The mattress is the most important piece of furniture in your home. It’s where you spend a third of your life, and it can make or break your back. Infants and toddlers spend lots of time in bed which makes it extremely important to reduce any harmful chemicals or toxins that they may breathe in from their sleep surface. Whether you’re buying for babies, kids, or yourself, there are plenty of options out there that will be good for both sleepers and the planet! Many parents wonder what the best crib mattresses they can buy are, where to buy crib mattresses, which crib mattress is the best, and if buying an organic crib mattress is worth it. This article discusses some of the main toxicants to avoid when purchasing a mattress, while also highlighting the safest baby mattresses to buy that are non-toxic and high quality that you might not have known about before. We even include an option for an organic mattress on amazon!
My number one purchase tip for an expectant parent? Focus on the crib mattress! If you are going to only buy only ONE “non-toxic” item for your baby, make it their mattress! And be sure to choose one that is truly non-toxic and safe.
There are many different certifications out there and it may be confusing to understand which to look for and what they all mean. The most common ones you will find are GOTS, Oeko-Tex Standard 100, Greenguard Gold, CertiPUR-US, and Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS). You may also come across certifications that are specific to certain fabrics and textiles such as GOTS for organic cotton or RDS for down fibers. We will discuss what each of these certifications means, which ones to look for, and ones that may not be as helpful as we would hope.
For a more comprehensive overview of mattress certifications check out the post “What to Look for in a Mattress Certification: What Does the Label Actually Mean?”
Oeko-Tex Standard 100 is a certification program that establishes and tests limits for harmful substances in textiles. It ensures that all materials used to make the product are free of over 300 specified harmful chemicals, such as lead or formaldehyde. However, it is important to note that Oeko Tex Standard 100 certified products may still contain flame retardants. As a best practice, it is good to reach out to the company if you have concerns about a specific product. Additionally, if you are interested in checking if a company or item still holds this certification you can search them on the label-check portion of their website. The Oeko Tex Standard 100 certification covers both organic and non-organic textiles.
Greenguard Gold is a third-party certification program, (certified by UL) that creates safety standards for products related to indoor air quality including mattresses, furniture, and upholstery. The certification is awarded to products that contain low chemical emissions which are less than 0.05 parts per million for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, and interior air contaminants like dust mites. Many mattresses boast that they are Green Guard Gold Certified. As a consumer, it is easy to think that a certified product is safe when in reality this specific certification simply means that VOCs were not detected above a certain level.
GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard) is a certification that allows organic latex to come from rubber trees. This is important because most conventional latex can contain toxic chemicals such as mercury, cyanide gas, and carbon disulfide. GOLS also has third-party auditing of all stages of production from soil preparation through harvest, manufacturing, and distribution.
CertiPUR-US is an independent testing lab for materials used in the home and children’s products. CertiPUR-US® approved foams are manufactured without ozone depleters, PBDEs, TDCPP, or TCEP (”Tris”) flame retardants, mercury, lead, and other heavy metals, phthalates, and/or formaldehyde. It should be noted that there are some hesitations with the Certi-Pur-US certification as it was created by foam companies and chemical lobbyists here in the United States to counteract the more cost-effective foams that were being imported.
GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) is a certification that has been issued to organic products since 1991. It ensures that the manufacturing process is monitored according to strict environmental criteria as well as social and economical standards. GOTS ensures that any fabric or fiber product bearing its label has been grown and processed organically with respect to both people and the planet starting from growing through manufacturing until disposal/recycling. GOTS provides two levels to its certification: “made with organic” and “organic”. “Made with organic” textiles are composed of at least 70% organic material while “organic” grade textiles are crafted from 95% or more organic fibers. Any of the certified items cannot contain hazardous chemicals or dyes. GOTS is unique in that it also evaluates the entire life of the product including the processing and manufacturing steps an item goes through. If you would like to check if a product is GOTS-certified you can perform a search in the GOTS public database.
The Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) was established by an independent group of experts, certified natural rubber latex suppliers, and leading manufacturers in order to maintain a uniform standard for the production of mattresses made with natural rubber. GOLS-certified products are made with 95% or more organic latex. If the item also includes additional fabric, such as cotton or wool, those fibers must be GOTS or eco-INSTITUT certified.
MADE SAFE is a newer certification that screens for ingredients and materials that have no known: behavioral toxins, carcinogens, developmental toxins, endocrine disruptors, flame retardants, GMOs, heavy metals, neurotoxins, high-risk pesticides, reproductive toxins, toxic solvents, or harmful VOCs. They also do not permit the use of nanoparticles or synthetic biology. MADE SAFE has a list of over 6500 banned substances that items are screened against. MADE SAFE also requires full transparency from companies while they are going through their certification process. To get a more in-depth look at the MADE SAFE certification process check out their website.
What To Look For in An Organic Crib Mattress:
- Entirely GOTS of GOLS Certified
- Organic Cotton
- Flame Retardant Free
- USA Made
What To Avoid In A Crib Mattress:
- Soy or Polyurethane foamPolyurethane foam mattresses are made from petroleum chemicals that have been found to emit VOCs. Another foam to avoid in a mattress is soy foam, as it can contain chemicals that mimic estrogen. These types of chemicals have been linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer and infertility in women, among other things. Non-natural latex rubber should also be avoided as it has shown to be problematic due to containing chemicals that can cause respiratory problems and skin irritations. All of these mattress materials will likely contain chemical fire retardants and formaldehyde resins which can release carcinogenic fumes if the mattress becomes too hot (ie. left in direct sunlight).
- Vinyl/PVCPolyvinyl chloride (a.k.a. PVC) has been found to be one of, if not the most, toxic plastic. PVC/Vinyl can contain phthalates, which may disrupt hormone signaling and have been linked to birth defects. These materials are common in waterproofing and mattress protection. PVC is not only toxic but also non-recyclable making it not an earth-friendly material.“Prenatal DEHP exposure has transgenerational effects on reproduction in female offspring” “EPA is concerned about phthalates because of their toxicity and the evidence of pervasive human and environmental exposure to these chemicals. Phthalates are used in many industrial and consumer products, many of which pose potentially high exposure. Phthalates have been detected in food and also measured in humans.” Learn more at: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-09/documents/phthalates_actionplan_revised_2012-03-14.pdf
- FormaldehydeFormaldehyde can be found in many products and should be avoided at all costs. Formaldehyde is known to trigger asthma, can irritate the eyes and nose, and cause headaches. It’s also thought to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing). Formaldehyde is typically used in mattresses as an adhesive. Per the EPA, “Formaldehyde can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat. High levels of exposure may cause some types of cancers.” Learn more at: https://www.epa.gov/formaldehyde/facts-about-formaldehyde#whatare
- Flame Retardants
Flame Retardants or mattresses with flame-resistant properties should also be avoided as they have been found, through multiple studies, to be a neurotoxin. These chemicals include polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), and organophosphate flame retardants. Not only do we want to avoid buying products that use flame retardants, but we want to minimize exposure during pregnancy, as well. According to this study done in 2014, it was found that there was a “strikingly consistent associations between prenatal exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants and impaired performance on neurodevelopment tests later in childhood.”
For more information and some additional studies, check out a previous post I did that covers flame retardants, here.
A study in 2014 found that “Prenatal exposure to PBDEs was associated with lower IQ and higher hyperactivity scores in children.”
According to the EPA, “Test data and monitoring studies in humans and the environment have demonstrated that certain flame retardant chemicals can persist in the environment, bioaccumulate in people and animals, and have been shown to cause adverse developmental effects in animals.” Learn more at: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-06/documents/flameretardant_consumerfactsheet.pdf
- Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs)PFOA and PFOS are two of the most common PFCs found in items. These chemicals can be very difficult to avoid as they have been used for over 60 years and permeate every facet of our lives (from cookware, carpeting, jackets, etc.). PFAS are chemicals used to create non-stick, water-resistant, stain-resistant, and anti-bacterial items. They have come under fire for being very toxic both to humans and the environment due to their ability to bioaccumulate (or build-up). As many crib mattresses boast that they are waterproof, it’s important to note that these most likely contain PFAS. According to the U.S. E.P.A., “There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse health outcomes in humans. If humans, or animals, ingest PFAS (by eating or drinking food or water that contains PFAS), the PFAS are absorbed and can accumulate in the body. PFAS stay in the human body for long periods of time. As a result, as people are exposed to PFAS from different sources over time, the level of PFAS in their bodies may increase to the point where they suffer from adverse health effects.” Learn more at: https://www.epa.gov/pfas/basic-information-pfas#health
- Conventional Cotton Non-organic cotton mattresses or non-organic wool mattresses may contain harmful pesticide residues and are often treated with chemicals during processing that can release formaldehyde or other toxic gasses into the mattress. The non-organic fillings are also likely to be grown using genetically modified seeds which have been linked to health issues. Conventional cotton is frequently considered the “world’s dirtiest crop?” It uses about 16% of the world’s insecticides and 7% of pesticides. Polyester and other synthetic fibers are typically derived from petroleum and are heavily treated with thousands of potentially harmful chemicals during production. Babies and kids have super sensitive skin and the chemicals in conventional cotton and synthetic fibers can prove quite harmful. Infants are especially susceptible because they experience greater exposure and their sweet skin absorbs more. Also- babies tend to mouth things increasing their exposure.
- FiberglassIt’s important to purchase a crib mattress without fiberglass. Fiberglass, a synthetic material, and type of insulation that is often found in crib mattresses and other furniture can release toxic particles into the air. Fiberglass is cheap, durable, and hypoallergenic; however, it also contains chemicals that may be harmful to an infant’s developing lungs. The EPA has classified fiberglass as a “likely carcinogen” because it releases dust with asbestos fibers when cut or abraded. The National Toxicology Program conducted studies on rats and mice who were exposed to high levels of fiberglass and concluded that they experienced cancerous cell growth. Fiberglass is a synthetic material that has been used to make mattresses for many years. Mattresses that use fiberglass as an insulator to meet fire standards can sometimes contain tiny glass shards. Fiberglass material is found in many memory foam mattresses because the foam has been derived from petroleum making the mattress highly flammable.
Top Recommendations For The Safest Organic Crib Mattress:
Crunchy & Curious, LLC recommends products that are genuinely loved and well-researched. Many of these links are affiliate. If you end up making a purchase through an affiliate link, I may earn a commission (at no extra charge to you.) All affiliate links will be marked with an asterisk. You can see my full disclaimer, here.
Naturepedic is my top choice for mattresses. They hold many certifications and take pride in providing top-quality options for the entire family (all with awesome warranties, too!). They are made in the United States and have pledged to use the safest and most natural materials using no glues, polyurethane foam, or flame retardants. Additionally, they take sustainability seriously. They have many showrooms across the country if testing out a mattress is a necessity.
Materials (depends on mattress type): organic cotton, organic wool, organic latex, PLA
Certifications: GOTS, GOLS, Made Safe, Green Guard Gold, OCS100, UL Validated, PETA Approved Vegan (some models)
Flame Retardants: No (UL Validated)
Where It’s Made: USA
Sustainability: FSC Certified, Green America Gold, SFC Gold
Other Items Available: Crib Sheets*, Crib Mattress Protectors*, Breathable Crib Mattress Cover*, Changing Pad*, Rest/Nap Pad*, Kid Bed Frames*, Adult Bed Frames*, Kids Sheets and Pillowcases*, Adult Sheets and Pillowcases*, Kids Mattress Protectors*, Adult Mattress Protectors*, Adult Mattress Toppers*, Adult Pillows*
Crib Mattress Price Range: $259- $429
Warranty/Trial: For crib mattresses, the warranty lasts for so long as you are the original purchaser and owner of the mattress. For purchases of a Naturepedic kids mattress (Verse, non-crib 2-in-1 Ultra or Quilted Deluxe), the warranty lasts for 10 years from the date of purchase as long as you are the original purchaser. For adult mattresses, the warranty ranges from 10-20 years depending on the mattress purchased.
My Green Mattress
Affordable healthy organic mattresses. Handcrafted in the USA in our GOTS and GOLS certified factory. Safe, healthy, non-toxic, and eco-friendly. (Description from My Green Mattress Website)
Materials (depends on mattress type): GOTS Certified Organic Cotton, GOTS Certified Organic Wool, GOLS certified organic and OEKO-TEX certified Dunlop latex
Certifications: GOLS, GOTS, OEKO-TEX, ECO-INSTITUT (latex), Green Guard Gold, California Prop 65 Compliant, GOTS, and GOLS Organic Certified Factory
Flame Retardants: No
Where It’s Made: USA
Sustainability: Latex is certified carbon-neutral by Control Union
Crib Mattresses: Emily Crib Mattress*
Other Sizes Offered: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Full XL, Queen, King, Cali King
Crib Mattress Price Range: $299+
Where to Buy: My Green Mattress*
An Avocado Green Mattress is handmade in California with only the finest natural and organic materials, including 100% GOLS organic certified latex from tree-tapped and sustainable sources. There are no polyurethane foams to break down. No memory foams to off-gas. No solvent-based adhesives to emit chemical odors. And no chemical flame retardants to endanger your health.
Every Avocado Green Mattress is made simply with natural and organic materials: Our 100% GOLS organic certified latex is made from tree-tapped and sustainable sources and is eco-INSTITUT certified by our manufacturer. Our wool is GOTS organic certified and OEKO-TEK 100 standard certified. Our cotton is GOTS organic certified. And our entire mattress is GREENGUARD Gold certified — tested to meet the most rigorous emissions standards for chemical exposure and pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, and phthalates. It is non-toxic,eco-conscious, and perfectly firm with premium encased coils to support growing children and teens.
Best of all, every Avocado Green Mattress features a 1-year sleep trial, free shipping, free return pickups, available 0% APR financing, and a best-in-class 25-year warranty. (Description from Avocado Mattress website)
Materials (depends on mattress type): organic latex, organic cotton, organic wool
Certifications: GOLS, GOTS, Green Guard Gold, MADE SAFE, OEKO-TEX 100, PETA Approved Vegan (some models), FSC®, RWS, OCS, AND GRS
Flame Retardants: No
Where It’s Made: USA
Sustainability: Avocado has a mission to be one of the world’s most sustainable brands! Climate Neutral Certified®, they donate one percent of all revenues to environmental nonprofits through our membership with 1% For The Planet, Landfill Waste Diversion rated Validated by UL, focus on reducing and reusing materials wherever possible.
Other Sizes Offered: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Crib Mattress Price Range: $249 – $1249
Warranty/Trial: 25 Year Warranty
Where to Buy: Avocado Green Mattress*
It can be difficult to find an organic mattress that is of high quality and affordable. There are many organic crib mattresses on the market, but we’ve done the research so you don’t have to! We recommend investing in a mattress made with natural materials like certified organic cotton, wool, or latex. It’s important to also look for a company with a good reputation when purchasing your new certified organic crib mattress. If you have any questions about the mattresses or how they are made, contact the manufacturer directly (or ask us, we may have already reached out to them). If you need help finding a reputable company in your area, let us know! Our team will do their best to connect you with one close by so that we may assist you in making this purchase easier for you. Have any other tips? Share them below!
Sources and Additional Information:
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