Narrowing down non-toxic choices for children


This site is amazing - thanks for all of the great info! I have devoured it, but am still digesting it and am finding I am overwhelmed. I am hoping someone can help me narrow down the options. I have 3 yr old twins that are moving to big kids beds (twin size) soon. The beds are able to become bunks so we are limited to mattresses no thicker than 10 in. I would like a non-toxic option that will last a while, but especially with purchasing two, price is a big factor. I would like to keep it under $650 per mattress. Also, I am in the DC metro area which also limits the local options, so I am limited in what I can try before I buy, although I did visit American Foam Center. Unfortunately, the more knowledgable folks were not there, but I did get to try the mattress and the firmer one is a better choice for the kids, I think. It is just out of our price range.

I would really like some help narrowing the options. It seems to me, despite high shipping charges, the innerspring options tend to be a bit cheaper. I have narrowed those down to the Pure Echo at My Green Mattress, Naturepedic (outside our budget), and the Moonlight Slumber Starlight Support Supreme. This last one, I have not found mentioned on this site and may not be as ideal a choice, but the price point is good and it meets my parameters on non-toxic, I think.

The Latex options include the SleepEZ special, The Twin solid core latex at, and some of the dream foam/brooklyn bedding options, although I am not certain as they are not 100% latex. Lastly, I saw the recommendation of Dixie Foam in NYC. We will be there this weekend so I could check those out. But, again, I am not certain if these combined foam options (not 100% latex) actually meet my non-toxic criteria.

Also, I am assuming that I can add a topper to either the innerspring or the solid latex if we need to move to something less firm as they grow - is this the case?

So - I am confused. Any assistance with narrowing this down to those with good value, that meet the criteria is MUCH appreciated!

Hi pblfive,

Post #2 here has links to all the better posts in the forum that talk about children and mattresses including some good information and links to some very good quality and value sources.

Since your children can’t test a mattress anyway (they would have no idea of what kind of feedback to provide or what would be best for them) … I would probably consider ordering a younger child’s mattress online unless there was some very good options available locally.

This is just a traditional innerspring / polyfoam mattress but it has no information about the density of the polyfoam. It does say that the polyfoam is CertiPur certified so for those that are comfortable with polyfoam in the comfort layer of their children’s mattress CertiPur would at least provide some assurance of lower levels of VOC’s and harmful materials in the polyfoam … although I would still want to know more details about the layers 9such as foam thickness and density).

Latex would be the least toxic of all the foams and would be my personal choice for a child (with wool in the quilting for ventilation and breathability along with a good mattress protector). I would certainly avoid any memory foam (for support reasons as well as possible sensitivity issues). If you are comfortable with polyfoam and you consider it to be “safe enough for you” … as long as it is either CertiPur certified or made in North America it would probably be “safe enough” by most people’s standards … although I personally would choose latex and/or natural fibers … especially in the upper layers

As long as the comfort layers on top have not developed soft spots or impressions then yes you can add a topper for extra comfort as they grow older and need it.


Thanks so much for all of the helpful info. After more research, I think I am leaning towards the Pure Echo. It meets our criteria and is a great value. I am a little concerned that it will be too firm. If I find that to be the case, are there reasonably priced toppers that are safe/non-toxic and appropriate for children? In addition, can you recommend a waterproof mattress pad for my potty training twins?

Lastly, my older son has a traditional mattress purchased before I became aware of the chemicals etc used in mattresses. Is there are topper or encasement that I can use to make this a less toxic/non-toxic option for him or is my only option a new mattress for him?

Thanks again for your help!

Hi pblfive,

In most cases … the 'best" choice for a child is firmer than most adults would be comfortable with so I don’t think that firmness would be an issue.

If for some reason it is … then post #4 here has some of the better sources for toppers I’m aware of. For a younger child … I would lean towards either a latex topper in the 1-2" range in medium to medium firm that used latex that was certified for toxic ingredients or offgassing and VOC’s by a reputable certifying agency such as Oeko-Tex standard 100 (which would include all the Talalay latex you will encounter) or Eco-Institut (some Dunlop latex) or a wool topper that was manufactured without the use of harmful or harsh chemicals (either organic or made by some of the US manufacturers that use wool that is natural and “safe” even though it isn’t certified as organic). The linked topper post includes a link to several sources for wool toppers.

For a mattress protector … there is more about the different types in post #89 here but I would lean towards the waterproof / breathable type with a membrane that doesn’t contain vinyl or offgas VOC’s and again is either organic or Oeko-Tex certified (several of these are listed). With these types of mattress protectors it is particularly important to make sure you follow instructions with washing because they can lose their waterproof qualities or delaminate if you don’t wash or care for them according to the instructions and then you could easily be 'surprised" when there is an accident and you discover they are not as waterproof as you had hoped.

One other type of protector that may be worth considering is an organic wool “puddle pad” (a google search on “organic wool puddle pad” will bring up many options) which uses felted wool and is water resistant but these are not “waterproof” and larger accidents that aren’t cleaned up fairly quickly may soak through to the mattress.

The only way I know to do this would be to encase the mattress in clear non toxic plastic (no vinyl) of at least 5 mils thickness to prevent any offgassing or particulates from foam breakdown from coming through. This would be noisy and fairly uncomfortable. If you did this I would probably use a mattress pad or topper on top to isolate the feel of the plastic. Any other cover that breathed at all would still allow gasses and VOC’s to come through.

Hope this helps.