Saturday, August 20, 2016

The most toxic thing in our home was not what I thought it was....

I have been desiring a new mattress for a while now. A year or two ago I asked Andy if we could buy a new one before our next child was born. But it just didn't look like it was going to happen as expenses for the twins mounted. 

Then a few things happened that caused me to realized the importance of investing in a new bed as soon as possible:

The first was that we found out we were having twins. When I realized this, I realized how important flexibility is going to be in order to make breastfeeding possible for two. I am determined to breastfeed, and will do what I can to make that work, and being able to nurse while lying on my side at night is something that will help allow breastfeeding AND sleeping in those early months. So getting a larger bed (We have a queen currently) would be so nice, but more importantly, we needed a firmer bed so it is safer for our babies to lie in it for nursing.

Our current mattress is a queen size Sealy Stearns and Foster pillow top that was not cheap and is only about 5 years old. Which makes the 2nd issue quite surprising: my husband and I both started waking up with hip and back pain. At first we didn't realize that the other was also suffering the same pain, and I attributed my pain to fitful pregnancy sleep. But soon we realized our bed had just lost so much of it's structure and was no longer supporting our hips very well. We are not heavy people, so it is surprising that this bed is in such bad shape after so little time. My hip pain got so bad, in fact, that I could barely walk some days.

So at this point, we decided that looking into a new bed was probably in our bed interest. But then, the third thing happened. I was enlightened by a fellow blogger of the extent of the toxicity of most mattresses, and the affect that they have on babies, specifically the tie they have with SIDS. I won't get into a ton of detail here, but here are some links to sources that helped me to understand just how horrible most mattresses are:

--THIS LINK will bring you to a great outline of what is so toxic about mattresses, and some recommendations on what to look for when shopping for a new mattress.
--THIS STUDY in New Zealand proves that SIDS has some correlation with the off-gasing of mattresses. Over 10 years, hundreds of thousands of babies had their mattresses wrapped to prevent off-gasing, and there wasn't a single SIDS death in the group, while over 1,000 SIDS deaths took place in the group that did not have their mattresses wrapped. It's not a short read, but very interesting to skim through.
--VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), are emitted as gases into our air from certain materials, and can greatly change the quality of the air inside our homes. They can also have a very harmful effect on our health, causing everything from irritation to cancer. Most mattresses have such a strong off-gasing effect that the air quality is significantly changed. THIS STUDY is a fantastic read about the VOCs released from crib mattresses and how they compare to other products.

This all freaked me out a little when I realized:
-Most mattresses are filled with petroleum-based materials, which makes them highly flammable, which then makes it important that they are doused in anti-flammable chemicals, which off-gas and pollute the air around them.
-What good is healthy eating, exercise, and being mindful of the chemicals I bring into my home if I continue to lie on a toxic mattress 1/3 of my day? And that goes even more so for my children, who spend significantly more time every day in their beds than I do.

All this to say:
We decided that not only did we need a new mattress, but we needing something that is non-toxic.

Unfortunately, that is so much easier said than done. In a world where words like "natural" are thrown around casually, it is very difficult to find a truly non-toxic mattress. I soon learned that even the word "Organic" can't be completely trusted when it comes to mattresses, as it could apply only to a part of the mattress. What good is organic cotton on a mattress if it is held together with formaldehyde glue? So finding a truly non-toxic bed becomes a challenge, and if you find them they are usually very expensive.

After extensive research, and going back and forth a dozen times between different mattress brands, we finally settled on two bed options: The Essentia Classic 8 and The Zenhaven Mattress. Both are very well reviewed, use no chemical flame retardants, and are made of natural materials.

In the end we decided to go with the Zenhaven mattress simply because it was more affordable and had the option of adjusting the firmness (one side is slightly firmer than the other). Don't get me wrong, this bed is still a big investment (the king size is $2499 for just the mattress), but with a 20 year warranty and the fact that we spend nearly 1/3 of our time in this bed..... we decided it was worth the investment.
I was SO excited the day our bed was delivered!
I will do a more comprehensive review of this mattress sometime soon, after we have thoroughly tested it out, but I will say we are SO happy with it so far. My husband and I have been ache and pain free for the first time in a while, and I am actually feeling really really good for being 31 weeks pregnant with twins! It has been lifechanging in a major way!

Although I will say, getting used to a king size bed has been interesting: I feel like I wake up in a different continent from my husband! But I think it won't feel that way once the twins arrive.

We have also decided to purchase all non-toxic mattresses for our babies. We found that, again, there is a lot of false marketing here, with mattresses being called natural or organic, but having very toxic components to them. We finally settled on the Naturepedic No Compromise Organic Cotton Classic Crib Mattress for our twins. It is one of the most affordable truly non-toxic mattresses, and I love that it is built in the US by a mostly Amish workforce!
The link above is to Amazon, but this mattress is also available at Buy Buy Baby, where you can sign up for and use 20% off coupons to purchase this. That makes the $259.99 price tag a bit easier to swallow.

There is no beating around the bush: non-toxic mattresses cost more, and you will not be able to get one in a $99 mattress sale. But again, when you think of the time you spend on that mattress (and ESPECIALLY when you think about the amount of time small children and babies spend on their mattresses), it seems like a no-brainer investment to me.

Have you looked into the toxicity of your bed? I'll be honest, I had never really given it much thought until the last few months.

***Obviously I am not a scientist, and you should do you own research on this topic rather than taking my word for it. I have thoroughly researched the topic to my satisfaction and am sharing the information that I have found most helpful, but you should do your own research for your family.


  1. I definitely believe SIDS is related to the toxicity of mattresses and that's why we have a special wrapper for the mattress in the baby's crib!

  2. I went through the exact same hip pain from our old mattress, including the difficulty walking. It should have had more life in it, but after four moves and a couple stints in storage during those moves it just lost all structure. It was awful. I swore when we finally moved into our own home we would replace the mattress. It has been so wonderful! It's amazing what a difference a good mattress will make! We're also enjoying the extra space (but we only went from a full to a queen and think that's big. I can't imagine a king size! haha.) Glad you've gotten a new mattress and are resting much better now! :)

    1. We were in a full size for about a year after we got married, but we are both tall and our feet hung off the bed! My poor husband used to wake up with his knees hurting from his feet hanging off! I remember how amazing it was when we got our queen. I still feel like the king is HUGE, but I'm sure I'll be thankful for the extra space when the twins arrive

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  4. After all the research you did, are you saying you did not run across where Essentia was sued by the FTC? Their beds are not organic.

    1. Good point! And yes, I did see that. But I also saw that after the FTC suit, independent testing showed the formaldehyde and VOC levels of Essentia mattresses to be on par with ambient air. I was ok with that. The FTC's issue was with terminology used. I looked over the test results for their mattresses and was happy with the results. Other's might not find it good enough, but then they could choose another mattress. I am very happy with our choice of a Zenhaven mattress

  5. We're so happy you're enjoying your Zenhaven!!! Happy sleeping 😴 💤

  6. I enjoyed reading this article. PLease continue publishing helpful topics like this. Regards, from Bedding stock


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