Bio Bébé: Organic Mattresses
It is really scary to me when I think about how climate change will affect my daughter’s future. Then I hear about the pollution levels in Paris and get nervous when she is running around in the playground. And the worst is when I think about all the junk that is in her food, clothes, toys in her room, and body products. In America organic baby products and brands like The Honest Company or California Baby are everywhere you turn. There are a decent amount of organic products here too but they are not advertised or blogged about as much, so I don’t know as much as I would like to.
Luckily Kristen Beddard from www.thekaleproject.com not only cares about what the children eat, but everything else for children. You all probably know her from the blog (we have her to thank for the new popularity of kale in France) and now she will be contributing regularly to MANNA starting off with this Bio Bébé series. If you have any questions or issues you would like her to address leave us a comment or contact us. Take it away Kristen!
My daughter slept 11 hours last night. In a row. And the night before that she slept eight. In fact in the past 10 sleeps there have been four where she hasn’t woken up in the middle of the night.
I woke up at seven o’clock this morning, confused because I had the alien feeling of being somewhat refreshed. I was confused because I woke up in the middle of a very vivid dream. I couldn’t remember if she’d woken up in the middle of the night? Did I feed her? Then I turned to my side and the shooting pain of full breasts answered my question. I definitely did not feed her. The fleeting thought “is she dead?” shot through my head. Jumping up and rushing to her bassinet at the foot of my bed, there she was, eyes starting to open and close, rustling and finding her hands. If she keeps up this long-sleeping, I know she will be ready for her crib sooner than I thought. The first of many “big girl” beds. But I still need to buy a crib mattress.
As a new and first-time mom, I’ve aimed to try to make our home as toxic-free as possible since the minute we step out the door we have little control as to what we are exposed to. I feel like buying all organic produce is great but if I have chemicals and toxins everywhere else, what’s the point? And now that there will be little fingers and toes touching parts of our apartment that are even more exposed to chemicals and such, I find this even more important. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely crazy and I still go out, but as I’ve gotten older, I want to set up a home environment that hopefully is a little less full of, well, crap.
While I was still pregnant, in a rush to accomplish a few things before the holidays, I went to Ikea and bought a crib, mattress, mattress covers, and sheets. It felt good to cross things off my never-ending list but as I spent more time thinking about the toxic-free zone I wanted to create, I asked myself: What’s actually in a crib mattress?
It wasn’t until I started doing the math that I realized how much time my baby would be (hopefully) sleeping on this mattress. Turns out is anywhere from 12-16 hours a day. Which mattress is an important decision and as with most big purchases, there is a lot to think about.
All the do’s and don’t’s become overwhelming. How do I find a mattress that breathes, and is as waterproof, fireproof, and organic as possible, and that hopefully my baby, who I don’t even know yet, will not be allergic to?
The bad news? It’s not entirely possible. I quickly came to terms with the fact that I was not going to find the “perfect” option. The good news: There are options available.
And once I get the crib mattress sorted out, the next goal? Get her to nap.
Here is what to consider in your search for a crib mattress:
Try to stay away from these…
A lot of mattresses have fillings made of polyurethane foam, which is highly flammable—and foam is not a natural material. Once a mattress is made with artificial filling it’s impossible to know what other chemicals have been added. When the mattress gets damp all these chemicals mix together and release gases into the air which our babies are breathing.
Plastics, vinyl, and synthetic latex
As I said, whenever plastics or non-natural materials are used, it is harder to know of other added chemicals. With plastics and vinyl, there is the chance that polyvinyl chloride is present and some studies have confirmed that PVC can cause allergies in children.
Flame retardant materials are mandatory in the US but not in Europe, so flame retardants are not mentioned on websites here. On the Traeumeland website, they rank their mattresses but fire resistance is not one of the criteria. To make a mattress that passes US standards for flame resistance, a host of chemicals are used like antimony, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and more. PBDEs are actually banned in Europe in the use of electronics and I did not see this chemical mentioned on any mattresses offered in the EU, but no listing says they aren’t used. No-one, myself included, wants a mattress that is not flame resistant, so what is the best, natural alternative? Wool, a natural flame-retardant.
Non-organic cotton and wool
Many mattresses are covered in cotton but be sure to look out for whether the materials are organic or not. Cotton is a crop sprayed heavily with pesticides and the cotton is the layer our babies will be spending the most time on, transpiring and at varying levels of wetness. The same goes for wool. Sheep are dipped in pesticides and chemicals to remove ticks and other pests which results in a material laden with chemicals (and those poor sheep!)
What are your options?
Look for materials like cotton, wool, and coco fiber (which is really common in mattresses in Europe but less so in America). At Traeumeland you can order organic cotton, wool, and coco fiber. Just ask the salesperson.
This is offered in place of synthetic latex. Natural latex is made from the sap of rubber trees and is sustainable and breathable.
A few other things to think about…
Some parents complain that mattresses made of wool are really hot for their babies and that their child cannot sleep as soundly.
This material naturally has a stronger odor than others. It will be best to let the mattress air out for a few weeks before using it right away.
For some, this material is still not natural enough but these mattresses have great reviews and scores on rating systems like the OEKO-TEX certification system.
So what mattresses are out there?
After looking through the options with the brands Kadolis, Sofamo, Traeumeland, Candide, Prolana, and Ptit Lit, I narrowed the choices down to two based on available mattresses using natural materials with organic options (and not just the cotton cover—this is one trick that many companies will do to make their mattress appear 100 percent organic when really it is just the cotton cover that’s organic).
At the end of the day there is not just one mattress, as so much of it is personal preference depending on what you want for your child but here are a few ideas.
100 percent organic cotton
100 percent organic wool
There are two sides
Natural latex (soft)
Coco fiber (firm)
Wrapped in 100 percent merino wool
Covered in 100 percent organic cotton
Fleece cover (includes polyester)
Natural latex filling
100 percent organic cotton cover
100 percent coco fiber (with organic option) filler
100 percent wool (with organic option) topper
Top image via LexLeeskids.org
Middle image via Huffington Post
Bottom image via Serena and Lilly