Bedtime at your house probably goes a little something like this: a story, a cozy tuck in and a kiss on the forehead with whispers of sweet dreams. Children spend eight to ten hours a night in their beds, longer if they take daytime naps. You feel confident that they are safe and sound but do you know what dangers lay in their mattresses, sheets, blankets, pillows and pyjamas? If not, we’ll break it down for you here.
Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, aren’t things that are good for you despite the word “organic” in the title. VOCs are toxic chemicals like polyurethane, polyester and formaldehyde that give off gasses in the products that contain them like mattresses, sheets and pillows. Polyurethane is made from petroleum and added chemicals. Over time the foam breaks down and releases particles into the air that kids breathe in. Even manufacturers caution that a long list of health issues like breathlessness, mucous membrane irritation, coughing, headache, fatigue and nausea can result from sleeping on this kind of bedding. Just because a mattress or pillow is expensive, doesn’t mean it is safe.
Organic, non-toxic mattresses do exist. Just make sure that no toxic chemical flame retardants are used in the manufacturing of them. Look for mattresses and bedding that have been Global Organic Textiles Standards (GOTS) certified. Even companies that advertise green, eco-friendly bio or soy foam mattresses may be telling half truths. Many times these types of mattresses only contain 10 to 20 percent organic materials and the rest is made up of polyurethane.
Cotton is one of the most pesticide laden crops on the planet. Imagine sleeping on poison every night! While much is made of thread count and softness, many of us are missing the mark which is the toxicity of cotton itself. Thankfully, organic cotton sheets, pillowcases and blankets are now more widely available and affordable. High, medium and low end retailers all offer organic bedding choices. Not only are cotton crops poisonous, there are many places where child labour is used to harvest it. Yet another reason to steer clear of non-organic cotton.
The Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA) states that children’s clothing can only be treated with flame retardant chemicals if those retardants have met strict toxicology requirements. Clothing labels must clearly contain the words “flame retardant” and “ignifugeant” and the washing instructions to ensure the flame resistance of the items isn’t compromised. Tight-fitting sleepwear made of cotton, cotton/polyester blends, polyester, acrylic, nylon, silk, acetate and rayon do not require flame retardants applied to them because clothing worn close to the body is less likely to catch on an open flame.
So to put your mind at ease when it comes to the clothing your kids sleep in – choose tight-fitting organic cotton sleepwear. You’ll avoid the flame retardant chemical applications and the slim chance that your child’s Spiderman pyjamas will catch an open flame.
Keeping your child safe from harm during the day is hard enough, having peace of mind while they’re sleeping is one less thing to worry about.