Need help choosing mattress for a 3 year old

Hello, My 3 year old will be getting her first “big girl bed” when we move to a new house in a month. My husband and I are disagreeing on whether we need to get a natural/organic/chemical free mattress. I think its really important to do so, but have no idea where to start. We live in SW Virginia and don’t have many options unless we order online. Am I safe with just getting a natural latex mattress?

My options so far seem like Ikea (either a natural latex mattresses and coil mattresses made from natural materials). Anyone have any experience with Beautyrest Plush Beginnings mattress? Shows it has low VOCs and free from a list of chemicals:

Any advice is greatly appreciated. I’m lost!

Hi janello,

Just in case you haven’t read it yet … the first place I would start with any mattress research is post #1 here.

There is more information and links that may help you answer the question about “how safe is safe enough for me?” in post #2 here and the other posts, threads, and sources of information it links to.

Post #2 here has links to the most informative and useful forum posts and threads about children’s mattresses and has links to many good quality and value choices. Since a 3 year old can’t meaningfully test a mattress for suitability in person … good online choices would also be well worth considering.

Natural latex is a “safe” material yes and all the latex you are likely to encounter (natural or blended) has been certified by Oeko-Tex standard 100 class 1 (safe for babies) for VOC’s or will have other certifications that are similar. Innersprings and natural fibers (in the comfort or quilting layers or in the mattress cover) would also be good choices and help with breathability and humidity and temperature control. I would avoid memory foam for children and I would also make sure that any polyfoam is CertiPur certified. Of course a good quality mattress protector to protect against accidents will also be important (see post #89 here for some of the pros and cons of different types of mattress protectors)

I’m not sure where you are in southwest Virginia but some of the better options and possibilities I’m aware of in the area around Roanoke are in post #5 here.

The latex in the Ikea mattresses are made by Mountaintop foam and are also Oeko-Tex certified. You can see some of my comments about the Ikea latex or latex hybrid mattresses in post #3 here. I would lean towards the mattresses that use latex with a higher natural content and that have natural fibers in the quilting and cover.

I would avoid the major brand mattresses (including Simmons) for children as well as for adults (see the guidelines here) because they don’t disclose the quality of the materials they use and are not usually good value compared to mattresses made by smaller independent manufacturers.

Hope this helps.


Thanks Phoenix for your fast response and great information. I’ve taken the last few days and read through the other posts you directed me to and I know so much more (thank you!). I do live in the Roanoke area, so your post with retail information was priceless. I’d like to see if you have any advice on three choices I’ve narrowed it down to:

  1. Sleep Essentials ( who sells the “Perfection” latex mattress. I would like to buy local and try the product out myself which is what appeals to me. From my initial research (I plan on going in person this weekend), it looks like his mattress is made with two layers of 100% natural Dunlop latex (6" core and 3" topper) and the price is $1900. This is really twice as much as I wanted to spend. This mattress also requires a prescription.

  2. Arizona Premium Mattress Store (Full Adjustable Ultra Plush Latex Sleep System (Blended), #1 Selling Latex Mattress- Adjustable Ultra Plush, Latex Mattresses-Talalay and Dunlop, All Products)- Full Adjustable Ultra Plush Latex Sleep System. This mattress is a 2" Talalay latex topper (#22 ILD) and lays over the 5.6 inch Talalay core. The price is $1095, not including shipping and it doesn’t require a prescription from what I can tell. Does this mean there are fire retardants added to the latex?

  3. Naturepedic 2 in 1 Ultra mattress ( This has no latex or wool and is made of organic materials. I know from what I’ve read on this site that you can’t guarantee what is organic, but I am drawn to it being a more traditional mattress. The price is the cheapest at $999 (I need a full mattress) and I may be able to get free shipping ordering it off Amazon.

Also, do you have a suggestion on the firmness of the mattress for a 3 year old? I believe I should stay in the 28-32 ILD range for a latex mattress, but please correct me if I’m wrong. Also, I’ve read reviews that the naturepedic mattress that its quite firm. She is used to a firm mattress from her toddler bed, so it won’t be a hard transition. Would you have a suggestion on the type of latex to get for a small child (Talalay or Dunlop)?

My main goal with this mattress is to make it as safe as possible for my 3 year old. I am not worried so much about durability, as long as it is the safest mattress for her and she is not breathing in harmful chemicals each night.

Thank you SO much for your advice in advance!

Hi janello,

All of the options you’ve mentioned certainly use good quality materials although they use different types of latex (you can read more about the different types of latex in post #6 here and in post #6 here).

You’re certainly in the range I would use. I would use a minimum of 28 but 32 is probably better as a minimum.

The prescription is so that they can legally make it without a fire retardant and it will also save you in taxes.

No … they use the wool as the fire barrier to pass the fire code. You can read more about fire retardants in post #2 here and in post #4 here. This mattress uses blended talalay latex (which like 100% natural Talalay latex is Oeko-Tex certified) but you can also upgrade this to 100% natural Talalay as well.

This is one of the few mattresses in the US where the mattress itself is certified organic (rather than just the materials inside the mattress). Of course an organic certification doesn’t necessarily mean the mattress is any “safer” than a mattress that uses materials that are just as “pure” but not certified as organic. Compressed cotton will be very firm and if you spend any time on the mattress may be too firm for an adult. Naturepedic is also good quality but not particularly good value. If I was looking at a natural fiber/innerspring mattress for a child I would probably consider this one which is made by one of the members here and uses wool which is more resilient than cotton. It still won’t be as resilient or soft as latex though and will also become firmer as the wool compresses (although not to the same degree as cotton).

The question of “how safe is safe enough for me?” is incredibly complex and has no easy answers. In most cases the answer will vary with the priorities and beliefs of each person. Post #2 here has more about this but in general I would consider latex, natural fibers (either without any chemicals added or certified organic) and innersprings as the most “natural” or “safe” materials for those whose definition of “safe” is more stringent than the norm.


Thanks so much Phoenix. I looked into the “Pure Echo” mattress from My Green Mattress seems like a good option. I also went and visited the local latex mattress store, Sleep Essentials ( to try out their latex mattress in person. I was surprised by how firm I needed the latex to be to feel comfortable on it. The soft options made me feel like I was sinking into the mattress. We are now considering a king firm latex mattress (core ILD 35-40, topper ILD 28-33) for us!

My main question with this post is regarding my daughter’s mattress. The owner at Sleep Essentials suggested we go with a traditional mattress instead of latex made by Winndom ( which is a local manufacturer of handmade mattresses in Hopewell, VA. The cost difference is $1000 and he has put his own children on a Winndom mattress. He has the manufacturer make him mattresses without the fire retardant added. The full mattress has only 360 coils, but high grade steel coils (12 3/4 gauge) with polyfoam and a cotton/polyester cover (non-organic). A few questions, if you can:

  1. Have you heard about this manufacturer?
  2. How can you be sure fire retardants aren’t added to the mattress? Just go by smell and the salesperson’s word?
  3. Do I need to worry about any other issues regarding the components of this mattress? He says VOCs will be essentially zero and the main thing I need to worry about it the fire retardant layer being removed. He says a non-organic cover is no different than wearing clothes that are non-organic.

I know polyfoam isn’t a great option due to durability, but considering she is three, I am not overly worried about this. Again, just mainly worried about her health.

Thank you in advance,

Hi janello,

Yes … you can see my thoughts about them in post #2 here and a forum search on Winndom (you can just click this)will bring up more comments about them as well.

the smell won’t tell you anything because there are many chemicals that you can’t smell at all and some materials that have a strong smell aren’t harmful. You would have to go by the integrity and reputation of the manufacturer and your confidence that they are telling you the truth.

The question of “how safe is safe enough for me?” is a difficult one (not just for mattresses) and each person may have a different answer. There are no black and white answers to be found. There is a lot more information in post #2 here and the posts and sources it links to that can help you answer it based on your own personal beliefs and criteria. For most people, if memory foam or polyfoam is CertiPur certified then it would be “safe enough” (although I still wouldn’t use memory foam for younger children) but of course there are others that would never purchase either of them even with a certification. There are many people who won’t wear synthetic clothing and there are some who are very sensitive that have conditions like MCS (multiple chemical sensitivities) for example that even with certification don’t tolerate memory foam or polyfoam well but these would be a smaller minority. There are no “black and white” answers to these questions but all polyfoam or memory foam (or for that matter most materials) will have some level of offgassing and VOC’s (and the fire retardants are not the only source of these). Some fire retardants are very safe and don’t use chemicals at all and some polyfoam has chemicals added to it (including fire retardant chemicals) that are “less safe” than some fire barriers. Even some solvent based glues used in some mattresses or foundations can have issues with VOC’s that are worse than some fire retardants. The real question is whether it is safe enough for you to be comfortable with and for most (but certainly not all), Certipur certification for polyfoam or memory foam is “safe enough” as a basic level of assurance. Some people aren’t comfortable with any type of polyfoam, memory foam, or solvent glues at all (and would likely prefer either no fire retardants or fire barriers that used wool or possibly inherent viscos/silica materials both of which don’t use chemicals to pass the fire code).

Polyfoam is a group of materials and not a single material and there is a wide range from very poor quality “junk” to very high quality. The difference between them is mostly based on density. The “read first” post I linked earlier has links with more information that will help you tell the difference. I would consider 1.8 lb density to be the lower end of “high quality” and 1.5 to be acceptable in a reasonable thickness in a two sided mattress (which will last much longer) or in lighter use or lower budgets where durability isn’t as big of an issue.