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Home Ec: How to make your own natural mattress

When Money Matters More: DIY Mattresses

The last thing my mom was thinking about when she had three kids while on welfare was whether to get a natural mattress. And, when our daughter was ready for a “real kid” mattress, we couldn’t afford it at the time.
So, what costs almost no money and does not contain foam, polyester, or vinyl? (There is some research to suggest that conventional mattresses actually get more dangerous–perhaps even more toxic–as they age and may even be indicated in SIDS. Thus, I don’t recommend hand-me-down mattresses for your baby.)
Just about anything can work as a mattress for a little baby as long as there are no gaps for the baby to fall into along the edges. Be familiar with the best practices for preventing SIDS and add your Green Mama know-how to that.
When my youngest was a baby, she spent some time in a little cradle next to our bed, and we made her own “mattress” from layers of pure cotton towels with an organic sheet over them. It was easy to wash and easy to make.
For an older child, things get both harder and easier. After about a year, SIDS isn’t an issue anymore, but your child might start to complain about sleeping on a few folded towels. When my daughter was four, we made do for months with a couple of blow-up camping pads topped with wool blankets. Finally, we bought an organic, all-cotton futon. Futons are heavy and hard, but for a child they are an affordable alternative to a truly natural mattress. We eventually softened her bed up with a wool bed topper. By layering in this way, we slowly worked our way up to a healthy, comfortable bed without compromising quality.

Recently, she got a real, natural, “organic” mattress and she loves it. Read that review.


Learn more about how to green your bedroom or nursery in the Green Mama book or by Asking the Green Mama a question. And, of course, don’t forget to sign up for our truly awesome newsletter for regular doses of good advice (or  just a little inspiration).