Our Visit to the Naturepedic Factory in Ohio

Recently, Sprout’s head buyer, Andi Rothfeld, visited the factory of Sprout’s long-time partner, Naturepedic. Naturepedic makes GOTS-certified organic mattresses and bedding for the cribs and beds we sell at Sprout. We have long believed that Naturepedic was the ideal partner for Sprout as they seemed to have the highest quality standards in this important product category, and now we got to see it all for ourselves.

The Naturepedic factory is located outside of Cleveland in an area that has one of the largest Amish populations in the country. Their workforce is made up of hardworking Amish and non-Amish people who provide high levels of craftsmanship. All mattresses, pillows, and other accessories are handmade in the factory and each product is individually sewn by the factory workers.

The Naturepedic factory is one of a very few GOTS-certified mattress factories in the country. The factory is set up to handle the intense audit process required by GOTS. Unlike a typical industrial setting, there were no chemical smells in the factory, something Sprout team members are especially sensitive to.

Naturepedic uses almost no petroleum-based plastics in their products. The only place that the mattresses have regular plastic is a thin layer of polypropylene mesh deep inside the mattress to keep the cotton from sinking into the coils. The waterproof mattresses are brushed with a food grade polyethylene from sugar cane that’s melted onto the cotton.

Andi’s visit helped us to understand better the somewhat confusing topic of mattress requirements and how Naturepedic’s mattresses can pass flammability standards with organic cotton. Below are some notes from Barry Cik, Naturepedic’s CEO:

There are two flammability requirements for mattresses – 16CFR1632 and 16CFR1633

1. 1633 is an open flame test that measures heat release (i.e. flammability).

We pass with flying colors because we don’t use highly flammable materials like polyurethane foam in our baby products to begin with. (As a side point, all our Naturepedic products are approximately 97% free of any petroleum based materials or components.)

2. 1632 is a smoldering (or “charring”) test.  In this test, cigarettes are placed on the mattress (yes, even on a baby mattress) and there can’t be any charring (beyond 2” from any point on the cigarette).  Organic cotton (whether fabric or batting) does char (even though it’s not flammable in any significant manner). So if you don’t add flame retardant chemicals to the organic cotton fabric, you have to find another way to pass the charring requirement.

We do that with food-grade polyethylene foam and PLA (Polylactic acid or Polylactide), made from sugar cane. These materials have other uses in the mattress as well, but they also block charring.

Said differently, cotton naturally blocks the spread of flames and heat release. But that doesn’t make cotton a “flame barrier” in the sense of how flame barriers are used because the cotton is a part of the mattress materials and not something that is added just to block flames. Ditto for polyethylene and PLA. We use polyethylene to create a firm surface for a baby mattress, and we use PLA to create a cushion firm surface (for the toddler side of the mattress). So cotton is not a flame barrier (even though it naturally blocks flames), and, similarly, polyethylene and PLA are not flame barriers (even though they naturally don’t smolder/char).

CONCLUSION:

(a) We use no flame barriers or flame retardant chemicals.
(b) Our cotton naturally allows the mattress to pass the government flammability requirements.
(c) Our polyethylene and PLA allow the mattress to pass the government smoldering/charring requirements.

For all of these reasons, and especially the transparency through which the company shares these details, Naturepedic has always been our go-to for crib mattresses. The company also makes incredibly high quality mattresses for big kids and even adult beds.

Learn more in our articles: Children’s Product Safety – Thoughts from Naturepedic and How to Choose a Mattress.

Check out all our Organic Mattresses or inquire at your local Sprout!