Need Help Picking New Mattresses For Our Children

When we first bought our house we considered it our “starter house.”  Something that was big enough for the 2 of us, and maybe a kid or two.  We thought that by the time our kids were ready for school we would be buying for bigger house in a different school district.  But times and values change.  We’re deeply rooted in our community and believe that having a smaller house is better for the planet and that we can make things work in our house.  Sure, if I had an extra $100,00, I’d add a family/sun room and bring my washer/dryer up out of the basement, but otherwise we’re content here.

child sleeping on a bed

Kids spend a third of their life on their beds. We need to keep them safe.

However, we only have 3 small bedrooms.  For the past 8 years our boy/girl twins have shared the larger of the 2 kids’ bedrooms and our younger son has been in the smallest room.  Now it’s really time for our daughter to stop sharing with her brother, and because of the gender distribution, she’ll get her own room.  As I looked around the smaller room, I tried to figure out how my daughter would fit her stuff plus the desk that she’ll need as she gets older.  I realized that a loft would be a neat solution to add more space.

Where Jon and I went to college, homemade lofts were very popular both the dorms and independent living groups.  Conveniently, Jon has a bunch of experience building things, including lofts.  Jon can’t wait to blog about building the loft, but first he’s spending all his free time building it right now!

wood loft under construction

The loft Jon is building

Timmy, our youngest, has been using a crib converted into a toddler bed. When he moves to the big boy bed and Ellie moves into her new loft, we’re going to need a new mattress .  Really, the bunk beds really needs new mattresses as well.  5 years ago when we moved the older two into the bunk bed we had never considered the chemicals that are in mattresses today.  Mostly we thought about how we could get mattresses for their bunk bed as cheaply as possible.  And I can tell you, we got cheap.  Within a year the side of the mattress on the bottom bunk was all caved in from sitting on it.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, we have become aware of the ridiculous situation with laws that require strong fire retardants to be in mattresses and furniture.  A few years ago we realized that we didn’t want our children sleeping on all these chemicals, and we started to see studies that showed that the chemicals leach into their bodies as they sleep. The chemicals also “off gas” or release their chemicals into the air that people then breathe in while they sleep.  Fortunately, options exist that use tight weaves to attain the same level of flame retardant effect.  At this time, using chemicals or these expensive alternatives is necessary because most states require mattresses to meat California fire code standards.

Also a lot of mattresses are made of petroleum products, which raises its own values issues for us, as well as questions about how the materials are sourced, what is recyclable and what chemicals go into growing even the natural materials.

This was bad enough, but then the news broke in 2012 that the fire retardants themselves don’t actually make the mattresses more safe or prevent fires or save children from being burned.  The entire issue was made up by chemical companies that wanted to sell more chemicals and tobacco companies that wanted to divert the issue of bed fires away from smoking in bed.

Now, while I’d like to think that they never thought that these chemicals would actually hurt more people than their pretend fire problems ever would, but they have.  Because the laws are still in place to require mattresses to be fire retardant we are now looking for mattresses for our children that

  1. don’t have flame retardant chemicals in them
  2. we can afford.

In our pursuit of this, we have found that we actually may want to pay attention to what the other materials are in the mattress and how they are sourced.

If this issue is new to you, there is a lot more information out on the web.  I just came across this piece from the Center for Environmental Health about a landmark agreement that requires a “nap mat” maker to remove flame retardant chemicals from their products.

We need your help.  What mattress do you think we should get for our daughter and later our sons?

Happy Greening!

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  1. I have not been able to find a green mattress company locally and I think it’s important to try mattresses before you buy them – not just get something on the internet sight unseen – especially if it’s really expensive as they tend to be.

    Our plan will likely be to buy an older twin mattress (so it’s already off gassed), encase it in a mattress protector that is PVC and flame retardant free and top it with an organic mattress topper from Sleep Country (where my husband works). We may also get a movable base for it to be able to adjust the comfort level while sleeping in case the mattress is subpar. If you’ve not tried it, head to any sleep country for a free movable base demonstration. It’ll change your life – amazing!

  2. I think you should visit a mattress store. I’m sure they could help you with your problem. They have at least a little background about the composition of the mattresses they selling.

  3. naturepedic!

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