Your baby will spend a LOT of time in the crib. Babies need sleep. It’s a good thing. It’s how they develop. So you need to make sure they aren’t breathing in any toxic chemicals as they rest. How? By choosing a non-toxic, organic crib mattress.
What you’ll learn today:
SPOILER ALERT: Get the OrganicDream 2-Stage Lightweight Breathable Mattress.
How Do I Choose a Safe Crib Mattress?
Caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) is more important today than ever before, especially in the U.S. Because it takes a long time to put a ban on something, companies can continue to put toxic chemicals into products, even though they may have been proven to cause harm.
Unfortunately, this is the case with mattresses. Similar to buying anything else these days, you need to look at what to avoid.
What Chemicals are Lurking in Crib Mattresses?
Foam is common in many mattresses and contains solvents, resins and adhesives. These materials release into the air and produce Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
Maybe you’re most familiar with VOCs in paint. But studies are showing even low concentrations (with chronic exposure) can cause lung infections, allergies and asthma in infants. And sadly, this exposure is happening with crib mattresses.
“A clear understanding of infant exposure to these emerging SVOC contaminants emitted from crib mattresses, which may disproportionately affect infants and children and lead to lifelong illnesses and disabilities, is urgently needed.”1
This statement was from 2014. Companies continue to use them.
Fire retardants have to be added to polyurethane foam because it’s highly flammable. If your baby’s mattress contains these fire retardants, they’re exposed to them two ways: by breathing and by absorbing the chemicals through their skin.
In 2017, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a strong warning:
“Consumers, especially pregnant women and young children, should avoid products containing organohalogen flame retardants (OFRs), a class of chemicals found in children’s toys, mattresses, furniture, and the plastic casings of electronic devices.”2
Because infants have smaller body masses, they’re especially prone to the possible effects of flame retardants.3 These include hormone disruption, immune system issues, reproductive toxicity, neurologic function and cancer.4
Side note: these flame retardants are ineffective and can actually make fires worse.5
Banning these toxic chemicals will take years to pass, so again, buyer beware. It also seems impossible to avoid them everywhere, but where your baby is sleeping should be top concern. You have to put your money where it matters most.
Gross right? Although not typically added to foam, formaldehyde might be present due to adhesives and chemical reactions. It’s a known human carcinogen and scores the highest-concerning rate of 10 by the Environmental Working Group.6
You need a mattress that’s certified to be free of formaldehyde.
The plasticizers used to soften the PVC plastic are phthalates.
What’s wrong with phthalates? They’ve been linked to endocrine disruption and harm to the reproductive system and development.7
So what can you do about all these toxins in your baby’s crib mattress?
Environmental Working Group (EWG) is working hard to raise awareness. Join them and they will send you occasional petitions to sign to help put an end to allowing companies to make potentially harmful mattresses.
Join EWG here. It’s free, easy and worth it.
What Causes SIDS?
The cause of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is sadly still unknown. However, researchers have narrowed it down to three factors: at-risk infant (unknown problem), the many changes in the infant’s first 6 months of development, and stressors in the environment.
This is called the “Triple-Risk Model” and all three must be present according to this theory.8
The first two factors are uncontrollable, but what if you could reduce stressors in the environment?
Buying a safer, non-toxic mattress could greatly improve your baby’s air quality.
Has the toxic gas explanation for SIDS been scientifically proven?
“No, it has not. Nor has it been disproven. We definitely need more research. But when you look at the evidence we do have, it’s compelling and it makes sense.”9
Other ways to reduce the risk of SIDS based from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):10
- Always place your baby on back to sleep.
- Use a firm or flat sleep surface with a fitted sheet. Nothing else goes in the crib/bassinet. No blankets, no pillows, no crib bumpers.
- Keep your baby close to your bed in your room for at least 6 months, ideally 1 year.
- No smoking.
- Consider a pacifier.
- Don’t let your baby get too hot during sleep. Ceiling fans can help.
- Don’t use wedges or positioners under the sheet.
- Lots of tummy time for your baby.
Do I Really Need a Bassinet?
Not necessarily. The AAP recommends sleeping in the same room with your newborn. If you have the space to put a crib in your bedroom, you can skip the bassinet and save a lot of money.
When you add up the cost of a smaller version of a crib and all of its accessories, it’s a lot. Bassinets also have weight limits and can usually only be used for the first few months.
The IKEA Sniglar crib (and most cribs) adjust to a higher position which is similar to a bassinet height.
We know it’s not ideal, but putting a crib in your bedroom (or camping out in your baby’s room for the first 6 months) could save you a LOT. And, less baby stuff in the house. (See more non-toxic baby registry solutions here).
Can’t I Just Buy a Used Organic Crib Mattress?
Hey, I’m all for hand-me-downs and reusing. But there are two big concerns about using that second-hand crib mattress.
First, it may not be as firm as it once was, and babies need a firm surface for safety.
Considering you can use your crib mattress through toddlerhood (yes they fit toddler beds!), the mattress could be over 4 years old. It may no longer be firm enough for a newborn.
Second, a study from Scotland showed a significant link to used crib mattresses from another home and SIDS.11 Older mattresses are more susceptible to have mold, mildew, and fungus. These can cause respiratory issues for baby.
Do I Need to Buy a Crib Mattress Pad?
Since the OrganicDream Breathable Mattress comes with an organic, waterproof, removable washable cover, you may not need one.
It’s your call whether you need an additional crib mattress pad. Maybe first see how your baby does with leaks and the waterproof cover.
Mattress pad tips:
- Make sure the pad fits very securely and doesn’t move around.
- Machine wash with cold water and dry with low heat to avoid shrinkage.
- Choose a GOTS organic crib mattress cover with an OEKO-TEX certified waterproof layer. Love this one and you can get it on Amazon here:
Which Organic Crib Mattress Should I Buy, and is it Affordable?
If you’ve read all of the above, you know by now you need to put a little more money into a safe, non-toxic, organic crib mattress. It’s worth it, mamas.
And remember, a crib mattress will fit a toddler bed, so you’ll be using it for longer than you think.
Benefits of OrganicDream Crib 2-Stage Lightweight Mattress:
- 100% organic cotton breathable cover
- 2-stage design — firm support infant side (for safety) & slightly softer for toddler side
- Lightweight design for easy lifting & changing sheets
- Pure-Air™ Polymer Core made from baby safe, food grade polymer (responsibly sourced)
- GREENGUARD GOLD® Certified (strictest safety standards: free of toxic chemicals, VOCs, and phthalates)
- Free of flame retardants, latex, polyurethane foam, soy, Vinyl/PVC, and formaldehyde
- 100% organic non-toxic and water resistant surface
- Safe hypoallergenic design: breathable organic cotton naturally deters mold, dust, and allergen growth
- Machine-washable removable cover
- Standard Dimensions: 52″ x 28″ x 6″ in (note this will fit your IKEA Sniglar crib as well)
- Made in the U.S.A.
The OrganicDream Crib mattress is a perfect balance between safe and affordable. And it includes a 100% organic cotton cover which is wet resistant for up to 16 hours.
What About an IKEA Crib Mattress?
I love IKEA. They have higher standards than many other companies and sell a lot of untreated wood options.
But their mattresses stink (literally). I have a personal experience with it when I purchased one and it stunk up the entire room. No, I wouldn’t want my newborn sleeping on that.
So the IKEA crib: yes. Crib mattress: no. And check this out — if you reduce the cost of your crib (which you should for a non-toxic untreated wood), you could actually save money (almost $50):
Note: prices are accurate at time of publication and subject to change.
Other Organic Crib Mattress Options:
These will most likely be pricier, but here’s a crib mattress list with companies that have high standards:
- Naturepedic Organic Baby Crib Mattresses — USA-made, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), GREENGUARD Gold certified, MADE SAFE certified. Free from formaldehyde, flame retardants, vinyl/PVC, polyurethane foam, phthalates, latex, antibacterial treatments and glues/adhesives.
- Emily Crib Mattress from My Green Mattress — USA-made with a layer of breathable, GOLS certified organic coconut coir. Also made with GOTS certified organic cotton and GOTS certified organic wool. *DEAL* Get $20 OFF with coupon code GREENBABYDEAL.
- Avocado — Coconut fiber infused with 100% GOLS organic certified latex and 100% GOTS organic certified wool and cotton. GREENGUARD Gold certified, MADE SAFE certified.
Your Baby’s Easy Sleep Set-up:
Mattress — Get the OrganicDream 2-Stage Lightweight Breathable Mattress.
Crib — Get a convertible with unfinished solid wood: IKEA Sniglar crib.
Mattress Protector — Go with this GOTS organic crib mattress pad.
Crib Sheets — Go with GOTS certified organic sheets (and stock up).
That’s all there is to it, mamas. Congrats on taking one more easy step toward living a safer greener life for you and baby.
Peace love & baby kicks.
Care to share?
“Creating my natural baby registry will be fun & stress-free.”
— said no mama, ever.
Let’s get real.
About the Author
Jen Brady — Chief Green Mama
Mom of two. Wife of one. Holistic nutritional consultant. Amateur biohacker. Guide of the Green Yourself Pregnancy Challenge. Author of the Green Your Baby Registry Guide.
I'm wild about pregnancy and babies (in a sane way) and I need to steer you away from harsh chemicals and hormone disruptors. Stick with me to keep it lean and green.