Sleep Soundly: The Healthy Crib

Considering the huge amount of time babies spend sleeping, investing in a quality crib set-up is a smart choice. It will cost a pretty penny, but consider the hazards of the less expensive alternatives:

  • Cheaper cribs are made of laminated wood, pressed wood, plywood, chipboard, particle board and synthetic veneers, all of which release formaldehyde.
  • Federal law requires that fire-resistant and flame-retardant finishes be applied to crib mattresses. PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), the most common of these finishes, have been found to cause brain and thyroid problems in lab animals, and are known to steadily migrate to and build up in the fat tissue of humans. According the the Environmental Protection Agency, “There is growing evidence that PBDEs persist in the environment and accumulate in living organisms, as well as toxicological testing that indicates these chemicals may cause liver toxicity, thyroid toxicity, and neuro-developmental toxicity.”
  • Synthetic fabrics are made of petrochemicals, not natural fibers. Some contain formaldehyde. Most bedding made of these fabrics are treated with chemical dyes and finishes that often stay embedded, even after washing.

The best option is a hardwood crib with a non-toxic finish. If you buy a crib that contains particleboard, seal it in completely using a specially designed sealant paint from AFM Safecoat.

Organic wool mattresses, free of PBDE, petrochemicals, detergents, oils or pesticides, are a great choice for a crib mattress. Wool is naturally fire resistant and meets federal standards without PDBEs. There are also crib mattresses made of natural rubber that meet federal standards.

Sheets and blankets
Bedding made of certified organic cotton is the best pick. Green cotton is the next best choice. This cotton is conventionally grown, but hasn’t been processed with chemicals and is unbleached. Organic wool, untreated with petrochemical detergents, oils or pesticides is a great choice for blankets and mattress pads. In addition to being warm, wool is flame-retardant and water-resistant, making it a great choice for crib bedding. Just make sure the wool won’t be too heavy on top of your little one.

Here are some great resources for your baby bedding needs:


K s Goh
KS Goh7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Rebecca Young
Rebecca Young10 years ago

Brittany and Colleen, I agree, it is so hard when all of the safest options are so expensive. What I did when I was pregnant was read as much as I could about the different issues, and then I decided what I felt I could buy used and what I felt I really needed to invest in new/eco. And I have twins, so the cost was double for me! I ended up buying used high quality cribs, so I spent about the same as what I would have spent on cheaper new cribs. And then I put my money toward new organic mattresses since I decided that was the most important piece of keeping baby healthy while sleeping.

And I am a big fan of co-sleeping, it just wasn't practical for me with two babies. I did have them in the room with us for a long time, sharing a crib as long as they could right next to my bed, because I did not want them away from me in a different room. I would have *loved* to have co-slept, it just didn't work out for us :(

Bonnie Kuelker
Bonnie Sue11 years ago

co-sleeping is fine when your baby's overactive rooting reflex doesn't keep you up all night unnecessarily, lets face it it doesn't work for everyone, not to mention I don't want to lose my baby to Family Services. Even if you co-sleep at least have a crib and pretend to use it to the government so you can keep your baby.

Ellie Holden
Ellie Holden11 years ago

The HEALTHIEST crib is Not a crib at all. Doesn't anyone else think that our "civilized" culture is a little weird for sticking our babies in cages to sleep alone? Most of the world's cultures sleep with their children. Babies can be nursed throughout the night and their mothers never even have to get up. Check out for more info of why it is much more healthy and safe (physically as well as emotionally) to share sleep with your baby. Dr. James McKenna has done extensive research into the safety of co-sleeping. (All the scary stuff you hear about SIDS - it only happens in cultures where babies sleep alone in cribs.) In my opinion the money new parents spend on a crib is much more wisely spent on a King size bed.

Colleen P.
Colleen P11 years ago

I agree with BrittanyQ. This is very upsetting to read and know that because my finacial resources are so limited that I don't feel I have a choice to keep my baby safe from harm. Being green and eco friendly needs to be finacially feasible to all economic groups

Brittany Q.
Brittany Q11 years ago

This is EXTREMELY upsetting to find out. Is everything toxic that is sold in the mainstream world really bad for us? what am I to do when I cant afford all these safe products?????Is any help there for people who want keep their family safe but does not have the funds to supply all these products?? Is my baby allready damaged from her crib??