I’ve been hearing from those of you’ve been reading my safe sleep series and are thinking about going organic at night. But the thought of doing it all at once is just a tad overwhelming.
So my advice is NOT to do it all at once.
I was chatting with a colleague a month or two ago about this very topic and she asked, “If I could do one thing to promote safe sleep in my home, what should it be?” I’m not a health professional. My answer wasn’t based on a specific scientific study. I’m just obsessed with information; and I happen to be opinionated and when asked for advice will gladly dish it out.
I think anyone looking to make a small change to get started on a safe sleep journey would be wise to consider organic pillows and pillowcases. It’s the closest thing to your face – and your airway – all night. If breathing in off-gassing from your mattress is a bad thing, just imagine your pillow!
And this may go without saying, but I’m going to suggest it anyway: start with your kids. Just remember that babies under age two shouldn’t have pillows (or anything else but a mattress, mattress pad and fitted sheet in their cribs). I love the idea of introducing a pillow when you transition into a “big” bed – normally sometime after age two. Unless of course your kid’s like The K Man who never asked for a big boy bed until he was well past three…
When it comes to pillows, there are actually a lot of certified organic options: wool, cotton, kapok, buckwheat, buckwool. But none are as comfortable and as easy to care for as natural shredded rubber (latex). It sounds weird, I know. If the image of sleeping on latex conjures up images of condoms, think again. It’s actually little pieces of shredded sponge-y white stuff that would otherwise spill out and create an unsightly mess if it weren’t for its case. Visualize popcorn without the kernels. It’s slightly firmer than a down pillow but bounces back to its original shape instantly.
If you’re looking for a smaller pillow suitable for kids aged two to about five, I always recommend Organic Lifestyle’s toddler-sized shredded rubber pillow. Paired with Naturepedic’s organic pillowcase, it’s just the right size for wee noggins.
But once your child gets older, and bigger, she’s going to need a proper pillow that doesn’t look like it’s meant for air travel.
That’s where Essentia’s pillows come in. We’ve been testing out both the Comfort and Classic models for a couple of months, thanks to the generous people at Essentia, and since both are top-notch pillows, I decided to focus this review on the Comfort pillow because of its price point. At $129 (versus $199 for the Classic), it’s easier to swallow. Yes, we love our kids – but damn! are they ever expensive. Why not try to save even a dollar wherever you can? Or, in this case, $70. (Stick around and you’ll have the chance to save $129 because you can WIN one!)
Made from natural shredded rubber and natural memory foam, this pillow offers that sink-into-it, deep comfort that I find I only otherwise get with down-filled pillows. Ideal for side and back sleepers, the Essentia Comfort pillow has serious (but extraordinarily flexible) loft and will cradle your older child’s head and neck beautifully.
Each Essentia pillow comes with its own pillow protection case (not to be confused with an actual pillowcase, which I think you’d want to use on top of this). It’s got a zipper at one end, so you can machine wash it. I was especially thrilled with this feature last week when my kids took turns puking on me all night. Now, my hair did block the chunks, but the Comfort pillow took a hit. Thankfully, I just removed the pillowcase and unzipped the protective cover and that was that. (If you’re wondering why the Comfort pillow was in my bed, I promise I’m going to hand it over to The K Man in a year or two when he’s ready to pass along his toddler pillow to his sister.)
Every Essentia pillow is made with petroleum-free latex foam that’s developed and manufactured by the company itself (rather than being purchased from a supplier). It’s the only natural memory foam in the world. Yep – the entire planet. What’s in it? Hevea milk (rubber tree sap), essential oils (like grapefruit seed, cone and jasmine essences) and water. Plant extracts replace toxic chemicals, which create off-gassing. What’s not? Any one of the up to 61 chemicals in your average memory foam product.
The shape is like a normal pillow – it’s not a contoured memory foam pillow with that very pronounced curvature. Big B and I made the mistake of buying those a few years ago when we bought our memory foam mattress – huge mistake. I don’t know who finds those things comfortable but I imagine it’s someone who lays down on her back, closes her eyes for eight hours and awakens having not even stirred perfectly turned-down sheets. None of us sleeps like this in my house; The K Man routinely winds up contorted at the foot of his bed, Miss Q gets all twisted up in her sleep sacks from covering so much real estate in the span of just a few hours, and Big B refers to a move I do with our duvet as “the tuck and roll.”
If you’ve never bought a high-end pillow, like the ones we foolishly bought from Tempur-Pedic, the $129 price tag is going to feel steep. If you think about any of the chemicals that might have been used to create the pillow on which your child is currently sleeping, and consider that this pillow will easily last at least 10 years, the $12.90 per year cost probably doesn’t sound quite as daunting. Perhaps give up only two half-sweetened salted caramel mochas each year for the next decade? This is how I rationalize – what can I say…
If your child is primarily a tummy sleeper, this is probably not the best pillow choice. Go with the Classic pillow instead, which is much flatter.
Although I love the look of Essentia’s signature striped pillow protector that comes with every pillow, you can just forget about using a light-coloured pillowcase, unless you like the look of brown and beige stripes screaming out from under it.
You can’t put the pillow protector in the dryer; and don’t be a rebel and chance it, either. I was about to give it a whirl but noticed when I pulled it out of the washing machine (where it had been washed in a cold, delicate cycle using the very gentle Eco Sprout laundry detergent) that I needed to – ever so carefully – pull it out a bit to bring it back to its original size. I then swiftly hung it to dry. It was fine.