I don’t believe in going organic at all costs.
In fact, if it doesn’t make sense financially for your family to do the organic thing, I don’t think you should. My bet is that your kids are better off playing soccer, taking swimming lessons and having mom and dad be as stress-free as possible.
But if you can swing it, and giving your kids an organic life is important to you, I can think of no better way to do it than with all-things-sleep. When you spend as much time as we do sleeping – especially as babies and kids, before partying-at-the-expense-of-sleep begins – it’s the best place to start.
Sure, what goes in to your kids’ bodies is important, too. But for most of us, the reality is that we just can’t afford a totally organic lifestyle. Most of us have to choose. I’d choose sleep over produce.
Navigating the organic sleep scene is daunting, so I’ve tried to take some of the guesswork (and homework) out of it for you. This marks the first review in a comprehensive series about safe sleep for kids. I’ve curated some of my favourites and am excited to introduce you to new brands and products – and help you decide if they might be right for your family and budget.
I’ve written about off-gassing before. Flame-retardants in mattresses are some of the worst offenders. Ironic, right? One of the very things intended to keep our kids safe could actually harm them.
This site does a great job of explaining how our own bodies help produce off-gassing: whenever you sleep on a mattress, your body sheds skin cells and they can become organic matter for microbes to decompose. When fungi interact with, for example, fire retardants in a mattress, the chemical reaction releases toxic nerve gases – a process called off-gassing.
I read about off-gassing when The K Man was an infant and immediately purchased an organic crib mattress. Four years later, it’s still in excellent shape and cost less than $100 per year (or about 27 cents per day). But it’s not 100 per cent organic – its food-grade polyethylene shell, which waterproofs it, is the safest plastic available and considered non-toxic – yet it’s still plastic. Why do I continue to both use and endorse it, though? Because waterproofing for babies is essential. That’s my personal trade-off.
When we started thinking about The K Man’s “big boy bed,” we knew we wanted to keep him in an organic mattress. The problem is that once you’re past the crib size, organic mattresses get really, really expensive. I’m all about price per use and over the long-run, the cost is respectable. In the short term, however, it’s tough to shell out upwards of $3,000 for your kid’s mattress set.
That’s why we were thrilled to find Soma Organic Mattresses. Owned by an acupuncturist who’s studied the science of sleep and is passionate about creating safe sleep environments, Soma has something unique in the organic sleep market: a specially designed juvenile line. A few less bells and whistles – but the same safety standards – and you’ve got a much more wallet-friendly choice.
Since we have convertible cribs for both kids, The K Man’s toddler bed turns into a double-sized bed frame. We tested a double-sized Soma natural latex mattress and Canadian wood foundation, which totals about $1,600 – about the same as any higher-quality national mattress brand and easily half the cost of its comparable organic cousins.
We call The K Man’s new mattress “the black hole,” and with good reason. Whoever does bedtime with him falls asleep beside him – every night. It’s become a terrible habit, actually. Each of us who has slept on this bed – Big B, The K Man and me – all find it extremely comfortable. Big B and I sleep on a Tempur-Pedic (bought long before I knew anything about “healthy” mattresses, and we can’t afford to replace it), and this Soma mattress has a very similar feel. Since there are no coils, you don’t feel any movement from other people in the bed or from simply rolling around on it. It just supports the body beautifully, resulting in really restful sleep.
There’s a layer of pure wool just below the surface. If you’ve ever worn a pair of Ugg boots, you know that wool is temperature-regulating. I find our Tempur-Pedic quite warm – which is great in the winter but annoying in warmer weather – but my son’s Soma mattress always feels just right. (Could this be Goldilocks’s bed?!)
Made in Canada! ‘Nuf said.
The natural rubber central core is anti-microbial (mildew, mould and bacteria can’t live in natural rubber) and dustmite-resistant.
The whole mattress is put together with both the environment and your child’s safety in mind. Rubber plantations help combat greenhouse gases; and there are no phthalates, glues or synthetics used to create Soma mattresses.
The foundation, which is handmade in Quebec in a chemical-free manufacturing plant, is made with untreated, kiln-dried Canadian spruce and covered in organic cotton. Natural latex takes on the firmness of what supports it, so you can ultimately create a softer or firmer mattress simply by changing the foundation (but keep in mind that if you don’t have the right kind of support, your fancy mattress will start to sag). It’s important to note that firmer mattresses are a must for babies and also recommended for children. You can purchase this foundation in a four-inch or seven-inch height; although I’d prefer that The K Man not plummet an extra three inches if he falls out of the bed, I thought it made more sense to get the seven-incher since by the time he’s a teenager he’d probably prefer a higher bed. I figure I’ll get enough grief as it is for picking out the wrong clothes or wanting to hug him in public (gasp!)…
The Soma juvenile line isn’t waterproof. Now, you can’t call yourself totally organic and be waterproof – it just doesn’t compute. Since some kids wet the bed well into their tween years, I think you should protect your investment. This means that you have another component (or two) to purchase, unfortunately. You’ve got two choices: (1) a polyethylene membrane that will waterproof your organic mattress but isn’t organic itself, or (2) a pure wool moisture pad with or without an organic cotton mattress pad, providing a total organic sleep solution that’s water-repellent. Here, the owner of Soma Organic Mattresses discusses both options:
This is NOT a bad thing, but think of it as an FYI: If you’re looking for a grand appearance, you’re not going to find it here (at least not without jacking up your bed and adding a monstrous bedskirt to conceal the fact that your frame is three feet off the ground). Both the mattress and foundation are on the thin side and reminiscent of a platform-bed look. You won’t find lofty, plush, pillow-top thickness happening here. I’m used to a platform bed, but I can imagine how it might look sparse to someone who’s used to a big, fat Sealy. I’d love 10-inch options, but that would obviously increase the price – and I’m really comfortable with the existing price range. That said, don’t mistake thin for uncomfortable. The Soma mattress packs a lot of comfort into just a few inches.
So…where can you buy it?
- Directly from Soma Organic Mattresses (the company ships all over North America!)