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Here’s What You Really Need to Know About Crib Mattress Safety
Updated on
September 11, 2023

Here’s What You Really Need to Know About Crib Mattress Safety

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Here’s What You Really Need to Know About Crib Mattress Safety.
Here’s What You Really Need to Know About Crib Mattress Safety

Sometimes shopping for a crib mattress can feel like learning a second language. What’s the deal with polyurethane? Is there a difference between natural and synthetic latex? Were you supposed to be getting a degree in chemistry while preparing for your baby, and everyone simply forgot to mention it?

The people who know the most about crib mattresses are usually the ones who make them. So we’ve partnered with Avocado—makers of some of the most popular eco-friendly and organic mattresses around—to shed some light on which features to look for and what all that jargon really means.

What’s On the Inside

Shopping for a crib mattress can get pretty confusing when you start looking at the labels. What’s the big deal with foam? Is any kind of plastic bad? What do all those certifications mean?

When it comes to safety, crib mattresses are regulated for important standards like size (to make sure it fits snugly in your crib), flammability and some chemicals like phthalates. But there’s a lot of leeway around what materials crib mattresses can be made out of—from using natural and organic materials to more complex synthetic ones.

While the research around synthetic textiles is still developing, one thing you can look for is a mattress that uses organic materials. To be considered organic, materials have to adhere to strict standards around how they’re grown and produced, like being grown without using synthetic pesticides, herbicides or GMOs.

If your gear has a GOTS certification, that means it has to contain at least 70% certified organic fibers. And if the whole mattress is GOTS certified organic—like Avocado’s crib mattresses—then it has to contain a minimum of 95% certified organic fibers. To do that, Avocado’s crib mattresses use GOTS certified organic cotton, hemp and wool, plus an organic coconut husk pad infused with organic latex that provides support and helps keep the mattress cool.

What’s on the Label

Some parents choose to avoid certain materials, like foam, latex, glue or added flame retardants (none of which you’ll find in any of Avocado’s crib mattresses), in their mattress. But if you don’t have time to become a part-time chemist, a good rule of thumb to follow is to check for certifications, like MADE SAFE or GREENGUARD Gold, that go above and beyond the standard safety requirements to cover things like chemical emissions or ingredients that could impact your baby’s health. Here’s what each one means:

MADE SAFE: MADE SAFE is a nontoxic certification for everyday household items in the United States (it covers everything from baby products to bedding to beauty and beyond). A MADE SAFE label means your baby gear has gone through a scientific process that screens for any ingredients that are either known or suspected to cause harm to human health, animals, aquatic life or ecosystems (they ban over 6,500 ingredients like flame retardants, carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and more).

GREENGUARD Gold: Indoor air can actually be more polluted than outdoor air. And babies breathe more than adults (relative to their body weight). GREENGUARD Gold-certified mattresses help to keep the air quality around their crib safer by keeping chemical emissions like VOCs, formaldehyde, and phthalates low.

Everything in Avocado’s baby and crib collection is 100% GOTS certified organic, MADE SAFE, GREENGUARD Gold, Formaldehyde-Free and—as a bonus—climate neutral (so it’s safer for the environment too).

What You Want to Keep Out

There’s more to mattresses than just materials, though! Some of the most important safety features are the ones we take for granted, like firmness or cleanliness. While it might be strange to have your baby sleep on a mattress you would find uncomfortable, a firm mattress is still the safest place for your baby to sleep per the Americam Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations (softer mattresses can pose a suffocation risk).

As for what you want to keep out of your mattress, that one’s pretty simple too: moisture. If moisture (like spit-up or urine) gets into your baby’s mattress, it can turn into mold. So if your crib mattress isn’t waterproof, look for a mattress cover that is (like Avocado’s organic waterproof crib mattress protector).

Your baby will spend a significant portion of their early days sleeping and hanging out in their crib (12-18 hours a day!). So while you don’t need to become fluent in mattress jargon, it’s helpful to know what you’re buying. And if you want more information about mattress safety, Avocado has a whole bunch of education right here (they’re nerds for this stuff).

This article is sponsored by Avocado Green Mattress. Babylist’s free site, apps and emails are made possible by our sponsors. We limit our sponsored content to relevant partners that offer products and services we believe in and use ourselves.

Babylist Staff


Babylist editors and writers are parents themselves and have years of experience writing and researching, coming from media outlets like Motherly, the SF Chronicle, the New York Times and the Daily Beast, and the fields of early childhood education and publishing. We research and test hundreds of products, survey real Babylist parents and consult reviews in order to recommend the best products and gear for your growing family.

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