What’s Bugging You? Bed Bugs – What You Should Know

Bedbugs are a very old problem. It was first mentioned in Medieval European texts dating back to the time of Aristotle. Subsequent the improvement in hygiene and use of DDT, it was essentially eliminated in the US after WWII. However, it persisted in many other regions of the world and over the last couple years, it is making a strong comeback. It has been found all over the US and recently in areas of New Jersey and New York. Proposed reasons for the resurgence is increased international travel, immigration, use of used furniture and changes in pest control measures. In most cases, bed bugs are transported from infested areas to non-infested areas. They can cling onto someone’s clothing, or crawl into luggage, furniture or bedding that is then brought into homes.

What are they? Bedbugs are red-brown wingless insects that can grow to 1/4 inch long. They are visible to the naked eye and can be size of a small lentil or apple seed. Bedbugs are parasites which feed on the blood of humans or animals. They are nocturnal and are most active 1 hour prior to dawn. They are attracted by warmth and carbon dioxide, but not to dirt. Usually they seek food every 5-10 days, but can live up to 18 months without feeding. Bites are usually on any exposed area of skin and usually are multiple in a certain area. As a result, the bites are usually in clusters.

In general, bedbug bites do not transmit blood borne disease, and don’t carry any diseases. As a result of the allergic reaction to the bedbugs’ saliva, people bitten by bedbugs will have redness, swelling and itching. The swelling and redness usually lasts 4 days. Not all people are allergic. Sometimes, the bites may lead to secondary skin infections, most often from scratching. Usually topical ointments such as calamine, aloe, benadryl creams or hydrocortisone (only if bite not infected) will relieve the itching and help with the swelling. If the possibility of infection is present, please consult your doctor.

Like mentioned previously, bedbugs are not attracted to dirt. However, any cluttered and dirty areas allow bedbugs to hide. If one suspects a bedbug infestation, it is best to check in every nook and cranny. They tend to hide in dark places such as any tiny crevice, mattress seams/interiors, bed frame, box spring, carpeting, baseboards and any nearby furniture. They care travel up to 100 feet to feed. So, make sure you check every room aside from the bedroom. A clue to where they may reside is finding black or reddish stains from the bedbugs’ fecal matter on a surface.

Getting rid of bedbugs is an enormous undertaking. It is essential to first find out where they hide. It is important to remove all clutter. All surfaces should be scrubbed to remove eggs and a powerful vacuum should be used to remove bugs from cracks and crevices. Bed frames should be dismantled and drawers removed and cleaned. All holes around wires and pipes should be caulked and sealed. Anything that can’t be cleansed such as box spring, mattress, etc should be sealed in a vacuum bag. Remember, these insects can survive up to 18 months without feeding, so these insects have to be sealed for a long time. Furniture that is to be thrown out (because it cannot be cleaned or not wanted) should be sealed it in a plastic bag, so any possible bedbugs residing there won’t find their way to someone else’s home. All clothes and bed sheets should be laundered in hot water. After all is said and done, as a precaution, be very careful inspecting any old items you are bringing to your house. Bedbugs are not a neighbor anyone would like to have.

The following are suggestions from the New Jersey Department of Health and Human Services regarding insecticides:

“The NJDHSS recommends that homeowners hire a pest control professional licensed by the NJDEP to evaluate what type of pest is present, and to exterminate them. Pesticide products labeled for bed bugs may be available at drug, hardware or home improvement stores that adults can apply themselves. If you choose to use a pesticide, or if a licensed exterminator suggests you use one, follow these precautions:
• Only use pesticides clearly labeled as intended for bed bug extermination. Never use a cockroach spray, ant spray, or any other pesticide that does not list bed bugs on the label for bed bug extermination.
• Make sure you read, understand and follow the instructions on the pesticide’s label.
• Never spray pesticides on mattresses or sofas, or in areas where children are present.
• Never purchase or use a product without a manufacturer’s label and never buy pesticides from street vendors. Use insecticides to get rid of bed bugs that are hiding in walls and other large objects. (Choose insecticides with “pyrethrins” as an active ingredient on the label. Only use insecticides labeled for household use because some insecticides can damage or stain your furniture, wallpaper, etc. Use care when applying insecticides, especially around children, the elderly, immuno-compromised people, and anyone else who may be sensitive to insecticides. Always follow label directions carefully.)”

How to Find Perfect Infant Crib Bedding For Your Heirloom Cradle (And Make Sure It’s Safe)

You’re a lover of all things vintage. You pride yourself on thrift store finds. Not only this, but you get involved. You DIY. If a dress is the wrong size, you’ll sew a few seams, shorten the skirt. If a chair needs re-upholstering, you’re just the girl for the job.

Then along comes baby. Well, the promise of baby. The plus sign on that little stick.

Of course you visit your parents and pull down all your own baby gear from the attic. Oh, how sweet! you cry, over and over, sorting through tiny clothes and ragged stuffed animals.

And then–you gasp–there it is! The cradle. The one your grandfather carved by hand. Your father slept in it, you slept in it, and it’s been waiting here for some three decades, just waiting for you to retrieve it, line it with the perfect infant crib bedding, and rock it gently while you sing soft lullabyes to your own little darling.

The thing is, as soon as you discovered baby on board, you developed a new passion for all things CLEAN AND SAFE. You can scrub the cradle down, but is it…safe?

You slept in it, and you’re still here, so probably. But then again, you can remember a family road trip from Connecticut to California where you bopped around the trunk of the family Volvo, nary a seatbelt in sight. Thank the angels of the highway you survived just fine, but times have changed. With knowledge comes responsibility, or something like that.

Plus, the old sheets are mildewed, and that’s just not okay.

Okay, safety first.

How To Make Sure The Crib Your Grandfather Made Is Safe For Your Baby

1. How’s the base? Is it wide and solid? A wide and sturdy base allows you to rock the cradle without it tipping over.

2. If there are slats, how far apart are they? They should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart.

3. Any rough spots or splinters? Exposed hardware? Your hand should be able to rub over every inch comfortably.

4. If there are any latches or locks, make sure they’re secure.

If you’re satisfied that grandpa’s handiwork passes the test, wonderful! If not, there are a number of gorgeous, old-style cribs on the market today. You might not run into them in your average baby furniture store, but there are excellent online sources with a wide variety to choose from.

Next stop, infant crib bedding.

1. It’s very important for the mattress to be a tight fit. There should be no room between the mattress and the cradle floor or walls. Measure your crib. You might find the right size mattress online. You might have to have one specially made. Or, DIY girl, maybe you can size one on your own.

2. Infant crib bedding is not the same as grown-up bedding. You need a mattress pad (to guard against leaky diapers!), a fitted sheet that can be secured snugly, and something to keep your baby warm. Babies can be hurt by a tangle of sheets or blankets, so you want bedding that can stay snug around baby–like swaddling blankets, or a sleeper that zips or fastens closed.

There are so many adorable infant bedding sets on the market. This is something you’ll want to buy new, most likely, rather than vintage. Look for super soft cottons. Our advice is to find organic cotton. Combined with the heirloom cradle, it’s the perfect blend of appreciating the past and being mindful of the future.