Second Thoughts on Buying an Organic Crib Mattress

Here’s my confession: we’re not buying an organic crib mattress for my second child.  It might not seem all that shocking unless you read my long-ago post on organic crib mattresses.  I lamented not buying organic with my first child and declared that I would do differently with my second.

Why then haven’t I bought a new organic crib mattress for my daughter who will be arriving in just a few months?  Honestly, I have been wrestling it for months and finally ended up with a compromise. 

The thought of spending nearly three hundred dollars on an item that my child would use for a little over a year was tough to swallow.  Our first son slept in our bed with us until he was nearly six months old and then was in his toddler bed before the age of two.  Since we now have two children, I can imagine that our little one will co-sleep with us longer just for convenience and because we haven’t yet figured out where to put her in our small house.

We also considered the that non-toxic choices aren’t always earth friendly.  It might be less toxic to rip the carpeting out of our baby’s room, install bamboo flooring and repaint the walls with soy based paints, but it wouldn’t be as good for the planet as living with what we have. The thought of throwing out our perfectly functional crib mattress made my chest ache. We could give it to a thrift store, but we’ll do that anyway once our daughter is finished using it. 

So, I’m planning on buying a wool soaker pad, or making one from a full sized wool blanket we rarely use.  It will provide a natural barrier from the mattress surface and also soak up liquids that sometimes flow onto those crib sheets.

Does this mean I now recommend used crib mattresses?  Hardly!  I still wish I would have purchased a new organic mattress for my first child.  Then I would have had the chance to use it for several years with both children and it would have easily paid for itself.   What have you done to accommodate your desire for non-toxic products on a budget?  


  1. that would be a tough choice. unfortunately i wasn’t that green when both of my sons were infants–they both just slept on our regular crib mattress.

  2. Your current mattress has offgassed so much so that it probably doesn’t have the toxins even an organic mattress has. As with any new item we purchase, a new organic mattress must be produced with eletricity and shipped using petroleum – no need to lament!

  3. I couldn’t stomach the price of an organic mattress, so I tried to do the next best thing and get an organic mattress pad so that layer would at least be non toxic, just like you are planning to do with the wool soaker.

  4. VeggieMomma says

    I researched the best price for an organic mattress for months (seriosly hours and hours of searching and comparing prices). My baby co-slept exclusively until he was 8 months old. Then I set up the crib and ordered a mattress.

    The mattress I found for the cheapest amount and best quality was at (there is an American version of their site now as well). It is made from wool, natural latex, and an organic cotton cover. I bought just the mattress and not the extra pad.

    I then ordered a Wool mattress pad (instead of the one from SleepySheep) at The Mattress and Sleep Company ( It was the Baby Natura wool mattress pad and I ordered their ‘seconds’ quality one. I also ordered the Natura wool baby blanket.

    All this for under $300. I think it’s worth it. Even if it’s better eco-wise to buy used–I care a little more about my baby’s health than how ‘green’ my choice is in this case. Normally I would consider the Earth first 🙂

    For co-sleeping, a great mattress for your own bed is the Keesta mattress. I also ordered the wool mattress cover from SleepySheep for my own bed–it’s heavenly!

  5. i bought a wool puddle pad, too. it makes a nice barrier, and it almost never gets wet (or needs to be washed.)

    now, with that ridiculous CPSIA law, a lot of thrift stores (like our local one) aren’t accepting any used children’s items. it’s becoming even harder to get used children’s items into the hands of people who want them–which is CRAZY when people are consciously trying to be more green and save $.

    i think shannon’s comment above has a lot of wisdom–don’t sweat it! making due is smart, especially considering the likelihood of off-gassing and the impact of buying and shipping new.

  6. I purchased a regular crib mattress a few months before my son was born and left it out with no sheets to off-gas for a few months. Then he didn’t end up sleeping in his bed until 10 weeks, so that was some more time to off-gas. He just liked to sleep in his baby carrier or swing (or once in a while, with us) in the meantime. Then I also purchased an organic mattress pad and organic sheets ( to provide a non-toxic layer. I plan to also keep this mattress for our next child and do the same thing. We have a twin bed with trundle bed under it in our spare bedroom now. It was actually my bed since I was 10 or so and the mattresses are still in great shape, so we plan to skip a toddler bed with my son and use the trundle bed and leave it down low to the floor so it’s the same height a toddler bed would be. I figure they have off-gassed for about 17 years and since they are still in good condition, I won’t bother getting a new mattress. I will probably just buy a twin organic mattress pad and organic sheets though. If we do need to get new mattresses in the future, I may try to save up to get organic.

  7. I think you made the right choice. I think a new product, even an organic earth-friendly new product will always have a greater environmental impact than re-using an existing product. You are eliminating shipping, shopping trips, manufacturing waste and would be throwing out a totally usable mattress. Mattresses are very hard to get rid of too and usually end up in the dumpster.

  8. We are having our first child in about a month and I only slightly agonized over this decision (I couldn’t possibly afford an organic mattress). I bought a used Ikea mattress on craigslist because it had a cotton cover and was pbde-free. It also was purchased 2 or 3 years ago and has been off gassing ever since. I’ll probably do a felted sweater wool puddle pad, too. We’ll be co-sleeping, but with our full size futon mattress, we’ll be using the crib as a side car from day 1. I’m comfortable with this decision–reusing and recycling the baby’s mattress as well as not getting a bigger bed for ourselves.

  9. Hi there. I’m having my first and I went back and forth on whether or not to register for an organic crib mattress for the money factor. I did find a brand sold by BRU that costs under $200 so I registered for it and am hoping some generous family member will understand my reasoning and get it for us. If we don’t get the organic one for some reason I will get a wool cover, too. In addition, my other hesitation is that we may not even use the crib because we’re planning on co-sleeping with the baby. However, our crib will turn into a toddler bed and the mattress will work for that as well, so hopefully we’ll get use out of it like that. Good luck to you.

  10. One fundamental difference between a wool and natural latex crib mattress that is covered in organic cotton, and the standard polyurethane mattresses that you can get for less is that the organic crib mattress is reusable within your family (then you know where it’s been) – these mattresses can last for 15 to 20 years, and be passed from aunt to cousin to sister to nephew.

    One of the reasons why standard polyurethane crib mattresses should not be reused is that the polyurethane breaks down over time, potentially exposing babies to harmful gasses which can containing antimone, PBDEs, brominates, and other extremely toxic gasses, not to mention dust mites, molds, fungus, and of course flame retardants. The vinyl covers are also suspect for releasing feminizing compounds into the environment, which effect species from frogs on up to people.

    Using a barrier, (such as a wool overlay), is a great compromise. Still, reusing an old polyurethane crib mattress is not at all a good idea ever for the reasons listed above; there are alternatives, even if it means asking your local futon maker if they can do a little futon with natural fill for your little one.

  11. I have to say it is a very tough choice indeed, since organic crib mattresses are really expensive. But I think Emily @ Little Home really did a great job of buying a crib mattress pad instead. It is organic but it is much cheaper than buying an organic mattress, plus it serves as a barrier between your baby and the synthetically-made mattress.

    Crib Mattresss Pad

  12. I always recommend parents buy an organic crib mattress if they can afford it as a regular mattress is made with harmful chemicals and synthetic filling. Remember, your little one will be sleeping for up to 18 hours a day initially on top of the crib mattress, and you want the very best for them. I really recommend the Naturepedic range but there are many good brands on the market.

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