The Organic Mattress: My “Green” Nursery Challenge

By Jessica Provenz | Updated Sep 16, 2020 7:18 PM

jprovenz organic baby mattress green nursery challenge
“You will never sleep again!” is something that people love to say to expecting parents.  But, I decided my baby (and therefore my husband and I) would sleep happily, comfortably, and safely.  On what, was the question.

My first nursery purchase was the ever-practical crib mattress.  After reading a mattress article in The New York Times about harmful flame-retardant chemicals like PBDE’s (which have been found in breast milk), I knew that I wanted an organic mattress; one that was VOC-free and used natural flame retardants like cotton, wool, and natural latex.

At one national mattress retailer, their “organic” crib mattress had only 20% organic material—soy—the rest was memory foam with potentially toxic VOCs!  Perhaps the way to go was the smaller, mom-and-pop shops.  Of the indie sellers I located, none were within driving distance from our Jersey digs.  I certainly wanted to test the mattresses in person (isn’t that half the fun?).  And, if I didn’t pick a comfy mattress, I felt certain that our future soccer player would complain about it…at 4 a.m.!

Just as I was about to throw in the towel and order online, an organic mattress store—Essentia—opened that very week, just 1 hour away (talk about good karma).  I went to the store and lay on their stock. Luxurious.  Plush.  And, on sale for their grand opening – yippee!

I went with the top-of-the-line crib mattress ($579 reduced to $479).  Expensive, but this was my first nursery purchase and nothing seemed too extravagant for baby (yet).  The salesman had undergone three months of education on all things organic and I was his guinea pig.  I went hog-wild and bought a king-sized mattress for myself with pillows (pictured below).  And, since I’d spent two hours listening to his rap—and spending a hefty sum, he threw in a mattress protector for baby ($120 value).

Jprovenz organic mattress green nursery challenge

Two words on organic mattresses: “not cheap!”  A crib mattress will run between $175-$600; a king-sized bed between $2,000-$6,000.  Since we spend a third of our lives on mattresses (baby spends half), I reasoned it’s not something to skimp on.  For a cheaper option, consider an organic futon mattress for yourself.

Tips on Buying Organic Mattresses:

– Most sellers offer a satisfaction refund or exchange program – helpful, if you can’t travel to test in person

– “Eco-friendly,” “green,” “environmental” are promo words – they do not mean organic

– Ask what’s in the mattress.  Layer by layer.  Make sure it does NOT contain: latex memory foam (get a natural latex), coils or springs, or polyester fill.

– Most sellers deliver free-of-charge and offer a 20+ year warranty.

Where To Buy an Organic Crib Mattress:

Essentia Organic Mattresses (offers readers of this site a 10% discount on all products through 9/31/11.  Passcode: BOBVILA)

The Organic Mattress Store

The Natural Sleep Store

Satara Baby

Healthy Choice Organic Mattresses

Week 1 of My “Green” Nursery Challenge was a pricey one!  I dropped $479 on a crib mattress and protector (pictured) – reduced from $699 – leaving 7 weeks and $1521 to create the dream nursery.

More importantly, months later baby is sleeping safely and soundly… and so are his parents!