As a consumer and a parent you want the safest bedding for your little one, but you may be wondering where to start. You have probably heard the buzzwords of “certified organic”, non-toxic”, “toxin-free”, or “natural” but what does that mean when it comes to pillows? And, why does it matter? We will discuss: why organic matters, what certifications to look for when purchasing a toddler pillow; and where to buy them! We will also include accessories, like pillow covers and cases, that you can buy to go along with your new pillow.
Conventional cotton is known as one of the dirtiest crops. We always want to choose organic cotton as traditional cotton is heavily sprayed with pesticides and herbicides, at a rate of about 25 pounds per acre. And cotton accounts for over 50% of all the pesticide use in our country – that’s more than any other crop! Cotton also requires heavy amounts of water to grow; it takes almost one gallon of water to produce just one ounce of cotton fabric.
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 Oeko-Tex Standard 100, Greenguard Gold Certified, Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS), and CertiPUR-US. 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.
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 https://www.oeko-tex.com/en/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.
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 all GOLS-certified organic mattress materials made from 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.
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 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.
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. https://www.madesafe.org/process/
FSC Certified ensures that the wood used is from responsibly managed forests. The Forest Stewardship Council certification also ensures that no endangered or protected species are affected by the manufacturing process. Additionally, the FSC certification prohibits the use of highly toxic and hazardous chemicals.
RDS Certified Down is also a great option for those looking to purchase organic and clean down. The Responsible Down Standard (RDS) ensures that the geese and ducks used in making the down are not force-fed or live-plucked, as well as ensuring that no harmful chemicals were used during the manufacturing process. Additionally, farms must comply with the Five Freedoms of animal welfare (link: https://www.animalhumanesociety.org/health/five-freedoms-animals).
What to Look For When Purchasing a Toddler Pillow
The safest organic toddler pillow and mattress is one that is made with certified materials, and free of chemicals known to cause health issues.
- Entirely GOTS of GOLS Certified
- Certified Organic Cotton
- Flame Retardant and Hazardous Chemical Free
- Made in the USA
The 6 Best Organic Toddler Pillows
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.
The PLA Pillow with Organic Fabric (Kids Collection)* from Naturepedic comes in a standard fill and low fill option depending on how much “height” your toddler prefers. The PLA filling is derived from 100% renewable sources and is formulated from non-GMO sugarcane. Naturepedic also offers an Organic 2-in-1 Adjustable Latex Pillow for kids as well. PLA is known for its moisture-wicking properties. Naturepedic is made in the USA.
Cover: 100% organic cotton (both options)
Filling: PLA batting or Shredded organic latex core plus PLA batting in the quilt
Certifications: Organic 100 Content Standard, Made Safe, Green Guard Gold, UL Validated, Zero Toxics, and 1% for the Planet
Buy from: Naturepedic* (Use code crunchyandcurious15 for 15% off sitewide)
Avocado’s* mission is to be one of the world’s most sustainable brands. Their mattresses and bedding are certified organic and non-toxic using materials that include GOLS certified organic latex, GOTS certified organic wool, GOTS certified organic cotton, and GOTS certified organic kapok fiber. Most of their products are Greenguard Gold and MADE SAFE® certified. They are the world’s only Climate Neutral Certified® mattress and bedding brand and are certified B-Corp. Avocado products are USA made and are designed in Hoboken and handmade in California
Cover: 100% GOTS organic certified cotton cover
Filling: 100% GOLS organic certified latex shreds and 100% natural and GOTS organic certified Kapok fiber
Certifications: GREENGUARD Gold Certified, Formaldehyde Free Certified, GOTS Organic Certified for all materials and the finished product, MADE SAFE® Certified, Good Housekeeping Parenting Awards winner.
Accessories: The Mini Pillowcase*
Buy from: Avocado Green Mattress*
Brentwood Home’s mattresses, pillows, bedding, and yoga gear are made from natural, recycled, alternative, and non-toxic materials. They also offer a variety of eco-friendly alternatives for those looking to do their part in preserving the environment! Brentwood Home is based in Los Angeles.
Cover: 100% GOTS organic certified cotton cover
Filling: 100% GOTS organic certified kapok fiber
Certifications: Climate Neutral, GOTS
Accessories: Organic Toddler Pillow Case*
Buy from: Brentwood Home*
White Lotus Home
White Lotus Home* is a US-based company in which all of its products are handmade by artisans in New Jersey, and their product line includes all American raw materials whenever possible. The pillows from While Lotus home all offer a zippered case option. The zipper allows you to easily adjust the pillow to your own comfort level. Each pillow has the option of 6 fillings. Those options are outlined below.
Cover: 100% GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Sateen (Buckwheat filling comes in a GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Twill casing)
Filling: 6 Different Options
- Organic Cotton
- Shredded Natural Latex
Certifications: GOTS Certified Organic Cotton, OEKO-TEX Latex (their natural latex is Oeko-Tex Class 1 Certified, as well as FSC Certified, and the plant that makes it in the USA is GOLS Certified, but are not currently sourcing GOLS certified Raw material), GOTS Organic Wool
Accessories: Toddler Pillow Covers*
Buy from: White Lotus Home*
Lifekind* makes organic products for your bedroom, kitchen, bath, many items, laundry and even cleaning products. They manufacture certified organic textiles, bedding, and more right here in the USA. They are committed to handmade products and have a strong focus on sustainability.
Cover: Envelope-style pillowcase made of ivory certified organic cotton sateen
Filling: GOTS-certified organic cotton
Accessories: N/A- you will need to buy additional pillowcases, if needed, from another brand.
Buy From: Lifekind*
Coyuchi (currently unavailable)
The Organic Latex Junior Pillow from Coyuchi* is made with down alternative materials and provides a low-profile option. The pillow uses GOLS- certified organic Dunlop Latex which is naturally breathable and resistant to mold, dust mites, and mildew.
Cover: 100% organic cotton (380-400 counts)
Filling: GOLS- Certified Dunlop Latex
Certifications: GOLS, GOTS, Fair Trade Certified, Made Safe, 1% for the Planet, Fibershed
Accessories: Junior Pillowcase*
Buy from: Coyuchi*
Additional Tips & Conclusion
Pillow covers should be kept clean by laundering them in hot water with a mild detergent at least once every two weeks; this will help eliminate dust mites, which feed on human skin cells (dead or alive) that accumulate while we sleep overnight. Some pillows may also be washing machine safe but always follow manufacturer instructions. When washing your pillows be sure to use a non-toxic detergent like Branch Basics or Molly’s Suds.
When deciding upon the safest toddler pillows for your family, consider what you value most in terms of sustainability, materials used, warranties offered, etc., before making an informed decision about which brand best suits your needs. As there is no one perfect choice for every family- our aim was to provide research-based options available today with some insight into their relative strengths & weaknesses so parents can make more confident decisions while feeling good about supporting companies who use environmentally friendly practices & clean ingredients & certified materials!
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