Natural and organic mattresses are some of the fastest-growing segments of the mattress market. Parents are drawn to these mattresses because of safety concerns over mattresses made with synthetic materials and “outgassing,” or the release of harmful chemical compounds from newly manufactured polyurethane foam and vinyl mattresses. There is also concern that flame-retardants, called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (or PBDE), emit dangerous fumes.
Researchers have not shown that outgassing with traditional, non-organic mattresses is a true safety concern, but for parents who are willing to pay a little extra for organic and natural mattresses, the peace of mind is worth it.
Common materials used in organic and natural crib mattresses include cotton fibers, soy, coconut fibers, natural latex, wool as a natural fire retardant, and soybean, as well as other organic-certified materials. If you’re interested in buying an organic crib mattress, it’s important to understand that these labels are not regulated, so there is no uniform federal standard for “organic” mattresses. A mattress manufacturer could use an mattress cover made from organically grown fibers and call the mattress organic, even though only a small percentage of the materials used to manufacture it are actually organic.
Because these mattresses tend to be more, it’s a good idea to do research on specific mattresses before purchasing to determine what percentage of the mattress is organic, what materials were used in the construction, and what testing the mattress was subjected to. Also keep in mind that even if you are buying an organic mattress, you still are looking for a firm sleeping surface.
You can also look for the GREENGUARD label, which is produced by the Greenguard Environmental Institute. Greenguard is a business unit of the respected Underwriters Laboratories. It tests products for harmful emissions and only certifies products that fall within stringent emission standards. Products that are awarded the GREENGUARD label have passed the company’s testing protocols.
Another relatively common label is the “USDA Organic” designation. A mattress with this designation has been made from agricultural products that were grown according to USDA Organic standards. This is not a statement of the manufacturing of the mattress or its emissions standards.