Limiting a Baby’s Exposure to Toxins: Sharing Research on Toxins Found in Crib Mattresses

Good evening and happy Wednesday! After Matt and I decided on which crib we were going to buy, our goal was to find a safe, nontoxic, and organic crib mattress with as little material as possible (an organic mattress does not mean it is non toxic). In a typical crib mattress, toxic chemicals may be added to the filling of the mattress to make it firm, and on the mattress to make it flame retardant and water proof.

Toxins Found in Crib Mattresses:

1. Mattress Filling

Many typical crib mattresses are filled with polyurethane foam to make the mattress firm. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, there is no level of safe exposure to polyurethane; and exposure to it may cause asthma, endocrine disruptions, lung damage, skin and eye irritation, and allergies to isocyanates. It is important to know that polyurethane filling may also contain other toxic chemicals, such as formaldehyde.

Also, polyurethane filling is highly flammable.

2. Flame Retardants

Flame retardants are added to crib mattresses to prevent the risk of fire. According to the United States Enviornmental Protection Agency, flame retardants may cause reduced IQ, cancer, learning disabilities, thyroid disruption and reduced fertility.

3. Water Proofing

Polyvinyl chloride is added to crib mattresses to make it water proof. According to Tox Town, polyvinyl chloride may be harmful to the reproductive system and respiratory system; cause endocrine disruptions; and cause cancer.

We chose to purchase a crib mattress that was not waterproof (instead, we use organic cotton mattress pads) and consisted of only three materials: organic wool (because it is a natural flame retardant), organic cotton, and 15.5 gauge 260 unoiled steel coils/intersprings with a 6 gauge border rod (because I was confident that the quality of the intersprings would create the firmness that I was looking for). If you choose a mattress consisting of these materials, you should ask the suppliers the following questions:

1. Are the sheep sprayed with any pesticides? If the mattress is made from wool that was cut from sheep that were sprayed with pesticides, the wool is going to be toxic whether or not it is organic.

2. Is the cotton sprayed with any pesticides? Organic or inorganic cotton that is sprayed with pesticides is toxic.

3. How many coils does the mattress have? Are they oiled? What material are they made from? How thick is the gauge of the coils? The firmness of the mattress will depend on the thickness of the coils, how many coils are in the mattress, and the material that the coils are made from. I wanted the coils to be unoiled (to avoid any toxic oils) and to be made from steel (because steel is a good quality metal). I wanted the thickness of the gauge to be 15.5 or less; the lower the number, the thicker the coils are. I also wanted a mattress with a lot of coils, so I chose one that had 250.

This is all of the information that I have learned from researching what toxins are found in crib mattresses and how these toxins impact a baby’s cognitive and physical development. I hope that this information was insightful and will help you find a crib mattress that works best for your family.

I hope that you have a happy day!

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