When my oldest son was born I remember the excitement surrounding furnishing and decorating his nursery. We went to a local baby furniture shop in Boston to search for the perfect crib and mattress. The options were plentiful and as a new parent it was overwhelming. Over the years, I’ve never given a lot of thought to mattresses. They were solely a place where each of us rested our heads at night-with comfort being the prevailing concern. But the truth is conventional mattresses can contain a whole host of toxic chemicals – from petrochemicals, to dyes and additives and chemical flame retardants. Infants and toddlers spend close to half of their early life in contact with a mattress and they are far more vulnerable to toxic chemicals than adults.
Retailers Don’t Provide Enough Information A new report evaluates how infant crib mattress manufacturers meet flammability standards and how well retailers do in providing information to consumers. According to the report:
The good news is that four crib mattress makers have redesigned some or all of their mattresses to avoid chemicals and added barriers. The bad news is that retailers don’t provide enough information for a shopper to identify safer products.
Why Isn’t More Information About Mattress Safety Available? Unfortunately, the current laws that are meant to protect us from harmful chemicals are weak, outdated and not doing their job. These laws don’t require adequate pre-market safety testing, and disclosure of chemical ingredients in crib mattresses is purely voluntary. A vicious cycle is at work with the manufacturers making unsafe products and retailers continuing to market them.
Become a Crib Mattress Detective! As with any purchase, it’s important to be an informed consumer. Use your powerful voice and become a crib mattress detective! Traditional crib mattresses come laden with potential toxins including PVC, flame retardants and polyurethane foam. Don’t be shy. Contact the retailer directly to verify that you’re receiving a product free from these toxins. Not only will this ensure that your product is safe for you and your family, but it will also notify retailers that we, as consumers are informed and care about the products we purchase.
Wondering where to buy a chemical free crib mattress? Here are a few brands that have made a good faith effort to eliminate toxic chemicals. Unfortunately the price point for most are quite high.
- Naturepedic no-compromise™ organic cotton ultra baby crib & toddler mattress Naturepedic crib mattresses are made from organic cotton (filling material) which is significantly less flammable then conventional mattress fillers such as polyurethane foam – a highly flammable petroleum-based material. Through extensive research and creative product design, naturepedic has eliminated the need for fire retardant chemicals in their products. The materials they use tend to smolder instead of bursting into flames. This mattress does have a polyethylene (type of plastic) waterproof surface. Their mattresses are organic and Greenguard Select certified which ensures that all components meet a healthy non-toxic standard.
- Naturalmat USA the Coco Mat The Coco Mat by Naturalmat is filled with organic coir (coconut fiber) made from coconut husks which are supportive and breathable. The coir is wrapped in organic lambswool which is then soaked in a mixture of lavender, lemon and eucalyptus, making it anti-dust mite. This mattress is non-toxic and contains no polyethylene or synthetics.
- White Lotus Crib Mattress White Lotus claims it takes them 3 days to make one crib mattress! The reason being each mattress is made by hand. The company makes 4 organic and natural crib mattress options (all at expensive price points). The Organic Cotton, Latex and Wool Crib Mattress is handmade and uses USDA certified organic cotton and wool as a natural flame retardant. The outer fabric is 100% Organic Cotton.
- Vivètique Organic Cotton Mattress Vivètique has 3 different crib mattresses to choose from. Vivètique’s cotton products are made only from unbleached, un-dyed and certified organic cotton fibers, without any synthetic chemicals. The Organic Cotton Mattress doesn’t contain any additional flame retardants (either natural or synthetic) so the mattress can only be ordered with a doctor’s prescription. Steve Carwile, President of Vivètique Sleep Systems, stated that the “mattresses would just smolder not burn” whereas a conventional mattress could potentially burst into flames. There are 2 other Vivètique crib mattresses, both of which use wool as a flame retardant and therefore don’t require a doctor’s prescription to order.
Take action NOW It’s time to put the pressure on. It’s time to take the burden away from the consumer and place it where it belongs – with the mattress industry. We need legislation in place that will strengthen the way our government regulates toxic chemicals by requiring more thorough health testing of products BEFORE these chemicals end up in the bodies of our children.