Allergies, Children and Mattresses

So glad to find this website, but I am feeling very overwhelmed. I live in Raleigh NC, and found a post about mattress stores around here - looks like there are lots and lots. I have no idea how to choose. We have just recently found out about some mold issues in our old house, combined with some rather severe allergies. So, we’ve had to leave everything behind and will be building a new house. A very dry house!

So with mattresses our special needs are:

  1. low/no chemicals (natural latex or organic cotton?)
  2. low/no smells (very oversensitive noses on two of us)
  3. affordability (we are looking safe and low chemical, not fancy - though we are aware that good mattresses will cost money)

We’d like a king and two twins (for the kids). My husband can sleep while draped over a rock. Typically on his side or back. He likes firm but seems ok with softer mattress tops. I sleep almost exclusively on my side. My kids vary.

I just don’t know where to start. I’ve read and read, but there are almost too many options. Do you have any suggestions?

Thank you so so much!

Hi Brigabart,

This means that humidity control would be very important in your mattress and I would make sure that every layer including the foundation, the foam in the mattress, the quilting and cover material, the mattress protector, and your sheets and bedding encourage good ventilation and moisture wicking. Very often people only focus on one component of the mattress but all of these layers will have an effect on the overall breathability and the humidity that builds up in your complete sleeping system as well as sleeping temperature of course. One “bad” layer may negate the ventilation benefits of the others.

The best suggestions I could make would be …

  1. Find the experts in your area that can give you accurate and meaningful information about mattress materials, their properties, and their safety. This way you can work with people who have your best interests at heart and already know what you would otherwise need to learn. The Raleigh list in post #2 here (which you’ve probably seen) has some good options and it may also be worthwhile including several of the online or “on the phone” manufacturers listed in post #21 here as a value reference point and also as a source of knowledge and guidance depending on the comfort level you have with “on the phone” or online purchasing. I mention this because while there are many knowledgeable and good quality outlets and mattresses available in the Raleigh area … some of them may have significantly higher prices in apples to apples comparisons with other areas or online. This way you can decide for yourself how much of a premium you are willing to pay (if any exists) for better “local” value.

There is a wide range of “how natural is natural”, “how safe is safe” and how “organic is organic” but I would tend to stick with natural materials, foams, and fibers that are either Oeko-Tex, GOTS, or GOLS certified (or other recognized certifications for purity and safety) or uncertified materials that are all natural and safe and that someone with your interests in mind can confirm meets all your criteria.

Smells can be harmful or not harmful but there are very few mattress components (outside of innersprings or natural fibers) that have no smell at all. High quality latex for example has a smell that will linger for a while (often like rubber or vanilla depending on the type of latex) but is not harmful. Some of the most “questionable” VOC’s have little or no smell at all. Smell and safety in other words are only loosely related.

This is why I suggested online sources in your research (and I would talk to them not just “analyze” specs or mattresses on websites which can become overwhelming).

While local would always be my first choice and there are some knowledgeable people and good quality mattresses in the Raleigh area, some of them have a fairly substantial premium over similar local outlets in other areas (particularly local manufacturers) or similar online choices. If you find in your local research that you may be paying too high a premium to buy locally in a reasonable apples to apples comparison (by your standards) then I would include online options as a more serious possibility. Either way they can be a value reference point.

One of the strengths of a “good” local retailer or manufacturer is the ability to help you fit your unique needs and preferences to the mattresses they make or carry. Good local testing with the guidance of someone with experience and knowledge is generally the most accurate way to choose a mattress that meets your immediate preferences but also to make sure you are just as happy with how your mattress feels and performs in weeks, months, and years down the road. The better online manufacturers are also very good at this but this would be based more on “averages” in combination with your input from local testing.

The best suggestion is usually to learn “just enough” to know when someone knows what they are talking about so you can find the experts instead of becoming the expert and building a mattress based on all the technical information that is available but can quickly become overwhelming. There is a step by step process in post #10 here that can help a lot in finding your best possible choices.

Narrow your choices down to one at each of the outlets that you choose to visit or seriously consider … and make sure you have detailed information about each of them so you can not only compare them in terms of how they feel (if you have tested them) and compare the options available at each retailer or manufacturer but you can also make more meaningful “value” comparisons between mattresses that use similar materials.

Post #2 here also has some links to post and threads that may be helpful in making better choices for children.

Never buy a mattress until you have compared it to at least one other that is a good “value reference point”.

These should keep you “safe” from making a purchase at the same time as you are testing mattresses and ensure that all your options are looked at a little more closely and compared with other similar options before you pull the trigger.


Thank you Phoenix! That was all very helpful. Thankfully I have lots of time to go try out mattresses and find those experts. One last question - I will be doing footwork and trying out mattresses, but I stumbled across a mattress on Amazon that I wondered about - it had very good reviews and I wondered about it in terms of our particular issues. It is the Ultimate Dreams by Dreamfoam bedding. The price is attractive :wink: I wondered if you know much about this particular mattress. I intend to go try out mattresses, but it’s always nice to have a less expensive alternative in the back of my mind.

Hi Brigabart,

Dreamfoam (part of Brooklyn Bedding) is one of the manufacturing members of this site. I think very highly of them and they have great quality and value. A forum search on “Ultimate Dreams” (you can just click this) will bring up dozens of references to them and reviews and feedback from many people who have purchased them (and how they chose the comfort layer that they did).

They are a latex polyfoam hybrid. The 3" latex comfort layer (your choice of firmness level) is blended Talalay latex which is OekoTex standard 100 class 1 certified safe for babies. The polyfoam base is high quality but of course even high quality polyfoam is not in the same quality range (or as natural a material as 100% natural latex) as latex and there is also 1.5" of soft polyfoam in the quilting layers above the latex. The polyfoam is US made so I would have no issues with it’s “safety” although all polyfoam has some degree of offgassing and latex is a much more natural material than polyfoam. They also have several different models available including a version which has a zip top cover so you can remove the comfort layer and exchange it for something softer or firmer if needed which can reduce the risk of buying a mattress online where there are no exchange or refund options.

They are a very good choice for those who are looking for a latex hybrid which has great quality/value but don’t have the budget to go with all latex or include a cover which has wool quilting without polyfoam.

Everything is a tradeoff and depends on which parts of each person’s "value equation is most important.


Thank you so much! That was an extremely helpful answer also - I know that there are things in there that i want to steer clear of. Thank you again for the other links also. There were terrific suggestions for both latex and other organic material mattresses for children that helped me learn even more!


Glad I could help :slight_smile:

I also realized in reading your reply (where I usually re-read the few posts before it as well) that I didn’t link the “step by step” process I mentioned earlier. The link is fixed and it’s in post #10 here to save you going back and finding it.


Thanks so much! We’ve just had another wrench thrown in the lot - just found out today that my youngest daughter has a rather severe dust mite allergy. Sigh. Maybe we should build a tree house and sleep in hammocks :wink:

Hi Brigabart,

Dust mites need moisture or humidity in their environment so more breathable and ventilating materials can be very important in controlling dust mite populations. Latex and wool both make good choices as well because they have some dust mite resistance along with breathable cotton or viscose covers. These will do a better job or controlling humidity. A mattress protector that surrounds the mattress that has a fine enough weave or micron size can also prevent dust mites and the allergens they produce (and the skin cells which they feed on) from entering or escaping the mattress and can also help.

Not sure about about the “dust mite” benefits of a hammock or tree house … but at least it sounds like lots of fun :slight_smile:


Out of curiosity, I’ve noticed several people talk about the smell of latex, which you mentioned too. Which ones smell of vanilla? I love vanilla!

Hi Brigabert,

Latex International talalay latex has a kind of sweet smell for a while that reminds many people (including me) of vanilla.


Our mattress from SleepEZ has latex components made by Radium (blended Talalay), and Latex Green (natural Dunlop) and I’d say the smell of their latex reminds me of sugar cookies, more than just a vanilla smell. After almost three months, the light odor is still there, although it has diminished quite a bit. To me, it is not bothersome at all, and I have a very sensitive nose.