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The Best Nontoxic Crib Mattresses Of 2022 + What Materials To Avoid

The Best Nontoxic Crib Mattresses Of 2022 + What Materials To Avoid
Image by mbg creative
October 28, 2022
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Whether you decide to move your new baby to their nursery right away or to room-share for a bit using a bassinet or co-sleeper, the time will eventually come for your infant to sleep in a crib. As with any sleep setup, there's a lot to consider when selecting the best crib mattress for your child—and for many parents, this includes concerns about chemicals and off-gassing. Thankfully, a ton of great nontoxic crib mattresses exist, so you can sleep easier knowing your child is in the safest scenario.

While tons of brands label their products as nontoxic, it's a pretty vague statement without the proper certifications. Luckily, there's a few hacks for finding the best nontoxic crib mattresses. Tasha Stoiber, Ph.D., a senior scientist at EWG, suggests looking for a company that values transparency to start your shopping process, calling it one of the "most important things" a parent can do. She explains that if a company is transparent about the materials it uses and how they're sourced, "Then you know exactly what you are getting and can avoid harmful materials."

Below, find more expert advice on what certifications to look for in a crib mattress (and which materials to avoid)—plus, shop our picks for the best nontoxic crib mattresses of 2022.

What is a nontoxic crib mattress?

As the name implies, a nontoxic crib mattress poses a low risk of releasing toxins. In particular, this centers around off-gassing, a common scenario in which manufactured items slowly release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the environment as they air out over time. VOCs are often created during the manufacturing process and can be formed in the foams, fabrics, or plastics used in many standard mattresses.

In truth, most items in your home release VOCs, including electronics, clothing, carpeting, furniture, wall paint, and appliances. That said, inhaling elevated levels of VOCs can be particularly irritating for some—namely young infants or people with compromised respiratory systems, or known chemical allergies.

"Volatile organic compounds are harmful to both short-term and long-term health," Stoiber explains. "In the short term, they can be linked to respiratory irritation and increased asthma symptoms. In the long term, they are linked to more serious health harms, such as cancer. They are more common in mattresses made with polyurethane foam."

The importance of nontoxic certifications.

Nontoxic certifications are provided by third-party oversight organizations that test the brand's products to confirm that the VOCs being emitted are low enough to not pose a risk of encouraging respiratory complications or allergies. The most common certifications for mattresses are GREENGUARD, CertiPUR-US, and GOTS.

A mattress may carry more than one certification, especially given that some oversight agencies only focus on one or a few select materials. For example, it's common to see brands featuring both CertiPUR-US and GOTS certifications. CertiPUR-US reviews the foam, and GOTS checks other materials such as a mattress' cotton cover—so if a product uses both foam and cotton, it's important to have the two stamps of approval.

To that point, Stoiber advises to "Make sure that the whole mattress is certified and not just one part, like the cover." She also notes that CertiPUR-US on its own is not particularly meaningful, as "It actually doesn't provide much protection beyond what is already required by law."

Types of nontoxic certifications:

GREENGUARD

GREENGUARD is the certification organization managed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and is considered the most rigorous. UL has some of the strictest testing standards across all products and requires the lowest VOC emission limits for all materials present in mattresses submitted for review.

CertiPUR-US

CertiPUR-US is a certification focusing specifically on polyurethane foam VOC emissions, making this certification important for foam and memory foam mattresses. This organization also reviews emissions for flame retardants, formaldehyde, phthalates, mercury, lead, other heavy metals, and other VOCs. But again, Stoiber explains that this certification on its own does not hold much significance.

GOTS

GOTS grants organic and low-chemical processing certification for textiles. To achieve the GOTS Certified Organic label, the fabric content for a product must be made from 95% organic fibers. Additionally, during the production process, the manufacturer must adhere to strict guidelines regarding the types of chemicals used (e.g., dyes, processing agents, etc.) and may not use harsh chemicals, such as formaldehyde, genetically modified organics (GMOs), or toxic heavy metals.

How we picked:

Certifications

When it comes to ensuring your mattress is nontoxic, certifications are crucial. We've made sure each of the mattresses we selected boasts substantial certifications.

Expert input

We spoke with experts to determine what to look for in a nontoxic crib mattress and took this insight into account when choosing these mattresses.

Price

Since everyone's budget is different, we included nontoxic crib mattresses at a variety of price points while being careful not to sacrifice quality.

Reviews

We took customer feedback seriously when selecting these products and chose mattresses with primarily positive reviews while calling out any major negative comments.

Our picks for the best nontoxic crib mattresses of 2022:

Best sustainable: Avocado Luxury Organic Crib Mattress

Pros:

  • GREENGUARD Gold, GOLS, GOTS, Climate Neutral, Made Safe, FSC certified
  • Flippable mattress made for infants & toddlers

Cons:

  • Some say it does not hold up well over time
Sizes Available: Standard crib size
Trial Period: 100 nights
Warranty: 25-year

How It’s Made & How It Arrives:

Peace of mind is essential when you’re shopping for your baby—and with a mattress that features 100% GOLS certified latex, 100% GOTS organic certified cotton, and is also UL-certified formaldehyde-free, you’ll get exactly that. An OEKO-TEX certified cotton cover is used to wrap inner coils, while coco-fiber provides reinforced edge support.

Even better, this is a flippable mattress, so you can use it into your child’s toddler years (up to age four).

The brand prioritizes sustainability, and ships its mattresses in a recyclable paper box, with a shrink-wrapped recyclable plastic cover. Because the mattress is shrink-wrapped, you might need to let it expand for a few hours before it’s ready to use, but off-gassing odors are minimal to non-existent.

What Customers Say:

This mattress has an overall rating of 4.3 out of five stars. Most reviews are positive, and this one sums it up well: “I ordered an organic mattress pad for a crib. Very happy with the quality, exactly what I was looking for. Highly recommend.”

On the con side, some shoppers warn that the mattress lost some of it's responsiveness over time.

Best made to order: Nest Stork Certified Organic Crib Mattress

Pros:

  • GREENGUARD Gold certified, GOLS certified organic, & GOTS certified
  • Uses organic materials

Cons:

  • May be too tight a fight for some cribs
  • Made-to-order purchase structure slows down delivery
Materials: Organic cottonOrganic woolOrganic latex
Sizes Available: Standard crib size — but also available in crib oval
Trial Period: 30 nights
Warranty: Lifetime

How It’s Made & How It Arrives:

Nest packs in the certifications with this latex mattress; it's GREENGUARD Gold, GOLS, and GOTS certified for low VOCs. Needless to say, it's made with high-quality, toxicity materials across the board with an all latex foam wrapped in a breathable cover made from organic cotton and wool.

Like most crib mattresses, it’s on the firmer side, especially those made from latex. While most shoppers will opt for the standard size—which is compatible with convertible cribs—there's also an oval shape for those with bassinets.

Either way, it ships in a box fully expanded with no excess packaging, meaning it’s ready to go as soon as it arrives. Most reviewers note that there were no odors at unboxing.

What Customers Say:

With an average rating of 4.7 out of five stars, reviews are largely positive for this mattress. One happy parent raves, “She literally cannot wait to go to sleep on her Nest Bedding crib mattress at night, naps are another story. It has been great for her as she sleeps a little hot. Amazing product and we couldn't be happier.”

Any negative reviews are mostly centered around the time it took to receive the mattress. Since the products are made to order, delivery time may be a bit longer than you’d hope.

Best compact: Naturepedic Organic Crib Natural Mattress

Pros:

  • GREENGUARD Gold, GOTS, GOLS, Made-Safe certified
  • Breathable
  • Waterproof

Cons:

  • Not ideal for non-stretch sheets
  • May be slightly smaller than standard size
Materials: Organic cotton coverPolyurethane foam mattress
Sizes Available: Standard crib size
Trial Period: 100 nights
Warranty: Lifetime

How It’s Made & How It Arrives:

The dimensions of this lightweight crib mattress are slightly smaller than standard size, which makes it a top pick for new parents who have more compact frames—but that's not the only thing to love. The GREENGUARD Gold certified polyurethane foams is wrapped in a GOTS and GOLS certified cover, ensuring minimal exposure to toxins. What's more, the exterior is treated with a non-GMO sugar cane-based waterproof coating for added durability (and easy cleaning post diaper blowouts).

Similar to other offerings, it arrives in a box with no excess packaging, which allows it to be slept on right away. Most reviewers confirm there are no chemical smells post unwrapping.

What Customers Say:

With an overall rating of 4.7 out of five stars, parents love the easy maintenance and that this mattress is lightweight. One writes, “I have owned the Naturepedic No Compromise Organic Cotton Lightweight Crib Mattress for two years now and have loved it. It is truly lightweight, so changing sheets is very easy to do. A mattress pad isn't necessary - you can easily wipe the surface of this mattress.”

In the few negative reviews, people express concerns about this mattress not being a standard crib size, leaving gaps around the crib. However, this can also be a con if your crib is on the smaller side.

Most breathable: Organic Dream Crib and Toddler Mattress

Pros:

  • GREENGUARD Gold Certified
  • Organic cotton, hypoallergenic
  • Pure-Air 100% breathable technology reduces suffocation risk

Cons:

  • Some off-gassing odors at unboxing
  • Only the cover is organic
Materials: Organic cotton coverPolymer core mattress
Sizes Available: Standard crib size
Trial Period: N/A
Warranty: Lifetime

How It’s Made & How It Arrives:

You'll have one less thing to stress about at night with this lightweight crib mattress; it has an organic cotton surface specifically designed to reduce suffocation risks. As with most of these mattresses, it’s on the firmer side thanks to a densified polyester core. The perk of this design is that it keeps the mattress lightweight while still allowing plenty of airflow.

This one also arrives in a box, ready to be used, with no excess packaging. Be aware that because it is vacuum-sealed for delivery, you may experience some initial off-gassing.

What Customers Say:

This mattress also has a 4.7 overall rating, and reviews are mixed on whether there’s an odor when it’s unboxed. One person writes, “Very impressed with this mattress. No odor! It's comforting to know that my granddaughter is sleeping on an organic comfortable mattress. I highly recommend this. Your baby/toddler will not only sleep better, you will as well, knowing they are sleeping on an organic mattress and getting a good sleep!”

Best budget: Kolcraft Pure Sleep Therapeutic 150 Waterproof Toddler & Baby Crib Mattress

Pros:

  • GREENGUARD Gold, CPSIA Certified against lead or phthalates
  • Less expensive
  • Waterproof

Cons:

  • May need to be aired out
  • May be too soft for newborns
Materials: Steel coils
Sizes Available: Standard size
Trial Period: None mentioned
Warranty: 10-year

How It’s Made & How It Arrives:

For a budget option that still boasts significant certifications, this mattress is a great pick. It’s GREENGUARD Gold certified design opts for steel coils wrapped in hypoallergenic cushioning with air pockets for maximum breathability. These layers are contained in a Perma-dri waterproof fabric cover with reinforced stitching. Translation? You won't need to worry about the cushioning absorbing any questionable liquids. Better yet, the laminated exterior is super easy to clean with a damp cloth.

Shipped in a box and available with Amazon's two-day Prime shipping, it's ready to be used immediately. However, many shoppers note a strong plastic or vinyl smell that requires airing out before use. Some parents even needed to air it out for several days before moving it into their child’s nursery.

What Customers Say:

With a 4.6 overall rating on Amazon, this is another great option, especially if you’re concerned about price. One grandparent states, “I have had six kids and I am expecting my grandson. I bought this mattress and it was better than expected. It is definitely waterproof and very comfortable. It is definitely worth the purchase.”

Some reviews do mention that it does not hold up well over time, which is ultimately to be expected for the price.

Most durable: Delta Children Twinkle Galaxy Dual Sided Crib and Toddler Mattress

Pros:

  • GREENGUARD Gold, CPSIA & JPMA certified
  • Flippable mattress for infant to toddler size

Cons:

  • Too firm for some
Materials: Sustainably sourced fiber coreWaterproof vinyl cover
Sizes Available: Standard crib size
Trial Period: 30 nights
Warranty: 7-year

How It’s Made & How It Arrives:

Another affordable option, this flippable mattress gives you even more bang for your buck. It’s a sustainably-sourced fiber-core mattress made from 300 recycled plastic bottles reclaimed from landfills. Once you've worn down the firmer side in your child's infant years, you can flip to the slightly softer one once they become a toddler.

Not only is this mattress is also ASTM, CPSIA, and JPMA certified free from harsh metals, chemical flame retardants, lead, and phthalates, it also has a vinyl waterproof cover for those early potty-training days. Despite the lower price point, most parents report minimal to no-off gassing.

What Customers Say:

Feedback for this mattress is overwhelmingly positive, and it has an overall rating of 4.6 out of five stars. That said, many reviews do mention that this is a very firm mattress, and some say it’s difficult to decipher between the toddler side and the infant size. One parent writes, “The mattress was perfect for toddler bed. Great for accidents if they happen. Mattress is very firm. So if you're looking for soft, keep looking.”

Best flippable: Nook Sleep Pure Organic 2-Stage Non-Toxic Organic Crib Mattress

Pros:

  • GREENGUARD Gold & OEKO-TEX Certified
  • Flippable & can be used for infants and toddlers
  • Machine-washable cover

Cons:

  • Shorter warranty
  • Cover may pill quickly
Materials: Organic woolOEKO-TEX Certified Tencel/Lyocell & non-toxic polyester coverCore made from organic coconut coir (infant side)Natural latex (toddler)
Sizes Available: Standard size
Trial Period: 100 nights
Warranty: 1-year

How It’s Made & How It Arrives:

Another dual-sided option, this pick also packs in the non-toxic certifications. The firm core offers support for little bodies, wrapped in a OEKO-TEX certified Tencel and Lyocell polyester cover. Another flippable option, it features a dedicated infant and toddler side with a pebbled surface that creates air channels to help provide natural breathability (and prevent suffocation).

Also shipped in a box, it takes a few hours to expand. The brand does not use excess packaging, and there is no off-gassing smell.

What Customers Say:

The 4.9 overall rating show that this is a popular choice. Glowing reviews center around durability and the low-chemical composition. One person notes, “We absolutely love this mattress. Our son has slept in this mattress since we brought him home. Going on two and a half years. We love knowing that he is safe from chemicals and that the cover is designed to help him breathe. I also love that there is an infant side, and then you can just flip it over for your growing little one. We already bought a second one for baby number two on the way!”

A few shoppers mention that the organic cover pills easily.

Best machine washable cover: Graco Premium Foam Crib & Toddler Mattress

Pros:

  • GREENGUARD Gold & CertiPUR-US Certified
  • Foam core mattress
  • Machine washable water-resistant cover

Cons:

  • May take up to 48 hours to fully inflate
  • May be a bit too firm for some people
Materials: CertiPUR-US certified foam coreWater-resistant fabric washable cover
Sizes Available: Standard size
Trial Period: 30 nights
Warranty: 6-year

How It’s Made & How It Arrives:

This is another wallet-friendly solution for budget-focused parents and caregivers. Along with a CertiPUR-US certified foam core, you’ll get a water-resistant cover that’s machine washable for easy cleanup. More importantly, this flippable mattress offers breathability and promises low VOC off-gassing thanks to its GREENGUARD Gold certification.

However, if you’re looking for something that’s ready to go out of the box, this isn’t it. The mattress arrives vacuum-sealed, with even the brand advising that you wait up to 48 hours for it to fully expand.

What Customers Say:

An Amazon best-seller, this mattress has a 4.8 overall rating, with nearly 35,000 five-star ratings. One reviewer notes, “This mattress has held up much better than the expensive mattress my daughter got for her baby, now toddler. Very nice mattress and it's inexpensive compared to others. Definitely recommend.”

But, the longer time needed to reach a usable point was an issue for other parents. One parent shared, “It's been 1 week since I received this product and it still looks as if it's compressed. Just not looking as it seemed in the picture. I regretted buying it.”

Colgate Mattress EcoClassica III Eco-Friendlier Crib Mattress

Pros:

  • GREENGUARD Gold, CertiPUR-US, ISPA, JPMA certified
  • Flippable for infant & toddler use
  • Waterproof

Cons:

  • Some reviews mention loose threads in the stitching
Materials: CertiPUR certified safe foamCertified organic cotton cover
Sizes Available: Standard size
Trial Period: None mentioned
Warranty: Lifetime

How It’s Made & How It Arrives:

This flippable mattress boasts GREENGUARD Gold and CertiPUR-US certifications—and you’ll get a certified organic cotton cover. Expect the 6-inch mattress to have a firmer, plant oil-based eco-foam for the infant side, and a slightly softer eco foam for the toddler side. Both sides boast a waterproof cover for quicker middle-of-the-night cleanups.

It arrives in a box, but may take a few hours to fully expand. That said, there aren’t any obvious odors or off-gassing occurring, per reviewers.

What Customers Say:

With a 4.8 out of five-star overall rating, parents love the longevity of this mattress. One shared, “We have been using this for 2.5 years and it is amazing. No complaints. Posting a late review because I feel people either review and post too early or if they have issues. We are buying this for our next one this month again. Hope it helps.”

Best extra-firm: Soaring Heart Organic Crib Mattress

Pros:

  • GOLS certified
  • Handmade latex mattresses
  • Designed for infancy through toddlerhood

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Thinner mattress might not be ideal for some bed frames
Materials: Organic cottonOrganic woolOrganic latexLatex
Sizes Available: Standard size
Trial Period: 30 nights
Warranty: 20-year

How It’s Made & How It Arrives:

While it’s one of the more expensive options on our list, this mattress is made with high quality materials and holds up well over time. The mattress is GOLS certified, with an organic latex core wrapped in a breathable, organic wool and cotton cover. It offers extra-firm support and is free from chemical fire retardants. Another flippable model, the brand recommends rotating this mattress regularly to minimize wear and tear.

While it does arrive folded in its box, it is ready to sleep on once unwrapped and set up. Most people do not experience an off-gassing smell.

What Customers Say:

This mattress is one of the rare finds that offers a full five out of five-star review overall. One reviewer shares, “My little one is currently two years old and has been happily sleeping on the mattress for just over a year and half. The mattress is still in amazing condition - we purchased a wool cover for protection and flip it over periodically.”

Keep in mind, it’s on the thinner side at only 3.5 inches wide, so it may not be a great fit for all cribs.

How to choose.

Given many of the warnings parents receive regarding baby safety, picking the right crib mattress can be daunting. The following criteria will help you make an informed decision.

Materials

Crib mattresses are typically categorized the same as those for older children and adults: innerspring, memory foam, latex, or hybrid (blend of multiple materials). Parents that want a fully organic or natural mattress should look for natural latex or organic mattresses. Again, you'll want to look for GOTS or GOLS certifications in addition to GREENGUARD Gold as both GOTS and GOLS refer to organic and natural materials classifications.

Memory foam tends to experience the most off-gassing. So, if you want a memory foam or foam-based mattress, be sure that it at least carries a CertiPUR-US certification.

"Some mattresses that you can order online have substituted fiberglass as a cheaper alternative to chemical flame retardants," Stoiber explains. She goes on to say that "There are concerns that the fiberglass can migrate out of the mattress, especially if you take the cover off. Exposure to fiberglass can lead to skin and respiratory irritation, rashes, as well as damage to the home and property." 

Again, Stoiber stresses the importance of transparency, adding that "It's a red flag if the company won't disclose exactly what they are using."

Certifications

If your focus is a nontoxic crib mattress, you can't ignore certifications. At a bare minimum, you want a mattress with GREENGUARD certification. This is considered the top option, as it's backed by UL—which is considered one of the most comprehensive oversights and standards independent organizations in the United States. And again, for foam mattresses, look for a CertiPUR-US certification at an absolute minimum. When it comes to organic textiles and fibers, prioritize those with GOTS, GOLS, or OEKO-TEX certifications.

While there are other certification organizations, those listed above are the most common and reputable. Just remember, certification doesn't mean that no off-gassing occurs. These labels simply mean that the amount of VOCs released is lower than the levels considered hazardous by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA).

Firmness

Research shows that a firmer mattress will reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), so if you're strictly buying a mattress for the crib stage, you'll want a firm option.

Dual-use mattresses (flippable models with an infant and toddler side) have different firmness levels on each side—with the toddler size being a bit softer. These mattresses are a great option for parents who don't want to swap out models in just a couple of years.

Durability

The longevity of a crib mattress is significantly shorter than other mattresses. Usually, you'll find that manufacturers outline an age or weight limit. At a minimum, your crib mattress should be compatible from newborn through 3 years of age.

As mentioned, the flippable models will provide more durability and a longer shelf life.

Price

Crib mattresses can vary widely in price. Consider your budget and the number of years you'll get out of the mattress you choose.

Safety

The last thing you want is a crib mattress that's too small for the crib, sits up too high even when the crib is set to the lowest position, or that's on a recall list. So, be sure to measure the interior dimensions of your crib (especially the height).

Keep in mind that eventually, your baby will begin to pull themselves up on the sides of the crib. So, if the mattress is too tall, this creates a hazard where your child may be able to bend over the sides and fall out. Of course, always check the CPSC recall list to be sure that your intended mattress isn't listed.

Maintenance

Look for features like machine-washable, waterproof, and/or stain-resistant covers, to make upkeep much easier and protect the core of your child's mattress from getting soiled or damaged. Alternatively, if you pick a mattress that doesn't have those built-in features, you can invest in a crib mattress cover.

FAQ

What is a nontoxic crib mattress?

A nontoxic crib mattress emits low levels of VOCs during the off-gassing process or doesn't rely on harsh chemicals and additives during the production process. To ensure you're picking a nontoxic crib mattress, look for options that carry certifications from trusted oversight organizations such as GREENGUARD, CertiPUR-US, GOTS, or GOLS.

What mattress material is best for babies?

"Infants are in a critical stage of development and may be more susceptible to chemical exposures," Stoiber explains. Since waterproofing is important for crib mattresses, she advises looking for a mattress that uses polyethylene, which she says won't off-gas as much as polyvinyl chloride, which is used often for waterproofing. 

The takeaway.

With so many options available, it can be difficult to choose the best crib mattress for your toddler—and once sustainability and safety enter the equation, the decision becomes even more confusing. Nontoxic crib mattresses help minimize the risk of allergic reactions or respiratory irritation caused by a mattress. To save yourself a headache and ensure that your child has a healthy, restful sleep, try one of these options, or check for the certifications we mentioned.

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Meet The Experts

Dorian Smith-Garcia is a diverse writer across beauty, fashion, travel, parenting, consumer goods, and tech. She has written for Inverse, Healthline Parenthood, The Confused Millennial, XONecole, Glowsly, and The Drive along with a variety of other publications.