The marketplace is full of organic alternatives to everyday products. From food to cosmetics and clothing, consumers everywhere are going for more natural day-to-day experiences. I recently discussed organic mattresses with a good friend and would like to share some of my hard-won knowledge with you.
In this guide, I will answer the question, “Are organic kids’ mattresses worth the investment?” I will begin by considering some issues raised about non-organic options. Next, I will delve into the world of organic certifications and regulations to give you a good understanding of what distinguishes organic mattresses from their non-organic counterparts. This will include discussing how I have learned you can reap the most benefit from carefully chosen organic options for your children. I’ll cover what to skip and what not to miss, so you’ll emerge confident of your ability to choose the best bedding for your children.
What Is an Organic Mattress?
An organic mattress is not a set entity. Manufacturers may call their product organic if the entire product is made from organic components. They may also use the organic label to describe the outer fabric covering of the mattress. While this sounded somewhat misleading to me, I have learned that it is entirely legal.
Possible Problems With Non-Organic Mattresses
If a child sleeps an average of eight hours each night, they’ll spend more than 50,000 hours on a mattress by the time they’ve reached their 18th birthday. Since this is more than six years, their mattress could have a significant impact on their health.
Opponents of traditional mattresses adamantly claim volatile organic compounds or VOCs released by non-organic mattresses are toxic. Currently, 39 VOCs have been identified in beds, and a study revealed traditional mattresses with springs release more than 4,000 micrograms an hour. Conventional memory foam didn’t fare much better, releasing 2,000 micrograms an hour. A bed made entirely from organic materials emitted only 100 micrograms an hour.
I Didn’t Know You Could Grow Mattresses
After reading such research, I decided to investigate the organic alternative. At first, I thought organic seemed an odd label for mattresses, but then I thought of the cotton and other fibers that could potentially be used for bedding.
What I learned wasn’t a huge surprise. After all, organic foods also have many organizations offering a third-party stamp of approval. USDA Organic and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) are two significant organizations certifying organic textiles.
The most stringent of the two is the GOTS certification. GOTS certifies the textiles used to create mattresses. This includes cotton, latex, and other natural fibers. This organization conducts rigorous site inspections and carefully assesses every step of the mattress production process.
Other Quality Indicators
While these groups aren’t focused on organic materials, they test mattresses for chemical off-gassing and other potential health concerns. Since keeping children from potentially dangerous chemicals is essential, you might want to watch for certifications from the following groups:
- Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX®
- UL GREENGUARD Certification for Low Chemical Emissions
- Cradle to Cradle Certified®
These organizations vary wildly in the scope and rigor of their certification standards, so do some research if you’d like to know more about a particular certification.
A third area many mattress certifying and standards bodies focus on is sustainable production practices. While these groups don’t typically focus much on the final product, preserving natural resources can benefit children’s health and our future world. These certifications include:
- Greenest Rating in The Green Guide by National Geographic
- Gold Green American Certified Business
- EPA Green Power Partner
- Certified B Corporation
The EPA Green Power Partner status, for example, is awarded if a company uses sustainably-sourced power instead of traditionally-sourced electricity.
Natural vs. Organic
In addition to being taken in by a slew of badges on some mattress labels, I mistook natural for organic. Organic products must adhere to guidelines specified by a certifying organization. Any product made from any amount of natural fibers can be called a natural product. An example of this is a polyurethane toddler mattress with a 65% natural cotton fabric covering.
More Than Materials
Since so most mattresses used to be made from synthetic materials, catching fire was a significant problem. Since children don’t always quickly awaken during a fire, they are at increased risk of burn injury.
Mattress companies began using flame retardants in the 1970s. Today, many of the chemicals used for this purpose have been banned from the market due to concerns over air contamination and long-term exposure. So, if you’re offered a hand-me-down mattress from a well-intentioned family member or friend, you may want to refuse it politely.
Although newer flame retardants are available, they might have similar concerns. Unfortunately, some companies that market organic mattresses coat their products in flame retardants. If you’re considering a bed for a child, you have the right to know how the company made it in addition to its material composition.
While the jury is still out on some modern flame retardants, previous versions have been linked to endocrine, immune, and development issues. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, “… a growing body of evidence…” has linked flame retardants to cancer.
Weighing the Evidence
From what I’ve learned, I would carefully choose a mattress for a child. While green energy certifications and other environmentally-friendly badges are impressive, I would prioritize their long-term health. As a result, I would choose a mattress meeting the GOTS or similarly rigorous standard.
Counting More Than Sheep
In addition to the peace of mind that I would gain from avoiding health concerns linked to non-organic mattresses, going organic would make me feel as if I was helping support our environment. Since many organic models have cushioning and other features comparable to their traditional counterparts, a child can be just as comfortable on an organic bed.
One factor many parents need to consider is cost. A recent viewing of Amazon’s offerings shows that you can purchase 100% organic cotton mattresses for as little as $179.99 for a toddler bed. A traditional, non-organic toddler bed is available for about half of that price.
If organic models are cost-prohibitive, I think you might consider asking the grandparents for an early holiday gift. Such an investment would give your child a good start and help you sleep more easily at night. If this is not possible, consider purchasing a non-organic counterpart with one or more of the safer materials certifications, such as the UL GREENGUARD Certification for Low Chemical Emissions.
I Want to Hear What You Think
After reading this information, what do you think of organic mattresses for children? Please let everyone know in the comments if you’ve decided to purchase an organic or safety-certified mattress for your child or if you already have experience with such beds. I look forward to participating in this discussion on organic mattresses for children.