How to choose a crib mattress - TheTot
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How to choose a crib mattress

Babies spend two thirds of their day laying on a baby crib mattress – so if there is one thing to invest in for your nursery, a baby-safe mattress is it.


Before you choose a crib mattress, it’s important to shop around, do your research and read the labels. Studies have shown that when tested, many baby crib and bassinet mattresses released flame retardant chemicals, phthalates, and volatile organic compounds in alarming numbers. Luckily, however, consumerism is driving the force and manufacturers are now looking for safer ways to produce crib mattresses that are not only baby-safe but are also crib fit, SIDS safe, supportive and comfortable.

What avoid when choosing crib mattresses

Flame Retardants: Emanating in the form of VOC gases, these hazardous toxins emit from mattress foam that’s been treated with flame retardants or glues and adhesives from inside the mattress. These gases ‘off gas’ into the air potentially causing damage to growing cells and baby’s delicate airways. Some mattresses can be treated with halogenated flame retardants or with antimony.  It’s less common but is still found in some products.  Mattresses by law must have a fire resistant covering but there are safer materials that can be used to accomplish this.

Phthalates & PVC: Phthalates are estrogen mimicking chemicals that are used for a few reasons but primarily to make plastics and glues, notably PVC, soft and pliable, but to also help bind a fragrance to a product.  PVC can sometimes be used as waterproofing on the exterior of the mattress.  There are alternative materials that are less harmful and thankfully many brands have moved away from using PVC.

Antibacterial claims: You will want to look for and avoid triclosan or mystery “proprietary” substances that are added to products like these.  Triclosan is designed to protect the product typically, not to kill germs.  Keeping the crib clean and free of allergens is higher on the priority list.

What to look for when choosing crib mattresses

GOTS, OkoTek or GreenGuard Certifications: GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) is the less forgiving of the two certifications that crib mattresses can have.  They test for the lowest levels of VOCs in a product that are possible.  GreenGuard is still a great certification but they look to determine the limit on VOCs a product can have before being deemed harmful.  Okotek 100 tests products for 100 harmful substances and chemicals in fabrics and materials.  Ideally you will find a mattress that satisfies several standards of organic certification. The Nook Sleep System Pebble Pure Mattress has the GOTS certification as well as several others. It’s stylish and fits the bill perfectly.

Polyethylene or TPE instead of PVC: Waterproofing a baby mattress sounds like a great idea, and it is if it’s done with the right materials.  Look for brands that waterproof with safer materials such as thermoplastic polyurethane or polyethylene.  Otherwise you can opt for a non-waterproof mattress and add a safe covering yourself. Just be sure it has a tight fit and no risk of loosening while baby is sleeping.

Handy Tips

Air it out: It has been shown that VOC levels drop dramatically after a few days if properly allowed to ‘off-gas’.  Try to purchase your crib mattress way before baby arrives and put it in a dry location that has good air circulation.  The VOC levels will drop off and you will definitely notice less of a chemical odor as a result.

Sleepsacks: If you choose to sleep your tot in these handy sleep sacks, we recommend the Organic wearable blanket from Halo. It’s made from 100% organic cotton and is recognized as “Hip Healthy” by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. We also love the Organic Vintage Linen Swaddle by Woombie. Its soft, contoured, ergonomic design is easy to use and so effective.