What is crib mattress off gassing?
In this case, off gassing (or out gassing as it’s also called) refers to the odor that a mattress gives off when it’s new. Many people aren’t even aware their mattress is off gassing until they start experiencing headaches, head congestion or skin issues.
Off gassing is caused by the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are used to make the mattress. Components like petroleum based chemicals, synthetic fabrics, and toxic foams are used which can emit strong toxic fumes. Toxic chemicals may also be used to make a mattress flame retardant. While VOCs are common in household products, that doesn’t mean you want to be breathing them in from your mattress and neither should your baby!
What causes crib mattress off gassing?
Most often, polyurethane foam is used in crib mattresses. It’s highly flammable (seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it?) This foam may be processed using toxic chemical additives like formaldehyde, benzene, and toluene. In order for your baby’s crib mattress to have a waterproof cover, most companies will use polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is known to release dioxins and is considered a highly toxic known carcinogen. The dioxins released by PVC can cause learning and developmental delays, behavioral changes, diabetes, endometriosis and immune system abnormalities.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, the chemical plasticizers used to make the PVC pliable enough to cover the mattress also off gas and are absorbed through the skin which can cause asthma, early onset of puberty, kidney and liver damage, and cancer.
While some of these chemicals are being banned in the US, it is unknown if the ones that are being used as replacements are safe. Thankfully, there are alternatives available that are safe and comfortable for your baby.
What kind of mattress should I buy for my baby?
The best kind of mattress for your baby is a 100% organic mattress. While they may be more expensive than traditional crib mattresses, bear in mind that your baby will be spending 10-14 hours per day sleeping on their mattress. Do you really want them breathing in toxic chemicals? There are some areas where I recommend investing extra money and others where I don’t. This is definitely an area where I think it’s worthwhile to spend more money to ensure your baby’s safety.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-plastic (not that there’s anything wrong with that). We drink from (non-PVC) plastic cups. I use disposable diapers. I drive an SUV. We eat meat. I made my own baby food for a while but then life got in the way. I work outside the home full-time and I do what I can, just like we all do. What I’m trying to say is, this was an issue that just got under my skin. The thought of my baby laying on a mattress made with toxic chemicals and being subjected to crib mattress off gassing for many hours each day was extremely concerning to me. So I started doing some research.
Recommendations for organic crib mattresses
After extensive research before buying our first crib mattress, I decided on the Naturepedic Lightweight Organic Cotton Classic 2-Stage Crib Mattress. We liked it so much that we purchased the same one when our second son came along. The waterproof fabric and support structure are made from polyethylene (which is used in the food packing industry and doesn’t require harmful chemical additives). The filling is made from 100% USDA certified organic cotton. Natural materials are used to make the mattress flame retardant. The mattress is two-sided – use the firmer side for your infant and then flip the mattress to give your toddler a more comfy surface. Head over to my Product Reviews page for a full review. Expect to pay about $329 for this mattress.
While this one is organic, I do have some caveats. First, it’s not waterproof. That’s a big no-no. You’re one rotavirus outbreak away from having a mess on your hands. While you can buy a waterproof cover to put over the mattress, why pay extra for that when you can buy a mattress that has a waterproof cover? Second, this mattress is made with latex, which is a high allergy material. Higher priced than Naturepedic at $395 and Naturepedic still gets my vote.
Another organic one, but not with a fully waterproof cover. Seriously. The people making these things obviously don’t have kids. I’m just sayin’. This one has wool which acts as a natural fire retardant, but it’s also made with latex which is a concern from an allergen standpoint. I’m still voting for Naturepedic here. Priced at $349 for 4.5-inch height and $399 for 5.5-inch height. I’m not sure why you would pay $50 bucks extra for another inch of height. That’s another inch closer your baby is to the top of the crib rail, making it easier for them to climb out.
Organic rubber is another name for latex, which, to reiterate, is an allergen. The mattress is wrapped in organic cotton cheesecloth, which is fine, but again, that’s not waterproof. The cover is removable, which doesn’t make any sense because if you’re removing it to wash it, then your baby isn’t able to be sleeping on it. Again, you’re one leaky diaper away from catastrophe (dramatic, yes, but I speak from experience – the less cleanup the better). At $399, it’s more expensive than my frontrunner. I’m still sticking with Naturepedic.
This one caught my eye because of the really cool colors that the covers come in, however, at 25 pounds, it’s quite heavy to be lifting in order to get that cover on and off. It’s made of coconut coir, natural latex foam (allergen) and organic wool. The cover comes in a variety of colors and is machine washable. Great! I’ll remember that the next time my child has a poop blowout during a nap. The cover is liquid resistant, but again, I’m imagining liquids seeping through unless you catch them pretty quickly. I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but buying a crib mattress that isn’t waterproof just doesn’t make sense to me. Purely personal preference, but I’m sticking to my guns on this one. $395 and you can buy additional covers for $100 each.
In summary, there are several options to choose from when you’re looking for an organic mattress for your baby’s crib. By the way, as I’m writing this post. my sons are sleeping peacefully. One on his Naturepedic full-sized mattress and the other on his Naturepedic crib mattress. Happy shopping!