Whether your little one has decided they’re ready for their own “big kid” bed, or you’ve made the decision that it’s time for co-sleeping to come to an end, your next move is finding a toddler mattress.
And don’t underestimate this moment – this will be a HUGE shift in your child’s life towards independence, and that means it’s important that you respect it as so.
RELATED: How to gently night wean your toddler
I encourage the idea of allowing your child to join in on picking their bed in order to better help them acclimate to their new sleeping arrangements. After all, they’re about to become a big boy (or girl) as they sleep away from you or outside of the crib that once cocooned them.
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But here’s the thing: Before you let them start testing the perfect “jump” they can get from their new mattress, it’s important to make sure that their choices are safe and free of toxic chemicals. That’s why I’m rounding up the best non-toxic toddler mattresses. (Prefer to skip straight to the mattresses? Click here.)
Toxic chemicals in mattresses
Most conventional mattresses (including memory foam) are made with polyurethane foam. It’s comfortable, cheap, and can last a long time. But here’s the thing: It’s normal for this material to release dangerous chemicals such as fire retardants and other additives.
With these chemicals being “off-gassed” from your mattress, it means that you have a decent (albeit unfortunate) chance of inhaling them from the air. Additionally, the concentration of these volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is much higher at just above the surface of the mattress. Yup, right where your beautiful toddler is burying his/her face for sleep.
And let’s be fully transparent (and maybe even a little mathematical). Your toddler is expected to sleep for 14 hours a day. If you’re planning on keeping them in this bed for the next 2 years, that’s over 10 thousand hours that they will be at risk of breathing in toxic chemicals simply from just laying in their bed.
What to look for in a non-toxic mattress
Before I give you the lowdown on all the great non-toxic mattresses out there, I want to share with you what makes them great and what it is that makes them different from most major brands
By knowing what to look for, you’ll be able to have your own checklist of things in case you come across a mattress that speaks to you in store (because I know how quickly price tags can make us jump to a purchase).
Here are some things to look for:
Avoid flame retardants in toddler mattresses
If you’re curious as to why it is that polyurethane foam (and memory foam made from polyurethane) is used in an object that’s such a staple in our lives, it’s because it provides all the things we love about our beds: it gives us the soft comfort we fall in love with, it holds off mold and mildew, it holds up well to the constant use we ask of it and, well, it’s cheap.
The main issue? It’s highly flammable.
To address that problem, manufacturers added fire retardant chemicals to mattresses such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). The problem is, there are seriously disastrous consequences to this chemical.
We’re talking reproductive effects, breast cancer, and neurological effects. All things that could develop just from laying on your mattress.
And because they’re still undergoing development, these problems are more likely to affect babies and children than adults.
In 2015, California began requiring that all furniture be labeled as to whether it contains fire retardants. Since then, fewer manufacturers have been using flame retardants, but check the label to be sure.
Look for vinyl-free mattresses and mattress covers
Even if a mattress is made with cleaner latex, polyurethane foam-free filling, you should steer away from it if the casing is vinyl.
What’s so bad about vinyl?
Made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), vinyl is typically used in waterproof mattress covers. And let’s be real: If you’re looking for a toddler mattress, you’re probably interested in it being water-proof.
However, PVC is also a known carcinogen that has been linked to MANY problems: Asthma, learning disabilities, reproductive effects, and even cancer.
And as bad as that is, vinyl doesn’t stop there. It also contains phthalates. Phthalates help make components more flexible, but unfortunately, phthalates are also known endocrine disruptors, which have been shown to cause reproductive effects and been related to some cancers.
Once these chemicals are in your child’s system…they’re locked in for life.
No detox you find will be able to rid your body of these chemicals once exposed because flame retardants, vinyl, and phthalates bioaccumulate. As soon as you’re exposed, they store themselves in your fat tissue (which we all have) and sign the deed to permanently reside in your body.
Are there any certifications that will let you know a mattress is non-toxic?
In case you forget the list of components to avoid to look out for, luckily, there are several certifications who claim they certify a mattress as a safe product. But here’s the catch..they don’t all actually mean something.
But some certifications are more reliable than others. Here’s a list of common certifications, and what they mean.
GOLS and GOTS
The Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is meant to show that a mattress is made from either 95% pure organic latex or 95% pure organic material. They also certify that the products contain no polyurethane foam and no fire retardants.
Where’s the catch: You’ve got to make sure that the mattress itself is certified GOLS and/or GOTS. If it’s saying that it uses a material that is certified GOLS in one layer of the mattress but another layer contains toxic material…that’s not really doing much good.
Greenguard-Gold and Okeo-Tex Standard 100
Both Greenguard-Gold and Okeo-Tex Standard 100 certifications set strict limits on VOC emissions from products. The Okeo-Tex Standard 100 Certification is a bit stricter because it prohibits specific toxic chemicals from being in products.
Best non-toxic toddler mattresses
Remember, you don’t have to buy a “toddler-sized” mattress. If you want to, that’s great, but if you have an old twin or full size bed frame from your single days, you can totally use it and simply get a new mattress for it.
So before you pick just any mattress, take a look at some of the best non-toxic toddler mattresses of 2021 that you can feel confident in as you lay your little one to rest.
The Avocado mattress company was 2020’s #1 mattress, and is a championed favorite if you’re looking for GOLS, GOTS and Greenguard Gold certifications. In addition, they have the coveted Okeo-Tex Standard 100 certification.
The soft side of their organic crib mattress is perfect for your little one if you’re sticking with a toddler bed frame.
If you’re looking for a twin or full sized mattress, go for the Avocado Green Mattress.
Avocado also gives a generous one year trial period so that you’ll have no doubts about loving your mattress.
Check out Avocado here.
Manufactured in Ohio, the Naturepedic mattress is also GOTS and GOLS certified. What sets it apart is that it is an innerspring mattress made of certified organic cotton.
The natural non-toxic organic cotton packed in Naturepedic Mattresses make for a good soft place to rest your little one. If you’re looking for a mattress for a smaller toddler bed, check out the flippable organic baby crib mattress. One side is waterproof firm for your baby’s developing needs and the other is cushion firm for when your toddler is ready.
If you prefer a twin- or full-sized mattress, check out the 2-in-1 Organic Kid’s Mattress. It has a waterproof side for when you’re potty training, but flips to a cozy quilted side when your child is ready.
Plus, if you order directly from Naturepedic, they have a 90 day money back guarantee.
My Green Mattress
Another GOLS, GOTS and Greenguard Gold (and much more affordable) certified mattress company is My Green Mattress. In order to avoid typical toxic chemicals, My Green Mattress utilizes organic latex at the surface, and organic wool as part of the top cover to allow more wicking and cooling. Hand tufting and stitching on the mattress cover allows them to avoid using toxic adhesives.
The Kiwi is a great option for toddlers and comes in twin and full sizes. If you’re looking for mattresses for a bunk bed, the Kiwi Bunk Bed Mattress has a shorter spring system.
My Green Mattress offers a 120 day money back guarantee.
Check out My Green Mattress here.
While Plushbeds don’t make toddler-specific mattresses, they do have great twin-sized and full-sized mattresses.
Made in California and both GOTS and GOLS certified, Plushbeds have a Greenguard Gold certification. They pride themselves on using natural non-toxic ingredients so that you can rest assured it’s safe for your child. With twin and full size beds perfect for your little one, Plushbed mattresses are made without a coil system as they rely on solid layers of organic wool and organic latex (with an organic cotton cover). Plushbeds pride themselves on the fact that their material is far more durable than your average mattress which essentially eradicates the need to ever “flip” your mattress. You can expect this mattress to last up to 25 years.
Plushbeds also offers free returns along with a free 100 night trial.
Check out Plushbeds here.
Based in Seattle, Washington, Soaring Heart mattresses are also both GOLS and GOTS certified which means you’ll find no chemical fire retardants or other toxic chemicals. What you will find is that their organic latex mattress is made from a single piece of latex wrapped in soft, organic wool.
Soaring Heart mattresses come with a lower/main support layer as well as a second “comfort” layer. The former needs to be flipped “as often as you change the sheets” according to their site. There are both twin and full sized mattresses available for your little one.
Soaring Heart has a 30 day Comfort Guarantee allowing exchanges within 30 days of purchase.
Check out Soaring Heart mattresses here.
Toddler bed side rails
Once you’ve picked the perfect non-toxic mattress, you might be wondering whether or not your toddler needs some side rails with that new organic bed of theirs.
If they’re a wild sleeper (and let’s be honest, what toddler isn’t?) then rails may be in your future. Rails are purely there to keep them from falling out of bed while they sleep. Because chances are, when they’re awake, nothing will stop them from hopping in, and out…and in…and out…
You get the picture.
Bed rails attached to the bed frame are typically considered safe, however, according to CPSC “portable bed rails have caused the deaths of 18 children since 1990. Most were children under age 2 who got trapped in a gap between the bed rail and mattress”.
Because of this, The CPSC recently enforced new standards for the rails’ design, in order to ensure that the mattresses do not pull away from bed rails to create a hazardous gap.
So if you do choose to use portable rails, I would suggest using them only on full and twin size beds for children over the age of 2. You should also be in the habit of checking every night that security of the rails.
Looking for portable rail suggestions? Check out these mom-certified choices:
Dream on Me mesh security rail – comes in several cute colors to match your child’s decor.
Regalo Hideaway bed rail – designed to be cleverly hidden under the mattress when not needed.
If you prefer a bumper to keep them in bed instead of a bed rail, this is a good option.
And if you prefer a bed with rails already attached, this frame is a great option.
Conclusions on non-toxic mattresses for toddlers
While non-toxic mattresses may be a little more pricey, it’s worth it for the peace of mind and additional safety that these brands offer.
If you have any questions about the science, be sure to let me know. I want to help you find the perfect mattress for your new big kid.