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The Organic Mattress: My “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).

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: )

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!