When you are expecting a new baby, shopping for a crib and mattress can be very exciting. But it can also be stressful, once you become aware of the problems surrounding conventional mattress production. Many contain toxic materials such as fire retardants, plasticizers, polyurethane foam, and vinyl (PVC) that have been linked to problems with child development.
There is also a theory that SIDS is caused by the toxic chemicals released by conventional crib mattresses. When a normally harmless household fungus (Scopulariopsis brevicaulis) comes into contact with the elements of phosphorous, arsenic, or antimony that have been found in chemical fire retardants in mattresses, it can generate extremely poisonous gases that are far more toxic than carbon monoxide. (Read more about it here.)
New Zealand has been wrapping many of its conventional crib mattresses to seal in the toxic chemicals since 1995 and has noticed a 72 percent reduction in SIDS. The campaign, spearheaded by Dr. T.J. Sprott, has seen nearly 205,000 babies sleeping on wrapped mattresses with no deaths, while crib deaths on unwrapped mattresses were reported to be 975 in the same time period.
So it’s definitely a worthwhile investment to buy a ‘clean’ crib mattress for your new baby. If that’s too expensive, then consider purchasing a BabySafe Mattress Cover, which is the non-toxic plastic ‘bag’ used by Dr. Sprott.
As a follow-up to my recent post about VOCs emitted from foam crib mattresses, here is a list of alternative green mattresses for your baby:
1. Natural Wool Mattress for Cradle or Bassinet, USD$170 / CAD$199
Perfect for really young babies, this mattress is handmade using organic cotton and premium wool batting. It contains no fire retardants, synthetic fabrics, or petrochemical-based plastics. The 14-person company that makes this mattress uses sustainable practices such as permaculture (i.e. leftover materials are composted by worms) and ensures zero waste of manufacturing byproducts. Available online through Organic Lifestyle.
2. Pure and Simple Natural Dual Firm Crib Mattress, $245
This mattress features a core made of renewable and sustainable plant foam and organic cotton batting. Its cover is also organic cotton for breathability. One side is firmer than the other, making it better for infants; then you can flip it over to the softer side as your baby grows into a toddler. Available online.
3. Naturepedic No-Compromise Organic Cotton Crib Mattress, $259
Made in the U.S., this crib mattress contains organic cotton filling with springs to provide firm support. It has no wool or latex, for customers with allergy concerns. The waterproof model contains a non-toxic, food-grade polyethylene surface. Naturepedic uses a naturally-derived fire retardant formula made of baking soda, silica, and cellulose fiber from eucalyptus. Available online.
4. Greenbuds Primrose Deluxe Organic Crib Mattress, $339
Stuffed with a combination of coconut coir and natural latex, this crib mattress is made in the U.S. It features a removable cover made of organic cotton and wool. The wool acts as a natural fire retardant and water barrier. Available online.
5. Obasan Terra Nova 2.0 Natural Rubber Crib Mattress, $389
This crib mattress is made from 4 inches of natural rubber wrapped in organic cheesecloth. The outer removable cover is made of organic cotton jersey fabric. Obasan makes all its products in Ottawa, Canada, and sells them exclusively in store or over the phone. All products are described in detail on their website.
6. Nook Pebble Pure Crib Mattress, $395
Nook is a natural mattress company based in southern California. Its Pebble Pure crib mattress is made with an organic coconut core layered with natural latex foam and organic wool (sourced from local farmers). The covering is made of breathable eucalyptus fibre infused with zinc, which is a non-toxic microbe resister, and organic cotton. Available online; ships to U.S. and Canada.
7. Essentia Baby Jeanius Crib Mattress, CAD$399 / USD$360
This is the only crib that contains memory foam, except that this is entirely natural foam, made using hevea milk (rubber tree sap). The company describes it as “the memory foam we all know and love, but it’s made without the gunk.” The mattress contains no plastics, vinyl, or chemically treated fabrics, and using Kevlar fabric to pass flammability tests. The outside is made of organic cotton. Available online.
8. Naturalmat Coco Mat Crib Mattress, $399
Handmade in Devon, England, this mattress is stuffed entirely with organic coconut coir, which comes from coconut husks and is very breathable and supportive. It is wrapped in lambswool with a washable cotton cover. Also available are natural latex and mohair-filled crib mattresses. See here for a list of retailers in the U.S.
9. Royal-Pedic Organic Crib Mattress, $760
If you have a generous budget to spend on an organic crib mattress, this one comes highly reviewed online. The 6-inch mattress contains 280 coils, making it firm, supportive, and entirely non-allergenic. The covering, padding, insulator pads, and binding tape are all made of 100% organic cotton. It is handcrafted in the U.S. and is available online.