When it comes to baby mattresses, choose carefully

by David Power February 26, 2020

wool in baby mattresses will not reduce risk of asthma and allergies

As you try to get to the bottom of the ‘what cot mattresses should I go for?’ conundrum, you may well be tempted by the organic and wool argument. I mean, it all sounds so very nice and natural and that must be good, right?

The first surprise when it comes to the cot mattress is that it is actually a much more important decision than the cot itself. Why? Because the mattress choice can have lifelong consequences for your baby’s health, whereas, unless it physically falls apart with your baby in it, the cot is unlikely to do any lasting damage.

What lifelong health consequences are involved in buying cot mattresses?

More and more children these days are susceptible to asthma and allergies. A major contributor to this is the level of exposure to dust mites, pet dander and mold. And this is where the baby mattress comes in.

The Dust Mite

Dust mites feed on dead skin cells. Textiles do not rid themselves automatically of skin cells. No material does. Also, dust mites do feed on organic materials like cotton and wool, which contradicts some claims that they cannot survive in natural fabrics. And most importantly it is essential to know that it is the dust mite poo that is the actual allergen and not the dust mite itself. Dust mites don't take detours around any particular mattress component, they still pass through, hang out, and poo away to their hearts content while feeding on the dead skin cells that quite naturally lie around the baby mattress area.

Dust mites also love warm, humid places irrespective of the material used in the manufacture of the baby mattress. And because babies drool, sweat, wee and vomit, this is exactly the kind of place they love. That is why there is a major concentration of dust mites in beds. A typical mattress could have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million dust mites. 

Dust Mite and The Allergen

According to the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America, "an allergen is a substance that causes an allergic reaction. Both the body parts and the waste of dust mites are allergens for many people. Most dust mites die in low humidity levels or extreme temperatures. But they leave their dead bodies and waste behind". So even if an baby mattress manufacturer claims that the chemical they use in their fabric kills the dust mite or that the fabric they use does not allow the dust mite to survive, the fact that the dust mite dead bodies and the waste they have left behind can continue to cause allergic reactions is a big concern. 

How to deal with dust mites in a baby mattress?

Ideally your baby mattress should afford as much protection as possible against the dust mite. To help in this objective, an waterproof impermeable cover is a good start - it will be waterproof and impermeable to protect against creating that humid environment in the first place, while also being an effective barrier to the passage of dust mites. But choose wisely as not all waterproof impermeable covers will give your baby the desired sleeping comfort and could actually cause them to overheat and become quite sweaty. The Pure Zees baby mattress is a great selection to make, as the waterproof impermeable permanently fixed cover has been tested as part of the AAFA & ASL certification program to be of a quality that supports the level of comfort required by babies when they are sleeping. And the fact that this impermeable cover can be regularly wiped down to remove the concentration of dust mites building up is incredibly valuable while at the same time preventing them from entering the core of the mattress.

What about wool or cotton mattress covers?

To answer that there’s nothing quite like scientific proof, which comes in the form of a scientific study undertaken in Melbourne. The study was designed to assess the effect of different mattress covers and floor coverings on mite allergen concentrations in the homes of mite-sensitive children with asthma in the city of Melbourne, Australia. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9058687

What they did was measure the concentration of the mite allergen Der p1 on mattress covers and mattress surfaces at the start and three more times over a 5 month period in 107 of these homes. They did this for each of the sheepskin, wool and cotton coverings, and also for an impermeable mattress.

The Der p1 measurements were in microgram per gram of fine dust. The differences were incredible. The initial measurements were Sheepskin 116, Wool 113, and Cotton 19 vs Impermeable encased mattress 0.4. So that meant that wool had a concentration of dust mites that was more than 282 times that of the impermeable encased mattress.

So, obviously everyone should go for impermeable encased cot mattresses as opposed to wool or cotton, right?
Yes, but we wouldn’t recommend any old impermeable encased mattress. You want one that you know your baby is going to be comfortable on and not sweat too much as we have already discussed above.

And you should get one that has been tested for harmful chemicals because some baby mattresses contain what are known as VOCs (volatile organic compounds) such as phenol, neodecanoic acid and linalool, as well as formaldehyde benzene, toluene, perchlorethylene and acetone.

For these reasons, you should choose Pure Zees, the world’s first baby mattress that has been proven to be better suited for those with asthma and allergies in independent tests by Allergy Standards Ltd and approved by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly


David Power
David Power


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