For many new parents, finding a good crib mattress seems to be a trivial thing. You just need to make sure the mattress is firm, not soft and fits snugly in the crib, right?
Well, there are a whole lot of reasons to dig a little deeper and ditch the conventional crib mattresses. When we bring home our new bundle of joy, we want to put them in a safe environment. But crib mattresses are loaded with toxic chemicals, many of which can leach and outgas, having possible negative health effects. And considering infants spend most of their young lives asleep in their beds, it’s certainly a very important and critical element to consider.
Scientists also recently discovered the chemicals in traditional crib mattresses may cause SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). One reason why the back-to-bed campaign has been so successful at reduces the instances of SIDS, is that babies faces are no longer directly against the mattress breathing higher concentrations of the toxic chemicals.
Common toxins in conventional crib mattresses are:
PVC – polyvinylchloride found nearly everywhere in our environment. releases toxins such as mercury, dioxins, and phthalates, which may pose irreversible life-long health threats.
Phthalates – a synthetic substance just banned in children’s products by the US government. It’s associated with asthma, reproductive issues and cancer.
DEHP - the most common phthalate used in crib mattresses has been banned in Europe for years.
Polyurethane foam – a highly flammable, cheap substance highly treated with a host of chemicals to make it flame retardant. Not only does it easily ignite, it releases deadly gases when it is ignited.
pentaBDE – The most common chemical fire retardant used to made polyurethane foam flame retardant, is a toxin associated with hyperactivity and neuro-behavioral alterations. PentaBDE is not bound to the foam, and leaches out into the surrounding air. It’s been banned in Europe for many years and in California since 2006.
Antimony – used as a flame retardant
Pesticides and boric acid – used to treat cotton in the mattress
Latex treated with pesticides
HealthyChild.com also offers detailed information on why traditional crib mattresses post significant health risks to infants and toddlers.
“… EPA has determined that infants up to age two are, on average, ten times more vulnerable to carcinogenic chemicals than adults, and for some cancer causing agents are up to 65 times more vulnerable… children accumulate up to 50 percent of their lifetime cancer risk by their second birthday… many chemicals linked to mutagenic activity are commonly used in consumer products and can contribute to children’s exposure to carcinogens.”
(Children’s Health Policy Review: “EPA Cancer Policy Revisions Highlight Risks to Children.” 3 Mar. 2003.
Environmental Working Group. www.ewg.org/issues/risk_assessment/20030303/index.php)
But never fear, there are safe, organic mattresses on the market that are free of these substances. Organic wool is naturally flame resistant so no chemicals are needed. It’s also naturally resistant to dust mites, mold, mildew and bacteria. Organic cotton is also a great alternative because it gives better air circulation allowing the baby to breathe better.
Do read the fine print and ensure the mattress is 100% organic and no where on the labeling or website does it list any of the toxins mentioned above. You can also call the Organic Consumer’s Association to get a list of stores that carry all-organic mattresses.
Here is a snippet from another article, it’s very disturbing, and once again proves how our government organizations are not protecting us from toxins:
“According to the CPSC risk assessment, they state that EVERY night, the average person (and infant) will absorb the following chemicals:
.802 mg Antimony (similar to arsenic – a known poison)
.081 mg Boric Acid (the active ingredient in Roach Killer)
.073 mg DBDPO (also known as DECA, a suspected carcinogen)
However, the CPSC stands by its controversial decision and says, this is level of chemical absorption is safe and poses no known health risks.
However, they excluded children under five years of age from their risk assessment by assuming all these children will be protected by a vinyl sheet over their mattresses, due to bedwetting problem. Their assumption is that this vinyl covering will protect them from the FRC’s in their mattress.
However, antimony has been proven by European researchers to leech through vinyl covers, and has been found in high concentrations in infants livers, who have succumbed to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
Fearing a possible link, these same researchers looked at all cases of SIDS in their country and were able to statistically link this to the high levels of antimony in the crib mattresses. In fact, high levels of antimony were found in the livers of dissected human infants killed by SIDS.
For this reason, Europe has been moving away from using flame retardants in their mattresses and requires them be proven safe before being used. Many countries in Europe have even banned them. As a result, SIDS deaths have decreased over much of Europe.
Even New Zealand has virtually eliminated most cases of SIDS by preventing these mattress toxins from being absorbed by the infants, via a special mattress covering. They instituted a nationwide policy in 1994 to “wrap” crib mattresses with a special blanket to prevent the mattress toxins from poisoning the infants. It has been demonstrated that no infant has ever died of SIDS when sleeping on a “wrapped” mattress.”
Pretty infuriating isn’t it? For these reasons, I am getting an organic mattress for my son, who’s arrival is expected in just 12 weeks. My daughter also sleeps on a standard crib mattress in her toddler bed, and I likely will replace hers as well. I hate to think she has been exposed to these toxins for nearly 2.5 years.
I have researched and found these mattresses that are 100% organic. Please note this is not a comprehensive list! If you know of other 100% organic mattresses, please let me know and I will add them to this list.
Naturepedic: all have 100% organic cotton filing
No-Compromise Organic Cotton Classic $259
No-Compromise Organic Cotton Ultra $359
2 in 1 Organic Cotton Ultra $399
Quilted Organic Cotton Deluxe (note, does not have a waterproof cover) $339
Port a crib pad $149
Latex Mat $385 Made of organic latex, organic lambswool and double organic cotton cover
Mohair Mat $625 (mohair is from horsetail, which naturally springs back to its original shape). Also made of coir (from coconuts), organic lambswool and organic cotton.
Coco Mat $375 Made of coir (from coconuts), organic lambswool and organic cotton.
Organic Crib Mattress Innerspring with Edge Supports
Organic Innerspring Crib Mattress (Cotton & Wool) $299 242 coils, organic cotton filling, organic wool batting.
Eco Baby has a variety of mattresses ranging from $299 – $399
REFILL mattress is an interesting product in that it recycles food grade plastic bottles into filling for this crib mattress. Also uses organic cotton and wool. $170
Natural Rubber and Organic Wool $150
100% Organic 510 Coil Inner Spring Crib Mattress $342
100% Organic Natural Rubber Crib Mattress $490. Also uses organic cotton and wool.
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