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What to Know About Latex Foam

July 4, 2022

One of the standout qualities that separates a Toki Mat from an ordinary play mat is that a Toki Mat is made with a latex foam core. When you hear “latex foam,” you may immediately think of a latex mattress. Latex foam is one of the most popular materials in mattresses today because of the many benefits it has over its polyurethane (memory foam) competitor. Not only is foam made from natural latex highly durable, breathable, and eco-friendly, it produces a soft, bouncy surface that is incredibly comfortable and resilient. By taking a material that is all-natural, non-toxic, and comfortable enough to sleep on, and applying these principles to your baby’s play space, Toki Mats was able to create the perfect play mat. You may not think twice about everything that goes into the products you use daily for yourself, but when it comes to your baby, it’s a whole other story. Parents prioritize their child’s safety over everything else. It’s the very reason baby-proofing exists. So, with that in mind, shouldn’t even something as innocuous as a play mat be made with materials you trust? 

What is latex?

To put it simply, latex is rubber. Mature rubber trees produce a milky substance that is harvested by tapping the tree beneath the bark. Similarly to how we tap maple trees to harvest sap in order to make maple syrup, rubber trees are cut to disturb the plant ducts, which allow the latex to flow. Natural latex is a plant material found in almost 10% of all plants, but is mainly harvested from the rubber tree. It’s a complex mixture of different molecules that coagulate when exposed to the air, creating that sought-after rubbery substance. Plants use the latex substance to seal themselves after injury, which is why the latex flows after the tree bark is cut. Although natural latex is harvested from plants, latex can also be artificially produced through chemical processes. Our latex foam is made with only natural plant latex, resulting in a product that is not only safer, but also more springy and responsive.

How is latex foam created?

There are two main processes to create latex foam: Dunlop and Talalay. The original, known as the Dunlop process, was invented in the late 1920s, and less energy-intensive than the Talalay method. The basic process for the Dunlop method is as follows:

  1. The latex “milk” is whipped to produce a frothy foam.
  2. The frothy material is placed in a mold.
  3. The material is baked in a vulcanization oven.
  4. The baked latex is removed from the oven and washed.
  5. The material is baked again to remove moisture.

This process produces a dense, firm foam that is springy and still soft-feeling. We offer both a standard foam insert and an organic foam insert. Although both types are made from internationally-certified, all-natural latex foam from tree sap, the organic option is GOLS-certified. Whichever type you choose, you can rest assured that it’s perfectly safe for your little one to lounge or play because it isn’t treated with any harmful chemicals. GOLS, or Global Organic Latex Standard, is an organization that certifies and monitors organic latex producers. It monitors farming practices, the sourcing of materials, fair trade practices, wastewater treatment, and social and environmental regulations. GOLS certification is very stringent, which means you can be sure that your mat is made from the cleanest latex there is. We pride ourselves on having the highest standards and meeting them every time. 

toki mats play mat product photo

What if my baby has a latex allergy?

Fortunately, latex allergies are rare. Less than 1% of people in the United States have a latex allergy, but if your child is in a high-risk group, such as those with spina bifida, you may feel concerned about a potential allergy. Because latex foam is made from latex, it’s reasonable to assume that latex foam would trigger a reaction in those with a latex allergy. However, due to the manufacturing method that latex foam undergoes, many reaction-related proteins are actually removed during the washing process. Children with a mild latex allergy may have no issues whatsoever with latex foam. If you are concerned because your child has a confirmed or suspected latex allergy, you can email support@tokimats.com to request a free sample. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it concerns your child’s safety!

What to Know About Latex Foam

About the Author: Alice

Alice Mendoza is a copywriter and blog writer based in Los Angeles. She began writing for a baby brand while on maternity leave, and realized she had found her niche. Today, she writes exclusively within the baby space, using her BFA in Creative Writing and her own experience as a mother to guide her. When she’s not working, you can find her chasing down her toddler, going on walks around the neighborhood, or watching reality TV documentaries.

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