Last year around this time we had something terrifying happen. Our then three year old son had a sudden severe asthma attack. Without any family history of this, and no real way to explain it other than an environmental trigger, I started paying very close attention to our household cleaning and furnishing choices. Suddenly everything was suspect.

We were already pretty green in our choices of household cleaners and paints. My son was sleeping in a room with hard flooring, in a toddler bed with a vinyl coated mattress. I had always thought of this mattress as hypo allergenic, considering it was sealed.

But when I started to do a little research on mattresses I was shocked to find out that the mattress he’d been sleeping and napping on for the last three years, was anything but healthy. Sure it fit tightly in a crib and promised firm back support and met fire retardancy standards. But the safety ended there and the dangers from that mattress, once I discovered them, were shocking!

What I had not know when I purchased that mattress was eye opening. I had no way of knowing that the petroleum based polyurethane foam inside, used to provide that “ergonomic” support, was likely to off gas toxic chemicals into the air my baby breathed. For 10-14 hrs a day, every day of his young life. Polyurethane foam is cheap to produce, which is why it is so popular in the mattress industry. Unfortunately it is also very flammable, which is a problem because there are safety standards legislated for children’s mattresses. No worries – we have chemical fire retardants for that. Unfortunately these may be even worse for your kids than the foam.

The toxic cocktail of common chemicals used on polyurethane foam in order to meet fire retardancy standards is nasty stuff and it has its own off gassing issues. Such chemicals have been banned from use in Europe.

And as if this was not bad enough, the pvc cover designed to keep the foam from absorbing any bodily fluids, had it’s own off-gassing issues. Here I’d thought that buying a new mattress was the wisest and healthiest thing I could do. It turned out a used mattress would have been safer, as it would not have been off gassing as much as a new one. As I read on I was more mortified, and more depressed. It was shocking to me that the infant mattress industry was so unregulated and that the regulations that existed seemed more concerned with meeting the demands of inexpensive production, than actually protecting our babies from harm.

After much research I came across Naturepedic. This is a company that meets these problems with standard crib and children’s mattresses head on, without compromise. Naturepedic does one thing and does it well. They make healthy organic mattresses for babies and kids (and adults too for the record!). What impressed me most about Naturepedic is that that they not only address health and environmental concerns but also go the extra mile to make a product that is non allergenic and has innovative functionality. They literally don’t cut corners – as evidenced in their new, truly square crib mattresses. Where others save time and go around a curve, Naturepedic refused to take a chance of a child slipping into a crack in the corner of their crib. So they pioneered the best fit for a crib mattress, with square corners.

Naturepedic crib matresses are made exclusively from natural non allergenic materials. Their fill is a combination of supportive coils and organic cotton. They do not use any wool or latex due to the potential allergenic qualities of these materials. As a parent you should know that these other organic choices may not be the most healthful for a baby/childs mattress! Studies have shown that prolonged and/or frequent early exposure (such as nightly sleeping on these materials) to these materials has been linked with people developing wool and latex allergies.

Standard crib mattresses are covered/waterproofed with vinyl/pvc that contains pthalates. Naturepedic’s crib mattress covers are made of organic cotton and mattresses are sealed with non toxic, non off gassing, food grade polyethylene. Their particular sealing process also makes the mattress dust mite proof, further enhancing their non allergenic status. One other terrific and innovative feature of my son’s twin size Naturepedic mattress is that it is a “2 in 1”. One side of the mattress is sealed with polyethylene for waterproofing (a good thing for toddler’s bed!) and the other is not coated, for when he older. This allows me to simplify my bedmaking and avoid using vinyl/pvc products under the sheets to protect the mattress.

I cannot say with any authority that my son’s asthma was caused by his crib mattress but I can say that since we have put him on a twin size aturepedic mattress, he has been able to discontinue his use of daily asthma meds and we definitely have noticed an improvement in his symptoms! We all sleep sounder at night knowing he is on a safe mattress. He’s not old enough to comprehend this, but he is old enough to tell me how much he loves his “new bed”. I can vouch for the comfort – I have to be careful not to pass out with him while we read a bedtime story!


Our infant son is now sleeping on a Naturepedic crib mattress, and not his brother’s hand me down. While these products are almost double the price of typical non organic crib mattresses they are a worthwhile investment, much more so than a fancy/cute bedframe, for us. Consider this: the cost of one month’s worth of asthma meds, is about the price difference between a standard and a healthy crib mattress. Some things are just not worth skimping on. I only wish I could travel back in time and get my older son this mattress sooner. It’s hard to imagine buying anything else, knowing what is in standard crib mattresses. It is an issue that I predict we will be hearing more about in the months and years to come – much like we have started to learn about the dangers of bisphenol-a in standard baby bottles over the past yr. Don’t give yourself anything to regret – do your research before you invest in a crib mattress!

Naturepedic mattresses meet strict Greenguard organic certification standards and are approved by the Healthy Child Healthy World Organization. Read more about them at the Naturepedic website.