A non toxic organic crib mattress is a sensible splurge to protect your baby from harmful materials and chemical emissions during their first few years of life. From a huge list of organic crib mattress contenders, I whittled this list down to what I think are the 11 best organic crib mattresses for every budget, including my top 3 choices.
Best Non Toxic
Best Fully Organic
Need to Know:
Two stage waterproof crib mattress with removable breathable cover
Need to Know:
Two stage crib mattress
Need to Know:
Single firmness innerspring crib mattress
Food grade polyethylene core with organic cotton and PLA (sugarcane based fiber).
Coconut coir, organic natural latex, organic wool, and organic cotton
Coconut coir, organic natural latex, organic cotton and organic wool, with steel innersprings
Free from adhesives and glues, polyurethane foam, and fire retardant chemicals
Free from adhesives and glues, polyurethane foam, and fire retardant chemicals
Free from adhesives and glues, polyurethane foam, and fire retardant chemicals
Greenguard Gold and MADE SAFE certified; UL Validated Formaldehyde Free
Greenguard Gold and MADE SAFE certified; UL Validated Formaldehyde Free
Greenguard Gold and MADE SAFE certified
More and more, parents are waking up to the dangerous of harmful chemicals when it comes to their children, and this includes products used in the nursery.
Finding a safe, non toxic crib mattress is one of the hardest things when shopping for a new baby, in part because the Internet is full of warnings of the dangers hidden in within cot mattresses.
Toxic VOCs, fire retardants, and phthalates that will harm your baby and the planet.
Killer mattresses that will suffocate your baby (and also breathable mattresses that apparently won’t).
Hidden mold reservoirs that will result in lifelong asthma and breathing difficulties.
When I was pregnant, the more I read about this essential item, the worse it got. And the deeper I went into the rabbit hole of research.
Why Get an Organic Crib Mattress?
Babies spend about 12 hours per night sleeping in their cribs.
Add in a few naps throughout the day, and many babies spend more than half of each 24-hour day in their crib.
While most moms and dads know this, research backs it up: very young infants sleep an average of 17 hours per day. Older babies and toddlers sleep for 13 to 14 hours within a 24 hour period.
Sleep is a Time for Development, Not Damage
For infants, toddlers, teenagers and seniors, sleep is a universal need. Just as moms and dads need enough sleep, so do babies.
Sleep keeps adults healthy. But for babies, it’s a key part of their development into thriving, healthy children.
Here’s what just some of the evidence has to say about the importance of sleep for babies:
- Sleep is a key for very young babies’ ability to learn. Sleep facilitates brain development and maturation, and allows babies to explore the world in increasingly sophisticated ways.
- Sleep plays a key role in babies’ memories. Through sleep, babies can consolidate information they experienced while awake.
- Babies keep learning while they sleep! Evidence suggests babies process sensory stimuli and learn about their environment…even when they’re snoozing.
- Better nighttime sleep is correlated with higher cognitive scores in babies.
- Babies who sleep better have been found to be more approachable and adaptable.
- Sleep helps babies manage and respond to stress, such as being briefly separated from their moms or being prevented from playing with a toy.
- Good sleep in babies helps prevent obesity and too much weight gain in young children.
Add to that, sleep plays a key role in our health at a cellular level. Researchers have found that, during sleep, our bodies remove potentially toxic waste products from our brains. And it’s also key to neuroplasticity – our brain’s ability to adapt.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine:
“Depression, seizures, high blood pressure and migraines worsen. Immunity is compromised, increasing the likelihood of illness and infection. Sleep also plays a role in metabolism: Even one night of missed sleep can create a pre-diabetic state in an otherwise healthy person.”
Put simply, sleep is a time for your body – and your baby’s body – to recover from the environmental stressors of the day. It’s a time to detoxify, not deal with even more chemicals, like flame retardant chemicals and materials that aren’t eco friendly.
And as parents, it’s our job to support a healthy sleep environment, starting with choosing from the best organic crib mattresses for your needs.
That’s why a safe organic cot mattress and non-toxic bassinets and non toxic cribs are really smart additions to your baby’s nursery (and be sure to add organic toddler pillows to that list when the time comes!).
Price: What If I Can’t Afford and Organic Crib Mattress?
The mattresses I’ve listed below range from USD $279 to $699 at the time of writing. Most of the mattresses I’ve picked are in the mid-range for the companies I recommend, and it’s possible choose a more affordable model if you’re on a tight budget.
For example, I’ve listed the Lullaby Earth Breathable 2-Stage mattress as a great option, and at the time of writing I found it for $279 at Target. However, Lullaby Earth’s Health Support Mattress is also a great, non toxic choice, and it’s about $100 cheaper ($179 at Target at the time of writing).
Some of the companies listed below make all of their crib mattresses without polyurethane foam, glues and adhesives, fire retardant chemicals, and dangerous waterproofing chemicals.
Purchasing any crib mattress model from Naturepedic, Avocado, Lullaby Earth – including the less expensive models – still means you’re going to get a safe, non-toxic mattress that holds some of the strictest certifications available. All of these brands have exceptional brand reputation, and buying the cheapest of the bunch from any of these companies still means you’re getting a great crib mattress.
What is the Best Organic Crib Mattress for Babies?
Below, I’ve rounded up what I think are some of the top organic mattresses for babies and toddlers that are on the market today.
Disclosure: I have asked several of the companies included in this list to send me a free mattress, so that I could test them out for myself. Avocado, Organic Dream, and Newton have sent me complimentary crib mattresses to review. Naturepedic has also sent me a twin mattress in the past (not included in this article). All opinions remain my own.
My Top 3 Choices for the Best Organic Crib Mattress
All 3 of my top picks are Greenguard Gold certified, UL formaldehyde free verified, and MADE SAFE certified.
- Avocado Organic Crib Mattress ($439) (Avocado makes 3 different organic crib mattresses, and all are a good choice. This one is made from natural and organic materials, and is free from synthetics and harmful chemicals)
- Naturepedic Breathable Lightweight ($399) (All of Naturepedic’s crib mattresses are a good choice; I like the breathable cover on this one and it’s the one we used with our daughter. Not entirely natural materials, but all non-toxic)
- Emily Natural Crib Mattress ($299) (This is a classic innerspring mattress, with natural and organic materials surrounding the steel innerspring coils)
Other Non Toxic Crib Mattresses I Still Think Are Great
- Lullaby Earth Breathable 2 Stage ($279)
- Nook Pure Organic 2.0 ($439)
- Organic Dream Comfort Supreme ($299)
- Brentwood Home Eco Aire ($349)
- Newton Crib Mattress ($299)
- Naturalmat Coco Mat ($597)
Made to Order Organic Crib Mattresses from Small Businesses
- Green Cradle ($599 to $699)
- Soaring Heart ($499)
Of the 12 crib mattresses on this list, I have personally owned and tested 5 of them. Specifically, I have personal experience owning, testing, and comparing the Naturepedic Breathable, Avocado Organic, Lullaby Earth, Organic Dream, and Newton crib mattresses.
I have also owned and tested an older version of the Nook organic mattress, but haven’t tried out the new Organic 2.0 listed in my 2023 update of this article.
The others listed are based on my research into the topic, and knowledge of the harmful and healthy mattress materials parents should avoid and look for when shopping.
Below, you’ll find in-depth reviews and my personal experience with these products, plus more information about how to choose from among all the organic crib mattresses on the market, and why it’s such an important decision.
If you have a bigger kid, read our best organic kids mattress guide.
Best Non Toxic Crib Mattress for Every Family
A dual-firmness crib mattress that's Greenguard Gold and MADE-SAFE certified. Made with coconut coir, GOTS certified organic cotton and wool, and GOLS certified organic latex, this crib mattress doesn't contain polyurethane foams, chemical glues or adhesives, vinyl waterproofing or polyethylene, or flame retardant chemicals. It's also Climate Neutral Certified and handmade in the USA (Los Angeles). Since it's not waterproof, I recommend pairing with 1 (ideally 2) organic mattress protector pads. This is Avocado's best-selling crib mattress, and it's a great choice for purists who want natural and organic all the way through.
I think it’s fair to say that Avocado and Naturepedic are two of the leaders in the safe, non-toxic, and organic crib mattress space.
I bought a Naturepedic for my own daughter, because at the time, Avocado crib mattresses weren’t available where I lived. Now that the Avocado crib mattress is available where I live? It’d be a much harder decision!
Based on my experience finally testing an Avocado crib mattress in person, Avocado has knocked it out of the park with their Organic Crib Mattress.
Avocado offers 3 crib mattresses in their lineup of baby mattresses: the affordable Eco Organic, the Organic (recommended here), and the premium Luxury Organic crib mattress.
All of these are a great choice, but the Organic is their best-seller, and it’s easy to see why.
A dual-firmness mattress, the Avocado crib mattress is made up of organic layers that create a firm, safe, and non toxic sleep surface for your little one. The layers include organic coconut coir (made from coconut husk), GOLS organic latex, and GOTS organic cotton and organic wool. And it’s free from commonly used “bad stuff” found in mattresses, including chemical flame retardants, VOCs, glues and adhesives, and phthalates.
A stand out feature of the Avocado – besides using natural, non-toxic, and organic materials throughout – is the dual firmness. A lot of brands say their mattress is two-stage with a firmer infant side and a softer toddler side, but in practice it’s hard to tell the difference.
With the Avocado Organic crib mattress, the infant side is impressively firm, and the toddler side is luxuriously plush, with a firm support layer under the plush top. When I push down on the plush toddler side, there’s lots of give and cushion until you reach the inner coconut coir layer.
Another area in which the Avocado Organic Crib mattress really shines is in the fact that it uses all organic, all natural materials.
Whereas plenty of non toxic mattresses are free from harmful chemicals, many still make use of synthetic materials and bio-based, but synthetic fabrics. The Avocado Organic crib mattress is free from plastics and synthetics, making it a truly organic choice for parents who want all natural, all organic. This also means it doesn’t have any chemical “new mattress smell” when it arrives, although it does have a bit of an earthy scent from the natural materials, which dissipates over time in my experience.
This is easily one of the best crib mattresses I’ve personally owned and tested, and I’d have no hesitation recommending it to my best friend or sister-in-law for their own family. It’s also made in the USA, not overseas.
Downsides for some families include weight (it weighs 28 pounds, which is common for latex and coconut mattresses, but heavier than some other choices), and the fact that it doesn’t have a waterproof sleep surface (you’ll likely want to order several mattress protector pads to go with it).
In short? It’s an excellent choice for families who want a truly organic crib mattress. Priced at $439, it’s in the upper-mid-range of organic crib mattresses.
100% non-toxic and waterproof crib mattress, with a removable breathable cover. This is the mattress I chose for my own daughter. We've used it for several years, and still love it, and I feel better knowing it's made from safe, non toxic, and natural organic materials. Greenguard Gold Certified and MADE Safe certified.
There’s a lot to love about the entire line of Naturepedic organic crib mattresses, but the Breathable Lightweight waterproof mattress stands apart as one of the best.
Priced at $399 (at the time of writing), I would classify this as a mid-range mattress among the broad field of organic crib mattresses.
With Naturepedic’s Breathable line, you have the choice between either their lightweight wavesupport™ inner core, or a traditional coil spring.
The lightweight core (recommended here) is made from food grade polyethylene plastic. This firm inner core is then surrounded by organic cotton batting, plant-based PLA material (made from non-GMO sugarcane) on the toddler side, a wipe-clean waterproof layer (Naturepedic uses non-GMO sugarcane-derived food grade polyethylene for waterproofing), followed by the 3D breathable sleep pad, made from certified organic cotton.
Worth noting, the Naturepedic uses many organic components, but isn’t entirely natural and organic like the Avocado is, since it uses polyethylene and bio-based engineered materials, such as PLA. On the upside, however, the polyethylene core means the mattress is only 14 pounds – considerably lighter weight than the Avocado.
The breathable pad is an independent unit – you can completely remove it for washing, and can use the mattress with or without it, in the case of middle of the night accidents. You can also get an extra one for situations like these, and just a quick middle of the night swap out.
Beneath the pad, on the actual mattress surface, you’ll find a waterproof surface made from organic cotton and Naturepedic’s non-toxic and plant-based waterproof backing (PFAS free).
Naturepedic’s Breathable series of mattress is a 2-stage dual firmness mattress, although the toddler side is still quite firm (certainly firmer than on the Avocado Organic Crib mattress).
This mattress is organic textile standard GOTS-certified, MADE-SAFE Certified, and Greenguard Gold certified. As with all Naturepedic crib mattresses, this mattress is made in the USA and is free from flame retardant chemicals.
Made of breathable, all-natural coconut fiber, a heavy duty coil innerspring, and a quilted cover with natural organic wool and cotton. The Emily mattress is GREENGUARD Gold Certified, MADE SAFE certified, as well as GOTS and GOLS certified organic. Handmade to order in the USA with a 100-night sleep guarantee, and no plastic whatsoever.
My Green Mattress is a company with a great story to tell. Parent-led, Tim Masters started the company when his daughter Emily was born. Emily suffered from a number of environmental allergies, so Tim built a natural crib mattress to help alleviate her symptoms. That’s how the Emily Natural Crib Mattress was born – as a mattress good enough for Tim’s own daughter.
All My Green Mattress products are handmade in Lagrange, Illinois. The factory is GOTS/GOLS certified, and the products contain only organically grown, harvested and processed materials. They’re made in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.
Importantly, all their products are free-from harmful and potentially harmful chemicals. This means no formaldehyde, flame retardants, or VOCs, which often come hand-in-hand with materials like polyurethane foam and polyester.
My Green Mattress has multiple 3rd party certifications. They use GOTS certified wool and cotton and GOLS certified natural latex. They have a OEKO-TEX certificate for textiles. And they hold an Eco Institute Certificate, UL compliance, Carbon Neutral certificate, and Greenguard Gold and MADE SAFE certifications.
The Emily mattress provides a safe, firm sleep surface for a newborn. It combines an innerspring design with GOTS certified organic coconut coir. GOLS-certified organic natural latex is used to bind the coir. And the quilted cover is made from organic cotton and organic wool.
For families that don’t mind sacrificing waterproofing to get a plastic free crib mattress, the Emily is another great choice, along with the Avocado. For families who would prefer a non-toxic mattress that is waterproof, the Naturepedic Breathable is a great choice.
Overall, the Emily Crib Mattress is a great innerspring organic crib mattress. It uses all natural and organic materials (with the exception of the innerspring coils!), and comes from an ethical, environmentally-minded company.
Lullaby Earth is another brand we have personal experience with. This brand tends to be more affordable than Naturepedic, but still holds the same impressive credentials: GOTS certified organic cotton, Greenguard Gold Certified, Formaldehyde Free Verified, MADE-SAFE Certified, and made in the USA.
Lullaby Earth is easy to trust, since it’s actually made by Naturepedic as a lower cost alternative. When you buy a Lullaby Earth, you get the same commitment to non toxic that you get with Naturepedic.
Lullaby Earth offers the same promise, albeit with some different materials (polyester vs organic natural materials). Because of this, it’s able to sell at a lower price point, while still being safe and non-toxic.
That means no PU foam, no fire retardant chemicals or synthetic barriers, no phthalates, antimicrobial treatments, PFCs, or formaldehyde, and none of those other materials you want to avoid, like vinyl and PVC.
The Breathe Safe 2-Stage mattress is made up of an internal polyester lattice, which allows for airflow inside the mattress core, along with recycled polyester fiberfill.
The mattress also comes with a 3D breathable cover, similar to the Naturepedic breathable cover, which allows for better breathability. The removable cover has a food grade, non-toxic waterproof backing, and is machine washable and dryer friendly.
Edge support and firmness are both excellent on this mattress in my experience.
Made in the USA, with a sewn in the USA cover (fabric is imported).
Nook's brand new for 2023 organic crib mattress, the Pure Organic 2.0 is made from an organic coconut coir and organic natural rubber core, surrounded by bio-synthetic organic corn-based batting, with an organic cotton cover. This is a dual-firmness mattress, and doesn't come with Nook's signature Pebble cover, although it's available to add in the form of their Pebble Dream Sheet.
Nook Sleep’s Pure Organic 2.0 is new to the market, which means I’ve yet to try this mattress out personally. Because of that, this section is based on research, rather than the personal experience I have with many of the other brands.
I’ve tested Nook crib mattresses before, and I think they’re generally good, but lack the heavy hitter certifications that Naturepedic, Avocado, the Emily mattress, and Lullaby Earth have. Indeed, the Pure Organic 2.0 is Greenguard Gold certified, but it doesn’t have MADE-SAFE or formaldehyde free verified, or organic certifications (GOTS/GOLS) as far as I can tell.
What do I love about the Pure Organic 2.0, based on my research? The mattress core is made from organic coconut coir and organic natural rubber latex, with a bio-synthetic organic corn-based batting for padding and an organic cotton cover. While it’s not 100% natural (someone had to transform corn into rayon batting!) it does use all organic “ingredients.”
It’s also worth noting this mattress isn’t waterproof. For some families, this is great as it means you can choose your own waterproofing method. For others, however, this will be a drawback.
It does work with the trademark Nook Sleep pebble DreamSheet™ or the waterproof DreamSheet™. Both versions use Oeko-Tex® Certified Tencel™/ Lyocell, polyester, as well as a polyurethane layer (for the waterproof version).
Unfortunately, I can’t comment on firmness or edge support for this mattress, as I haven’t actually owned this mattress. The use of natural latex and coconut coir suggests it should be fairly firm, but I can’t confirm this.
The only dual firmness breathe through crib mattress, the infant side offers excellent firmness and support, and is topped with one of the softest, plushest crib mattress cover on the market. This mattress also offers an organic cotton sleep surface.
Organic Dream (along with Brentwood Home and Newton Baby, which I cover next) makes one of several “breathe-through” crib mattresses available on the market.
None of these are fully organic, but they are non-toxic with some organic components, and they have unique “breathe through” designs that lets you squish your face in the mattress, take a deep breath, and still get air!
The Organic Dream Comfort Supreme is Organic Dream’s version of a breathe through mattress. This is another mattress I’ve personally tested, and based on that experience I quite like it.
It’s a dual firmness 2-stage crib mattress with a plush, quilted organic cotton cover that’s extremely soft to touch. While the mattress core is very firm, the cover is quite plush and comfy. The cover isn’t waterproof, but it is “wet resistant.” In my experience, small amounts of liquid soak into the outer cover, but take awhile to soak through to reach the fire sock.
In terms of fire resistance, Organic Dream meets federal flammability standards without chemical additives, using a synthetic fire sock made from rayon derived from tree and plant cellulose.
Beneath the organic cotton outer cover and the rayon fire sock, the inner core of the mattress is made from a food grade polymer that looks a lot like dried instant noodles. This is the heart of the breathe through design, as it allows air to fill up and circulate around the mattress core.
In addition to the super plush cover, I love the fact that the Organic Dream Comfort Supreme is made entirely in the USA using materials from Canada and Europe. This makes it a great option if you prefer not to purchase made in China products.
Additionally, it’s full washable, meaning you can wash the cover, fire sock, and mattress core if needed.
With a recyclable and washable PETE core that looks like instant noodles, this 100% breathable and "breathe through" crib mattress is a competitor to the Newton mattress and the Organic Dream Comfort Supreme. This is a two-stage mattress with a waterproof toddler side (waterproofing is done with a thin layer of polyurethane film). The washable cover is made from 14 recycled plastic bottles, with a GOTS organic cotton liner. GREENGUARD Gold and Formaldehyde-Free certified as well as being Global Recycled Standard (GRS) and Climate Neutral Certified.
Brentwood Home’s Eco Air is similar to the Organic Dream, with a key difference: a waterproof toddler side.
Whereas waterproofing on the infant side of the mattress would defeat the innovation that went into making it breathe-through, it makes sense on the toddler side, where this is less of an issue.
This crib mattress comes with some strong sustainability chops: the inner core is recyclable, the outer cover is made GOTS certified cotton, recycled polyester, and REPREVE®, a synthetic that recycles 14 plastic bottles into fabric for each cover, and the waterproof liner on the toddler side uses polyurethane layer over polyester. Add to that, it’s climate certified neutral certified, PETA approved vegan, and uses Global Recycled Standard (GRS) materials.
It’s also 100% washable, making clean ups easier and making it a great hypoallergenic choice for families concerned about dust mites or mold.
This crib mattress is Greenguard Gold certified, verified formaldehyde free, and free from glues and adhesives. It uses natural silica for the flame retardant, eliminating the need for chemical-based fire retardants.
Made in Los Angeles (Brentwood Home is owned by Avocado Green), this mattress has a 100 day sleep trial with a 10-year limited warranty.
With a breathe-through mattress core and a 3D constructed polyester cover, the Newton original is our most breathe-through pick for the year.
Newton was the first company to come out with a “breathe-through” crib mattress, as far as I know, and it’s still a great choice now that there are plenty of competitors out there.
Newton pioneered their “Wovenaire®” inner core design. Made from food grade polyethylene plastic that looks like dry instant noodles, the design allows for plenty of air to circulate among the “instant noodles,” allowing total air circulation throughout the mattress core. This inner core is also 100% washable: you can put it in the bath or shower and give it a thorough rinse if you’re concerned about spills, accidents, or allergens.
Newton Baby’s mattress cover is made from a a breathe-through polyester cover, with a viscose fire barrier within to meet federal flammability requirements.
Made from organic coconut fibre, organic wool, and unbleached natural cotton, with no plastic whatsoever. Fits a standard USA crib, and comes with a 5-year warranty.
Naturalmat is a UK company that’s been making mattresses since 1999. The company started out with a mission to change the industry by creating mattresses with natural (instead of synthetic) materials, and without using chemical additives.
Today, they claim ALL the ingredients that go into their products are 100% natural and from a sustainable source, and that all Naturalmat mattresses are 100% biodegradable at the end of their life.
Naturalmat hasn’t gone “certification wild” like some of their organic crib mattress competitors. However, they’re quite transparent on their website. No glues, no fire retardant chemicals, all natural and organic.
Their Coco Mat is made from simple materials, including organic coconut fibre, organic wool, and unbleached natural cotton. It doesn’t have any plastic products in it, although you can add a mattress protector from the company.
It measures 52” x 28” x 6”, which is a standard crib size in the USA, and has a 5-year warranty.
The mattresses are handmade in Devon, England. Naturalmat is a UK company, but you can buy them in the US. At the time of writing, their USA website seemed to be having challenges, but you can check prices on their website, and then phone them to order.
Another truly organic crib mattress, Soaring Heart crib mattress use organic materials for the entire mattress. Their baby crib mattresses use Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) organic certified latex, an organic wool fire barrier, and organic cotton. Made in the USA (Seattle).
Soaring Heart is another company that’s easy to love. The company sources materials from small farms and ranches. And they choose suppliers that operate according to sustainable principles and strong animal welfare practices.
Their crib mattresses are made from all natural organic latex, along with organic wool and organic cotton cover. No fire retardant chemicals here! Worth noting it’s not waterproof, meaning you’ll probably want an extra mattress cover or pad to protect it.
Soaring Heart’s organic latex is firm, making it suitable for newborns and older babies. It’s single sided, meaning there isn’t an infant side (which is firm to reduce risk of sudden infant death syndrome) and a toddler side – there is only a firm surface suitable for both.
This crib mattress measures 28 ⅝” x 52 ⅜” x 3 ½” and fits in US standard cribs. Their mattresses come with a 20-year-warranty and 30-day comfort guarantee.
Soaring Heart is also super transparent. You can actually order a box with small samples of all the materials used in your baby’s crib mattress!
Their mattresses are made in Seattle, and are safe and chemical free. According to the company, they’re all about keeping it simple with all organic, toxin-free materials. We can get behind that!
Soaring Heart holds multiple certifications. They are GOTS and GOLS organic certified, USDA organic, Oregon Tilth organic certified, and Texas Department of Agriculture certified organic cotton.
Green Cradle is probably best-known for their sustainable and non toxic solid wood cribs. But they also make crib mattresses, including a 4-inch and a 6-inch organic latex crib mattress.
The mattress cores are made from 100% organic and GOLS certified natural latex, sourced from SE Asia (Thailand and Sri Lanka). This inner core is then surrounded by organic cotton and organic wool layers, with an organic cotton outer sleep surface/ticking (all GOTS certified).
Because Green Cradle crib mattresses aren’t waterproof, the company offers both a wool protector pad and a cotton protector pad as an add on.
Mattress Materials to Avoid When Shopping
Crib mattresses have come a long way in the last decade, with the market offering plenty of safe, non toxic options for parents and their babies to choose from.
Unfortunately, not all crib mattresses are created equal.
While there are a lot of good choices out there, many crib mattresses are still made with less than ideal materials, and these can be a source of harmful chemicals in the home.
(This is also true for personal care products, cleaners, bedding, and baby and childrens’ products such as car seats, bath toys and baby bath tubs – they can all contain chemicals that may be harmful to our kids’ health and the environment).
Generally, I think all parents should try to choose a nontoxic crib mattress if they can.
Non toxic doesn’t necessarily mean it’s organic.
While certified organic mattresses that use natural and organic materials used across an entire mattress can come with a hefty price tag, there are many crib mattresses available that are non toxic (they may or may not be organic) and still very safe.
Many of these also have external certifications like Greenguard Gold Certified (very common) and MADE Safe (less common – only Naturepedic, Avocado, and My Green Mattress have MADE Safe certified crib mattresses).
What does this mean from a practical perspective, exactly?
What materials and chemicals should you avoid (and look for) when shopping for a safe crib mattress?
Polyurethane foam is one of the most common crib mattress components (common in kids mattresses and adult mattresses, too).
Generally speaking, I’m not the biggest fan of PU foam or of foam mattresses.
To make polyurethane foams and memory foam, manufacturers react diisocyanates (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate [MDI] and/or toluene diisocyanate [TDI]) with polyols and water. It may also contain other chemical catalysts, blowing agents and flame retardants.
In “normal” flexible polyurethane foam (as opposed to plant-based foam), both the polyols and the isocyanates are petroleum-based. In other words, it’s made from non-renewable resources.
Besides being environmentally problematic, polyurethane foam can also be problematic for your baby’s health. If manufacturers use excess TDI, they can remain in the foam as unreacted isocyanates. TDI is a probable carcinogen and the USEPA notes that exposure to isocyanates can cause asthma; lung and skin damage; respiratory problems; and eye irritation.
CertiPUR-US certified foam is marketed as a safer option for foam. While it doesn’t fit the bill of being an organic mattress material, many crib mattresses from leading brands use CertiPUR-US certified foam.
The best of these brands also have their mattresses tested to ensure they meet strict Greenguard Gold Certified standards.
Polyurethane Foam Alternatives
If you want a crib mattress that’s truly natural, alternatives to polyurethane foam include organic latex, coconut coir, wool, and cotton – typically in some combination of several of these. These tend to be priced at the premium end of the market.
If you’re okay with some manmade materials, several non-toxic crib mattress manufacturers now use PETE/PET in their mattress cores.
The mattress we bought for our daughter (the Naturepedic Breathable Lightweight crib mattress) uses PET, and we have been very happy with it.
Coil mattresses may also be PU foam free, albeit they are typically heavier to lift when doing sheet changes than those using PET.
Plant-Based Foam Or Soybean Foam
Plant-based foam is foam in which some or all of the polyols used in the foam come from plant sources.
Soy is the most commonly used plant in creating foam, which is why you’ll most often see it marketed as soybean foam or soy foam.
Where as petroleum-based polyols can be replaced with plant-based polyols, diisocyanates cannot be. Even in plant-based foams, therefore, a considerable portion of the raw ingredients are petroleum-based.
Plant-based foam is likely better for the environment and your family, but marginally so.
While it’s often marketed as an environmentally-friendlier solution, we think there are far better alternatives, including natural latex, coconut coir, organic wool, unbleached organic cotton, and recycled PET.
Harmful Chemicals in Crib Mattress Waterproofing
Anyone who’s had a baby or young child knows how often middle-of-the-night accidents lead to middle-of-the-night clean-ups.
And because manufacturers understand the need to protect the inside of the mattress against urine and – ahem – other – messes, it’s long been the wisdom to use waterproof covers and layers in crib mattresses.
With the benefits of waterproofing, can also come some major drawbacks for your little one’s health.
This is primarily because of the chemicals and materials some brands use to achieve a waterproof crib mattress.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), Phthalates And Phthalate Alternatives
PVC, more commonly known as vinyl, is a popular choice for waterproof crib mattress covers.
And one of the major problems with PVC is the phthalates (and phthalate alternatives) that come with it.
Without phthalates, PVC is a hard, rigid plastic. By adding phthalates and other plasticizing chemicals, manufacturers transform that rigid plastic into one that’s soft and pliable – like your raincoat, shower curtain, or inflatable plastic toys.
The problems with phthalates are many. They can vaporize and off-gas into the air in your home. They can also “disconnect” from the plastic they’re added to and attach to household dust. Babies (all of us, in fact) can also absorb phthalates through their skin.
Phthalates and their alternatives come with a number of demonstrated and suspected nasty health and developmental effects.
They’re known endocrine disruptors and are suspected to contribute to endocrine diseases such as breast cancer and obesity, are correlated with asthma, neuroatypical disorders such as autism, low IQ, male reproductive development issues and more.
While some phthalates are banned in the United States for use in children’s toys and care articles, as well as some banned from children’s toys that can be placed in a child’s mouth, others are still permitted.
Further, with the ban on some phthalates, there’s been a corresponding uptick in the use of phthalate alternatives, about which less is known.
Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are another common source of waterproofing (and stain-proofing).
Known more commonly as “forever chemicals” because they persist in the environment, PFAS are used in Teflon pans, outdoor waterproof clothing, and mattresses and bedding (as well as many other products).
PFAS chemicals are associated with a range of health and environmental concerns, and governments are starting to take note, introducing bans and legislation to address and limit their use.
In the meantime, however, it’s up to consumers in many states to do their own research and ask questions to make sure their waterproof mattresses don’t use PFAS to achieve the water resistance.
Safer Waterproofing Alternatives
There are a few companies that make safer waterproof crib mattresses.
First are the companies that make waterproof mattresses where the waterproofing is built into the mattress. Naturepedic and Lullaby Earth are two examples: the outer fabric on some of their models are 100% waterproof, using non-toxic materials to achieve the waterproofing (Lullaby Earth uses polyethylene; Naturepedic uses “non-GMO sugarcane” which is another way of saying it’s made from a bio- or renewable polyethylene as well).
An alternative is an absorbent mattress cover to protect the crib mattress.
Avocado’s Organic Crib Mattress Protector is made of GOTS organic certified cotton ticking and cotton fiber fill to absorb any accidents that happen – and prevent them from soaking through to the mattress surface. It’s not waterproof, but rather it absorbs liquid before they hit the mattress, and then can be thrown in the washing machine.
Chemical Fire Retardants And Chemical Flame Barriers
Flame retardant chemicals are a significant problem across a range of consumer products, including anything made of flexible polyurethane foam (foam and memory foam mattresses, car seats, upholstered furniture) and electronics.
These toxic chemicals have nasty health effects, having been linked to a range of diseases and disorders, from hyperactivity to early puberty to cancer.
And unfortunately, researchers have found chemical flame retardants in a range of products meant for babies and young children: car seats, baby carriers, changing table pads, infant crib mattresses, nursing pillows, strollers, toys….
Interestingly, not all polyurethane foam products contain fire retardants. Duke University’s Foam project analyzed 2215 samples of foam sent into the lab by members of the general public. They’re findings are illuminating:
- In approximately 9% of samples (203 units), researchers detected two or more fire retardants.
- In approximately 41.5% of samples (919 units), researchers detected only one of the fire retardants tested for.
- In almost half of the samples (1093 units, representing roughly 49%), the researchers didn’t detect any of the flame retardants tested for.
Despite this, further research shows that fire retardants are so common in our lives and environment, they now show up in some very unwelcome places, from our supermarkets to our breast milk.
Chemical Fire Retardant Alternatives: Natural Flame Barrier
Given that natural and non-toxic flame barriers exist – coconut coir, wool, and cotton can be used – it makes sense to look for a crib mattress that doesn’t contain harmful chemical flame retardants.
Synthetic, non-chemical flame retardants such as rayon or viscose also work great and are considered a safe alternative to flame retardant chemicals.
Volatile Organic Compounds
Furniture, building products, glues, paint, cleaners, air fresheners and other day-to-day products can all release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air in our homes.
Some VOCs fit into the other classes of chemicals discussed here. For example, the class of fire retardant known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers are VOCs, as are toluene diisocyanates, used in flexible polyurethane foam.
VOCs are linked to cardiovascular disease, allergies, fatigue, asthma, reproductive disorders, kidney and liver damage, and cancer – among other things. In other words, it’s worth taking them seriously and trying to reduce VOCs in our homes.
If you’ve heard about mattress off-gassing, you’ll be interested to know it relates to VOCs. Off gassing is the process by which VOCs are released from the chemicals inside your mattress into the air.
And it’s not just the crib mattress you should consider when it comes to VOCs.
Cribs that use manufactured or composite wood, and those that use certain paints and finishes, may also emit VOCs. As such, we also recommend you buy a non toxic crib.
Avoiding VOCs in organic Crib Mattresses: Independent Emissions Tests
Greenguard Gold is the gold standard for ensuring a product has low VOC emissions.
The best organic crib mattresses are Greenguard Gold certified.
In fact, many non-organic crib mattresses are also Greenguard Gold certified these days, as it is an incredibly in-demand certification among parents.
Formaldehyde is a VOC you’ve most likely heard of before. Being exposed to formaldehyde can cause skin, eye, nose and throat irritation, and may cause cancer at high levels.
Unfortunately, we’re all pretty much constantly exposed to small amounts of formaldehyde, According to the USEPA:
The primary way you can be exposed to formaldehyde is by breathing air containing off-gassed formaldehyde. Everyone is exposed to small amounts of formaldehyde in the air that has off-gassed from products, including composite wood products.
At room temperature, formaldehyde is in gas form. Which means if you’re in a room with formaldehyde, there’s a good chance you’re breathing it in.
You’ll find formaldehyde in composite wood products like hardwood plywood, particleboard and medium-density fiberboard, in building and insulation materials, in glues, paints, coatings, in some cosmetics and medicines, in dishwashing liquid and fabric softener, and in fertilizers and pesticides, for example.
Avoiding Formaldehyde in Crib Mattresses
Look for crib mattresses that don’t use adhesives and glues, which may be a source of formaldehyde. Naturepedic crib mattresses are glue free, as are Avocado Green.
You can also look for UL Environment’s Formaldehyde free verification, which means it’s been independently verified as formaldehyde free.
Safe Non Toxic Crib Mattress Materials
Now that you know what NOT to buy, let’s turn our attention to some non-toxic mattress materials to look for when shopping.
Organic Cotton Cover and Batting
Compared to organic cotton, conventional cotton is environmentally and socially problematic. It’s a pesticide, land, and water intensive crop, and much of the world’s cotton relies on forced labor (although, positively, this is changing). The dyeing, bleaching and finishing processes also involve various levels of hazardous chemicals.
While research has found finished cotton fabric made with conventional (non-organic) cotton doesn’t retain pesticide residues, it also found conventional cotton batting does contain residues.
For this reason, we choose to buy mattresses that use an organic cotton cover and organic cotton inside matter, even though we buy conventional cotton clothing regularly.
To be friendly to your baby and the planet, look for crib mattresses that have the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification.
This certification applies across the production and processing chain to ensure it’s safely grown and processed for your little one’s crib mattress.
Coconut coir is a firm and somewhat spongy material made from the hairy outer shell of a coconut.
You probably have coir (pronounced core) in your house already: hanging baskets are often lined with coir, as it makes for great potting, many doormats are made from coir, and some rope, as well.
In a crib mattress, coir is naturally moisture resistant and breathable, meaning it’s also quite mold resistant, hypoallergenic, and good at temperature regulation. It’s also firm: a firm crib mattress is especially important in baby’s first year to follow safe sleep guidelines.
When shopping for a crib mattress that uses coir, make sure the coir is bound with natural tree rubber latex, rather than synthetic latex.
Natural latex is a tree sap collected from rubber trees. Much like maple trees are tapped to collect maple syrup, so are rubber trees tapped to collect natural latex.
When shopping for a crib mattress that contains natural latex, it’s wise to be aware of some misleading marketing terms.
100% natural latex – and terms like it – are common in crib mattress marketing.
However, no processed natural latex is “100% latex.” Additives used during production mean the finished latex product is between 90% and 97% latex (with the remaining percentage made up by additives).
The Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) specifies certified products contain more than 95% certified organic raw material.
With that in mind, you want to ensure the latex used in the product is 100% natural, rather than a natural-synthetic latex blend, which is also common.
Natural latex is a firm, safe, and relatively eco-friendly choice. My husband and I sleep on a Happsy organic mattress, which uses natural latex, and we love it.
However, if you’re concerned about latex allergies, be sure to talk to your paediatrician!
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PEET Or PET)
Polyethylene terephthalate is a food grade plastic derived from hydrocarbons.
When used in food and other packaging, it’s most commonly known as PET or PETE, and is identifiable by the #1 recycling symbol. When used as a textile, it’s known as polyester.
PETE is generally considered to be one of the “safer” plastics available, and leading health authorities agree PETE is generally safe.
From an environmental perspective, PETE is not biodegradable and is energy intensive to manufacture. However, it is recyclable, and very lightweight, which means it requires less energy during shipping.
If you purchase a crib mattress that uses PETE, ideally look for one that uses recycled PETE, thereby helping to postpone the plastic’s introduction to our landfills and giving it a second lease on life.
Worth considering, PET/PETE has been found to leach antimony (a possible carcinogen used as a catalyst during manufacturing) into bottled water, and polyester fabrics may expose us somewhat.
However, studies investigating the relationship between SIDS and antimony have shown no link between the two.
Put succinctly in the Journal of Environmental Monitoring:
“Antimony, which is normally present in domestic environments, has also been studied as a possible cause of cot death syndrome (SIDS) but extensive investigations have not confirmed this.”
Choosing Between the Best Organic Crib Mattresses: What to Look For
All of the company’s we’ve chosen to feature are reputable. So what else should you consider?
Firmness: Infants Need a Firm Mattress for Safety
In the United States, approximately 3,500 babies die from sleep related deaths each year. That’s why it’s so important to follow safe sleep guidelines endorsed by pediatricians and other experts.
First and foremost, only place your baby to sleep on their back, on a firm mattress with a tight fitting sheet.
Ensure the mattress fits properly in the crib, and there are no other soft items in the crib with them (a bare crib with no blankets, bumpers, or stuffed animals, etc, is recommended).
Sleeping on soft mattresses has been found to increase the risk of SIDS, so it’s important when you’re shopping for a crib mattress to consider firmness.
Additionally, don’t do anything to try to make the mattress “more comfortable” once it’s in your home (no extra layers of padding, blankets, etc).
In the world of organic crib mattresses, there are a wide array of independent third-party certifications out there. If this is your first time choosing a crib mattress, all the acronyms may feel a bit mind boggling.
These are some of the most common certifications you’ll come across when shopping for an organic crib mattress.
GREENGUARD Gold Certification is an independent certification that measures VOC emissions from products.
When a product is GREENGUARD Gold certified, this means it is a low emitting product. The specific values are no greater than 1/100 of currently published ACGIH® Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and no greater than one-half of California’s Chronic Reference Exposure Levels (CRELs).
GREENGUARD Gold certified products are safe for use with sensitive people and in sensitive settings. In other words, with children, the elderly, and education and healthcare facilities.
We also suggest you purchase a greenguard certified and non-toxic crib, in addition to the crib mattress.
Validated Formaldehyde Free
Like GREENGUARD Gold, this independent certification/validation scheme is run by UL Environment.
The Formaldehyde Free validation means a product is independently verified to be free from formaldehyde and formaldehyde precursors. One problem with formaldehyde is the fact that many products don’t actually contain added formaldehyde. However, they do contain chemicals that, when mixed together, create formaldehyde. This means companies can say their products are formaldehyde free, even if those same products emit formaldehyde.
The UL Formaldehyde Free verification ensures your product doesn’t contain AND won’t emit formaldehyde.
Products that hold the Validated Formaldehyde Free label must also hold GREENGUARD Gold Certification.
MADE SAFE® Certification
The MADE SAFE® program is a hazard-based independent screen that checks that products are made without known toxic chemicals.
Getting the certification means a product has been independently screened. They look for known behavioural neurotoxins, carcinogens, developmental toxins, endocrine disruptors, fire retardants, heavy metals, neurotoxins, high risk pesticides, reproductive toxins, toxic solvents, and harmful VOCs.
Naturepedic, Avocado, and My Green Mattress are the only crib mattresses I’m currently aware of that come with a MADE Safe certification.
GOTS And GOLS
GOTS stands for Global Organic Textile Standard and GOLS stands for Global Organic Latex Standard. Both standards certify ecological and social aspects of the entire product supply chain, from processing to distribution.
STANDARD 100 By OEKO-TEX®
The Standard 100 is an independent verification for textiles. It tests all aspects of the textile for human and ecologically harmful chemicals. According to their website, if a textile carries the Standard 100 certification, “the article therefore is harmless in human ecological terms.”
Shipping, Warranties, and Satisfaction Guarantees
Most of the companies we’ve listed ensure their mattress comes with some sort of satisfaction guarantee and warranty.
However, it’s worth double checking before hitting the buy button. Policies change.
While we do our best to stay on top of changes, we can’t guarantee info is still up to date.
Final Thoughts About Finding an Organic Mattress for Your Baby
We hope you found this guide helpful – and that you found an organic crib mattress that meets your family’s needs.
And if you think this article would help a new parent or parent-to-be have a bit more peace of mind, we hope you’ll share it!