For Your Child's Health, Get an Organic Mattress

Long ago, I planned that I would buy Maisie her own big-girl bed rather than buy a second crib. It just seemed a better use of money. What I hadn’t counted on is that she should be in her own bed before the baby came! Experts say that the toddler should be moved before the baby comes; otherwise she will feel like the baby stole her bed. Aw, geez…that was news to me. So there I was, waddling around frantically, decorating her room with swollen feet and ever-higher blood pressure. What fun. I do not recommend putting together a bed with your husband when you’re nine months pregnant.

What I do recommend: an organic mattress. There are certain advantages to having been a television reporter for many years. Two close friends are consumer correspondents. Each warned me about regular, ol’ crib mattresses. I did a little more research and decided that, at the ripe old age of two, Maisie still needs an organic mattress. Heck, we all probably do.

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Here’s the deal: the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requires fire retardants be placed in mattresses. These chemicals emit put gases, which can be really bad for all of us, especially a baby. One of the big culprits is phthalates, which can disrupt the hormonal process and affect the liver, blood, and kidneys. The CPSC has changed the chemical requirements in recent years, claiming they are safer, but as far as I can tell, the jury is still out. Many European countries have banned these very chemicals. There are conflicting studies about whether or not these chemicals cause SIDS. No study has proven it, but no study has disproved it, either. The study I read this morning said that pregnant women can also absorb the chemicals, which can be harmful to the developing fetus. Great. I read that one about 10 months too late.

There are zillions of articles on the web about this. The amount of information is truly mind-boggling. It’s times like these when I miss being a network television reporter with an army of researchers to help me sift through it all and a chance to interview the top minds in the field about this stuff. So I had to do what all moms do and decide what was best for my own kids based on available information. It seemed to me that Maisie was far less likely to burn up in a fire than she was to absorb some possibly toxic chemicals—it’s not like she’s going to be smoking in bed or anything!

Then came the second problem: there is no governing body over the phrase “organic mattress.” In other words, just because somebody says a mattress is organic doesn’t mean it is. So we all just have to use our own noodles and instincts. There are a few guidelines, however.

You can buy a foam mattress made from natural latex rather than petroleum products. This means one made out of rubber from a rubber tree rather than something like a Tempur-Pedic. Organic wool mattresses are good because they are naturally fire- and mold-retardant. Organic cotton also is a good choice. Funny thing? While organic cotton is best because of the lack of pesticides, it actually has a strong smell some don’t like.

In the end, I bought Maisie’s crib mattress from It wasn’t cheap, but peace of mind never is. Her big-girl mattress came from the Danbury Mall and it delivered it for free to Westchester. It was cheaper than Lifekind and they can make custom sizes. I only hope that they really are organic.

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