Is the Sealy Naturalis Crib Mattress Nontoxic and Safe for Babies?

Does the Sealy Naturalis crib mattress live up to its green claims–or are we being greenwashed? We’ve raved about this mattress a couple times on the Green Baby Guide. Not only does it use soybean foam rather than petroleum-based materials, but it comes at a much lower price than other organic mattresses. While neither Joy nor I have actually purchased an organic mattress (as we’ve admitted in The Eco-nomical Baby Guide as well as on this site), we believed the Sealy Naturalis crib mattress was a great green deal.

Then last week we received an interesting comment on the 5 New Baby Things in 5 Years post. One great new thing, I wrote, was the fact that organic crib mattresses were so affordable compared to just five years ago. I didn’t consider an organic mattress when I was pregnant, just because they were so outrageously expensive. A reader advised us to not recommend the Sealy mattress, as it contained toxic fire retardant chemicals. She had called Sealy and been told that that the soybean mattresses did contain these chemicals, despite their claims to the contrary.

I called Kolcraft today and asked about the Sealy Naturalis crib mattress. The customer service representative assured me that there are no fire retardant chemicals on the mattress–the mattress is non-toxic, as advertised. Of course, there is always the possibility that any product we write about is not what it claims to be, but in this case, we do feel like we can stand behind our recommendation.

According to the Kolcraft website, here are the features of the Sealy Naturalis soybean foam core mattress:

Features

  • Soy based foam-core offers improved durability over conventional foams and uses renewable resources resulting in the use of less crude oils.
  • Soybean foam is CertiPUR-US® certified and has been tested for indoor air emissions, durability and substances including phthalates, formaldehyde, PBDEs, lead and other chemicals
  • Entire cover and lock-stitched binding wipe clean preventing allergens from clinging to the mattress
  • Lightweight making it easy to change sheets
  • Soybeans are a renewable resource grown in the USA
  • Cover is wet-resistant and cleans easily
  • Square cut corners provides snug fit in cribs
  • Mattress also fits toddler bed frames
  • Lifetime warranty on workmanship and materials
  • Entire mattress is phthalate and flammability compliant and does not contain toxic fire retardants

If anyone hears anything different about this product (or any other that we recommend!), please write us and let us know. We would hate to recommend a product that turned out to be un-green or un-safe.

Comments

  1. I read somewhere that it was covered in vinyl, which I personally like to avoid — b/c of possible phthalates (which they test for at least), lead, etc. I haven’t seen Sealy disclose what exactly the plastic is on the mattress (and you don’t list it above), so I’m not sure if it’s true. I think anyone claiming to be “natural” or “nontoxic” should disclose ALL ingredients, components. Also, mattresses are required BY LAW to be flame retardant. If they are not using PBDEs, they are using something else (which should also be disclosed). The only mattresses that pass regulation without chemical treatment usually have lots of wool, which is naturally flame retardant.

  2. Betsy, thanks for your comment. It is true that the mattress is covered in vinyl (it says so on that Kolcraft page I linked to), but supposedly it is BPA- and phthlalate-free vinyl.

    As for the fire retardant aspect . . . I will let Joy chime in on this because she did the research on mattresses for our book, but it was my understanding that many of the organic mattresses were NOT fire retardant, and that was a trade-off many parents were willing to make in order to avoid the chemicals.

    You’re right that wool mattresses would fulfill both criteria, so that would be the best bet as long as wool allergies weren’t a concern.

  3. Betsy,
    Stand by! We did extensive research on organic crib mattresses for our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, and we will apply the same focus to this mattress. I too called the company but the representative didn’t know all the product details. I’ll be emailing them a big batch of questions and then reporting back to you all with what we learn!

    My guess on the fire retardant material is that they are using boric acid (the same stuff that is in Borax). It’s less toxic than other materials and is also used by IKEA to make their mattresses flame retardant.

    I’d like to get more information on the mattress cover since it may be made of a non-vinyl waterproof material.

    Thanks for your very insightful questions!
    Joy

  4. Hi, I read your post with interest as I am thinking of replacing my kids crib mattress. I also did some research on CA law re: fire retardants and found out that there is almost none (if there is they didn’t even mentioned it!) fire retardant materials that are non-toxic. Wool not withstanding the allergies would not even reach the required levels for sale in CA (re: lawful requirements for flame retardant applications) So, I am back at square one; the focus now is not on organic but which bed has the least amount of toxic chemicals as I came with the conclusion that flame retardants are toxic by their very nature. I hope you find answers soon as I look forward to making a decision about my purchase soon!

  5. There is some info on it in this spreadsheet:
    http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/01/15/garden/20090115_MATTRESS_GRAPHIC.html

    Mainly just says that percent of foam that is soy-based is undisclosed and plastic is vinyl

  6. OK, now I realize there are more than one Sealy crib mattress – the organic cotton and the soy-foam one. I think you guys are discussing the soy-foam one, yes? According to the spreadsheet, the org cotton (spring) one doesn’t use vinyl and actually looks a bit cheaper.

  7. Marco, if you really want to avoid flame retardants it is fairly easy to circumvent the system — just find a chiropractor or doctor who will write you a note saying you can’t have them in your mattress. Also, there are wool ones that you can buy online that have no chemical treatment. Those mattresses are at least up to federal standards. IF there are no allergies in you family, I would not worry about the wool allergy. Personally, my kids have slept on wool since birth. Lots of people use wool with babies.

  8. Betsy,
    Sorry! You’re right! There was a mix up between the organic cotton naturalis mattress and the soy-foam mattress. Since the organic one is both cheaper and uses organic materials, it does get our thumbs up. We are still waiting for the answers to our questions directly from the company and we’ll get you specific results when we know about the mattress covering and fire proofing materials.

    You CAN get a doctor’s note to receive a mattress that is totally free of flame retardants, but I found that to be a little troubling too. What if you really did have a fire? It is certainly more toxic to baby in that moment to have a highly flammable mattress than to have it treated with chemicals.

    Wool seems to be the best solution as far as materials that are fire retardant but I found that the second best option was boric acid. Marco you’ll have to do your own research to be sure you’re comfortable with boric acid, but it seemed like the best fire retardant I studied.
    Thanks for the great questions!
    Joy

  9. I’m glad to hear that Joy, because I just bought my kids a full organic cotton/latex mattress treated with boric acid. I also was not willing to go the no flame retardant route, although we all grew up sleeping on such mattresses. . . and it wasn’t super clear to me that it was saving tons of non-smokers lives. However, on the off chance my house does catch on fire, I’ll take the flame retardants.

  10. Soy based foam is max 20% natural. The other 80% is still chemicals. The Soybean used is genetically modified since 98% of the soybean grown in the USA is GM.

    CertiPUR is a bit of a sham….
    http://www.myessentia.com/blog/2010/05/06/certipur-us-chemical-companies-certify-themselves/

    Since their standards aren’t very high i wonder what their “non-toxic” fire retardant really is.

  11. what happens if you put a high-quality allergy cover on the mattress? Do these keep chemicals contained as well as dust mites? I’m just wondering so I can assuage my guilt about my children sleeping on non-organic mattresses.

    I’d be careful about latex because of allergies. I think memory foam is scary and they know very little about its safety really.

    I use borax (boric acid) all over my house for everything from ant traps to toilet bowl cleaner to homemade flubber. If it’s too toxic, my kids are doomed.

  12. Do you have any suggestions on how to make a non-organic mattress (crib and/or twin and/or queen size) less toxic? We cannot afford an organic twin mattress and are soon transitioning our son from crib to twin bed. I am concerned about what toxins I may have exposed him to with his crib mattress and want to make any adjustments I can for the next baby. I have been learning more and more as I go and wish I had been aware of all information regarding toxins before having the first baby! It doesn’t seem right that it so hard to get accurate, straightforward information up front about things that are potentially so harmful to babies and children. And that they are permitted in the first place.

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