When your little one outgrows his or her crib, it’s time to start the search for a big kid bed. There are many factors to consider when searching for the first “real” bed, but one of the most essential should be mattress composition. Companies that are transparent about their mattress materials are usually safer overall and worthier of your investment. Some advertise their materials clearly on their website—it they don’t, it’s important to do your research.
Many mattresses also feature chemical flame retardants, a necessary practice that unfortunately was not fully regulated until 2013 when the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a warning related to safety. The CPSC advised consumers to avoid using products that contain organohalogen flame retardants—also known as halogenated flame retardants—especially if you are pregnant or have young children. This class of chemicals—typically found in children’s mattresses, toys, furniture and the plastic casings of electronic devices—can bioaccumulate, meaning they become concentrated inside the bodies of living things. Compounds in this chemical group are linked to many serious health issues including impaired memory function, decreased IQ, learning deficits and hyperactivity in children, cancer, reproductive problems, and hormone and immune disorders. There are several other classes of flame retardants that are also toxic and cause similar health concerns, including brominated flame retardants, TBBPAs, HBCDs, OPFRs and PBDEs. Additionally, mattress covers that contain PVC or vinyl may cause damage to developing reproductive systems.
Babies and young children spend more time in their beds than adults, and due to their size and age, they are more susceptible to the effects of toxic chemicals.
So, how can you tell if a mattress is safe? Look for its independent certifications.
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
The GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) requires that at least 95 percent of the materials in the mattress be certified organic, and it prohibits the use of certain substances even for the other 5 percent. This includes chemical flame retardants and polyurethane.
Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS)
The GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard) ensures that a mattress with latex is made of 95 percent organic latex, with restrictions on the other 5 percent of the mattress’s components. Natural latex mattresses may have both the GOTS and GOLS labels.
The GreenGuard Gold Certification ensures products are low in chemical emissions, decreasing indoor pollution levels. This program sets the most stringent guidelines for total VOC emissions. GreenGuard Gold Certified products emit minimal gases. They maintain healthy indoor air quality by reducing our chemical exposure.
Oeko-text Class I
Oeko-Tex® certified products are free from harmful chemicals and safe for human use. To attain Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification, the fabric has to be independently tested and certified to be free from harmful levels of more than 100 substances known to be impact human health. Mattresses can be Oeko-Tex® certified as a whole or in parts.
CertiPUR-US certified products are made from polyurethane foam and tested to be free of PBDEs, TDCPP, or TCEPT (”Tris”) flame retardants, mercury, lead or other heavy metals, formaldehyde, phthalates as regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and are low VOC (less than 0.5 parts per million).
The Eco Institute
Eco Institute certified products do not contain even trace amounts of toxic chemicals and do not off-gas hazardous chemicals and odors. They test for VOCs, phthalates, formaldehyde, pesticides, heavy metals, and persistent organic pollutants among other chemicals and ensure all certified products are free of these substances. This is one of the strictest certifications a mattress can carry.
There are other certifications that may not relate directly to a mattresses’ safety but are important to the global environment and employee working conditions, including Rainforest Alliance and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certifications.
Rainforest Alliance Certification means that the certified product or ingredient was produced using methods that support the three pillars of sustainability: social, economic, and environmental. Independent, third-party auditors—critical to the integrity of any certification program—evaluate farmers against requirements in all three areas before awarding or renewing certification. This certification program emphasizes a commitment to continuous improvement, sustainability training and clear benefits for farmers.
Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®)
Forest Management Certification
FSC Certification ensures that products come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits.
EcoSleep by Brooklyn Bedding is an environmentally friendly mattress made with 100 percent natural latex and organic cotton. Sustainably sourced Joma™ Wool and organic cotton are infused to create a plush top cover. The entirety of the EcoSleep mattress is Standard 100 Oeko-Tex® certified. The latex used in the EcoSleep mattress is Rainforest Alliance Certified and FSC Certified. In addition, the foam used in each mattress is CertiPUR-US Certified. There are no chemical fire sprays or chemical flame retardants in the mattress. Brooklyn Bedding uses fire-retardant socks—a fabric made of a non-woven silica/rayon/polyester/cotton blend. EcoSleep provides an ample amount of information about its mattress materials and certifications throughout its website and is a safe choice for your child’s first “big kid” bed!