Choosing a Healthy Crib Mattress

everything you need to know before you buy
Healthy Mattress

So you’re having a baby! One of the first things to consider is how to furnish and decorate the nursery without inadvertently inviting unwanted toxic guests. And while choosing hardwood furniture and organic cotton sheets may feel like no-brainers, selecting an eco-friendly crib mattress can seem like a much more daunting task to accomplish. But with a little knowledge and careful product selection, you can be well on your way to making sure your bundle of joy’s nursery is in tip top, toxin-free shape!


In the absence of an industry-specific certification for organic mattresses, such as the USDA organic label applies to food and personal care products, we need to take a hard look at the material components and their certifications. Be careful, because general terms like ‘organic’, ‘natural’, ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘non-toxic’ can be very misleading. Here’s the education you need to avoid getting hoodwinked by clever marketing departments:

Cotton & Wool

Cotton and wool are great natural materials, and especially good when they’re certified organic. They can provide soft padding and protection from the messes that are sure to be made along the way. And wool is naturally flame-resistant, making it a useful alternative to chemical options!

CERTIFICATION TO LOOK FOR: GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) ensures that at least 95% of the fibres are certified organic, and thus free of nasties.


We don’t typically think of foam as a friendly material, but not all foam is created equal! So, if you’re looking at mattresses that contain foam, you want to ensure they won’t off-gas into your little one’s precious lungs.

CERTIFICATION TO LOOK FOR: CertiPUR-US ensures that the foam in your mattress is made without a variety of toxic chemicals, such as PBDEs, phthalates, formaldehyde, and heavy metals. It also certifies that VOC emissions from the foam remain low.


It may not sound friendly, but natural latex is a plant-based substance from rubber trees, and a fairly common material used in the non-toxic mattress sector. So don’t let it scare you off! Just make sure that the latex you’re getting is the good stuff, because synthetic latex is cheaper than its natural counterpart, and can be found in many mattresses.

CERTIFICATION TO LOOK FOR: GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard) ensures that at least 95% of the latex used is certified organic. And if you’re looking at non-organic latex, ensure that it’s 100% natural latex, and not a combination of natural and synthetic.

General Emissions

Aside from the material components of the mattress and their individual certifications, there’s lots of other junk to look out for, especially when it comes to adhesives, flame retardants, etc. If you’re looking for a mattress that keeps off-gassing to a minimum, you need to look for a certification that covers the whole mattress, not just one or more of its parts.

CERTIFICATION TO LOOK FOR: GREENGUARD Gold ensures that your mattress is low in a wide variety of chemicals that you definitely want to avoid pumping into the air of your new nursery.


Here at EcoParent, we strongly believe that mattress manufacturers (well, really, manufacturers of all things) should be held to the highest standards of transparency, because consumers deserve to know what they’re buying. There is far too much greenwashing going on in the world, with product packaging full of bogus health and safety claims. And while certifications are very important when choosing healthier products, it’s worth considering the bigger picture as well. Look for an honest and transparent statement about the vision and manufacturing practices of the brand. You may not have to read too far between the lines – especially armed with your new knowledge about what to look for in a mattress – to discover that you don’t like the sounds of what they’re pushing.

We have partnered with Colgate Mattress to bring you this particular article because we think they’re among a handful of manufacturers that are doing great work, and that practice the kind of transparency we like to see. Their Natural I mattress is the cleanest and greenest among their offerings, containing no metal or plastic, a chemical-free flammability barrier, renewable coconut coir fibre, and a certified organic cotton cover. All in all, it stands out from the crowd as a product that was designed with exceptional care, both for baby and for the environment.

We also really appreciate that ALL of Colgate’s crib mattresses are GREENGUARD® Gold certified, CertiPUR-US® certified, CPSIA compliant, and compliant with all federal and state flammability requirements – without the use of fire-retardant chemicals. Colgate Mattress is also the only crib mattress participant ever welcomed into the JPMA Certification Program. So, no matter what budget you’re working with, you can rest easy knowing that your new bundle isn’t being unnecessarily exposed to a wide array of toxic chemicals. As well, ALL of Colgate’s mattresses are handcrafted in the USA, and that’s been true since this family-owned business started in 1955. And guess what? The founding family still owns it!

Now get out there and get yourself a crib mattress that you can feel good about.