Our babies deserve the best sleep possible, but there are a ton of choices when it comes to mattresses. How do you know which one is best?
We highly recommend buying an organic crib mattress (we’ll explain why in this post), and we’ve rounded up some of our favorites to make the shopping experience a little easier.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I could be compensated if you decide to make a purchase. You can read my full disclosure here.
What is the Best Organic Crib Mattress?
I’m sure you’ve come across this brand once or twice when searching for organic products for your home. They’re pretty terrific at marketing! All of that marketing isn’t just nonsense though. Avocado mattresses are pretty great.
All of their mattresses are either GOTS or GOLS certified (or both), and they also have certifications from Made Safe, Greenguard Gold, and OEKO-tex.
There are no harmful toxins, no flame retardants, and they make all of their mattresses with natural and organic materials.
When you go to Avocado’s website, there are two crib mattresses to choose from: the classic organic crib mattress (which is $279 at the time of this post) and the luxury organic crib mattress (which is nearly $1,000 more than the classic). You could buy either, but we recommend the classic, mostly because of the price difference.
Made with organic latex, wool, cotton, and coconut coir, Avocado’s crib mattress is super supportive and breathable, and all of the materials are sustainably-sourced from Avocado’s own farms in India.
What I really love about this mattress is its dual sides. One side is made firmer (and specifically marked for infants), and the other is softer and more comfortable for toddlers. Just flip the mattress over when baby turns one, and you’ll have a mattress for years to come. You can use it in a toddler bed too!
What’s more, Avocado mattresses are all made in the U.S. in their own manufacturing facility, and they offer a 30-night sleep trial. You’ll get a full refund if you’re not happy.
Naturepedic has a pretty incredible story. The company was founded by a grandpa who had a background as an environmental engineer. When his first grandchild was born, he wanted to find a mattress that was safe and dependable. However, he couldn’t find one that passed his strict safety requirements, so he created one himself.
Naturepedic’s crib mattresses are GOTS, Made Safe, and Greenguard Gold certified. They do not use any polyurethane, flame retardants, or other harmful chemicals, and they’ve eliminated a number of questionable materials in order to keep our babies safe and healthy.
For standard cribs, you get two choices: the classic crib mattress (which has a waterproof surface), and the breathable crib mattress (which has a removable washable surface). They’re both great options, but we like the breathable mattress the most. However, the classic crib mattress is less expensive.
Whichever mattress you choose, you can then choose between a traditional innerspring (or coil) mattress and their “WaveSupport” core, which is made from food-grade polyethylene. Polyethylene is a type of plastic, but it’s a safer alternative to polyurethane, and it’s often used in water-proof covers instead of PVC or vinyl.
The WaveSupport core is marketed as NaturePedic’s “lightweight” option, coming in at about 5-pounds less than the innerspring mattresses.
Out of these options, our favorite is NaturePedic’s breathable innerspring crib mattress with 252 coils (remember, the more coils, the better!). It’s $379 at the time of this post.
You can even add these mattresses to a free gift registry if you’re having a baby shower!
Plus, you’ll get a 30-day trial when you purchase your crib mattress from Naturepedic, so you can get a full refund if you don’t love it (or your baby doesn’t).
The founder of My Green Mattress wanted to create a safe, healthy, and hypoallergenic mattress for his daughter, who suffered from eczema.
The Emily Crib Mattress is made with GOLS-certified coconut coir (which is bound together with organic latex), it has 150 innersprings for firmer support, and it’s filled with GOTS-certified organic cotton.
Since the mattress does not have flame retardants in it, it’s finished with a layer of GOTS-certified wool (which is naturally fire-resistant). And it’s made in the company’s own manufacturing facility in Illinois (U.S.).
The Emily mattress comes with a 120-night trial period, and you’ll get a full refund if you’re not 100% satisfied. You probably won’t need that refund though because the reviewers rave about this mattress.
OMI’s organic crib mattresses are GOLS, GOTS, and Greenguard Gold certified.
You can choose between an innerspring (coil) mattress or a natural latex mattress. The coil mattresses have 280 springs, which well exceed the recommended 150.
The entire mattress is made in the U.S., and it’s available in oval sizes as well, which will accommodate Stokke cribs and bassinets.
Soaring Heart is a (very) small business with a mere 15 employees. It’s always beneficial to shop small!
They make their Organic Crib Mattress with 100% organic latex that’s GOLS-certified, and there are no flame retardants or harsh chemicals in them because they’re finished with organic wool (which is naturally flame-resistant and meets U.S. requirements).
All of their mattresses (including this crib mattress) is made in the U.S. (in Seattle), and you get free shipping within the continental U.S. If you happen to be in the Seattle area, you can get free local delivery when you set up an appointment.
Made of organic GOLS-certified latex, Savvy Rest’s organic crib mattress is safe and non-toxic without the use of flame retardants and other harsh chemicals.
The top and bottom of the mattress is quilted, creating a comfortable place for baby to sleep, and it’s surrounded by a layer of GOTS-certified organic wool and organic cotton.
For those who love options, Nook’s line of organic crib mattresses may be the perfect choice. It’s a popular mattress and hard to find in stock, but they have more options than any other brand we’ve listed.
Choose from covers with a variety of beautiful colors and prints. The cool-touch dimple has the best airflow for temperature regulation, the breathe-through pebble is the most breathable, and you can also choose some stylish prints (no sheets necessary!).
You can also purchase the mattress only. It’s made with organic coconut coir, GOLS-certified organic latex, and GOTS-certified organic wool.
The mattress is also Greenguard Gold certified, which guarantees that the mattress is made with even fewer toxins.
Why You Should Buy an Organic Crib Mattress
Now that we’ve shown you some of our absolute favorites, let’s get into the “why” behind choosing an organic mattress for your baby. This guide from the EWG does a great job of explaining why you should choose non-toxic mattresses, but I’d like to go a little more in-depth.
Harmful Chemicals in Mattresses
Formaldehyde. Some brands use formaldehyde in the adhesives that bind their mattress foam together. You’ve most likely heard of formaldehyde before and know that it’s not good for you. Specifically though, it can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat and may lead to asthma, allergies, and even cancer with continuous exposure.
Benzene. Though it’s quite toxic, benzene is one of the most common chemicals used in the U.S. It’s typically used to make resins, plastics, and synthetic fibers, but it’s also found in other materials and some dyes. Benzene is a known carcinogen, and it can also lead to anemia because it decreases the amount of red blood cells in the body.
TDIs and Propylene Oxide. You’ll find these chemicals in polyurethane foam mattresses. In the short-term, they can irritate the eyes, skin, and respiratory system. In the long-term, they can damage the nose and throat and may lead to cancer. (The EPA lists them as probable human carcinogens.) TDIs can also cause asthma and an overall decline in lung function.
Toluene. In polyurethane mattresses, toluene is sometimes used in order to make the foam more flexible. Toluene affects the brain and nervous system and can cause headaches, dizziness, and unconsciousness. The effects are similar on both adults and children, but newborns and infants are most susceptible because their bodies are not yet able to turn toluene into less harmful chemicals.
Polyols. Another harmful ingredient in polyurethane foam mattresses, polyols, can cause a number of short-term health effects like headaches, dizziness, and nausea.
How to Choose an Organic Crib Mattress
There are a number of crib mattresses on the market that claim to be safe and organic, but how do you know these companies are being truthful with their claims? Here are some quick tips on how to choose the best organic crib mattress:
Things to Avoid
Greenwashing. You’ve probably heard this term before, but in case you haven’t, the short story is that some brands claim to be more eco-friendly and/or use more natural ingredients than they actually do. In fact, in a report from UL, over 95% of products claiming to be “green” were committing one of the 7 sins of greenwashing. This study was conducted in 2013, so we’re hoping that things have gotten better since then, but there are plenty of products that are still greenwashed.
Flame Retardants. A fireproof mattress sounds like a great idea, especially for your baby, who you want to keep safe under any circumstance. Unfortunately, however, flame retardants can be detrimental to human health, and children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of these chemicals. According to the NIH, flame retardants can cause “endocrine and thyroid disruption, impacts to the immune system, reproductive toxicity, cancer, and adverse effects on fetal and child development and neurologic function.” You should always avoid them when possible! They’re found in a number of children’s products, including mattresses and pajamas… and they’re not even effective at preventing the spread of fires. In fact, they may actually cause deadlier fires.
Certifications to Look for
How do you trust a brand’s claims? Check for third-party certifications.
Be careful, however, with the wording in the brand’s certification. If a mattress says it’s made with materials that have a certain certification, that doesn’t mean the entire mattress is certified. It could use 50% safe organic cotton and 50% toxic cotton. (This is a great example of greenwashing, by the way.)
Let’s talk about some of the most common certifications that you’ll find when shopping for an organic crib mattress.
GOTS. This is the #1 certification that you want to check for. GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certifies that a product contains at least 95% organic materials. And they prohibit the other 5% of materials from containing certain substances (including flame retardants).
GOLS. If you end up purchasing a latex mattress, you’ll want to check for the GOLS certification. This ensures that your mattress is made with at least 95% organic latex and, like GOTS, prohibits the other 5% of materials from containing certain substances.
OEKO-Tex. This certification is becoming more and more popular in the home industry, so you’ll likely see it on a variety of products, including a number of crib mattresses. A mattress with the OEKO-Tex label isn’t always organic, but you can be assured that OEKO-Tex has tested it for harmful chemicals like formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Eco-INSTITUT. Mattresses with an Eco-INSTITUT label have gone through vigorous testing to make sure they don’t contain any VOCs, formaldehyde, phthalates, or other harmful substances. This label goes above and beyond the bare minimum and looks for products that exceed requirements.
Made Safe. Made Safe has a list of over 6,500 chemicals that are banned from their products, which includes toxic flame retardants and VOCs.
Certifications to Research More Thoroughly
NOP / USDA Organic. The USDA allows a product to use the word “organic” in their labeling even if only a few of the materials are actually organic. If you see a mattress that claims to be organic but doesn’t have any of the other certifications that we listed above, do a little more digging.
CertiPUR-US. CertiPUR-US only certifies polyurethane mattresses (which we don’t recommend). In fact, CertiPUR-US isn’t even an independent organization. On their own website, you can see that they’re run by the Alliance for Flexible Polyurethane Foam.
Greenguard & Greenguard Gold. Greenguard tests finished mattresses for the use of formaldehyde and some VOCs. A Greenguard Gold label is more difficult to get because it restricts even more VOCs.
Green America. Mattresses with the Green America or Green America Gold labels are more sustainable (which is great!), but they haven’t necessarily been tested for toxic chemicals and VOCs.
Materials in Organic Crib Mattresses
Most organic mattresses are made with organic materials such as organic wool, organic cotton, and organic latex. Some mattresses may use bamboo or hemp as well. You may have heard of kapok mattresses too, but you likely won’t find a kapok crib mattress because they’re too soft for a baby to safely sleep on.
Why are organic materials better? They are grown without pesticides and toxic fertilizers. Here’s a bit of information about each material, so you can choose which one is best for your baby:
Organic Cotton. Cotton is one of the most heavily-treated crops on the planet. If a mattress is made with organic cotton, it means the cotton was grown without the use of pesticides. Remember though, you need to make sure the mattress contains organic materials all the way through. Some companies may advertise an organic cotton cover, but the mattress itself may be made with polyester or other non-natural materials.
Organic Wool. Wool is a terrific fabric for mattresses because it’s naturally breathable and moisture-wicking. It also resists mold and mildew. Since it’s firmer than other materials, it’s perfect for babies too. Companies retrieve organic wool from sheep that are kept away from pesticides and other harmful chemicals, so you can be sure that your mattress is safe and non-toxic.
Organic Latex. Latex isn’t quite as sustainable as wool and cotton (because it’s not biodegradable), but it’s made from a renewable resource, and it’s very durable and high-quality. Most people find latex mattresses to be more comfortable than wool and cotton, and since latex is naturally resistant to dust mites and other allergens, it’s great for babies and children. As you probably know though, latex itself is an allergen, so you probably don’t want a latex crib mattress if your family has a history of latex allergies. It’s also much pricier than other materials.
Organic Hemp. Hemp is more absorbent than cotton, so it’s great at wicking away moisture at night, and it’s also naturally antibacterial (which keeps it from smelling bad after years of use). It’s hypoallergenic and eco-friendly too!
Coconut Coir. When buying an organic crib mattress, you’ll likely come across coconut coir at least once. In fact, there are a few mattresses in our list above that contain coconut coir. It’s made from the hairy part of the coconut, which is more environmentally-friendly than some other materials. In fact, because of the popularity of other coconut products (like coconut oil), there may be an abundance of coconut coir, so it’s great to see that companies are finding a use for it. It’s naturally breathable and great for temperature regulation, but it is a heavier material than other crib mattresses.
Are Foam or Coil Mattresses Better For Babies?
Deciding whether to purchase a foam or a coil mattress for your baby is really more of a personal preference.
Foam mattresses (as long as they’re certified safe and organic) are usually more environmentally-friendly than coil or innerspring mattresses, and they’re easier to find with 100% organic materials. They’re also lighter-weight, which will make it easy to change the sheets in the middle of the night.
If you do choose a foam crib mattress, you’ll want to make sure it’s very dense. To test, put your hands on either side of the mattress and press them together. To keep your baby safe, you don’t want the mattress to move much when you do this.
You’ll also want to make sure the foam has edge support to keep your baby from getting stuck between the edge of the mattress and the crib rails.
Coil mattresses are the most popular for cribs. They tend to be firmer than foam, which is safer for babies, but they’re also heavier weight. Due to the firmness and full support, they’re much more durable too (so they’re a great choice if you plan on having multiple children).
If you purchase a coil crib mattress, make sure it has at least 150 coils. The number of coils represent how firm and supportive the mattress is (and you want your crib mattress to be as firm as possible!).
You can also choose a crib mattress made with coconut coir (explained above).
Should You Buy a Used Crib Mattress?
I love buying used products. I’m a member of a number of b/s/t groups, and thrift stores are my favorite place to shop. I love hand-me-downs too!
That being said, I highly recommend that you do NOT purchase or otherwise inherit a used crib mattress.
Used mattresses can attract various allergens (like dust mites), and they may have lost some of their support, which can make them sag in the middle. This is unsafe for your baby.
You also don’t know how well it’s been cared for. That mattress could be full of mold and other harmful critters (like bed bugs).
If you’re also looking for some great sheets to use on your baby’s mattress, check out some of our favorite organic crib sheets.