Infants spend up to 18 hours a day sleeping. For most of this period, they are inside a crib, right on the mattress you have bought for them. Crib mattress might not be your biggest worry as a parent but in many ways —it should be.
In 2014, the environmental engineers at the University of Texas found that infants are exposed to high levels of chemical emissions from their crib mattress as they sleep. The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released by their foam paddings can have adverse effects on the child’s health.
Mattresses that don’t properly fit the crib leave a baby exposed to potential injuries. Meanwhile, the ultra-soft ones can conform to a child’s face, increasing the risk of suffocation.
In this crib mattress buying guide, you will learn how to buy a safe, cost-efficient and comfortable mattress for your baby.
The article will cover:
- Types of Crib Mattresses
- Things to Look for in a Crib Mattresses
- Getting the Best Price
- Some Safety Precautions
Types of Crib Mattresses
There are three types of crib mattresses. Before picking any one, you should know some important distinctions between them.
1. Foam Crib Mattresses
These are durable, lightweight and budget-friendly mattresses made from polyurethane. If you want your toddler to have sound sleep, there isn’t a better option. However, you’re better off not buying these for an infant as they have a higher risk of causing suffocation when the mattress shapes to the baby’s head. In case you’re getting it for a toddler, make sure to press your hand to see how fast it regains the previous shape. Durable mattresses won’t take much time to reshape.
2. Coil Crib/Innerspring Mattresses
If you’re looking for something sturdier —coil crib or innerspring mattresses should be a natural choice. Due to their steel coils, these mattresses come with an extremely low risk of suffocation. The number of steel coils and their thickness distinguishes different types of innerspring mattresses. Of course, more steel coils mean better support. These coils are inside layers of cushioning material such as foam, polyester and cotton.
Innerspring mattresses with at least 150 coils are ideal for infants but they do have a high price. Depending on the coil count, the cost could range anywhere from $70 to $400.
3. Double-Sided Mattresses
Double-sided provide the best of both worlds. On one side, they are firm and sturdy, making them ideal for infants. On the other, they are soft and cushy so that your toddler may get a good night’s sleep.
Keep in mind that these mattresses are expensive but they do provide a good value in the long run. The only catch, however, is that you will have to take care of which side is facing upwards while changing the crib sheets. Other than this, double-sided mattresses are a dream for parents that like investing in long-term solutions.
Things to Look for in a Crib Mattresses
All parents want what’s best for their babies. So how do you go about buying the perfect crib mattress? Here are a few things to take into consideration:
1. Make Sure to Get the Right Size
Your baby’s arms and legs could get stuck if there are big spaces between the crib and mattress. So to reduce this risk, you need to get something that fits perfectly and for this, you need to properly measure the crib before purchasing a mattress. CSPC has set the legal size of crib mattress at 27.25” x 51.25” inches, while the limit of thickness is 6 inches. A good way to ensure your child’s safety is by performing a ‘two-finger test’. If more than two fingers can stick between the crib and mattress, there will be a risk of injury.
2. The Cover Should be Waterproof
A vinyl or polyethene surface is needed to make your crib mattress waterproof. Otherwise all the spills will result in mold developing over time. This could lead to health issues especially if the baby has any allergies or asthma. If somehow you do end up with a mattress that has a fabric cover, make sure to use it with a waterproof cover. In any case, regularly check the foam for moisture.
3. Mattress needs to be Firm
Infants need support while sleeping, which is why crib mattresses are designed to be extremely firm. A soft product may be ideal for adults and even toddlers but they’re never recommended for newborns. To eliminate the risk of suffocation, perform a quick test by placing your hand on the mattress to see if it leaves a print or conforms. The mattress that holds its shape is the one you want to buy.
4. Material Used
Infants are vulnerable to synthetic materials that are commonly found in mattresses. There are organic mattresses that are made from chemical and allergen-free materials. These are naturally moisture-wicking, can resist bacteria and provide efficient support to the baby. But the prices on such mattresses are on the higher side. For conventional products that utilize petroleum, barrier cover and pads can act as a good barrier against chemical off-gassing.
Getting the Best Price
Crib mattress could range from $30 to $500. The ones that are lower in quality come for a cheap price. The best way to get your hands on a good product for a lower price is by utilizing coupons and promo codes. Think of coupons as cheat codes that let you purchase the best baby items despite being on a budget. A good coupon could get you 10-15% off on a mattress, reducing the price significantly in the process.
Some Safety Precautions
Of course, your biggest priority would be the safety of the child. These are some precautions you should take:
1. Empty the Crib
It’s hard to find cribs that don’t have pillows, blankies and stuffed animals. Although they look cute, these items shouldn’t be too close to the baby as they can cause suffocation. So keep the crib nice and empty for the safety of your child.
2. Keep the Mattress Clean
Crib mattresses should be cleaned regularly. Use a vacuum to remove little specks of dirt that aren’t visible to the naked eye. Also, leave the mattress in the sun for 3-4 hours. But don’t do this in the evening or it will become damp. Make sure to regularly check the mattress for any stains and remove them as early as possible.
3. Flip the Mattress Regularly
A mattress needs to be rotated regularly to remain in a good condition. Otherwise, you will risk one side sinking or wearing out completely. This will make it uncomfortable and unsafe for the baby. Rotate a mattress after 14 days or as per the recommendation provided by the retailer.
4. Never Buy an Old Item
As a parent, you should avoid second-hand items at all costs. Research has proven that the use of second-hand mattresses increases the risk of cot deaths significantly. Old mattresses, particularly the ones with padding or foam, can house a colony of bacteria, leaving your baby exposed to all kinds of threats. Second-hand mattresses also tend to be less firm, which is another problem you would want to avoid.
With such a great number of products in the market, it’s easy for parents to get confused. But it doesn’t matter which retailer or brand you’re buying from. As long as you’re keeping your baby’s safety as a priority by following all these instructions, you will end up with a safe, reliable and hopefully a budget-friendly crib mattress.