Is Baby’s Crib Mattress Safe? Here’s What You Need To Know

save article
profile picture of Kylie McConville
Updated January 30, 2017
Hero Image
Image: Getty Images

A brand new analysis of 20 new and old crib mattresses sold in the US, containing polyurethane foam and polyester foam padding, release significant amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are harmful to baby’s health.

The study, led by a team of environmental engineers from the University of Texas as Austin, identified more than 20 VOCs in the mattresses and found that newer models release up to about four times as many VOCs as older mattresses do. What’s even more alarming is that according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, there’s not too much known about the VOCs chemicals found in homes. Researchers do know that infants are exposed to high levels of these chemicals during nap- and bedtime. Study author Brandon Boor said that the premise for the study came from a desire to know about the chemicals going into baby’s bedding that would be unconsciously ingested. "I wanted to know more about the chemicals they may inhale as they sleep during their early stages of development,” Boor said, adding, "This research also helps to raise awareness about the various chemicals that may be found in crib mattresses, which are not typically listed by manufacturers.”

Boor and his colleagues found that VOC levels were significantly higher in a sleeping infant’s breathing zone when compared against the air in the room, which basically means that infants are exposed to twice as many VOC levels when they’re in their cribs than people who are standing in the same room are. Plus, sleeping babies inhale significantly higher air volume per body weight than adults do, and since they’re sleeping 50 to 60 percent of the day, they’re inhaling 10 times as much VOC as an adult who was exposed to the same levels would.

Related Video

One of the study’s supervisors, Ying Xu, said, “Our findings suggest the re-use of an older crib or an extended airing-out period may help reduce infant VOC exposures.” The only catch with that is the fact that researchers noted that older mattresses are made with other harmful chemicals like flame retardants, which have now been banned. What they suggest instead, is buying your mattress ahead of time and giving ample opportunity for the mattress to “air out.” Researchers also noted that there needs to be a better understanding of an individual’s sleeping environment and how it can be beneficial to both infants and adults alike.

The chair of the university’s Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering department added, “We need to better understand the complex sleep microenvironment to improve it and reduce the harmful effects of related pollutants on infants.”

Did you have trouble finding a mattress for baby?

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

save article

Next on Your Reading List

4 month old baby sleeping
Everything to Know About the 4 Month Sleep Regression
Medically Reviewed by Dina DiMaggio Walters, MD
mom holding sleeping baby
What You Need to Know About Setting a Baby Schedule
Medically Reviewed by Lauren Crosby, MD
1 year old baby sleeping on stomach
When Can Babies Sleep on Their Stomach Safely?
Medically Reviewed by Lauren Crosby, MD
mother holding sleeping baby in arms
What to Do if Baby Only Sleeps When Held
Medically Reviewed by Lauren Crosby, MD
dad holding yawning baby
How to Recognize the Signs of an Overtired Baby
By Meredith Hoffa
mother kissing toddler goodnight
What to Know About Night Terrors in Toddlers
By Nehal Aggarwal
tired baby
How to Put Baby Down ‘Drowsy but Awake'
By Katherine Martinelli
close up of baby smiling showing teeth
Everything You Need to Know About Baby Grinding Their Teeth
By Nehal Aggarwal
mother comforting baby at night in nursery room
When Do Babies Start Sleeping Through the Night?
By Julie D. Andrews
snoo gets FDA approval
The Cult-Favorite SNOO Smart Sleeper Receives FDA Approval
By Wyndi Kappes
close up of mother holding baby at the end of the day
How to Help Baby Adjust to Daylight Savings Time
By Elena Donovan Mauer
father and baby asleep in bed during the day
Parents Lose This Many Nights of Sleep During Baby’s First Year
By Wyndi Kappes
father comforting baby at home
Here's the Best Way to Soothe a Crying Baby, According to Scientists
By Wyndi Kappes
newborn baby yawning
New Study Shares Tips for Helping Baby Sleep Through the Night
By Wyndi Kappes
one year old baby crying in crib
The Cry It Out Method: Is Extinction Sleep Training Right for You?
By Marygrace Taylor
baby sleeping in car seat in car
AAP: Letting Baby Sleep in the Car Seat When Not Traveling Can Be Fatal
By Stephanie Grassullo
father holding baby at home on couch
New Series Highlights How Every Baby’s Sleep Journey Is Different
By Wyndi Kappes
baby sleeping in mother's arms
Should You Hire a Baby Sleep Consultant? Here’s What to Know
By Christin Perry
These Are the Top Sleep Challenges for Parents With Young Kids
These Are the Top Sleep Challenges for Parents With Young Kids
By Nehal Aggarwal
smiling mother getting her baby ready for bed
How (and When) to Establish a Baby Bedtime Routine
By Nehal Aggarwal
Article removed.
Article removed.
Name added. View Your List