Kids Never Outgrow Healthy Sleep
Parents, what costs more in the long run, a quality healthy mattress, or medical bills? Sure, youngsters are prone to colds and infections. But what if their budding natural defenses are weakened night after night in bed by chemical exposure? It’s harder for kids than adults to detox. So the harmful compounds found in polyurethane mattress padding and memory foam are especially dangerous to children. The good news is, the healthy alternative is actually more cost-effective.
Money or Medical Bills?
Conventional children’s beds—even inexpensive mattress sets that seem like a good buy—may generate bigger bills down the road. Common toxins in synthetic fillers and the flame retardants that coat regular mattresses particularly affect kids’ developing neurological and respiratory systems. Gases that continue to seep into the air long after that new-mattress smell fades can also impair the immune system.
The resulting headaches, coughing, shortness of breath, and other symptoms may impair sleep and cause additional illness. Sleeping on top of a chemical mix raises the risk for learning disorders, breathing problems, and infectious diseases, as well as long-term complications. The tendency for synthetic materials to break down and hold moisture invites dust mites and mold, which sets up many kids for allergy problems.
But beware of bogus beds that claim “natural” or “green” benefits that may hold more toxic threats. Conventionally grown cotton mattress covers, for instance, carry unhealthy levels of pesticide residue. So-called “eco” or soy-based foam padding may be blended with as much as 90 percent polyurethane. This stuff produces volatile gas and requires chemical fire-proofing.
So, how can parents save money and watch out for their children’s health? As with most wise, long-term investments, go with the best price for the healthiest materials that promise the greatest longevity. The clear answer is a certified organic mattress made from organic cotton, wool, and latex. Every organic ingredient passes the purity test and directly contributes to comfortable, sustained sleep.
When Is “Cheap” Expensive?
But, let’s back up a minute. How much do parents typically spend on beds for kids before they leave the nest? Manufacturers peg conventional mattress life at five to seven years. An average $500 coil and box-spring twin set, then, runs about $100 per year of use. But many parents never replace children’s mattresses. Instead of saving money, they may be raising the odds of childhood discomfort or chronic disease into adulthood.
Treatment for a child who develops asthma, for instance, cost $1,039 annually in 2009, and prices rise every year. Left undiagnosed, a breathing episode can be fatal. Luckier children can wind up in the emergency room or hospitalized to the tune of between $400 and $28,000. So an affordable regular mattress or an old bed that is never replaced may prompt health care bills ten times larger than its annual yearly expense.
A certified organic mattress, on the other hand, lowers medical risk while extending the life of the bed. Many manufacturers guarantee organic mattresses for 20 years or more. At about $1,500 for a twin, it works out to roughly $75 per year of use. That makes “expensive” cheap in the long term.
How Do Organic Materials Work?
Quality models made from certified organic cotton, wool, and natural latex don’t need a box-spring foundation. Instead, a natural hardwood platform that is slatted or otherwise designed for air flow supports the mattress. This feature is the basis for moisture management, which discourages mold allergens from contaminating bedroom air.
Anyone who wakes up at night sweating knows that moisture management is one of the keys to restful sleep. Due to their cellular structures, organic cotton, wool, and natural latex are all more breathable than synthetic mattress fabrics. Reducing the growth of mold spores that thrive in damp environments will keep kids from waking up with congestion or runny noses.
Certified organics also work for young sleepers by getting rid of pesticides and flame retardants. Cotton and latex-producing rubber trees are grown without chemical treatments. Unlike mattresses filled with polyurethane, organic wool and natural latex are not highly flammable and don’t need additives.
Besides making for great air quality, these materials are free of compounds that interfere with nighttime brain function and hormone release—important processes that promote normal growth and rejuvenate active children. This helps them pay attention and learn in school. If kids aren’t sleeping well, they aren’t developing to their best potential. The support and comfort of lofty natural latex and wool invite good posture and uninterrupted slumber.
To find a bed worthy of a hard-earned investment, parents should look for certifying labels on organic mattresses. Greenguard, GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), and Oregon Tilth all indicate a third-party organic guarantee for cotton and wool fiber content. They pass health standards for indoor emissions. A GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard) certified product is made with the purest natural latex.
Protecting children’s health while saving money? That’s a smart decision. With a certified organic mattress on the wish list, parents and kids will continue to reap the benefits from this kind of family planning.