Along with a car seat, a crib mattress is one of the most important purchases you will make for your baby. All jokes aside about how little babies sleep, your baby will spend thousands of hours sleeping on their crib mattress and their crib should be a safe sleeping surface. Investing in a healthy crib mattress should be at the top of your priority list, even if you’re working with a tight budget. You’ll probably use a crib mattress for the first few years of your child’s life, and should invest in a quality mattress that will last that long. Please read on for more information about why I strongly recommend purchasing only non-toxic, organic crib mattresses for babies and toddlers.
What's in this article?
- Why Do Crib Mattresses Contain Chemical Flame Retardants?
- Non-Toxic Organic Crib Mattresses are the Healthier Option
- Should You Choose a Latex or Innerspring Mattress?
- What are the Best Non-Toxic Organic Crib Mattresses?
- 1) Naturepedic Quilted Organic Cotton Deluxe Crib Mattress
- 2) Emily Natural Crib Mattress by MyGreenMattress
- 3) Nook Pebble Pure Crib Mattress
- 4) Soaring Heart Organic Crib Mattress
- 5) SleepLily Pure Start Non-Toxic Innerspring Crib Mattress
- 6) Sleep Lily Pure Bliss Non-Toxic Latex Crib Mattress
- 7) Holy Lamb Organics Crib Natural Innerspring Mattress
- 8) Holy Lamb Organics Crib Latex Mattress
- Are There Less Expensive Organic Crib Mattresses?
Why Do Crib Mattresses Contain Chemical Flame Retardants?
All mattresses sold in the United States (including children’s mattresses) are required to meet Federal CPSC regulations 16 CFR § 1632 and 1633, which outline strict mattress flammability standards. To comply with these regulations, manufacturers usually treat mattresses with synthetic flame retardant chemicals. These chemicals have most recently included chlorinated Tris, Firemaster 550, TCEP, TDCPP, and TCPP, among others . There are two major problems with the use of these chemicals:
Problem #1: The flame retardants themselves are highly toxic, accumulate in our bodies, and have been associated with a variety of serious health concerns.
Researchers have demonstrated that such chemicals can make fires more toxic. 
Some of these chemicals are recognized carcinogens, listed on California’s Proposition 65 as known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. Chlorinated Tris is a known carcinogen that was removed from children’s pajamas in the 1970’s – but was never officially banned despite evidence that showed it can damage DNA. It is still in widespread use in baby products, including crib mattresses.
Studies have linked flame retardant chemicals to serious health concerns, including cancer, impaired fertility, obesity, and neurological and developmental problems, such as hyperactivity and lowered IQ. 
There is evidence that these chemicals may cause liver toxicity, thyroid toxicity, and neurodevelopmental toxicity. 
These chemicals are persistent, toxic, and accumulate in our bodies. A study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that 97% of Americans had flame retardants in their blood. 
So, how do these chemicals find their way into our bodies? Since foam is treated with flame retardants during manufacturing (as opposed to being bound to the materials), the chemicals break down and off-gas, polluting the air and dust in our homes. This is worrisome for babies and children, who have been found to have very high levels of these chemicals in their bodies from hand-to-mouth transfer . How? Babies and children crawl on the floor, put their hands in their mouths, and play with toys that have accumulated household dust. But, this is also especially dangerous if your baby sleeps on a mattress loaded with flame retardant chemicals, because they are directly being exposed to these chemicals for several hours each day while they sleep.
During the first year of life, infants are still developing, particularly their brain. And some of these flame retardant chemicals have chemical structures similar to known developmental neurotoxicants. 
It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: we don’t want this near our babies.
Problem #2: These flame retardant chemicals are ineffective.
The same toxic, harmful chemicals that are being used to comply with mattress flammability standards are ineffective at preventing fires from spreading.
Recent studies suggest that the chemicals may not effectively reduce the flammability of treated products. 
Flame retardant concentrations are insufficient to make any meaningful reduction in hazard. 
Nor are flame retardant chemicals particularly effective at their purported purpose: to prevent fires from taking hold and spreading. 
While I can’t wave a wand and change these flammability requirements, and I can’t ensure that every item that comes into my home isn’t treated with these harmful chemicals, I can make it so that my baby’s sleeping surface is not one of them. Thankfully, there is a way to avoid the use of these harmful and essentially ineffective chemicals when purchasing a crib mattress.
Just like with car seats, mattress manufacturers can meet the government’s strict flammability standards without the use of harmful flame retardant chemicals.
Non-Toxic Organic Crib Mattresses are the Healthier Option
Flame retardants aren’t the only issue with conventional crib mattresses, though they represent a big risk factor. Here’s what to look for when buying a non-toxic, organic crib mattress:
- Naturally derived flame retardants to help prevent off-gassing of dangerous fumes. This can be achieved by using a layer of wool, which is naturally flame retardant, for example.
- No polyurethane, soy-based, or plant-based foam; only pure, organic materials like wool, cotton, or natural latex that won’t off-gas dangerous fumes while baby sleeps. So-called “soy-based” and “plant-derived” foams are polyurethane foams mixed with these other elements for marketing purposes. (Avoid most waterproof mattresses for this reason and instead use an organic waterproof mattress pad.)
- A firm mattress for safer sleep, per AAP guidelines
- No Vinyl, PVC, or glues to be found anywhere in the mattress
- GREENGUARD Gold certification that the mattress has low chemical emissions
- Greenwashing! There are companies that will put an organic cotton cover on a polyurethane mattress and market it as being “organic” when only the cover is organic. Look for mattresses that use all-natural, organic materials throughout the mattress.
All crib mattresses – organic or not – should have a snug fit that passes the two-finger test: there should be no large gaps and you should not be able to insert more than two fingers between the mattress and the side of the crib.
Should You Choose a Latex or Innerspring Mattress?
I’ve included innerspring and latex-based mattresses on this list, and both offer great options based on your own needs and preferences. However, there has been some talk that mattresses with coil innersprings may function as antennae for electromagnetic frequencies . Of course, I’m concerned about this — but I’m not convinced. This has been called into question many times, and many have claimed to debunk this theory. I try to turn to reliable data when making a decision so I found that consumer advocate Debra Lynn Dadd conducted some of her own research using EMF meters and concluded:
Choosing to not sleep on an innerspring mattress will NOT reduce your exposure to the actual source exposures of EMF in your home that are an actual danger. 
In other words – your mattress doesn’t play a role in your level of exposure to EMF inside the home. In a private email exchange, Naturepedic wrote the following:
We’ve tested for EMF…immediately above an innerspring mattress (i.e. where a person would be sleeping), and then repeated the test in the exact location but with the mattress removed. The EMF field does not change…. The EMF in a space is not affected by the presence of an innerspring mattress present. The innerspring is NOT amplifying, attracting, or magnifying EMF beyond what’s already present.
Though I haven’t done my own testing (yet), I remain unconvinced that innerspring mattresses amplify EMF waves. Still, the research is ongoing; if you are concerned and prefer to play it safe, you can just buy a latex-based mattress. (If you’d like to do your own EMF testing at home, grab this inexpensive monitor or invest in this one.) Otherwise, the choice between latex and innerspring mattresses comes down to price and preference.
What are the Best Non-Toxic Organic Crib Mattresses?
Ok, on to the good news — we have lots of great options when shopping for non-toxic organic crib mattresses. Here are my favorites! Read on below for an overview of these mattresses, check out what each is made of, and find the right one for you.
The mattresses listed here do not contain chemical flame retardants; according to their manufacturers, each meets the flammability requirements naturally by integrating fabrics that resist flammability without the need for added chemicals.
|Mattress Type||Cover Materials||Filling Materials||Chemical Flame Retardants||Certifications||Price|
|Naturepedic Quilted Deluxe Crib Mattress||Steel innerspring (252 coils)||Organic Cotton||Organic Cotton and PLA from sugarcane||Naturally derived||GREENGUARD Gold, GOTS-certified fabrics||$$$||Buy Now|
|Emily Natural Crib Mattress||Innerspring (150 coils)||Eco Wool quilted cover||Organic Cotton||Naturally derived||GREENGUARD Gold, GOTS-certified fabrics||$$||Buy Now|
|Nook Pebble Pure Crib Mattress||Coconut and latex||Eucalyptus, Organic cotton, zinc, nylon zipper||Coconut Coir, Natural Latex Foam, Organic Wool||Naturally derived||Certified organic wool||$$$||Buy Now|
|Soaring Heart Organic Crib Mattress||Latex||Organic Cotton and Wool||100% Natural Dunlop Latex||Naturally derived||GOTS-certified cotton; GOLS-certified latex||$$$||Buy Now|
|SleepLily Pure Start Crib Mattress||Innerspring||Organic cotton||Organic Cotton and PureGrow Wool||Naturally derived||GOTS-certified fabrics||$$||Buy Now|
|SleepLily Pure Bliss Crib Mattress||Latex||Organic Cotton and PureGrow wool||100% Natural Latex||Naturally derived||GOTS-certified fabrics||$$$||Buy Now|
|Holy Lamb Organics Spring Mattress||Innerspring||Organic Cotton and Eco Wool||Organic cotton||Naturally derived||IAOS-certified cotton; Eco Wool||$$$$||Buy Now|
|Holy Lamb Organics Latex Mattress||Latex||Organic Cotton and Eco Wool||100% Natural Dunlop Latex||Naturally derived||IAOS-certified cotton; Eco Wool; OEKO-TEX Standard 100 Latex||$$$$||Buy Now|
Naturepedic mattresses contain none of the following:
- NO Flame Retardants or Flame Retardant Barriers
- NO Memory Foam or Other Forms of Polyurethane Foam
- NO Soybean or Biobased Foam (polyurethane foam with soybean oil mixed in)
- NO Latex, Soy, or Other Commonly Allergenic Materials
- NO Polyurethane Coated Nylon or Damask Fabrics
- NO Antibacterial Treatments or Biocides
- NO Glues or Adhesives
- NO GMO Cotton or other GMO fibers
- NO Shoddy Insulator Pads
This particular Naturepedic crib mattress has 252 coils and an organic cotton filling that is free of bleaches, dyes, synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers. This steel innerspring mattress contains no polyurethane foam and has an organic cotton exterior, meaning there is no PVC or vinyl used. This mattress contains NO flame retardant chemicals. Naturepedic crib mattresses have GREENGUARD Gold Certification, use GOTS-certified materials, and are certified to be formaldehyde-free; the company regularly tests their products for chemical emissions.
Through extensive research and creative product design, we have completely eliminated the need for flame retardant chemicals and chemical flame barriers in our products. We use materials like organic cotton fabric, organic cotton batting, plant-based non-GMO PLA batting, and steel innersprings in place of polyurethane foam and synthetic fabrics with a higher fuel load. Our materials tend to smolder instead of burst into flame, which provides valuable time for you to get your family out of the house if there is ever a fire!
We have used this mattress since day one, and I’ve been very happy with it. We continue to use it after 3 years and have had no issues, even after my toddler discovered that he likes jumping on his bed. Some reviewers have complained that the mattress has an indentation after a short period of use; I didn’t experience this myself, but I also understand that Naturepedic has great customer service.
Don’t forget: If you’re buying an organic, non-waterproof mattress such as this Naturepedic, make sure to get a Waterproof Fitted Crib Mattress Pad (which itself is partially organic).
Naturepedic also sells a Classic version of this mattress that has a wipe-clean waterproof surface made from food-grade polyethylene (derived from non-GMO sugarcane) that does not contain any flame retardants or phthalates.
Another excellent option is the Emily Natural Crib Mattress, a 150-coil innerspring mattress made with all-natural materials. The Emily mattress is made in the United States using GOTS-certified organic cotton and Oeko-Tex certified natural wool on its quilted cover. Since the mattress cover is made with natural wool, the mattress is naturally flame retardant and requires absolutely NO chemical flame retardants. Made without the use of polyurethane foam, there are no petrochemicals in the Emily Crib Mattress. The mattress is GREENGUARD Gold certified.
MyGreenMattress only uses “eco” wool sourced from Northern California and Southern Oregon, and absolutely no harsh chemicals, dyes, or bleaches are used during the processing of the wool. The wool is also free from chemical pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, and hormones and each batch is tested at UC Davis’ Animal Toxicology Lab for herbicides, pesticides, and naturally occurring heavy metals such as lead and arsenic. (Yes! Love this!) Wool is naturally resistant to mold, mildew, and dust mites, which are obviously unwanted in your baby’s sleeping surface.
It gets excellent ratings for having just the right level of firmness. They also make mattresses for adults, which I plan on investing in very soon. MyGreenMattress offers a 10-year warranty and a 100-night guarantee for all its mattresses, providing you 100 nights to try the mattress with an opportunity to exchange or return your mattress at any time during the trial period (one return or exchange per household). This mattress is the least expensive mattress on this list, and the company also offers a payment plan starting at just $22 per month.
The Emily Natural Crib Mattress was inspired by the company founder’s daughter, who suffered from eczema and allergies. Emily inspired their family to switch to an all-natural lifestyle, and the Emily Natural Crib Mattress was created.
Nook’s breathable, organic crib mattress is made with natural coconut coir (which is naturally anti-microbial and liquid resistant) and a 100% natural talalay latex mattress core. The mattress is dual-sided, offering the right level of firmness for your baby as they grow into toddlerhood. It comes with an organic, machine-washable Pebble Wrap that is naturally water resistant, eliminating the need for crib sheets. The unique pebble design of the wrap adds to the mattress’ breathability, promoting air flow. From Nook:
Our mattresses are so breathable, in fact, your baby can breathe right through them. Want to see for yourself? Hold a hairdryer up to a Nook mattress. You’ll feel the warm air coming out the other side.
That’s pretty hard to beat! Though we didn’t use the Nook, I am really in awe of their commitment to safe sleep. Oh, and Nook does not use any toxic chemicals in their crib mattress. Instead, the company uses an organic wool fire barrier to comply with mattress flammability standards.
All around, an excellent choice, though it does come with a hefty price tag. Please note that Nook makes two other models of crib mattresses, though I prefer the Pure Crib Mattress because it does not contain any foam.
Based in Washington state, Soaring Heart mattresses are made by hand in their Seattle showroom. This company is the real deal – there’s no greenwashing here. Soaring Heart’s 100% organic crib mattress is made with Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) certified natural Dunlop latex, organic wool sourced from New Zealand, and organic cotton grown in Texas.
Soaring Heart is devoted to helping its customers get a great night’s sleep. They hand-make all of their products to order, and work closely with their suppliers to ensure that only the highest quality materials are sourced. They’re backed by over 30 years’ experience in mattress craftsmanship, and truly care about their customers. Soaring Heart also offers a generous 20-year warranty on their products, and a 30-day comfort guarantee. This is a great mattress choice!
Also, completely off topic but they also sell great dog beds. <3
Started by a mom who was looking for non-toxic crib mattresses for her children, SleepLily makes offers a chemical-free promise:
- No Flame Retardants
- No Polyurethane
- No Synthetic Latex
- No Vinyl
- No Antimony
- No Halogenated Flame Retardants (HFRs)
- No Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs)
- No Artificial Waterproofers
- No Harmful Chemicals. Period.
In addition to adult mattresses, they sell two types of crib mattresses: the Pure Start and Pure Bliss models. The Pure Start crib mattress, a firm innerspring mattress made with organic cotton and wool, is their best seller. The Pure Bliss crib is made with 100% natural latex (unlike the chemical-laden synthetic latex found in many mattresses), organic cotton, and wool. Their PureGrow wool is processed without the use of any chemicals and offers natural flame retardant properties, meaning that SleepLily can skip the toxic flame retardant chemicals.
To choose between the two mattresses, it ultimately comes down to price and preference – would you prefer an innerspring or latex mattress? The Pure Bliss latex mattress is pricier than the Pure Start, but both mattresses offer your baby a safe sleep environment.
A few other cool things to know about Sleep Lily: mattresses are made to order, by hand in California; all orders receive free shipping; and the company offers a 90-day trial so you can try out the mattress and exchange it for another one if it doesn’t work out for you.
Based in Washington state, Holy Lamb Organics offers two versions of its crib mattresses: an innerspring mattress and a latex mattress. Sourcing materials locally as much as possible, Holy Lamb Organics’ mattresses are also made in the USA.
The innerspring mattress uses steel coils, certified organic cotton grown in India, and local Eco Wool grown on the West Coast. Eco wool is also tested for toxic compounds at the UC Davis Toxicology lab before it makes its way into any of their products.
The latex mattress is a firm, 6″ crib mattress that is made from 100% natural Dunlop latex from rubber trees. The latex core is covered with a layer of Eco Wool and then a quilted organic cotton cover.
Holy Lamb Organics is probably the only mattress manufacturer on this list to be endorsed by Oprah Magazine, who raves that their products are “wonderfully fluffy”.
Also check out their organic nursing pillow.
Are There Less Expensive Organic Crib Mattresses?
I have done a thorough search of organic crib mattresses, and some of the mattresses that I considered, but didn’t include on this list include the Oeuf mattress, Babyletto Pure Core Non-Toxic Crib Mattress, and any mattresses made by LA Baby, Sealy, and Colgate. Beware of any “organic” mattresses that only have an organic cotton cover; the entire mattress should be non-toxic!
I know, I know – the mattresses I listed are expensive. (Though at $249, the Emily Natural Crib Mattress is the most affordable on this list.) High-quality organic crib mattresses are a bit pricey, and I know it can be cost prohibitive!
I’m on the hunt for an organic crib mattress that’s below $200, but so far I haven’t been impressed by the options out there. If cost is preventing you from getting the mattress you prefer, I would recommend adding gift cards and a crib mattress to your baby registry. Hopefully some generous friends and family members will help you get the mattress you’re hoping for; if not, you may be able to use Amazon’s 15% completion discount to save a little extra on your preferred mattress.
Wishing you and your baby great sleep!
Sources:  Clean & Healthy New York  Minnesota Post  Environmental Protection Agency  Washington Post  US National Institute of Health  Yale Environment 360  Scientific American Magazine  Debra Lynn Dadd