As a new mom, you want the best for their child. That’s why you are reading the label of every crib mattress, every baby bottle… basically every product you need for your child. You see a million logos… GOLS, GOTS, OEKO-TEX 100, Greenguard Gold, Certipur-US… Which non-toxic certifications are best for your baby?

You know you want to buy products that are made with organic fabrics and other non-toxic materials in your baby’s nursery. But it’s all overwhelming. GOTS vs OEKO-TEX? Is there even a difference?

(Spoiler alert: The answer is yes, by the way.)

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I’ll be honest, it’s initially confusing to know what all these labels mean, and whether or not you can really trust them. But since I’m an environmental chemist (this is my thing), I wanted to help you know which non-toxic certifications are best for baby in this article.

Which chemicals should you be concerned about?

Remember, everything is made of chemicals. There’s no such thing as a “chemical-free crib mattress.” After all, even water is a chemical.

Did you know infants sleep 15-17 hours a day? That’s a lot of time spent on a mattress. That’s why a non-toxic crib mattress is perhaps the most important investment you can make in your crib. Check out my recommendations here.

RELATED: Best non-toxic crib mattresses

And just because something is “natural” (instead of synthetic, or man-made), doesn’t make it safer. For example, organic latex foam (made from a rubber tree) may be great in one person’s pillow, but if you have a latex allergy, it could be a disaster. And there are man-made chemicals that are actually very safe.

But there’s definitely ones we need to avoid, particularly for kids, because they’re more susceptible to long-term health effects from dangerous chemicals. Since children are still developing (particularly their brain and their reproductive system), any small change this early can cause problems later on, including fertility issues, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers.

Want to know how to protect your family from toxic chemicals in only 10 minutes? Grab my FREE Chemicals in the Home Checklist.

That’s why you want to make sure to avoid these chemicals in your child’s toys and furniture:

  • Bisphenol A (BPA) and Bisphenol S (BPS)
  • Formaldehyde
  • Flame retardants
  • Phthalates
  • Vinyl
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)

At this time, none of the non-toxic certifications test for all of these compounds. That’s why it’s important to know what each means and how they apply in different situations (Want to see the whole table? Tap it and scroll right for more info).

GOLS

GOTS

OEKO-TEX Standard 100

CertiPUR-US

FSC Certification

Greenguard GOLD

Specific product?

Latex

Natural textiles

Natural and/or synthetic textiles

Polyurethane foam

Wood and wood products

Airspace around product

Covers whole item

No detectable heavy metals

Low heavy metals

No pesticides

No flame retardants

No added formaldehyde

No polyurethane foam

No harmful phthalates

Low VOC

Responsible harvesting

Fair working conditions

GOLS and GOTS certified products

The Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) and the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certify that products contain at least 70% organic materials by weight.

GOLS governs latex products, made from a natural rubber tree. A GOLS certification means at least 95% of the latex used is certified organic and traceable back to plantations which use farming methods which are compliant with the standards.

GOTS is a broader group including all natural textiles, such as cotton, wool, silk, or bamboo fiber. There are two tiers of GOTS certification. A product may be certified “made with organic” if it contains at least 70% certified organic fiber (the other 30% may be natural or synthetic). If a product is labeled “organic,” it must be made of 95% certified organic fiber.

My favorite affordable mattress that’s GOLS and GOTS certified? The Avocado Eco Organic Mattress. Check it out here.

For GOTS (just like with GOLS), the entire farming and manufacturing process must also comply with organic and fair trade methods which are monitored by a third party. In addition, there can be no forced labor or child labor used for products made with these certifications, and workers must be given safe conditions, a living wage, and reasonable working hours.

Mattresses which are certified GOTS “organic” have organic fabrics which make up 100% of materials used in the mattress cover, including the top and bottom. For GOTS certified mattresses, there must be no detectable chemicals which are residues from the manufacturing process which could be harmful to your baby.

If you want a breathable crib mattress that’s also organic, you can get the best of both worlds from Naturepedic. Check out their breathable GOLS and GOTS certified crib mattress here.

One of the best parts of GOLS and GOTS certifications is that they assure testing for all parts of a product, from the fibers to the zippers, snaps, and buttons. So you can be confident that the entire product is safe for your family when you buy GOLS or GOTS.

Specifically, these two certifications insure:

  • No detectable heavy metals
  • No detectable lead
  • No pesticide residues
  • No flame retardants are added
  • No added formaldehyde
  • No polyurethane foam is used
  • No harmful phthalates are detected
  • Low volatile organic chemicals (VOCs)
  • No Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) used

OEKO-TEX Standard 100 Certification

Another commonly found certification for textiles is OEKO-TEX Standard 100 (although rest assured, all components of a product, not just the textile, must pass testing to get this label). This standard is more about how fabrics are processed and what dyes and finishes are used, not about organic certification. Therefore, synthetic fabrics could be OEKO-TEX certified, and not all OEKO-TEX certified products are organic.

Looking for a safe memory foam mattress for yourself? Brentwood Home’s Cypress Memory Foam mattress is made with Biofoam and is OEKO-TEX certified. Check it out here.

In addition, OEKO-TEX has four levels of certification based on the end use of the textile. For example, certification for baby products is much stricter than that for fabrics that are not intended to directly contact human skin (for example, a tent).

With that said, OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certifies:

  • Low (not undetectable) levels of lead and other heavy metals
  • No pesticide residues
  • No added formaldehyde
  • No harmful phthalates are detected
  • Low VOCs
  • No flame retardants are added
  • Low levels of PFAS

One of the most affordable organic mattresses that’s OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified is My Green Mattress’s Kiwi mattress. Check it out here.

CertiPUR-US foam certification

This is where these standards starts to get trickier. CertiPUR-US specifically is related to polyurethane foam, a synthetic product.

memory foam made from polyurethane

Polyurethane foam (and memory foam made from polyurethane) has some great properties. It’s comfortable, it resists mold and mildew, it wears well, and it’s cheap.

However, it’s also highly flammable. For that reason, many manufacturers add flame retardants, which are extremely toxic (especially for children).

In addition, because polyurethane foam is synthetic, there can be other toxic chemicals in it, including phthalates and other plasticizers. CertiPUR-US protects from many of these compounds.

But here’s the problem: Instead of insuring the safety of an entire product (say, a mattress or piece of furniture), CertiPUR-US only certifies the foam itself that is used in said product. So for example, if you bought a crib mattress made with CertiPUR-US foam, but it contained a layer of vinyl for waterproofing, you child could still be exposed to toxicants from the vinyl.

With that said, CertiPUR-US certified foam is made without:

  • Ozone depleters
  • Certain flame retardants
  • Lead and other heavy metals
  • Formaldehyde
  • Harmful phthalates
  • and is low VOC

(Another note: There may or may not be other flame retardants in the foam, which may also be toxic. You can check the manufacturer’s tag on a product to be sure whether there are flame retardants.)

FSC Certification

The FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) looks at an entire product and its supply chain, which can be a challenge. For example, FSC-certified furniture is made with wood which was responsibly harvested (and which doesn’t contain toxic glues).

FSC’s goal is to preserve forests around the world and guarantee that paper and wood products which you buy is responsibly sourced from forests around the world.

When you’re concerned about avoiding toxins for your child, one of the biggest perks of FSC certified products is that it is required to have low levels of formaldehyde, and generally, it’s not allowed to have any added formaldehyde (wood naturally contains small amounts of this chemical).

Greenguard GOLD Certification

As fancy as Greenguard GOLD sounds, it is incomplete. Greenguard GOLD does not test for the chemicals in a product. Instead, it only certifies that the product is low VOC, that is, it doesn’t off-gas toxic chemicals into the atmosphere.

Not all toxic chemicals are volatile (meaning, they don’t all get into our breathing space). For example, lead is very harmful, but you won’t be exposed to it through emissions from a mattress. So Greenguard GOLD testing alone isn’t the best for a product that may end up in your child’s mouth.

With that said, Greenguard GOLD certification was originally designed for use in a child’s room or classroom. It requires low emissions of thousands of different chemicals to pass. It could be useful to see for products such as wooden furniture (solid or plywood), which could otherwise off-gas formaldehyde and/or other chemicals from adhesives or finishes.

Conclusions on non-toxic certifications

As a new parent, it’s important to know the safest products available so that you can provide the very best care and environment for your baby. I hope this article has helped you better understand what certifications are best for your family.

If you have any questions about which product is right for them, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m happy to help with anything from selecting cribs or mattresses to finding non-toxic cleaners and other necessities in every stage of life.

Top 6 non-toxic certifications for nursery furniture