Mattress question

We live in Vancouver and I am really struggling with what mattress to buy and was wondering if you could assist me.

We recently bought a mattress from a large mattress store. It smelled so bad (from off-gassing) for 2 weeks that we needed to return it. After that experience, I started researching mattresses. We have come close to buying a 100% certified organic latex from a local store. However, I’m not sure that I like the feel of a latex bed - maybe I’m just not used to it. It feels really squishy - even the firm ones.

My main goal is to find something that’s non-toxic for my kids, free of dangerous chemicals, fire retardants, etc.

Do you know of any mattresses that are like your typical mattress, but without the terrible chemicals, polyurethane foam, etc.?

Thanks so much!

Hi mattressquestion,

Some of the better options and possibilities I’m aware of in the Vancouver area are listed in post #2 here.

Post #2 here has links to most of the better threads and posts in the forum that are related to children that should be helpful.

This is kind of a contradiction. “Typical” mattresses are the ones that usually contain the polyurethane you are looking to avoid. The ones that don’t aren’t “typical” (and latex is one of these along with innerspring/natural fiber mattresses). If you do decide to go with a mattress that contains polyurethane … then I would make sure that the foam was CertiPur certified (or had some other meaningful certification for harmful chemicals and VOC’s). They may still have a odor but at least you would know that they have been tested to some fairly strict standards for safety. I would avoid memory foam completely for children … especially younger ones (see post #2 here).

When you are focused on “natural” or “green” or “safe” or “non toxic” or “organic” or “chemical” mattresses then it’s important to make sure you know the details of every layer in the mattress so that you are satisfied that it contains materials that you are comfortable with and that meet the criteria that are important to you. As you can see in post #2 here and in post #2 here … all of these are different from each other even though they are often used interchangeably in the industry.

There are many versions and types of latex mattresses (just like all categories of mattress) and they are a good choice for those who have higher thresholds for what they consider to be safe or natural but like any material some people may not like how they feel or perform. In these cases I would make sure that the “feel” was not just based on the construction of a single mattress or type of latex you tried but that you felt the same way about different types of latex mattresses as well (there are many variations just like there are many variations of every type or “category” of mattress).

Post #4 here has more about fire retardants, chemicals, and “safe” materials

Post #2 here has more information about “safe” fire retardants

Post #2 here has more about the “safety” of various natural and synthetic materials and there is also a brief list of most of the more common mattress materials and some comments about about their relative safety in post #6 here.

Post #4 here talks more about “green” materials and “how green is green enough for me”.

These three articles are among the best researched I have seen and are also well worth reading for those who are focused on natural, safe, and “green” materials …

FWIW … my daughter just purchased a Renelle Dunlop latex mattress from Majestic Futons (a couple of months ago). She preferred the feel of Dunlop over Talalay (unlike her dad) just to illustrate that there are many options within each category and you may like one and not another … or in some cases perhaps you may not even like a whole category of materials or mattresses.

The most important part of your search is connecting with local merchants or manufacturers who can “educate” you about the materials in their mattresses instead of focusing on “selling” you whatever they can, often using whatever “stories” they have been trained to use that are not always what they seem to be. Who you buy from can be one of the most important parts of your search.


Thanks for your response. I think we have decided on a sleeptek firm mattress (latex, wool and cotton) with a 2 inch topper. Do you know anything about sleeptek? Also, it looks like they also make a coil mattress (coils, wool and cotton) - see link - just wondering your thoughts on these as compared to a latex mattress.


Hi mattressquestion,

SleepTek as you probably know is a Canadian company that focuses on natural and organic mattresses. They make some very good quality mattresses but generally also carry a more premium price compared to other manufacturers that use similar materials. In a nutshell … good quality but not as good value IMO.

The mattress you linked looks great in terms of using non toxic materials and has nothing in it which I would in any way consider to be unsafe. It would also be very firm and would make a very suitable base mattress for a topper because it doesn’t have any real weak links. The coils are a basic bonnell coil (which are an inexpensive but strong innerspring) in a medium gauge and with a slightly higher than average coil count. Of course organic wool is a great material as well.

I’m not sure how to compare this to a latex mattress or what to use as a context for comparison because it’s really an apples to oranges comparison but it would certainly be firmer and less pressure relieving (without a topper anyway). In terms of durability a firmer latex core would likely be more durable because being that close to an innerspring would likely cause it to soften and take a set over time but this wouldn’t be an issue with a child (unless they were jumping on the mattress) and a latex topper (or other topper) would increase the durability of the innerspring. With a latex topper it would also be a “non toxic” combination. Without a topper it would likely be very firm.

Overall I think it would make a good although slightly expensive choice for a good quality and “safe” child’s mattress which was very firm or as a base for a topper if you wanted a softer sleeping surface.