The Newton Wovenaire crib mattress is one of the market leaders – if not the market leader – in breathable crib mattresses. The reviews are great, and those who use it, love it, with very few exceptions.
While the evidence for breathable crib mattresses is pretty thin, that doesn’t mean these mattresses don’t make your baby more comfortable. And honestly, once you’ve smush your face into a Newton Crib Mattress, it’s hard to imagine how it isn’t a good idea for infants.
Always place your baby to sleep on his or her back – even if you’re using a breathable crib mattress. While breathable crib mattress manufacturers may be working to make it safer for babies who roll onto their tummies during sleep, virtually all health professionals recommend back sleeping is safest. Besides suffocation risk, some studies find there is still potential for babies to re-breathe their exhaled carbon dioxide when sleeping on their fronts or sides. According to Paediatrician Dr. Daniel Zoller, “It is extremely important to know that a breathable crib mattress is in no way a replacement for the safety of supine sleep, and should not be viewed as an alternative.”
On the one hand, the Newton crib mattress has a lot of raving fans. On the other hand, many child health experts remain unconvinced.
It made us wonder what all the fuss is about, and ask the question:
Is a Newton crib mattress really worth it?
(Disclosure: I received a complimentary mattress from Newton to review. Opinions remain my own).
Introducing the Newton Wovenaire® Crib Mattress
The Newton crib mattress consists of an inner mattress pad protected by a removable “breathe-thru” cover.
The inner mattress pad is what makes the Newton crib mattress so special. Newton makes the crib mattress from Wovenaire®, a patented polymer that’s totally unique to the company.
Polymer – there’s no getting around it – is plastic. While that may be a deal breaker for some, Newton wants you to keep an open mind.
The polymer that makes up Wovenaire® is food-grade. Think about the different types of plastic your food comes wrapped in….polyethylene terephthalate (like in bottled water) is a popular one, but plastic wrap, yogurt containers, ready-made supermarket meal containers are all made from food-grade plastic. That should give you a general idea of the type of polymer Wovenaire® might be made of.
What’s Inside the Newton Crib Mattress
What the Heck is Wovenaire®?
According to the Newton website,
Wovenaire® is made by weaving food grade polymer in a pool of crystal-clear water.
There’s A LOT of marketing speak on Newton’s website, which is a shame from a consumer education point-of-view. Our babies spend a lot of time on their crib mattresses in their first year. As such, it’s reasonable to expect companies provide clear, transparent info about what exactly they’re sleeping on. Marketing speak just doesn’t cut it.
Once you get past the marketing tag lines, however, Newton does provide a bit of info about Wovenaire®.
Wovenaire® starts life as little plastic pellets. During manufacturing, the company shapes the pellets into long, thin, noodle-like strings. They submerge these strings in water and weave them into a 3D structure.
Imagine a package of those dehydrated instant noodles you ate in college? Now you’ve got a visual of what Wovenaire® looks like.
Just as each instant noodle is surrounded by “white space” or air, so is each strand of Wovenaire®.
Wovenaire® is “Woven Air”
Herein lies the genius of this mattress: it’s mostly air.
According to Newton:
The patented Wovenaire core [aka: the actual mattress] is 90% air and 10% food-grade polymer.
So the plastic “noodles” actually make up a pretty small part of the mattress.
The 3D structure creates a ton of space for air to hang out. It’s what makes the Newton crib mattress what it is.
According to Newton, you can lie face down on this mattress and still breathe.
Does it Actually Work?
Parents Seem to Think So
Those who have this mattress, love this mattress. Plenty of parents have stuck their face right into the mattress and tried breathing (do a Youtube search if you don’t believe me!).
I have personally stuck my face into it and tried breathing.
And you know what? It works.
You can actually breathe through this mattress.
Health Professionals Aren’t Sure
However, health professionals are less certain about claims around breathable crib mattresses. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
“Certain crib mattresses have been designed with air-permeable materials to reduce rebreathing of expired gases, in the event that an infant ends up in the prone position during sleep, and these may be preferable to those with air-impermeable materials.” [emphasis ours]
May be preferable isn’t exactly a glowing endorsement. But it’s not an indictment, either.
As with all crib mattresses, the most important thing is that it meets all government safety standards. Regardless of whether it is a breathable crib mattress or not, you need to make sure your crib mattress meets the safety basics.
In the case of the Newton crib mattress, it does.
Read More: The pros and cons of buying a breathable crib mattress
What About Chemicals and Health Hazards?
All crib mattresses sold in the US have to meet fire safety standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Most conventional crib mattress manufacturers meet this requirement with … a butt load of chemicals. Organic, non-toxic crib mattress manufacturers don’t have that option. They have to get creative by making their mattresses with materials that are naturally fire retardant. Wool, hydrated silica, and coconut coir are examples of materials that help non-toxic mattress manufacturers meet federal flammability standards.
Conventional mattresses are full of chemicals, whereas “natural” mattresses eschew the use of most or all chemicals.
So where does the Newton baby mattress fall on the scale?
The Newton crib mattress is chemical fire retardant free, using naturally-contained salts to meet federal fire retardant standards (phosphates).
According to Newton:
“Wovenaire® contains natural phosphates, most commonly known as salt. This is a completely safe, halogen and heavy metal-free solution for achieving the fire safety standards that are required by the US government.”
The mattress I have in my house is three layers: the inner core, which is the Wovenaire / instant noodle construction, a really thin middle layer which is the fire barrier, and the outer breathable cover, which has the lovely quilted cloud pattern on it.
And here’s a close up of the tag on the fire barrier layer, which explains what it’s made of:
VOCs, Phthalates and Formaldehyde
The Newton Wovenaire crib mattress is also Greenguard Gold certified. This means it meets Greenguard’s most stringent standards for chemical emissions measured, which includes VOCs.
Greenguard Gold is Greenguard’s most stringent level of certification. To get the certification, the Wovenaire® had to be independently tested and certified for the lowest level of chemical emissions Greenguard tests for. Greenguard’s certification process tests for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, ozone, and phthalates.
Greenguard Gold certification means you can be confident your Newton crib mattress isn’t going to negatively impact your home’s air quality.
Mold, Mildew and Dust Mites
The entire mattress is completely washable, far beyond what other mattresses offer. You can take the actual mattress, put it in the bath, and give it a thorough clean and inspection.
Mold, mildew and fungus are pretty much the death of a mattress, making old and used crib mattresses a bit risky to buy.
The problem is you don’t always know you have a mold or fungus problem until it’s been in there awhile, wreaking havoc.
This is one huge appeal to the Newton baby crib mattress, because you can pull the mattress layers apart and give every part a thorough clean. There are no hidden spots for mold or mildew to hide!
Add to that, Wovenaire® is hypoallergenic and dust-mite-unfriendly. According to the Newton website:
“By virtue of the Newton Crib Mattress’ breathability and Newton’s Breathe-Thru technology, it keeps humidity and moisture build up away, eliminating a haven for dust mites to breed.”
Is it Green?
There’s no getting around the fact that the Newton Wovenaire® crib mattress is plastic.
However, we do have to give Newton some accolades for their willingness to deal with the mattress at the end of its life.
The Newton crib mattress is 100% recyclable. When it comes time to recycle it, you can simply give Newton Baby a call at 800 686 3986 or email them at [email protected]
They’ll help you find a recycling facility in your city that can take the Wovenaire® mattress and recycle it.
If there isn’t a facility in your city, they’ll send you packaging with pre-paid postage so you can return the mattress to Newton, and they’ll recycle it for you.
Newtown Baby Crib Mattress Summary
What’s to Love
- The Newton crib mattress is partially made in the USA. Wovenaire® is made just outside Nashville, at Newton’s Tennessee HQ. The cover is made in China. The mattresses are completed and fulfilled from the Tennessee facility.
- The mattress is 100% washable, which means you’ll be able to keep mold and mildew out of the mattress. Because of this, you will probably be able to use it with more than one kiddo. One of the biggest problems with used crib mattresses is the chance for mold and mildew. Because you can see inside the Newton and wash it, you can be sure it’s safe for years to come.
- This is a great option if you’re living in a hot climate where humidity is high (which means greater chance of mold).
- The crib mattress is 2-stage, meaning it will last well into toddler-hood and beyond. Typically, 2-stage crib mattresses can last until your baby turns the big oh-five (5 years old)!
- You really can breathe through it, based on my personal experience!
What We’d Change About the Newton Baby Mattress
- The mattress cover is polyester, and can be a bit rough to the touch. You can use it without a sheet, but you may find it too scratchy for your baby. In that case, Newton recommends using aden + anais muslin sheets, which are air permeable and won’t impact the breathability of the mattress. That said, when I lie down on it myself, I find it comfortable!