Excitement has been brewing in our house for the past few days because a long time goal has been finally accomplished by my sons. My boys ages 6 & 8 have patiently waited through the last 2 Christmases, birthdays, tooth-fairy visits, etc. with their eye on a pretty big goal…. to purchase their own bunk bed! My guilt of not being able to run out and purchase this bed when my boys first started asking 2 years ago has completely disappeared watching how proud my boys are of this big purchase. In our world where our children are accustomed to instant gratification – my boys have learned the value of saving their money. I’m also getting to put some Mommy Footprint knowledge and research to work because I’ve told my husband from the beginning that my goal was to purchase organic mattresses for the boys, since we don’t have mattresses that will fit a bunkbed. Because my 8 year old son has asthma I know an organic mattress is a must and if we can swing organic pillow cases and sheets – we’ll try to provide this too. Asking questions when researching mattresses has been a great refresher for me and I wanted to share since my questions and research because they are a great guide for an expecting mom trying to purchase a chemical free mattress for a crib or like myself, for an older child.
Questions to ask when purchasing a mattress:
~ What is the mattress made with? You need either the sales person or manufacturer to tell you what each layer of the mattress is made with – these are the materials you are not able to see. Does the mattress have metal coils, natural latex, wool, organic cotton, bamboo? Really these materials should be the only ones listed with an organic mattress. If there is polyester, polyurethane foam, or ? – the mattress cannot truly be called organic.
~ Once you find out what the inside of the mattress is made with ask how all the materials are treated. How were the bugs removed from the sheep’s wool that was used? Was it dipped in chemicals or an organic substance to remove dirt, bugs, etc.? Find out how each layer of the mattress was treated before it was built – these should not be difficult questions for a person selling a product that costs hundreds of dollars. A hugely important topic is the issue of flame retardants with mattresses. The US standards for flame retardants is much more strict than Canada so ask how the company has protected the mattress with flame retardants. Steer clear if the mattress is chemically treated because there are organic or natural solutions with flame retardants that organic manufacturers can safely apply. I think it’s safe to assume if a mattress contains polyurethane foam – it’s had to be chemically treated with flame retardants because of how flammable this material is.
~ What material is on the outside of the mattress? If a crib or young child’s mattress is being marketed as ‘water proof’ – ask what the water proof material is covering the mattress. This is also an important questions because this material is in closest proximity to your child. Does the shiny, smooth surface contain vinyl, PVC, or phthalates? A safer plastic that is food grade safe and doesn’t off-gass is polyethylene. If you don’t need a water-proof exterior to your mattress, organic cotton, 100% cotton, various types of bamboo are great natural mattress alternatives.
~ Bonus question “where are the materials manufactured” and “where are the mattresses made?” There are many mattress companies that are manufacturing their mattresses local to where they distribute within Canada and the US.
~ What material is the bedding made with? What are the patterns printed with (inks plant based, etc.)? Where are they made or manufactured? To be honest, I haven’t done much research with older boy bedding because the options out there are very slim…especially with organic bedding. Have the organic bedding distributors not figured out that boys over the age of 4 don’t want to sleep on deer and owl printed sheets? I personally would LOVE it if they would…but there is no way in this house. We need to encourage older boys with organic camouflage, sports themed, or action packed prints that are printed and created with non-toxic inks and materials.
An exciting time in our house mixed with the usual amount of research and questions. I know it drives my husband and children crazy, but I cannot purchase a new item that is toxic – the concept just doesn’t make sense to me. We’ve never purchased new mattresses for the kids before as they’ve been using hand-me-down mattresses for years. I’m completely beside myself with excitement to have them sleeping on materials I know aren’t off-gassing and giving them restful and healthy sleep.