Choosing a crib mattress for your baby might seem like an easy-going task, but most parents get it wrong. It is of utmost importance that you follow these tips if you want your baby to be healthy.
As most of you already know a baby spends anywhere between 10 and 14 hours a day lying on a crib mattress, whether playing, sleeping, or just watching the world around her. In general, it means that a crib mattress makes an important part of your baby’s life and her surroundings. So, let’s first see what it is made of, starting on the outside and moving to the inward part.
In most cases, a traditional mattress has a vinyl surface which is a hard plastic called PVC that makes a combination of petroleum and chlorine. But, in order to make the plastic softer and the mattress itself flexible, chemicals called phthalates are added. However, The Environmental Protection Agency considers phthalates as possible carcinogenic substances that may interfere with hormones when ingested. The inside of vinyl is filled with polyurethane foam, which gradually breaks into small particles. The particles may easily become airborne and they can release volatile organic compounds or VOCs- another probable carcinogens.
The danger of VOCs comes from the fact that they cause not only nose, eye, and throat irritation, but also fatigue, dizziness, headaches, nausea, and various kinds of allergies, so I am hoping that you are already starting to grasp the importance of how to choose a crib mattress.
Yet, the bigger risk from polyurethane foam is in its high flammability. In order to stick to the minimum flammability standards prescribed by government agencies, a great number of companies add industrial-strength chemical fire retardants. One of the most widespread fire retardants used to treat polyurethane foam have been PBDE and pentaBDE. However, some researches have shown that pentaBDE have bad effects for brain development and hormone systems, so it was banned in Europe and by the State of California.
Still, the good news is that you can find many safe alternatives to traditional crib mattresses today. If you cannot provide an organic mattress, then a more economical option is a wool mattress pad. Wool is a naturally flame-resistant material that eliminates any moisture and in a way functions as a barrier between your kid and the mattress. Besides, it is recommended to avoid using a mattress if it still reeks of the factory. Use your nose to check when it is the right time to put it inside your baby’s room.
To sum up, make sure you choose a crib mattress which is made of wool, cotton or rubber and the one that uses polyethylene plastic as a shell. Cotton used in mattresses can be treated with non-toxic borate flame inhibitors.