Safe sleep Isn’t just about what babies are sleeping with—it’s also what they’re sleeping on.  Made Safe, a non-profit that uses independent testing to certify everyday products as non-toxic, released a report earlier this month on the toxic chemicals commonly found in bedding, including those for babies and toddlers.  Mattresses do contain labels, but most don’t paint a full picture of what a mattress actually consists of.  And because we can’t un-know that chemicals commonly found in mattresses are linked to major health problems like pediatric cancer, early puberty, lower IQ, and fertility issues, when it comes to babies and toddlers, organic mattresses have officially moved from the wish list to the must list.

Babies and toddlers are particularly vulnerable to the harmful chemicals in mattresses for a few reasons. “Because they are at a rapid stage of development, exposure to certain chemicals at particular times can carry life-long impact,” says Amy Ziff, founder and executive director of Made Safe. “Additionally, babies and toddlers breathe more air than adults, so they take in twice as many toxins.  But their immune systems aren’t fully developed, so they can’t process them as an adult might be able to do,” she adds.  

Wondering what chemicals should you be protecting your rapidly developing over-breather from, exactly? Here’s the big NO list: 

Some combination of these chemicals is found in most commercially available mattresses, and as it turns out, once the FDA does ban a chemical, manufacturers are actually really good at concocting new chemicals that are potentially as harmful.  Thankfully, manufacturing mattresses that won’t cause harm to our children is a thing now and  Made Safe has a list of mattresses and bedding items that have officially earned their seal. Here are the materials to shop for:

Still not sure you can give up that vinyl, waterproof mattress or liner? Everyone understands the temptation. “Indeed, there will be days (and nights) you are doing laundry often due to messes in the crib,” Amy says.  But it doesn’t mean the good fight stops there: “The key is to find a mattress that can achieve this without off-gassing carcinogenic chemicals.” That sounds about right.