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BABBLE BEST: CRIB MATTRESSES

Buying a crib mattress is usually a last-minute afterthought. Let's be honest, it's not as glamorous as the crib's design or as high profile as the car seat - but shouldn't it be? Crib mattresses are an investment in your child's health and development, especially considering your baby will be on it for up to 70 percent of his or her first four years. And to top it off, some of those hand-me-down mattresses might not be safe.

Many longstanding baby products have been rethought and redesigned because they contain chemicals (BPA, PVC, phthalates, etc.) that are now considered dangerous. As of February 10, 2009, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CSPIA) banned certain varieties of phthalates from crib mattresses (most notably found in standard vinyl coverings) after evidence linked them to endocrine system problems and possibly cancer. And the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reported that phthalates could cause more damage to babies than adults because their bodies are still developing.

The following mattresses all adhere to the government's new standards, and most go above and beyond, eliminating vinyl coverings altogether. Keep in mind that some of these substitutions require spray treatments to keep them wet and stain-resistant, and other mattresses require a mattress pad to keep odor, dust mites and bacteria from creeping in over time. Use your discretion as to how "natural" you're comfortable with, but have peace of mind that the mattresses in this guide (including the runners up!) are safe choices for your little one. Some might have a higher price tag than the norm, but most have been modified with organic and/or naturally derived products so both you and your baby can sleep better at night.

RUNNERS UP | Colgate Eco-Spring 2-in-1

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You can’t go wrong with this eco-friendly, convertible innerspring by Colgate, which was almost our “Best Innerspring” choice. If you want a durable, reliable and, most importantly, organic mattress that doesn’t trust spray-on treatments for waterproofing, this could be the mattress for you. It uses organic cotton, ecologically friendlier foam made with plant oils instead of petroleum-based oils, and coir fiber from coconut shell husks for insulation. Although the mattress is protected from mold and mildew with a waterproof backing, a mattress pad is recommended to protect the super soft cotton cover from stains and wetness.

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