Choosing a baby’s mattress for a crib might seem pretty standard; after all, as long as it is comfortable and it fits the crib, right? But actually that mattress is pretty important, and it needs careful consideration from the parents.
The mattress that goes into the crib is equally important as choosing the crib and you will benefit all around if you select nothing but the best for your baby.
A baby spends a lot of time in his crib – babies can sleep as much as 18 hours a day! Now you can see why the mattress is so important.
The mattress needs to fit properly in the crib to begin with – there should be no gaps that can pose dangers for the baby. Second, the mattress needs to be firm.
Those soft ones that conform to the baby’s body and face increase the risk of suffocation or SIDS. Heard of SIDS before? It’s also known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Types of crib mattresses
Generally, you get two types; foam ones and inner-spring ones. Both these types, if they are good ones, will keep their shape over time and offer your baby excellent support. But they are not the same.
Foam is usually made from polyurethane and is usually quite a bit lighter than the innerspring mattress type. Think about this when you change the sheets on your baby’s mattress; it might simply be easier with a foam mattress.
Foam isn’t as springy as the innerspring type so your child won’t find it as appealing as a trampoline when they get older!
Nevertheless, the innerspring crib mattresses have proven to be more popular for babies in the U.S., probably because adults sleep on that type of mattress as well.
But don’t fret about which one. Read here for yourself about the pros and cons of each one – you be the judge.
Always buy quality
Whichever mattress you do opt for, it needs to be a quality one. The cheap ones usually have cheap coverings over them – look at the edges and you will realize that they could crack or tear, or become dry and brittle, and come apart at the seams.
The more expensive ones will tend to have thicker coverings and be puncture- resistant as well. They might be reinforced with double or triple laminates or very fine organic cotton.
Both types of mattresses will weigh more if they are made from better quality, denser products.
That doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune though. The higher-priced mattresses will generally be firmer, and that means safer. When it comes to a mattress, it’s really what’s inside that is important.
Some that you touch in the store might feel good to you but give in once the baby is using it. And sales staff don’t always give accurate information. A high-quality foam crib mattress will last just as long as an innerspring crib mattress will.
Hit the good stores
Look at the label on your mattress, because manufactures, by law, are required to reveal what a mattress comprises. So don’t buy a mattress where you don’t find this in-store information.
You should have the right to know what all the components are of the mattress. When you push down on it, your hand should actually spring right up again. Sometimes parents make the mistake of choosing a mattress that feels comfortable to them.
But actually, it’s better to choose a mattress that is harder than you would really like it to be. And remember, babies need more support than adults do.
Don’t buy second-hand mattresses when it comes to your baby. You want a clean, sanitary mattress. With a used one, you won’t know how the previous owners cared for it.
Sometimes mold can even grow in mattresses that haven’t been stored properly. Bacteria’s can even fester on the surface from liquids that fell on the mattress.
If you buy a new mattress for your first baby and keep it clean, then you can use it for your next child – just store it in a dry environment so it stays firm.
Use a cover
Use a cover for the mattress that is tightly fitting and washable as well as waterproof. That means it will protect the mattress, keeping the baby’s sleeping environment clean and sanitary.
Test the fit
The dimensions are 28″ wide and 52 3/8″ long; and can vary by just 5/8 of an inch. Mattresses also come with warranties that can vary from one year up to seven years, some even for a lifetime.
But don’t worry too much if you don’t get a long warranty on your mattress; it is no less inferior. Sometimes warranties are just marketing tools to incite you to spend more because you think you are getting the ultimate.
Generally, you can expect that if you do buy a quality crib mattress it will last as long as you will need it to last as long as the cover doesn’t get torn. Good quality ones will keep their shape well and offer excellent support for your infant or toddler.
So how firm should the crib mattress really be?
When it comes to mattresses for a crib, you can’t compare what will be suitable for an adult to what is right and safe for a baby. A baby’s mattress must be firm to support the delicate skeleton of the baby, to ensure his safety, and to prevent suffocation.
Many parents and grandparents think a baby’s mattress should be soft and comfy; they are not going to let their baby sleep on something as hard as a rock or like on the floor!
How could that possibly be comfortable for a baby! But wrong. Babies aren’t adults and adults can to a lot of things that a baby shouldn’t be doing. One of these no-no’s is sleeping on a soft mattress.
Apart from the skeletal support mentioned above, it is for their safety as well, which we mentioned as well – the soft mattresses come with higher risks of SIDS.
Look at what some experts say about firm mattresses:
American Academy of Pediatrics: “A firm surface is a hard surface; it should not indent when the baby is lying on it.”
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: “Never place a baby to sleep on soft surfaces…. These surfaces can be very dangerous for babies.”
You won’t find any professional organizations which operate in child health and safety that doesn’t argue the case for a firm crib mattress.
Wrapping up in comfort
If your baby is having trouble sleeping though and you have tried all the tricks around, you might want to be like some parents who use mattress toppers, pads and quilts in order to offset the firmness of the mattress.
But still, it is not recommended switching to a softer mattress or these toppers until your baby is at least 6-months old, and is able to move or crawl around on his own – and even then, rather chat to your pediatrician first!
See what you think of this dual-sided crib mattress (link to amazon) though. One side is ultra-firm and safe for the baby but the other side is a bit softer for the older baby.
Then once your pediatrician says it’s OK to use it for your baby, all you do is flip it over when necessary! Other ways to make a baby more comfortable is:
Letting him first sleep in a bassinet or a cradle.
Maybe different pajamas and swaddles can help which makes them feel really snug.
Check that the sleep environment is conducive for a baby who needs sleep. Even a white white-noise app can help. What about the temperature. Is the room dark enough?
Here are some top suggestions for top safe and firm Mini Crib mattresses.
When all is said and done
A newborn baby develops very rapidly, especially over the first two years of its life. A good, firm, and safe mattress is one that caters to an infant’s growth. When we are adults and fully developed, we choose a mattress for comfort.
But when it comes to an infant, a mattress is their sleeping surface. It is your baby’s development and growth center. Can you see why it is so important to choose the right mattress?
When a baby is sleeping, he requires a firm, flat, even surface so his or her development is maximized, especially when he starts becoming more active in the crib as well.
Then he needs a firm surface to provide the necessary resistance as he starts pushing himself up, turns, or eventually stands. A solid, firm mattress provides a strong foundation for strength and development, and to strengthen the muscles.
Don’t have a cry baby on your hands – get him a firm mattress for sweet dreams