Thinking About a Plant Based Crib Mattress? Here’s What You Need to Know


We understand the attraction of getting a foam crib mattress for your young one if you’re on a budget. It’s difficult to resist the tug of your pocketbook when compared to innerspring, organic crib mattresses, coconut coir, or natural latex crib mattresses.

As customers become increasingly aware of the concerns with some flexible polyurethane foam, such as fire-retardant chemicals and VOC off-gassing, some producers are turning to soybean foam and other plant-based memory foam to satisfy changing consumer preferences.

If you’re thinking about getting a plant foam crib mattress, you might be asking if a soy crib mattress is actually healthier for your child or the environment. Continue reading to find out all there is to know about soybean crib mattresses, plant-based memory foam, and more!

(This post contains affiliate links. Our full disclosure policy is really boring, but you can find it here.)

Difference Between Polyurethane Foam Crib Mattresses vs. Soybean Crib Mattresses

Purchasing a crib mattress used to imply that you were purchasing a product that contained polyurethane foam.

That is no longer the case nowadays.

True, the majority of foam crib mattresses are constructed of polyurethane foam, a semi-rigid yet flexible substance that provides both support and comfort.

There are, however, many natural, nutritious, and ecologically friendly options available.

Polyurethane can be replaced by a mattress made of plant-based foam. It’s a type of foam that gets some or all of its polyol from plants rather than petrochemicals.

Difference Between Soybean And Polyuerthane Foam

Isocyanate, polyol, and water are used to make polyurethane.

Because both the isocyanate and the polyol are petrochemicals, polyurethane foam raises environmental issues. To put it another way, they’re made from a non-renewable resource.

There are also health problems with polyurethane, in addition to environmental ones. Carcinogens may be present in some of the chemicals used in production, and polyurethane foams emit volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) into your house. Furthermore, other chemicals may be used throughout the production process.

While groups like the Alliance for Flexible Polyurethane Foam have attempted to raise the standard with their CertiPUR-US® foam certification program, even certified foam does not solve all of the issues with polyurethane foam.

Plant foam is being used by certain producers and customers due of worries about flexible polyurethane foam.

Instead of petroleum, makers of plant-based foam utilize polyols produced from plant extracts.

Unfortunately, there’s a catch: businesses can employ either pure plant-derived polyols or a mix of plant-derived and petroleum-derived polyols in their products. Isocyanates produced from petroleum are still used in plant-based foams.

The Different Plants That Make up Plant-Based Foam

To create plant-based foam, most manufacturers utilize soy. As a result, plant foams that are labeled as soy foam or soybean foam are the most common.

Castor beans, canola (rapeseed), palm coconut, and peanuts are also used by manufacturers!

Castor oil is rich in polyols and requires very little processing. Manufacturers generate polyols from other plant oils by processing them.

Are all plant-based foam mattresses 100% plant-based?

No. Isocyanates, unlike polyols, cannot be made entirely from plants. That implies the isocyanates in a plant-based memory foam mattress come from petroleum.

As a result, the phrase “plant-based foam” is a little deceptive. For example, if a plant polyol replaces 20% of a petrochemical polyol, only around 10% of the foam is really made of plant components.

Because the proportion of plant-based ingredients used varies by manufacturer, it’s a good idea to inquire about the specific percentage of plant-based materials used in their foams. Just keep in mind that just because you inquire doesn’t imply you’ll get an honest response.

Are These FoamsSafe For The Environment

Memory foam made from plants may be healthier for the environment. It’s impossible to say for sure, though. Even if it is, it is unlikely to be by much.

Plant-based foams, as previously stated, employ plant-derived ingredients to replace polyols generated from petroleum.

This indicates less petroleum use in the “pros” column. To make polyols, manufacturers require less petroleum and less energy (from petroleum) to convert petroleum molecules to polyols. Making polyols from plant oils uses less energy than making polyols from petroleum, which is good for the environment.

There are several severe ecological issues about soy production under the “cons” column, the most important of which being Amazon deforestation.

And, at the end of the day, petrochemicals are still used in these foams. They just utilize less of them.

Which Foams Are Better For Humans

Plant-based foams are virtually certainly healthier for humans, but they may not be healthful in and of themselves.

Many petroleum-based foams produce volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) (volatile organic compounds). Some VOC’s have been related to human health issues, such as cancer.

Polyols derived from plant oils are used to decrease VOC emissions. Consumers should, however, seek for plant-based foams that have been independently verified as having minimal VOC emissions and being devoid of other hazardous compounds.

Choosing Foams For Your Nursery

If you decide to try a plant foam mattress, make sure to look at the rest of the mattress’s components. Manufacturers may still employ vinyl/PVC as a waterproofing solution, which means your infant might be exposed to phthalates and other toxins through the mattress.

There are lots of organic crib mattresses on the market, as well as solid wood nontoxic cribs to utilize in your baby’s nursery if you choose to go entirely natural.

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