Whether you are a new mum or a veteran mum, picking out a crib mattress is one of the toughest decisions you are going to make. I say this because there are so many varieties on the market and it’s what your child is going to sleep on for at least 2 years. It’s important that the mattress fits the crib, doesn’t add to the SIDS risk that newborns are prone to, and you have to make sure it’s firm enough. You shouldn’t just go out and buy the first one you see on sale. Let me show you what to look for in a good crib mattress.
When you go to pick out your crib mattress, you need to make sure that it has an ideal firmness for your baby. You can’t have a mattress that’s too soft because infants need the proper support. The firmness also helps to reduce the risk for SIDS. SIDS is also called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and a high percentage of this is from accidental suffocation.
How can a baby suffocate, you ask? Well, if you have a mattress that’s too soft and they roll over and get stuck, they may end up with their face stuck in it, thus, not being able to breathe, leading to suffocation. This is why the mattress should have a good firmness to it. It shouldn’t be as hard as a rock, but it also shouldn’t be able to be smushed with just a little pressure. You want to make sure, if you go for a foam mattress, that it’s no more than 6 inches thick, as per the crib mattress safety guidelines.
The support of the mattress is just as important as the firmness. The reason for this is because as your baby sleeps, they need their spine placed in a natural alignment. This will prevent your child from having back problems as they get older. Not having enough support can greatly disrupt your child’s developmental milestones such as standing, kneeling, rocking, and rolling.
Usually, innerspring mattresses have the ideal level of support your child needs. As they get older, you could transition them to a foam mattress that still gives support, but is more comfortable. If your child doesn’t have the ideal amount of support, it’s very possible that they could end up with posture issues that may need correction.
Durability is another feature to look for in a crib mattress, especially if you plan on passing it down to another child or a friend. Foam mattresses generally don’t have a long lifespan because they are prone to deterioration over time, unless they are made with a real high density material. Innerspring mattresses are best for durability, although they may become a pain to clean because you can’t remove the covers like you can on some foam ones.
Edge support is a huge issue with a lot of crib mattresses. If you are using a foam mattress, these tend to lack edge support, which can lead to SIDS if the mattress is too small for the crib. If the baby rolls to the edge, the edge can give away and they can become entrapped. You want to make sure that the mattress fits the crib properly and that the edges are solid. Innerspring mattress are best for this because they are usually lined with coil.
Once your child is into a toddler bed, especially when they are first starting out, edge support is going to be just as important. If they roll to the edge of the bed and there isn’t a guard there, the edge can give out and they may fall out of bed. So, if you plan to use the same mattress for their toddler bed, edge support is going to be something to really look for.
Foam Or Innerspring
I know i’ve touched on these a few times already, but it’s important to be aware of the differences between the two.
Foam has its advantages and disadvantages. Foam mattresses usually aren’t really firm, unless they have a really high foam density. They tend to be kind of soft and less resilient when you press your hand into them. They also lack the edge support needed for toddler bed transitioning, but this can easily be solved with a bed rail of some kind.
Foam mattresses also tend to be made with harmful materials, such as polyurethane, but these may be the older mattresses. The newer ones are most likely going to be CertiPUR-US Certified, which means they are safe for your baby to sleep on and contain no harmful chemicals.
These types of mattresses also tend to be cheaper unless they are made with memory foam or organic. There are a lot of different brands of crib mattresses that are organic, if that’s something you might be considering.
Innerspring mattresses are one of the most traditional mattresses there are. These have springs inside, which help with support and durability. These are more on the firm side, which is ideal for infants. There’s a reduced risk of SIDS with these mattresses. They also have great edge support if they are coil lined, which most of them are.
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy for innerspring mattresses to be CertiPUR-US Certified because they are made from springs, so your organic options are limited. If you are leaning towards innerspring, make sure the coil gauge is thick. This will add to the durability and it won’t be as bouncy as lower gauge spring models.
A few downfalls of innerspring mattresses is that they tend to be more pricey and they’re heavier because they have steel inside of them. So make sure you take that into consideration when making your decision.
Clearly, there is a lot to think about when it comes time to pick your crib mattress. It’s a lot more than just finding the lowest price one. If you plan to use it for many years, you need to take into consideration the durability, support, firmness, and more. All of these added up make for a well performing mattress.