Allergies, Children and Mattresses

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.