Mattresses! Mattresses! Toxic Mattresses!?!

I am in the market for buying new mattresses for my two toddlers. My husband who is amazingly handy is building beautiful bunk beds and we are going to have all 3 kids crammed into one room! It’s going to be great! (until they get older, but we will worry about that later.) Buying mattresses. This sounds so simple, right? I started researching mattresses (something I never really thought to do) just to see how they are made and what materials are in them and more importantly, what chemicals are used in mattresses.  We spend 33% of our lives sleeping, so for average lives that is 26.5 years!!! More than 2 1/2 DECADES with your face inches from or right on the mattress surface just drooling away, right? That is a long time, so my thought was do I know what I am buying? The simple answer was “No, not really” and we are all paying good money for mattresses that are supposed to last 10-20 years and NOT poison us.


Memory Foam (More like Toxic City!):

I started looking at different mattress companies and at first, I was focusing on memory foam because I thought all the hype about relieving pressure points and blah, blah, blah, could benefit my kids too. Most memory foams are made out of polyurethane, which the word ‘polyurethane’ doesn’t mean much to us in this ever PLASTIC world we live in.

I put together questions for mattress companies that claim to have “organic” and “non toxic” mattresses. After calling, emailing, and questioning them A LOT. I did not like the answers I was getting. Most of the customer service representatives did not have a clue what I was asking them, so they would send an email later with information. Very nice customer reps by the way, I wished I could purchase from them, but ALL of the companies I researched were leaving me nowhere, but confused and disappointed.


This is the first set of questions I asked about the so-called “organic”, “green”, “eco-friendly”, “non toxic”, “natural” mattresses I found (memory foam or standard spring mattresses):

  1. How does the material achieve flammability standards? (The right answer: Wool, PET fiber (no off gassing), or cotton with PLA fiber)
  2. Who is your INDEPENDENT testing company or certification? (The right answer: GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) and GREENGUARD® – which is most stringent. Just CertiPUR is definitely not good enough, if you read their site, they say the mattress company may not express their mattresses are non-toxic)
  3. Are any of these chemicals present: PBDEs, PVC, phthalates, brominated or chlorinated fire retardants, antimony, arsenic or phosphorus, PAN (polyacrylonitrile), modacrylic, dimethyl sulfate, boric acid, and crystaline silica? (The right answer: Heck No! or just no will suffice) :)

I mention “off gassing” above. This is also known as “outgassing”. What this boils down to is that there are no VOC’s or chemicals released into the air that you are breathing in as you sleep and it is not polluting your inside air by being present in your home. Mattress companies may say “no off gassing”, but I would make sure they can back it up with INDEPENDENT certification that states EXACTLY that.


I later learned the best type of memory foam is 100% certified natural latex (not synthetic and not blended) and best flame retardant would be 100% certified organic wool. The problem with those answers is that some people are allergic to latex and wool. There are safe alternatives.

Flame Retardant to look for:

  • 100% certified organic wool (can’t have if you are allergic or vegan)
  • PET fiber (which is non-toxic and no off gassing)
  • PLA fiber (which is non-toxic and no off gassing)
  • Use of 100% certified organic cotton does NOT burst into flames like polyurethane does.

I cannot believe the trouble it has been to find a mattress to buy for my kids (and now question our king-sized mattress)! I wonder why all of these chemicals that can cause breathlessness, insomnia, asthma, and many more issues that are not yet understood are “acceptable” to put in mattresses. Then again why is it acceptable to put these chemicals in anything?


Crib Mattresses Are Usually Made of Polyurethane or Urethane (What to do?):

I checked my crib mattress (the same one that has been used by both of my kids). 34% Urethane!?! Oh my gosh! The POISON I have been reading about! Could I be more mad, first, at myself for not looking into this sooner, and second, at the company who makes it, and third, for our governmental standards allowing this to be commonplace!

I could purchase a new crib mattress, which runs around $250. On a budget, I needed to figure out what to do for my crib mattress! I ran into a blog by a woman named Valerie. Not only have I learned she is an amazing person with a beautiful mission, but she has guided answers for choosing actual safe, non-toxic, mattresses and solutions for people that “aren’t made of money”. I felt like I had to settle until I found her blog. Valerie’s blog is called I purchased a 100% food grade polyethylene cover for our crib mattress. This cover is non-toxic, water proof, and no off-gassing. I checked out the SDS (safety data sheet) myself.

I found BabySafe® through Valerie’s blog and I found Serendipity mattress cover through a little more research as options for a safe crib mattress cover. The factors I found as important for a mattress crib wrap is:

  1. 100% polyethylene
  2. 5 mil thickness minimum


New Zealand SIDS Study:

There is a lot of information about New Zealand doing a SIDS study and trying to determine if wrapping your baby’s crib mattress properly could reduce the chances of SIDS. In short, the study is showing YES wrapping a crib mattress does reduce SIDS instances. Why is this not making headlines or why aren’t pediatricians giving parents a heads up about this? Admitting this kind of issue would be major liability. Can you imagine the uproar?! Please check out Valerie’s blog to learn more about this ( I think she states the findings very eloquently. This 100% polyethylene crib mattress wrap is a cheap and non-harmful precaution parents should be made aware of!

I believe there are more factors that can cause cases doctors are reporting as SIDS, but this information seems to have overflowing evidence to support a large percentage of SIDS could be eliminated from such a simple solution. Please share this information with others, so they can make an informed decision.


What Did I Do for Our Mattress Dilemma?

I ended up purchasing Naturepedic Quilted Organic Deluxe Cotton Mattresses (1-sided) for my kids. These were the most budget friendly with all of the certification and precautions I needed. This ensures my kids mattresses are safe!  It took me quite awhile to figure this out (after 3 weeks of research, emails, and phone calls). Also, I wrapped our crib mattress with a Serendipity crib cover. I was concerned this wrap would be crunchy and un-breathable. It is not crunchy at all and fits very snug. I put a 100% organic cotton crib mattress cover on it for breathability and added comfort.

Remember: This is the surface your kids are supposed to be resting on and allowing their bodies a good night sleep to heal from damage caused from other environmental toxins from the day (a normal occurrence). I feel very good about this research and I really wanted to share with you!

Another take away for me is just because we are not experiencing visible respiratory issues, does NOT mean our mattresses aren’t polluting our internal air quality or us. I am now researching an option for wrapping a king-sized mattress because no one sells 100% polyethylene, 5 mil thick mattress wraps for beds bigger than a crib mattress. When I find the right source, I will blog about it. I have a feeling it will be a DIY. Hey, I’m up for it!