choice for the family home. If you don’t live anywhere which is particularly humid, you can try placing this plant in a bathroom.
This plant contains a mat of delicate small leaves which are perfectly safe for young children. Baby’s tears require regular watering, but they are quite tough and easy to grow. If you notice any wilting, just water straight away and the plant should recover quickly. When in bloom, you should notice some small white flowers on the plant.
This is arguably one of the best choices on this list. Spider plants are easy to grow, tough, durable and contain non-toxic leaves. You can also place them in hanging baskets to keep them out of reach of young children. They just need to be placed in a bright area, but not in direct sunlight. Spider plants do best in well-drained soil with regular watering, but not too much as it can cause the roots to rot. In fact, letting the plant dry out occasionally between watering is fine.
Also known as mimosa pudica, this unique plant has its name due to its leaves curling inwards when someone touches it, or when there is a change in temperature. The leaves also curl up at night. Sensitive plants are fairly easy to look after and they grow quickly in the right conditions. However, they don’t last long so you’re better off treating them as annual plants, rather than perennials.
These plants can produce beautiful long-lasting flowers in the right conditions. You need to place them in a fairly bright area, but not in direct sunlight. Also to encourage an even growth, rotate the plant occasionally. Phalaenopsis orchids do best in warmer temperatures between 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit, but it can grow in cooler temperatures. You don’t need to water this plant too often. Weekly watering is fine in growing season or when its roots are a silvery-white colour. The downside to this plant is that it does require more care and attention than others on this list (which might be tricky with young children causing havoc in your home!)
Fittonia plants have beautiful patterns on their leaves which make them a great choice for the home. It rarely flowers when used as an indoor plant and requires constant humidity. Therefore you’ll need to mist it frequently and never allow the plant to dry out. Furthermore, avoid placing Fittonia plants in direct sunlight.
This plant has very interesting leaves and is fairly easy to look after. It’s also known as Donkey’s tail or Lamb’s tail. Although it’s non-toxic to pets and children, they grow best in hanging baskets so the stems can grow downwards, which keeps the plant well out of reach of curious hands! Place this plant in an area of indirect light (but not in sunlight).
Which houseplants should you avoid?
If you stick to the plants listed above you can relax that they are safe for babies and small children. However, if you are thinking of choosing something else, here are some houseplants which you should avoid as they contain poisonous leaves:
- English Ivy
- Peace Lily
- Snake plant
If you are in any doubt when you choosing a houseplant for your home, about the risk it can pose to young children or pets, make sure you seek advice from a professional.
Is it safe to have a houseplant in your baby’s room?
Providing you choose an indoor plant that doesn’t have toxic leaves and is fairly durable, it should be fine to have one or two in your baby’s room. Just make sure you choose something that can withstand a bit of prodding and poking from little fingers, and you make it tough for your toddler to get at the soil in the plant pot. However, for peace of mind, it’s probably best to have plants that are smaller, which you can place on a window sill or shelf which is out of reach.
Graham is a father of two who founded Dadometer to share his parenting journey with other moms and dads.