As a new parent, you want to know that the products you buy for your baby and child are safe, but how do you know which ones really are? That is what we are going to take a look at for you, so that you as a consumer know what is true and what is greenwashing.
We will also review crib bedding products that are chemical-free; and these may fall under the category of organic, or they may fall under the category of natural and chemical-free. We will also include several trusted brands and manufacturers that meet high standards and will add to this resource over time.
So let’s get going…
Should there be any reason to be concerned about who makes your baby’s crib or mattress? How about what it’s made from — is it as safe as the manufacturer leads you to believe? If you’re betting the answer is yes, it may be a losing bet!
How to Navigate Crib Mattresses – Know the Content Label Law!
We’ve all heard in the news baby products that have been recalled. Tainted Baby products made in China have made the news on many occasions over the past few years. The products look fine, but what’s exposed is that the ingredients and materials used to make these items are not.
Keep in mind that the current label law for mattresses only requires the mattress manufacturer to list the contents of the mattress and the percentage of those contents within. Manufacturers aren’t required to list what the contents are made of and it’s really here that you as a parent are going to have to say “I don’t want my newborn sleeping on a surface of toxic chemicals.” From there you can look for a healthy, comfortable and safe baby mattress alternative. This also applies to other components of your infant’s bedding including the crib, mattress pad, blanket, sheets etc.
What are some of the chemicals and nasty substances lying within a conventional crib mattress? The list includes formaldehyde, flame retardants and VOC’s (volatile organic compounds). Not a surface you want your baby sleeping on 15 to 18 hours every day.
Of course in an ideal world, all of these products would be made from ingredients that were 100% certified organic. That would quickly reduce your infant’s exposure to potentially harmful chemicals and off gassing, which many of the synthetic substitutes that are widely marketed may pose.
Q: So if the mattress label law only discloses the contents, not of “what” the contents are made, how do I buy a healthy mattress for my baby?
A: Stick with the basics. Learn which manufacturers make products you trust, and above all, understand what the mattress is made of.
Approaching a Healthier Sleep System for your Baby:
When our grandparents or great grandparents were babies (if before the 1950’s) they slept on healthier sleep surfaces not designed of chemicals. It wasn’t until the 1950’s, post WW11, that things began to change and chemical inventions like polyurethane foam and other synthetic products began to replace natural ones.
Today, this is how most traditional/conventional mattresses are made. Plus, all mattresses, including those for the nursery, are required to pass federal and state flammability laws. With a conventional baby mattress this means that chemical fire retardants are within the mattress, too, in order to meet the flammability standards.
And so the way to approach a healthier sleep system for your baby is to think about grandma, and get back to basics!
Is this Product what it Claims to be?
To keep it simple, let’s review the basic ingredients that represent a healthy and safe baby mattress choice. Below are the Best, and notice the word “Certified” in front of “Organic.” Also, know the difference between the real deal and misleading marketing hype. (We’ll explain this below)
- *Certified Organic Cotton
- *Natural Latex
- *Certified Organic Wool
Certified Organic Cotton – All certified organic cotton is guaranteed by an independent third party agency or state agency to be free of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, defoliants and fertilizers. In a baby mattress marketed as “Organic,” look for “made from certified organic cotton.”
Where it’s Found – This natural fiber is generally found in the padding and the fabric cover.
Marketing Hype Words – 1) 100% natural cotton; 2) Unbleached cotton; 3) Green cotton; 4) Undyed cotton… These words do not mean chemical-free at all. The only chemical-free cotton is certified organic. Anything else is deceptive advertising.
100% Natural Latex – Also known as natural rubber latex… Comes from the milky sap of the rubber tree, (Hevea brasiliensis) but for this one, you want to make sure that the mattress is made completely with 100% natural latex.
Marketing Hype – Call the manufacturer if you do not know if it is made from 100% natural latex. Also, make sure that there are no fire retardants within. The reason for this is because the label laws don’t require manufacturers to include the percentage of natural latex versus synthetic latex. This means that we’re back to deceptive advertising , where they can say natural latex, when only a very small percentage is made from natural latex with potentially a larger portion being synthetic.
Where it’s Found – Generally, this natural fiber is found in the supporting core of the mattress. It gives the mattress its support.
Certified Organic Wool – Wool is a fiber that is excellent for mattress padding. Also, wool is a natural fire retardant and is used in organic crib mattresses. To pass federal and state flammability laws, organic mattress manufacturers will typically put wool beneath the quilted top cover fabric. This is good news for you because it means that there are no dangerous chemical flame retardants being used to meet these standards.
Where it’s Found – Organic wool can be located in the covering fabric, and in the padding.
More…Marketing Hype and Greenwashing Terms:
Don’t be fooled! The more you understand and read between the lines the better choices you will make on behalf of your child.
Here are a few more terms to be aware of:
*Green and Eco are not regulated terms and can be used to mislead
*Plant derived, and soybean foam often used in eco-mattresses often contain petroleum chemical products
No Chemical, Just Natural and Organic Nursery Bedding Products …
Yes, there are companies that make certified organic baby mattresses. And if you live in a big city like New York or Los Angeles you should be able to find a store that sells one easily. You will find that the ingredients listed above make up the bulk of these mattresses; with the addition of innerspring or coil spring, which similar to natural latex, is used to form the mattresses’ supportive core. If you live in a rural location or prefer to buy online, use our guide as a reference. Many organic mattress manufacturers ship nationally.
Green Thumb Crib Mattress Guide:
Organic Mattress Store – One of the largest organic mattress retailers in the USA. They currently have both a natural latex and an innerspring baby crib mattress. Prices range from $375 – $500.
Naturepedic – For a natural alternative learn more about Naturepedic. This family based bedding manufacturer has been successfully making natural non-toxic, organic baby bedding for years. Based in Ohio, the company specialized in safe and healthy infant and children’s mattress, as well as additional bedding products.