In increasing numbers, new parents are on the hunt for crib mattresses that are made with the health of workers, and the health of the planet, as a top priority. Here are our top picks for the best organic, non-toxic crib mattresses made without polyurethane foam, vinyl/PVC, phthalates, formaldehyde, and flame retardants.
Table of Contents
- The best natural materials for crib mattresses
- If you can’t afford a good crib mattress
- Crib mattress safety recalls
- The best green crib mattresses: our top picks
- Naturepedic Organic Cotton Classic Crib Mattress
- Avocado Crib Mattresses
- OMI Organic Innerspring Crib Mattress
- Soaring Heart Organic Crib Mattress
- Less Expensive Crib Mattresses
- Closing Thoughts on Crib Mattresses
While your baby is clearly a child prodigy and the cutest baby on the block, they’re probably too busy sleeping or being filled with wonder at the world to care what kind of mattress they sleep on and who makes it. But as parents and caregivers, though, there’s a lot to think about when buying a crib mattress.
I know firsthand as my wife and I had a baby this summer and finding the right crib mattress was a top priority during my pregnancy. The main things we want in a crib mattress are plant-based, organic materials that don’t off-gas or use toxic chemicals.
The best natural materials for crib mattresses
There are plenty of excellent mattress materials that don’t off-gas, have a lower carbon footprint (typically) than synthetic mattresses, and are more easily recycled, or able to break down naturally. In addition to avoiding potentially toxic chemicals in crib mattresses, choosing appropriate mattress material(s), and getting the size of mattress right for your chosen crib, there’s also quality and corporate responsibility to think about.
While crib mattresses may seem overly firm by adult standards, a firm sleep surface is essential for sleep safety for infants. Too soft a surface and an infant may struggle to maintain a clear airway. This means that one of my favorite mattress materials, kapok, is a no-go for crib mattresses. Kapok is far too soft for a crib mattress surface and should be avoided; you may find kapok in the toddler side of a dual-sided crib mattress, however, so be careful which side faces up if an infant will be sleeping on the mattress.
Indeed, if you’ve been doing your research on mattress materials, you may have come across a Cochrane Review from 1993 which found that the risk of SIDS was greater among infants who slept prone on natural fiber mattresses (odds ratio, 6.6) than among infants who slept prone on other types of mattresses (odds ratio, 1.8). While this sounds bad, the data also showed that a natural fiber mattress was not itself an independent risk factor for SIDS, with no greater risk found in infants sleeping on their back on such mattresses
Also, when you dig into the data, it quickly becomes clear that the natural fiber mattresses included in the review were much softer than the foam mattresses. These mattresses were made with a kapok stuffing or ti-tree filling that compressed considerably and left an indentation, suggesting that an infant sleeping on their side or tummy could quite easily have their airway compromised on such a mattress. These days, natural fiber crib mattresses are much firmer in general and don’t pose the same safety risks. And, as always, infants should be placed to sleep on their back, not on their tummy or side.
Many companies now make crib mattresses that sound eco-friendly, at least at first glance. Upon closer inspection, a lot of the hype from these companies is revealed as simple greenwashing, which I why I’ve written elsewhere about green certifications for crib mattresses and what to watch out for in terms of toxic chemicals that might be lurking in a crib mattress.
If you can’t afford a good crib mattress
My advice, if you’re struggling to stretch your budget to one of the better mattresses, is to add the mattress you really want to your baby registry and add some gift coupons too. If family and friends know what you want, they will often club together to help out. And, if nobody gets you the mattress itself, most gift registries will offer a discount on items remaining on your list and let you put any vouchers you received toward the final purchase price; Amazon, for instance, have a 15% completion discount, so it pays to add stuff to your registry that you plan on buying for yourself! This way, that $300 mattress may cost you close to the same price as a much lower quality mattress.
Crib mattress safety recalls
It’s always important to check that any mattress you’re considering buying, especially if buying second hand, has not been subject to safety recalls. Several companies have been subject to forced recalls of crib mattresses in recent years, including:
- Stork Craft – foam crib and crib/toddler mattresses with model numbers 06710-100 and 06710-200 and a date of manufacture between August 2014 and January 2015. More details here.
- IKEA – VYSSA style crib mattresses with the following five model names: VACKERT, VINKA, SPELEVINK, SLÖA and SLUMMER. The involved mattresses were manufactured on May 4, 2014 or earlier. More details here.
- IKEA – VYSSA SPELEVINK crib mattresses. More details here.
- Dream On Me – spring and foam mattresses for cribs and toddler beds. More details here.
Most of these recalls are due to potential issues with fire safety, although some are related to improper crib mattress sizing that could create gaps between the crib and the mattress that would put an infant at risk of entrapment and suffocation.
These safety recalls demonstrate the importance of checking a product, whether new or second hand, against the list of safety recalls at the CPSC website before use. A hand-me-down mattress may seem like a great idea to save money and be environmentally friendly, but the previous owner may not be aware of a safety recall.
The best green crib mattresses: our top picks
Below is the list I’ve compiled of the best green, eco-friendly options for crib mattresses. Also, be sure to check out my research on the best non-toxic cribs.
Highlights: Waterproof seams prevent moisture penetration and allow for easier cleaning.
Naturepedic is offering LeafScore readers 15% off their purchase using coupon code LEAFSCORE15 at checkout.
The Naturepedic Organic Cotton Classic Crib Mattress is a waterproof mattress made with organic cotton, innersprings, and a non-GMO sugar cane derived polyethylene waterproof cover. This mattress is made without harmful chemicals, and contains no latex, soy, GMOs, vinyl/PVC, phthalates, formaldehyde, flame retardants, polyurethane foam, or perfluorinated compounds (PFCs). It is made in the USA with domestic components and imported fabric and components, and has a lifetime limited warranty.
The mattress is certified to Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), meets or exceeds GREENGUARD Gold emissions standard, and is certified Formaldehyde-free by UL/GREENGUARD. The wipe clean waterproof surface meets food contact standards and waterproof seams prevent moisture penetration and allow for easier cleaning.
Our founder, John, and his wife, chose the Naturepedic organic cotton crib mattress for his newborn. Here is the crib mattress pictured in his family’s nursery inside of a DaVinci crib.
Highlights: Avocado offers two of the best organic certified, non-toxic and eco-friendly crib mattresses around. With MadeSafe, Greenguard Gold, OEKO-Tex, and GOLS and GOTS certifications.
Avocado offer two crib mattresses, both made with GOTS organic certified cotton and wool, and GOLS organic certified latex. These crib mattresses have a smart two-sided design, with one firmer side safe for infants and then a slightly more plush side ideal for toddlers.
The Organic Crib Mattress ($279) is just marginally more expensive than the Naturepedic mattress and considerably more affordable than the Luxury Crib Mattress ($1249). Why? Well, the latter features extra layers including 170 premium cotton wrapped coils that are interlaced with strips of organic wool to prevent noise and increase durability.
Avocado has also added an organic flax pad above and below the support coils and topped with an additional 1 inch of GOLS organic latex. Instead of glue, they use six internal hand-tufts to enhance durability and the mattress has a reinforced coconut fiber perimeter for edge-to-edge support.
The Luxury Crib Mattress also comes with a 100-night sleep trial, compared to a 30-night trial with the Organic Crib Mattress. Both mattresses have an impressive 25-year limited warranty, which is basically unheard of for crib mattresses.
Totally non-toxic, these crib mattresses are certified Formaldehyde Free and MadeSafe™, meaning they don’t contain any ingredients “known or suspected to harm human health, animals, aquatic life, or ecosystems.” The mattresses are also Climate Neutral certified, and the wool and latex are OEKO-TEX®: Class 1 certified. Both mattresses have GreenGuard Gold certification.
The Organic Crib Mattress is made to fit standard cribs and measures 28” x 52” x 6”. It weighs 28 lbs. and is shipped flat, not rolled or compressed. It fits mattress pads measuring 28” x 52” x .5″. The Luxury Crib Mattress measures 28” x 52” x 6” and weighs 36 lbs.
Neither mattress has a waterproof plastic or polyurethane layer, meaning you really need to add some protection on top. Avocado offers a water-resistant quilted GOTS cotton protector pad (made with pure cotton in highly absorbent layers), or you could add a puddle pad or other waterproof cover to protect the mattress. The two best options I can find are Holy Lamb and Home of wool.
Highlights: This crib mattress offers comfortable, solid support, and it will last for years.
Unsurprisingly, many of the same companies making the best adult mattresses are also top picks for crib mattresses. Hands down, OMI (Organic Mattresses Inc.) wins a placement in best in show for crib mattresses. This company goes above and beyond to create mattresses that are not only free from toxic chemicals and materials themselves, but are also kept away from potential hazards while they’re being manufactured.
That’s because OMI’s founder, Walter Bader, was so troubled by the toxic slew of chemicals used in mattress manufacture that he sent several mattresses to for testing at an Atlanta-based lab and, lo and behold, his suspicions were confirmed. Conventional foam mattresses were found to be teeming with toxic chemicals. Indeed, one memory foam model emitted 61 volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including known carcinogens benzene and naphthalene.
In his book, Sleep Safe in a Toxic World, Bader compares the lack of regulations around mattresses to that of cigarettes in the 1930s: ‘Completely unregulated and everyone thinks they’re safe.” Bader went on to found Organic Mattresses Inc. (OMI), a company making handcrafted mattresses from cruelty-free wool, certified organic cotton, and 100 percent natural rubber latex in a facility where no one is allowed to smoke, wear fragrances, or even use fabric softeners.
OMI are also one of the few companies with consistently good certification practices. They hold robust certifications right across the board and they proudly display these, so you don’t even need to dig around or spend time asking questions. The downside? You pay dearly for all this assurance, with OMI mattresses far more expensive than most of their closest competitors.
Highlights: Great option for cribs where thicker mattresses cause problems on the lowest setting.
Handmade in Seattle, the Soaring Heart Organic Crib Mattress is an excellent choice for an eco-friendly, non-toxic crib mattress. This mattress is made with GOLS certified natural Dunlop latex, organic wool from New Zealand, and organic US-grown cotton. Soaring Heart crib mattresses are 285/8” x 523/8” x 31/2“, making it slightly larger but thinner than the other crib mattresses. It should still fit all standard cribs, but will be a bit snug. This one would be a great option for cribs where thicker mattresses cause problems on the lowest setting.
The Soaring Heart crib mattress is 100% organic and chemical-free and is made with extra firm latex that safely supports your baby. The crib mattress is designed for a slatted crib and passes federal fire safety standards thanks to its proprietary needle punched wool cover design.
Up until fairly recently, Eco Baby / Pure Rest would also have made this list, given that they made eco-friendly, non-toxic mattresses (including pet bedding!) using organic wool in a facility that was painted with zero-VOC paints. However, it seems that this company folded late in 2018 and no longer manufacture their eco-friendly, non-toxic mattresses. If you happen upon one second hand however, snap it up! Their innerspring and organic latex mattresses were excellent options and it’s a shame they’re no longer available.
The mattresses listed here do not contain chemical flame retardants and instead meet federal fire safety requirements by integrating natural fabrics such as wool that resist flammability without the need for added chemicals.
As far as possible, the companies I recommend at Leaf Score are chosen because they not only produce safe products from natural materials, but also show a commitment to environmentally friendly manufacturing practices and charitable enterprise. Curious about how we rate products? Click here to view our methodology, which at its core, is about voting with our dollars to fight climate change.
Sometimes, of course, a company with a less than stellar (or non-existent) track record for charitable giving and social enterprise happens to make what looks like a great product. In these cases, it’s often worth supporting these products in order to provide economic incentives to companies to focus more on eco-friendly manufacturing. Also, frankly, economies of scale will often mean these crib mattresses are simply cheaper than those from well-meaning artisanal small producers.
I looked at dozens of companies and hundreds of mattresses while compiling my recommendations. Many of those companies didn’t make the cut because their mattresses were either egregiously expensive compared to very similar offerings from other companies, or because their mattresses didn’t live up to the hype once I dug into the materials and certifications.
As an example, White Lotus Home make a high quality organic cotton mattress, but this is more expensive than OMI’s and does not have the same robust certifications, nor does the wool appear to be organic in the White Lotus Home mattress. I have, however, included NaturalMat’s mattresses because this company wins plenty of awards and it feels remiss to exclude them from scrutiny. That said, they are far from being my top pick.
Less Expensive Crib Mattresses
Some other decent options for less expensive crib mattresses include those made with recycled materials, including polyester and bottle plastics, and mattresses with few, if any, certifications for organic materials but that appear to be made with organic natural materials.
Highlights: This mattress is dual sided, meaning that it can be used in infancy and through the toddler years.
The Nook Pebble Pure Crib Mattress retails for around $395 and is made by a company based in southern California who use locally sourced materials where possible. Increasingly popular, this stylish crib mattress is made with organic coconut coir blended with natural latex foam and covered in organic wool. The mattress comes in 11 colors with a removable and washable cover made of eucalyptus fiber infused with zinc, organic cotton ‘non-toxic poly blend’, and an Easy-Close Nylon Zipper.
Because the Pebble Pure mattress is made to be waterproof, with a removable and washable cover, Nook offer the mattress in a plethora of colors designed to be used without sheets or additional puddle pads and such. They don’t, however, offer any information on the dyes or other chemicals that go into these covers, but they do say that their products are GOTS certified, which means they shouldn’t include any toxic azo dyes.
Highlights: Mattress is breathable, made from recycled materials, and reasonably priced.
The Healthy Support 2-Stage Crib Mattress features patented waterproofing and a patented WaveSupport core made from recycled polyester, with materials meeting FDA food contact standards. It is easy to wipe clean and has a seamless edge design which helps prevent bacteria build-up and keeps the inside of the crib mattress clean and dry. The firm, flat surface and reinforced edge support provide a comfortable and safer sleep environment, plus it can be used through infancy, toddlerhood, and beyond. The mattress is Greenguard Gold certified, UL-certified formaldehyde-free, and Made Safe certified.
All in all, if you’re looking for a quality crib mattress made from recycled materials that is waterproof and breathable at a reasonable price point, Lullaby Earth are a good option. With that said, there are better crib mattresses out there that are made with natural materials, have a waterproof cover, and can be topped with a removable breathable layer should you so wish.
To be clear, I don’t fully recommend these crib mattresses, but they are likely better than the majority of mattresses out there that don’t even pretend to be eco-friendly and non-toxic. Some of these mattresses are almost the same price as their much better counterparts, however, so it really is worth seeing if you can cut costs elsewhere and stretch your budget for the one item your baby will spend most of their time with in that first year of life and possibly beyond.
You might also want to consider the Babyletto Coco Core Crib Mattress (with coconut coir and latex) or Pure Core Crib Mattress (with recycled polyester core), although I’m not convinced these are anywhere near as eco-friendly and non-toxic as the company wants to make out.
Closing Thoughts on Crib Mattresses
Whichever size, shape, and style of crib mattress is right for your family, knowing that your baby is sleeping on a non-toxic and eco-friendly mattress can certainly help you sleep more soundly at night.
And, if there’s a mattress company you love but who only makes healthy and sustainable mattresses for adults, why not reach out and see if they’ll start making crib mattresses too?
Your request might be all it takes to incentivize a company to make eco-friendly, non-toxic mattresses for the whole family.