One of the most important decisions a parent can make is choosing an organic kids mattress. Sleep is critical to your child’s health and well-being, and since kids spend more than one third of their lives in direct exposure to their mattress materials it’s crucial to their health that those mattress materials be safe, organic and non-toxic.
A safe, non-toxic mattress can determine whether your child sleeps well or not. Kids are more vulnerable to the toxins in mattresses since their fragile organ and elimination systems are developing and they can’t easily detoxify. During sleep, children’s bodies work to recover from the accumulation of toxins and stress from their day. The cells attempt to regenerate and the body tries to eliminate toxins. The last thing you want to do is introduce more toxins from your child’s mattress.
The way to ensure a non-toxic sleep environment is to avoid polyurethane foam, memory foam and other synthetic materials. Also avoid mattresses with fire retardants. Your kids need a mattress with good quality organic, non-toxic materials.
Firm vs Soft Mattress for Kids
Trying to decide between a firm vs soft mattress for kids? Kids generally need firm support for postural alignment when they are young. A kids organic mattress that is too soft might lead to improper spine alignment, which could cause posture and back issues. A good comfort level for a kids mattress is firm or cushion firm, which means the organic mattress is supportive and firm with some cushion for comfort. Good postural and spinal alignment is not simply about firmness but whether a mattress distributes weight properly. (see below section on individually wrapped coils)
As they grow older, kids may begin to prefer a softer mattress, but this is always a matter of preference. It’s best to begin with a firm mattress since you can always add a soft topper as your child grows older. You can always make a firm mattress softer, but if you start out with a soft mattress and find your child needs more support, there’s not a lot you can do.
Natural Latex vs Coils
Should you get an organic kids mattress with metal coils or innersprings?
There’s a popular belief that the metal in a mattress acts as an antenna to attract and amplify EMFs. I’ve extensively looked into this, and there is no evidence to this incorrect assumption. The misunderstanding comes from a popular blog post that provided speculation about innerspring mattresses, which was not based on fact. In actuality, the authors of the study that is supposed to make this claim actually say that metal in a mattress has a weakening or attenuated influence on EMFs. Even so, the conclusions of this study are continually misrepresented. EMFs are definitely something to be concerned about, especially in the bedroom since they can interfere with sleep. There are issues to be concerned about, but a coil mattress is fine. See EMFs and Innerspring Coils
Support Layer of an Organic Kids Mattress
The support layer controls how deeply the heavier parts of your body sink down into a mattress. It also helps the comfort layers hold up the more recessed parts of the body when necessary.
An innerspring organic kids mattress has a completely different support layer than a mattress with individually wrapped coils (also called encased or pocketed coils). Traditional innersprings are continuous coils that are connected with metal helicals. Innerspring mattresses are less expensive since they are easier to make. However, a good quality innerspring will last a long time. Innersprings can provide a firm support to a mattress but they have less ability to provide body contouring like individually wrapped coils. Therefore, they can be less comfortable.
Individually wrapped (encased) coils are enclosed individually in a cloth material, creating separate pockets that function and move independently. The independent coils feel a little more buoyant while relieving pressure on the joints. They provide individualized comfort by cradling and conforming to the body. The wrapped coils are more responsive to your child’s weight and movements than traditional innerspring mattresses, so your child gets balanced back support. This results in less tossing and turning. Wrapped coils also provide airflow to reduce overheating.
In addition, you don’t get the transfer of motion you get with an innerspring. Individually-wrapped coils are great for adults that don’t want to be disturbed every time their partner moves. And if you lie down with your child on their encased coil mattress until they fall asleep, as many parents do, you are less likely to disturb your child when you leave the bed.
Individually-wrapped or encased coils provide more comfort, better weight distribution and support than an innerspring. The only drawback is that they are more expensive.
Latex Support Core
Natural Latex comes from the milky liquid from a rubber tree. The liquid is harvested and then baked into a foam. Latex is an extremely durable mattress material, and will easily outlast polyurethane foam, which breaks down over time. A good quality latex support core will last over 20 years – throughout your child’s childhood and beyond.
Latex is resilient, with a tendency to spring back to its original position and adjust to different body weight and sleeping positions. Latex is able to maintain its comfort for a long time without body impressions or sagging. And as with pocketed coils, you don’t get the motion transfer like you do with innersprings.
Latex is an expensive material, but it can be combined with coils within a support layer, which can make it more affordable. It also weighs more than most mattresses. If you’re concerned about latex allergies, then choose a mattress with individually-wrapped coils instead of latex.
You need to be careful that you are getting quality natural latex and not a synthetic blend. A mattress can be labelled as a natural latex mattress even if it only has about an inch of latex. Latex can also be made synthetically from a chemical called styrene butadiene, and you definitely want to avoid that. Synthetic is a lot less expensive than natural latex, but it’s not a healthy alternative.
Latex certified to the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) means that all latex sap comes from certified organic rubber plantations. This certification also ensures fair labor practices and a reliable trustworthy supply chain.
When discussing a comfort layer for an organic kids mattress, the only thing I will mention about polyurethane foam (especially memory foam) is to avoid it. These are not safe materials for kids (or adults) since they are made with toxic chemicals that can off-gas.
Latex, organic cotton, or individually wrapped microcoils make excellent comfort layers for an organic kids mattress.
- Organic cotton is a safe, non-toxic material that provides a breathable, firm comfort layer. It’s important that the cotton be GOTS certified.
- Microcoils are miniature versions of individually wrapped coils and are used in some mattresses as a comfort layer. Microcoils will gently push back and support the body really well. The coils are tiny so you won’t feel them, and they form a slight cradle, contouring to the body to relieve pressure points. Another great quality of microcoils is that they provide excellent breathability.
- In addition to being a great choice in a support core, natural latex can make an excellent sleep surface. Latex provides a cooler sleep surface than synthetic foam and can provide a somewhat similar feel to memory foam without the toxicity. A latex topper is also a great choice for a super firm mattress that might need more cushion. However, if you have any allergy concerns with latex, you might want to choose organic cotton or microcoils for your child’s sleep surface.
Choosing the Right Organic Kids Mattress for Your Child
Now that you have a better understanding of the basics of kids organic mattresses, you may be interested in our Guide to Choosing an Organic Mattress for Kids. This guide will help you find the exact mattress fit for your child’s needs.