My son has been cosleeping with us since he was eight months old, so for almost a year. Any cosleeping parent will tell you, toddlers sleep as if they are fighting invisible monsters all night. Our queen sized bed was getting awfully cramped. Basically as soon as we started cosleeping, I started daydreaming about a king. I am not one to splurge on big items or waste what we already have, so while I wanted a new bed, I knew I would never get one… but that didn’t stop me from looking. In my hypothetical scenario where I would buy a new bed, I knew I would need an organic mattress because of VOCs.
Let’s stop for a second to talk about VOCs (volatile organic compounds). I had heard this term used in passing, but never looked into it further and I only had a loose grasp on the concept at the beginning of my dream bed research. VOCs are chemicals in our furniture, beds, paint, etc. that emit fumes that are dangerous to our health. These fumes are most potent in new products (new furniture, fresh paint…). This is why new furniture may have a chemical smell for a few days (another reason to buy used). The smell will dissipate after a while, but continue to emit VOCs. Some stop emitting these fumes after a while and some things (like apparently mattresses) emit VOCs indefinitely.
I thought that our eight year old mattress was done exposing my family and me to toxic fumes, but in my efforts to research my fantasy mattress, I realized I was absolutely wrong. Mattresses tested at 10 years old are still emitting VOCs. Moreover, I learned that the VOCs from mattresses contribute to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). VOCs are an issue in all furniture, paints, and numerous other household items, but my son spends 12 – 14 hours per day laying on an apparently toxic mattress. Suddenly, my dream bed was becoming an urgent necessity.
After researching eco friendly mattresses, we ended up purchasing an Avocado mattress (not an ad). We sold all of our bedroom furniture, our mattress, and our box spring, and we have begun work on our healthier bedroom. I will work on writing a series of posts about the process, about VOCs, and simple switches for a healthier home.