How to Find the Best Mattress for Your Kids?

Sleep is essential to good health — especially for growing children who require anywhere between eight and 16 hours of it. To ensure quality sleep for your kids, you need to find the right mattress that provides the necessary back support for good posture. It should also be comfortable enough to facilitate deep, restful sleep critical to their health and development.

A good children’s mattress should also be durable and long-lasting, so your child doesn’t outgrow it within a short period of usage. More importantly, though, the mattress you choose for your kids must not contain toxic ingredients that pose certain health risks.

Here are some tips to help you shop around for the best mattress for your kids.

Great ingredients in non-toxic mattresses

To ensure you don’t have problems with your kids being exposed to chemicals and gases, it’s usually better to opt for high-quality natural latex mattresses. One hundred percent natural latex is always the safer choice, unlike latex blends that could also contain petroleum-based polyurethane.

With organic latex mattresses, you won’t even have to worry about dust mites, mould, and mildew as they are naturally antimicrobial. Mattresses made of all-natural latex material also don’t contain any chemical additives.

Other ingredients you need to look for when shopping for kids’ mattresses include:

Organic wool: Untreated organic wool is naturally mildew-, dust mite-, and flame-resistant.

Organic cotton: It is generally used as batting or mattress wrapping material.

Some people shy away from natural or organic latex mattresses due to price considerations. However, if you look at it, natural latex mattresses can last for at least 20 years. With proper care and maintenance, it can last well beyond that — without any of the health risks associated with conventional foam mattresses.

In the end, you’re not only buying high-quality mattresses for your kids but also investing in their health and safety.

Certifications that count

Another way of ensuring you’re buying safe, good-quality mattresses for your kids is by looking at the material certifications of the brand you’re eyeing, such as the ones listed below.

EcoCert: Assesses and certifies organic agricultural products like organic cotton, hemp, or linen, including those cultivated in the United States for the USDA and GOTS seals.

Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): A globally recognized textile processing standard for organic fibres, including those used in mattresses.

Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS): It ensures that 95 percent of the latex used in a mattress is organic.

Eco-Institut: Tests products for pollutants and emissions, including mattresses for natural content and VOCs in latex.

Oeko-Tex® Standard 100: Certifies that textiles produced do not contain toxic chemicals. It also applies to production processes, including the manufacture of mattresses.

GREENGUARD Gold: Somewhat similar to Oeko-Tex® Standard 100, it indicates which mattresses have low chemical emissions. A GREENGUARD Gold certification means that a mattress meets emissions standards, has no chemical additives, and produces low VOCs within safe limits.

Consider the chemical ingredients used in foam mattresses

Conventional mattresses contain mostly petroleum-based ingredients. Made from polyurethane, standard mattresses also contain a number of chemicals, such as:

Benzene

Benzene is known to damage cell DNA and has been linked to certain types of cancers like breast cancer, hematopoietic cancer (malignancies of immune system cells), lymphatic cancer, and leukemia.

Chlorine and methylene chlorine

Chlorine has been linked to colon, rectal, and bladder cancer. Methylene chlorine or dichloromethane (DCM) is a colourless liquid that can cause mucous irritation, as well as eye and respiratory problems. It can also affect the skin, heart, and liver. Exposure to methylene chlorine can lead to dizziness, numbness, drowsiness, nausea, and tingling limbs.

Perfluorooctyl sulfonate (PFOS)

PFOS may affect the brain, reproductive, immune, and endocrine system development.

Formaldehyde

Usually found in certain glues used in mattresses, it can cause cancer and is said to be toxic to the respiratory, immune, developmental, and nervous systems.

Solvents

Solvents can affect the nervous, reproductive, and respiratory systems and damage the liver and kidney. They may cause dermatitis and cancer as well.

Plastics or vinyl

Used in mattress protectors or covers, vinyl contains vinyl chlorides and additives (including phthalates — known carcinogens) to enhance flexibility. Vinyl gives off that "new car smell," which can be potentially toxic emissions. This may continue to be released long after exposure. Therefore, it can pose a greater risk to a child's developing body as they could inhale or be exposed to it for at least eight hours every night if they are sleeping on a mattress with a vinyl cover.

Some health effects associated with vinyl include irritation to the eyes and respiratory tract, headaches, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. Long-term exposure can also lead to lung and kidney disorders and liver cancer.

Crib mattresses were traditionally covered in vinyl for waterproofing purposes. However, phthalates are no longer allowed for use in products for young children, including mattresses. In place of vinyl, however, other plasticizers might be used.

Flame retardants

Since mattress manufacturers are required to meet flammability requirements, conventional mattresses were usually treated with bromated or chlorinated flame-retardant chemicals.

These flame retardants have been known to cause learning disabilities and lead to lower IQ levels. Other health conditions linked to these substances are damage to the reproductive and nervous system, thyroid problems, and other types of hormone disruptions, as well as cancer and DNA cell damage.

Today, there are what's called halogen-free flame retardants using a newer class of chemicals. These chemicals (e.g., aluminum diethyl phosphinate, ammonium polyphosphate, and melamine polyphosphate) are said to be less likely to bio-accumulate compared to bromated flame retardants. However, it’s better to have none of these, of course.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

Taken together, this cocktail of chemicals found in foam mattresses is collectively known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These can lead to short-term health conditions, such as eye irritation, headaches, dizziness, nausea, memory loss, and respiratory system problems. VOCs have also been linked to long-term medical issues, such as damage to the kidney, liver, and nervous system, and may cause cancer.

So, if you intend to buy a new mattress for your kids, make sure you ask about the above ingredients. You can do this by checking with the seller or directly communicating with the manufacturer.

Organic latex mattresses tick all the right boxes when it comes to product safety and are easily the best all-around mattresses for kids.

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Jennifer Shackelford
 

Hi, I’m Jennifer, the founder and editor of TheMamaNeeds.com. On The Mama Needs, I write about experience with pregnancy, raising kids, and nutrition for both kids and expectant moms.. I love that blogging brings parents together and lets our readers know they’re not the only ones going through these experiences. I love seeing comments on my posts that say “I thought it was just me! I’m so glad it’s not!” Being a parent is hard, but friends and blogs really help.

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