Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

Part Two: The Best Natural Waterproof Mattress Protector

In our quest for healthy sleep for the whole family, I told you that finding safe materials for containing the messes was an important piece of the puzzle.

Does your BAB Ys Mattress Pad have any of these 3 Toxins Click to find out how to avoid them Facebook

Non-toxic waterproof mattress protectors and waterproof mattress pads for changing diapers are an essential in a house with kids – seriously, I don’t know how families managed to keep their mattresses dry 150 years ago out on the plains. Did they just throw out and restuff the straw after accidents, use wool, or what?

As much as I want to be totally natural, and looking to the past is often the way to do that, I’m kind of happy to have impenetrable materials keeping urine, spit-up and other bodily fluids away from our mattresses. Fully cleaning and drying out a wet spot on a mattress is a Sisyphus-like task with an uncertain ending. If you don’t get it all out, you risk your mattress growing mildew, bacteria and toxic fungi that are far worse for the sleeper than a little plastic.

I’m taking my chances with plastic, personally.

Read this post for the scoop on what materials are considered to be the most inert and safe for your kids. Today’s post is a rundown on the many brands we’ve tested over the decade we’ve been parents. Some are review samples, but most we purchased on our own.

Our Former Favorite Fitted Crib Mattress Protector: American Baby

American Baby waterproof crib protector

We have two or three of these American Baby fitted crib pads, and I’ve purchased them as baby gifts for our niece and nephew, too.

Now that I’ve done even more research on product safety and materials, though, I’m bummed out. I was hoodwinked by “organic” and overall positive reviews and didn’t look much further.

I think this is still a decent product, but if it was October 1 again and I was shopping for our baby born at the end of that month, I would choose differently.

Advantages

  1. So soft and comfy. Quilted but not enough to be unsafe for an infant. I just love them.
  2. Easy to put on.
  3. Easy to wash (we use hot water and the dryer and have never had a problem before).
  4. Works! They do not let even the biggest leaks through to the next layer.
  5. Organic cotton.
  6. No vinyl.
  7. Very affordable IMO.

Disadvantages

  1. Made in China. (The company says they’re looking into US manufacturing options, but it sounds like they’ve been saying that for a year or two or even three, so I’m waiting to see action, not talk.)
  2. Some reviews on Amazon say they smell terrible and chemical, and believe me, I’m sensitive to scents like that, but in all the times we’ve purchased (2011 and 2014 at least) I’ve never had a problem with the odor. Many of those reviews are from 2013, and I’m wondering if they had some bad batches? I am pretty sure ours have always been labeled “American Baby” and not their offshoot brand. You can always return them if they smell bad.
  3. The waterproof layer is thermoplastic polyurethane which is not vinyl (that’s good) but is still the last on my list of safer materials. Bummer.

American Baby Waterproof Multiuse Pad

My babies always end up co-sleeping with me, and nothing says “fun” like changing queen bed sheets a few times a week because of diaper leaks, right?

I learned pretty quickly to put a small, bassinet-sized waterproof pad underneath the baby at night to protect the big sheets, and I wanted to refresh my stash when Gabe was born with something that was likely safer.

Looks like I went with “likely” instead of “safer” in the end. You guys, I did such better research for this post than for my own baby!

I ended up buying two different American Baby brand pads, this one (slightly smaller) and this one:

American Baby organic changing pad waterproof liner

Strangely enough, we’ve had maybe one diaper leak at night in 4.5 months, so I haven’t bothered juggling pads at night. Both of these have become our changing table pad – easier to swap these out and just wash it with cloth diapers than to squirt and wipe down the vinyl pad we had, and plus the vinyl pad had flame retardants – ack!

Even though polyurethane isn’t a perfect component, it’s a lot better than chemical flame retardants and foam. If you are looking for a changing table pad, I’d highly recommend this brand (go with the longer one, babies grow fast!).

What was My Problem?

As I look through the rather extensive document I compiled last October when I was doing my own shopping, I think I had another case of ignorance. A lot of the materials listed on these waterproof mattress protectors simply say “polyester.” I know polyester is made of plastic, and I didn’t realize that I needed to dig deeper to figure out what kind of polyester fabric they were really using for the waterproof part.

I didn’t realize there was a difference between polyurethane, polyethylene, and polypropylene. They’re all plastics, but some are probably safer than others.

I was just looking for something waterproof, affordable, with good reviews, and no vinyl.

“No vinyl” is a great thing to remember, but it was one step short of where I wish my knowledge had been.

Want to go shopping with me? Here are all the items I looked at for cribs, co-sleeping, twin beds and more!

To Waterproof a Crib

Does your BAB Ys Mattress Pad have any of these 3 Toxins Click to find out how to avoid them

Here are all the crib mattress protectors I looked at and my eventual decision about them:

  • Bed Bath & Beyond (no idea what the waterproof layer really is; similar price to the organic American Baby)
  • Baby Mattress Covers SIDS protection (this is the polyethylene mattress wrap that I mentioned when we talked about safe, healthy sleep for babies and crib mattresses, but since I had an organic Naturepedic mattress, I didn’t need one. Our 3yo is on a crib mattress in a toddler bed though – a very old crib mattress! – and I was just thinking we’d get him into a twin soon so I didn’t address his situation, but kind of wish I had).
  • Naturepedic flat at Mighty Nest designed for portable cribs but would suffice for any crib, I’m thinking (good product but costs more than American Baby; I’d probably get one of these knowing what I know now about materials). Naturepedic’s pad does use a very thin layer of a specially formulated polyurethane plastic (the plastic is very different from the foam) in between the layers of organic cotton. From what I understand, this is a safe material, not to be confused with the foam.
  • Wool puddle pad from Mighty Nest (got to review this one, below!).
  • Here’s another very similar wool puddle pad
  • I went looking for more wool options because I was a little fascinated by the idea and liked the “no plastic” route. I found a few on Etsy, from Lily’s Dreams and Yoli’s Nest. The exact items are no longer available, but you can read about care for wool and check out their current offerings. Lanolized wool should be more water resistant…ideally. Winking smile

As I mentioned above, I ended up getting the same American Baby we had used before, and I’ll talk more about the wool pad below. I’m really impressed with the Naturepedic company’s commitment to safe materials, though, so I’d lean in that direction now.

Disclosure note: Almost all of these links are NOT affiliate links – I’m just sharing the honest-to-goodness research I did when shopping for my own family. Some of the Amazon links are affiliate links (but I didn’t even bother with the pads I am not recommending).

To Waterproof a Twin Bed or Larger

Intellibed mattress safe sleep for kids and adults

Most of the options for waterproofing big kid twin beds also apply to mom and dad’s bed if you want something to protect your mattress from co-sleeping (or bed crashing) kids who might wet your bed instead of theirs. (Have you heard the Jim Gaffigan sketch on that one? Hilarious.)

Here are all the many, many options I researched before ultimately deciding on a Naturepedic for our daughter (that’s how I know they’re so good):

  • Luna Hypoallergenic Dust Mite Protector – was my top choice if I wasn’t going to go “organic.” It had no vinyl, was cost-competitive with others at about $30 for a twin at the time, had a cotton top and a 10-year warranty. The waterproof layer is polyester laminate, likely polyurethane according to the FAQs on Amazon.
  • These 3 were similar enough to Luna but more expensive, so I cut them off my list:
  • I looked at a few wool puddle pads but just couldn’t justify the possibility of leaking anyway + price + potentially harder to wash compared to the organic cotton versions:
  • A few more I took off the list:
    • Wamsutta from Bed Bath & Beyond – too close in price to other non-organic options, didn’t care to look into the silver’s safety
    • Bedgear from BB&B – too similar to other non-organic options like Luna and CoolShield for less money
    • Dusk 2 Dawn Pebbletex at Amazon – I can’t find what the waterproof layer is anywhere! But it is organic cotton and chemical-free which was nice to see…
  • This one from Aller-Ease was high on my list and available at our local Target. Listed there only as being made from polyester, I had to go looking on Aller-Ease’s website. I found a description of their materials as “innovative fabric engineering techniques” at first in their FAQs and finally found that the waterproof ones are made of polyethylene in the Q&A on the specific product. You really have to look! (Polyethylene is a food-grade, safe plastic = yay!) The same brand at Target also has organic cotton.
  • This one from The Protective Bedding Store was a little more expensive than Aller-Ease, also organic cotton, breathable, soft enough to use as a fitted sheet without an extra layer, unbleached…but waterproofed with polyurethane, a less-safe plastic. EDIT 2016: The polyurethane is fine…
  • We actually bought this one from Ikea…but more on that below…
  • I was strongly considering this one from Healthy Child – organic cotton, machine wash, no chemicals, no plastic, lifetime warranty – and when I emailed to ask if it was waterproof and might block offgassing from an old mattress, I got a GREAT reply:
We’re delighted to hear from you! Thank you for contacting us and letting us know one of your readers referred us. We are happy to help any way possible.

 

The dust mite covers will not block off-gassing. They are designed for allergens, dust mites and bed bugs. Mold is not only an allergen – it can create more off gassing, and the dust mite barrier covers will not block it.

This article explains what you can do besides replace the mattress.

Please know the plastic waterproof dust mite covers some companies offer may not be safe due to the types of plastic used – they may off gas themselves.

Please consider the Organic Cotton Waterproof Mattress Pad made by Naturepedic. It’s non toxic and will protect your mattresses from moisture and dust mites on the top area of the mattress. It does not encapsulate the mattress but it helps especially with waterproofing and dust mites.

Healthy Child was awesome enough to send me one for review:

Naturpedic twin mattress protector

I’ve been VERY pleased with Naturepedic’s quality, super easy to machine wash and dry, nice deep pockets on the fitted mattress protector, and the company is the most committed to safe materials of any brand of sleep products I’ve encountered. They have my highest recommendation!

Note that you can get a fitted mattress protector or a flat one with straps that go around the corners to hold it on, and they’re different prices (plus you can use the dropdown menu to find the right size for any bed you’ve got).

Healthy Child also sells a quilted version which is padded with plant-fiber based filling and organic cotton, NOT foam. Awesome sauce! No flame retardant chemicals, ever.

healthy child

Healthy Child is a very upstanding company that does extensive research on all their products, seeking the very best, eco-friendly, human-safe items out there. I relied on a lot of Jane Sheppard’s articles on mattress toxicity for my healthy sleep series, found on the Healthy Child blog.

More about the company:

Healthy Child is a mother-owned and managed small business, featuring non-toxic organic mattresses and bedding, air purifiers, and other products to reduce toxins in your home. Our mission is to inspire and empower you to maintain an exceptionally healthy home environment and provide your family with the best possible care for healthy development and optimal vitality.

We provide reliable information about toxic exposures so you can make informed decisions about safe, healthy alternatives to the many toxic products on the market. We do the necessary research so you don’t have to spend your valuable time. We thoroughly check into the materials and manufacturing of our products, and we only offer products proven to be non toxic and safe for your whole family. Babies and children are the most vulnerable to toxic exposures, and we want to be sure they are protected.

Healthy Child Newsletter provides you with reliable information about natural, holistic health for children and reducing environmental toxins. We give you the most up-to-date information so you can make informed decisions to help keep your babies and children safe and healthy.
 If you’re shopping, know that they offer free shipping, definitely one of my personal favorite perks for an online business to do!

You’ve heard the best…now what about the rest? We have quite a few other waterproof mattress protectors in use at the Kimball house, so here’s the breakdown of how they fare in action:

The Paradigm Shift of a Wool Puddle Pad

wool puddle pad 1

Wool “puddle pads” are a completely different thing when it comes to mattress protection.

My first reaction upon reading the instructions in the package from Mighty Nest was that it’s so weird to use something, especially in a bed, without washing it first!

Wool is naturally anti-bacterial, so unless it’s actually visibly soiled, you don’t wash it at all. You just hang it up to dry off and put it right back on the bed. !!! I was a huge skeptic, let me tell you!

Here’s our experience with it so far:

  • The very first night, our 3yo son’s diaper leaked. I’m not sure how badly because I wasn’t the one to clean him up, but it wasn’t a full-on tinkle with no protection, so it should have been more of a slow, contained leak. My husband was completely bewildered by the results. For years, we have double-sheeted the bed with a mattress pad, sheet, waterproof mattress pad, then 2nd sheet to make for easier changes, middle of the night if necessary. He said, “Did you use two sheets or what? What happened?” He said he was confused because both sheets were wet but the wool pad was not. He wasn’t sure what to think about that little magic trick!
    • So on day one? It felt like a #fail…but a strange one.
    • The positive? The wool pad does what it says it will do and doesn’t have any odor, and it dries fast and/or doesn’t feel wet. For comfort’s sake, that’s great to know. (And it really doesn’t have any odor, even after a few days – I checked.) Again, a little weird feeling to just hang it up and put it back on without washing it, but I’ll take it.
    • The downside – obviously, if the sheet beneath the puddle pad was wet, we have a problem. It can’t be used as a mattress pad to protect a mattress in any way. It can’t be used under a baby for a diaper change or for a co-sleeping infant unless you’re willing to risk your bed still getting wet. So…what is it good for?
  • BUT – our second mess on the pad is a total enigma. The 3yo tinkled full out with no diaper while in time out (power play perhaps?), and obviously the top sheet was soaked, and in fact there was even urine on the floor because it had run off the side of the bed. The puddle pad was a bit wet in a few spots but nothing like what I’d expect with a mess like that, and yet the sheet beneath it was…wait for it…dry! I hung the puddle pad and it really didn’t have any smell before or after it dried. How did nothing soak through? Maybe it has to do with pressure on it – when a child continues to lie on the mattress after leaking vs. a big puddle but not really any lying down to press it through the wool pad? More testing needed!
  • In further experiences, we had just a few diaper leaks, so not much liquid, and the wool pad did actually seem to keep the moisture off the sheet or mattress beneath it. (Our crib mattresses are both waterproof themselves so I wasn’t worried about ruining them.)

The company that makes the puddle pad actually recommends using a cotton mattress pad over the wool, with the wool being the barrier between the mattress and that to stop the liquid, but expecting most of the moisture to be absorbed by the cotton pad. I’d say that would have a 90-97% success rate in protecting your mattress from wetness, but also the wool pad could be used in the double sheeting technique if you were okay with having a #fail some of the time. (If I had a non-waterproof mattress, though, I wouldn’t trust it to a wool puddle pad for ultimate protection!)

My bottom line: Neat product, neat idea, easy to manage (just hang it over the shower curtain rod and put it back on!), and as long as you don’t have any allergies to wool, it’s the best non-plastic option you’ve got. But it’s not my favorite because it’s not 100% protection.

The Ikea Disaster

For under $10 for a twin sized flat-with-straps mattress pad and under $15 for the queen size, I couldn’t resist buying Ikea’s cotton/polyester/polypropylene mattress protectors in BOTH sizes. Ikea generally has a safe materials reputation, and this product boasted a fairly safe plastic (no. 5 plastic, the same as in most food storage containers), no optical brighteners and non-chlorine bleach.

Unfortunately, that’s where the good part ends.

After two washes, using hot water because the tags said I could, the plastic backing had major holes in it and was wearing away:

Ikea mattress pad after 3 washes falling apart

It was still usable more or less since it happened on the ends and most accidents happen in the middle, but it’s totally unacceptable for a new product to look this trashed already. I think the urine might leak through in general a little bit too, based on the smell. I would not trust this mattress pad for a real accident without a diaper!

Our queen-size version did the same thing after two washes, hot water and dryer on medium. Very sad.

Ikea mattress pad after 3 washes

Later on we had a simple diaper leak, less than 8” in diameter and not even a real puddle, just a leak. It completely soaked through to the surface below through the center of the pad where there was no compromise from the tears shown above.

Bottom line: This mattress pad is literally no more help than just sticking an extra sheet on there. Pathetic. If it had stained a mattress, I’d be so upset – good thing our little one was temporarily sleeping on a sleeping bag! It’s going to cost me more to wash the sleeping bag in a heavy-duty commercial washer than it did to buy the useless mattress pad. It’s the loss of my time that I’m really frustrated about – that is not something I wanted to add to my burgeoning to-do list. 🙁

Ikea did refund the money for the mattress pads once I sent them these pictures, so that’s a good company standing behind a bad product.

Note: The Ikea website actually never says “waterproof!!” I needed to read more closely – but I thought that because the backing was polypropylene that it was intended to be. The description only talks about stains, dirt, and killing dust mites in the washing machine on hot. Huh. They also don’t have a place for reviews. Darn.

This has ended up to be quite a long post! Here’s what I’ve learned about buying a safe, non-toxic, natural, organic mattress. Let’s go shopping together one more time!

RELATED: My WakeWell Adjustable Pillow Review (Non-toxic Pillow)

So…wool, plastic, or what? How do you protect from kid messes?

Click to Read the Whole Healthy Sleep Series:

How to Have Healthy Non Toxic Sleep

Read all the How to Get Healthy Sleep series posts HERE.

Save

I’m well known for honest, thorough product reviews…

reviewed and recommended
 

…and you can always tell a real family has run these products through the gauntlet.

When I review a type of item, I try to review a LOT of different brands! From over a dozen reusable sandwich bags to over 120 natural mineral sunscreens, I’m your girl for straight-up info about natural, real foodie items you’re considering buying.

Click here to see more product reviews and you’ll also love my resources page, with REAL products that have passed my rigorous testing enough to be “regulars” in the Kimball household, plus some other comprehensive reviews. Updated at least once a year to boot the losers and add new gems!

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

27 thoughts on “Part Two: The Best Natural Waterproof Mattress Protector”

  1. Hi! I am trying to find a safe waterproof mattress encapsulator that will stop off-gassing of a queen sized mattress. I am saying waterproof so that it doesn’t breathe and therefore allow gases to come through. Do you know of one??? Thanks!!!

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Hi Greg, you can get a queen size cover here: https://web.archive.org/web/20161029055948/http://www.offgassing-mattress-wraps.com:80/mattress-wraps.htm I’ve used one before and it’s very crunchy and plasticy feeling, but that’s really the only way to fully cover a mattress to block off-gassing.

      1. Thanks so much! I also have another question, is PEVA only a concern based on physical contact? I placed a thick PEVA shower curtain that doesn’t smell at all layered under a nice safe fabric mattress protector and I no longer smell the off gassing. My skin makes no contact with PEVA. But is there some kind of non-smell off gassing I should be worried about from the PEVA in this scenario – or I am safe from the PEVA like this? I could also carefully tape these type of curtains together to make a completely air-proof encasement. Would that be a sound alternative? Thanks!!!

  2. Do you remember what product name the IKEA one was? The link is broken, so perhaps it’s discontinued? Looking for a mattress protector for my grandparents…

  3. Army duck Canvas is treated with a non-toxic wax and non hazardous also an idea to use as a mattress cover pad.

  4. Looking for a waterproof or resistant fabric or mattress cover for an Organic crib mattress that I purchased from the Futon Shop. I was able to find duck canvas that is water resistant that I know is treated with something since it is mildew resistant as well, wondering if that would be less toxic than a polyethylene cover that naturpedic has.

    -The canvas is treated with Sunforger and they say it is a non-toxic process. I can make my own mattress cover and would use the canvas on the bottom of another fabric or even layer it -Organic Cotton -Organic Cotton Batting so the urine has something to soak into and then use the Cotton Canvas as the bottom layer.

    Thoughts on this idea would be greatly appreciated.

  5. Hi,
    We bought naturepedic mattress protector for our baby n Queen size bed ..shocked to see polyutherane ..since we are using polyutherane foam mattress will it help to offgas ….I am really confused…I am thinking to return it and buy luna protector mattress.. Please give me suggestions..

    1. Hi Swathi,
      This may be coming too late for you, but I did confirm that Naturepedic’s polyurethane plastic is totally different from the foam, and it’s one of the only materials that will be actually waterproof and washable. I hope that mattress pad has been working for you! 🙂 Katie

  6. We have always used wool mattress pads and have never had leak issues onto the bed. We put the wool mattress pad under our sheet between the bed and the sheet. Obviously the sheet gets wet but the bed never does. Like you, we hang to dry and it is clean again. We use them for all our children and are so happy with the results. We also have organic mattresses (natural rubber with wool and organic cotton). We did not want to put any man made material on top.

  7. We have the PureGrace product: http://www.amazon.com/PUREgrace-Crib-Mattress-Pad-Hypoallergenic/dp/B00S1NNXHK

  8. My family uses Protect-a-bed waterproof mattress protectors (https://www.protectabed.com/content/mattress_protectors.asp) They are so comfortable, and use natural materials to create a barrier of protection for my whole family. I would recommend them to anyone.

  9. I’m a little bit confused…the Naturepedic one seems great, but is still polyurethane, right? That’s what I’m understanding from their explanation of the material. I wish someone would make these with polyethylene! We have one organic crib mattress with a Natura wool puddle pad, but I know it’s not 100% waterproof, so since we are about to order another organic crib mattress, I wanted to go with something non toxic but completely waterproof, even if it’s not totally ideal. Not worth risking those mattresses! Thank you for your research! All this stuff is so overwhelming.

    1. Cait,
      Wow, I had to go looking for that answer! You’ll want to refer to these two sources for more:

      http://www.healthychild.com/store/pages/Plastic-Membrane-in-Organic-Cotton-Waterproof-Mattress-Pad.html

      http://debralynndadd.com/q-a/waterproof-mattress-pad/

      Hope that helps! Strange that Naturepedic uses polyethylene in their mattresses but polyurethane in the pads. But it does say it’s food-safe…

      🙂 Katie

      1. Thank you Katie, that does help! I’m pretty sure I will purchase that one. Your articles are always timely for me 🙂
        (One thought I had for someone bent on polyethylene is to cut up a babesafe wrap…especially if you already have one, like we do. I’d like to keep ours whole in case we ever need it for a non-organic twin or something, and because the crib mattresses will both be organic I only need something for the top.)

  10. Hi!

    What mattresses are safe AND economical? We are moving are getting all new when we get there. I just don’t want to pay a few thousand dollars for mattresses.

    Thanks!

  11. I have only used wool for the past 9 yrs and 4 kids. I initially bought “puddle pads,” but invested in a large piece of organic wool for my king bed since we cosleep. I wash them rarely and have never bothered to lanolize and have NEVER had one leak! Love them!

    1. Heather, that sounds like such a good idea, especially since I would like to double up our puddle pad/wool set up…where did you get your wool?

      We purchased ours through Holy Lamb Organics

      1. I bought the fabric from nearseanaturals.com, but it looks like they don’t carry wool anymore. I was able to get extra wide Melton (wide enough to fit a king) and it was expensive, I recall it being $80 although it might have been more – but way less than buying a pre-made king size organic puddle pad! I can’t find the same fabric by the yard anywhere else, so next time I need one I will get oeka-tex 100 certified wool interlock from Natures Fabrics. You just felt it and it would need to be sewed together for a bed bigger than a twin, but it’s stretchy so that helps. It runs $25-$30/yd and is “close” to organic, but she is planning on stocking organic wool soon. It’s what I make diaper covers out of and they’re bullet proof!

  12. Katie, any thoughts on this crib mattress pad? http://www.amazon.com/Crib-Mattress-Pad-Hypoallergenic-Comfortable/dp/B00S1NNXHK/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8#Ask

    1. Nice find, Sarah! It’s very interesting…my question is always the waterproof layer. Had to go to the manufacturer’s website to find that it’s TPU, thermo polyurethane. So, according to my previous research, it’s probably good but not the best? It’s just like what I’m using though, so not too bad to be sure!

  13. Thanks for trying out other mattress pads! Right now we only have a wool puddle pad but I may get an additional non- wool pad for extra protection 🙂

  14. We use these Carters water resistant Flannel mattress pads everywhere and love them. They claim to be all cotton flannel and were the least toxic I’ve found unless anyone knows otherwise??
    http://www.amazon.com/Carters-Keep-Flannel-Crib-White/dp/B002UD65YU

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]