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Advice on mattresses for babies and toddlers



New 40-page report shares practical advice on what to look for when buying bedding for your kids. (Also what to avoid.)

Babies spend most of their time on a mattress that should be thoroughly researched before purchase

All parents strive to be the protectors of their precious babies from the moment they learn about their soon-to-be newborn. So what do we need to know about crib mattresses?

The Mattress Still Matters, a new report on crib mattresses from Clean and Healthy New York and the Ecology Center, has been researched, written and designed to aid parents in making the best choices to protect their babies from manufacturers who do not disclose the chemicals used in the crib mattress that a newborn will spend 16-17 hours a day sleeping on.

“Because the federal agencies are not doing their job, parents need to take action to protect their children’s health,” writes Philip J. Landrigan, MD, MSc, FAAP, in his foreword for the report. “To take effective action, parents need accurate, honest, unbiased information. That is why this report is so important as it provides critical information for parents that is available nowhere else.” 

After analyzing 227 product webpages from 37 crib mattress brands, findings in the report found that 35% of those surveyed— only 10 companies— provided information about each major component of their mattresses. Thirteen percent provided information about most of those major components. A majority of companies—52%—did not disclose most or all of their materials and 22% of companies had significant gaps on their websites. Only 4 of the 13 items tested fully matched test results and information provided by companies.

The report, which follows up a series on crib mattresses that began nine years ago, goes on to look into the “breathability” of these mattresses, including the chemicals that off-gas from them over time.

In the final round, the new report suggests that, “There are few real obstacles to making healthier mattresses—as shown by our findings. However, government policies are needed to ensure the full range of offerings is free from harmful chemicals. Policymakers at the state and federal level should:

  • Ban PFAS chemicals, especially in children’s products. They have no place in the nursery.
  • Ban chemicals used as flame retardants in children’s products, including those that can also be used by adults, such as twin mattresses.
  • Help parents find safer products by holding companies that misrepresent product qualities financially accountable. Use and enact laws and regulations to ensure accuracy in advertising and green claims.

Note:  We suggest you download the report so you can see how its determinations relate to your search for the best baby mattress for you child.

Check page 4 which delineates the five key chemicals you should be concerned with.

Check page 14 which discusses the new directions for mattress covers.

Check page 23 which lists mattresses you could consider. The report recommends ten mattresses, but most importantly stresses the designated approvals one should look for: Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, MadeSafe, Global Organic Textile Standard, Global Organic Latex Standard, USDA Organic, UC Greenguard, Formaldyhyde Free and CertPUR-US. (Editor’s note: from past experience, I found that it can be difficult to find the exact product mentioned. At least this gives you a direction with which to begin your search.)

Check page 25 on the mattress certification programs and what the certificate adds to your decision-making. There are a surprisingly large number of certification programs used to verify a wide range of product qualities.

Check page 29 for the report’s specific recommendations to parents, manufacturers, childcare providers, retailers, and government agencies.

In the final round, the new report recommends political action to ensure crib mattress safety, including easier access to the voluminous information compiled within its 39 pages.

HV Parent Writer’s Note: The report includes product comparisons, but also notes how some brands can become obsolete or discontinued without notice. We also suggest asking your pediatrician about your child’s possible sensitivities and also about purchasing and maintaining top-end mattress covers.



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