Babies spend between 14-16 hours on a mattress for years.This compounds if you turn crib into a toddler bed. As a result, we recommend that a mattress is the one place you truly never compromise on health or materials. Many companies “greenwash” mattresses by labeling them as organic, but still including toxic materials inside them. Read on for materials to watch out for and a comparison of the best healthy mattresses.
Flame retardants: Chemical fire or flame retardants are a variety of chemicals that are supposed to increase fire safety. They are typically comprised of a compound of Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which are now banned but many older foam products containing them live on. There are also new flame retardants that still have harmful effects such as chlorinated tris (TDCPP) and Firemaster 550 that drench products for babies.
Why are Flame Retardants bad? Exposure to flame retardant chemicals at critical points in development can damage the reproductive system, cause deficits in motor skills, learning, memory and behavior, lead to reduced IQ, learning disorders, fertility issues, thyroid issues, and even cancer.
Polyurethane Foam: Polyurethane foam is a soft flexible material. Polyurethane foam is a super common component found in a wide range of products that have something soft, most commonly baby mattresses and changing pads. It off-gases when it is new and is almost always processed with formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, and other harsh chemicals. On it’s own, Polyurethane foam is also highly flammable, and therefore is always treated with flame retardants (see section on flame retardants below).Why is Polyurethane bad? When Polyurethane foam off-gases, it releases the chemicals and flame retardants it is mixed with. See the individual sections for why these chemicals are bad, but together some studies show these increase the chances of SIDS and are connected to cancer.
Budget buy: For those on a tight budget, we recommend the Naturepedic Lightweight Organic Crib Mattress. This mattress is $259 and follows SIDS guidelines for firmness and is completely free of any chemicals or toxic materials. It is also the lightest weight but still comfortable.
Plastic-free: For those looking to avoid plastic all-together we recommend the Nook Pebble organic mattress, which is free of the food-grade polyethylene that the Naturepedic mattresses do have (which are still free of BPA, BPS, phthalates and PVC).
Allergens: If you have a history of allergies in your family, especially to Latex, we recommend Naturepedic Lightweight Organic Crib Mattress Ultra Breathable 2-in-1 in which is free of latex and also completely seamless so there is less room for allergens or dust mites to gather.
Lowest maintenance: No time? No problem! For busy parents on the go we recommend the Nook Pebble organic mattress is which has a removable water-proof cover that can go straight in the wash. This cover also takes place of sheets and extra covers. It zips right on and zips right off so you won’t spend time tucking in sheets.
Best value/Longevity: If you know you will turn your crib into a toddler bed, we recommend choosing one of the two-stage mattresses which has a firmer side for infants and a softer side for toddlers such as the Naturepedic Traditional Organic Crib Mattress Classic 150 Coil seamless 2 stage.
Splurge buy: If there is no budget in mind and you are just looking for the “best of the best” we recommend the Naturepedic Luxury Organic 2-in-1 which is the most luxurious and feature rich mattress, still including a firmer side for infants.