If you’ve had a baby recently, you may have been surprised at just how much time your new-born baby spends sleeping. Although it can feel like your baby is waking up very frequently, your baby can spend around 16 hours fast asleep in their crib. For that reason, a really good crib mattress can have a major effect on your baby’s sleep and all-round development.
However, many people don’t understand exactly why a crib mattress is so important or how to buy the correct one for an infant. So, our experts have been busy compiling all the information you need to know about how a crib mattress affects your baby.
Crib Mattresses and SIDS
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, is every parent’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, the reasons that SIDS occurs is not fully understood. However, it is now known that the right crib mattress can significantly decrease the danger to your baby.
SIDS can often be caused by restricted breathing during the night. For that reason, it’s vital that the baby’s face is completely uncovered throughout the night. So, a soft mattress that allows a baby’s face to sink in during the night can be extremely hazardous. The same is true of an ill-fitting mattress that leaves gaps between the mattress and the side of the crib because tiny arms, legs and even heads can get stuck there. So, to guard against SIDS, a very firm mattress that fits flush to the sides of the crib is an excellent way to protect your baby.
Your baby’s physical development
During infancy, your baby is growing and developing very rapidly. Of course, you’ll want your baby’s bones and joints to develop properly so they are physically strong and healthy. As a lot of this growth goes on while they are lying asleep in their cribs, getting enough support from the crib mattress is vital for their physical development.
In order to support your baby’s development, they need a very firm mattress. Before you make a purchase, have a feel of the mattress by pressing your hand onto it. It should not sink in and should feel almost hard. Although this type of mattress would feel very uncomfortable for an older child or adult, remember that a baby needs something quite different to be comfortable. As a rule, foam or coil mattresses are the most supportive crib mattresses for a baby.
Toxins in crib mattresses
Unfortunately, some of the foams used in crib mattresses are made with toxic chemicals. These can be released into the air during the night to be breathed in by a vulnerable infant. These could potentially cause respiratory problems, especially if the baby already has a pre-existing health condition.
Luckily, there’s a simple way to discover whether a crib mattress is made with toxic chemicals or not. When you’re shopping, see whether the mattress has a certification to guarantee that it is non-toxic, such as the Greenguard or Certi-Pur certifications. In order to be certified by these independent bodies, a crib mattress goes through a rigorous testing process to ensure that it doesn’t emit any harmful gases at a level that could cause a risk to your baby’s health.
Another option is to look for a mattress that has been certified organic. Organic mattress manufacturers have to follow very strict guidelines that guarantee that it is made of natural and non-toxic materials, therefore making their products very safe for infants.
Finally, always ensure that you buy a mattress that has been produced in the USA or Canada. If you buy from outside these countries, manufacturers do not necessarily have to follow the same guidelines regarding toxins and permitted materials as they do in the states. Therefore, you cannot be sure that the mattress is truly safe for your baby.
Second-hand crib mattresses
Having read the above advice, you may be wondering whether it’s ever safe to use a second-hand crib mattress for your baby. It’s a pretty common occurrence that new parents are offered a crib mattress that’s no longer needed, especially if they are low on funds. So, is it ever acceptable to accept such an offer?
As a rule, it’s not usually a good idea to use a second-hand crib mattress. Crib mattresses are often subjected to body fluid leaks and spills which could lead to infection. For this reason alone, you should only ever consider accepting a mattress from family or friends that you know well, so you know that the child who slept on it first doesn’t have any communicable diseases.
However, if the crib mattress is in pristine condition and you know the previous owners, then it’s probably completely fine to use and a good way to save money. Before you use it, examine the mattress carefully. If there are any visible stains or the mattress has an unpleasant odour, that’s a sign that it is unclean and shouldn’t be used. Any loose or fraying seams are also a sign that the mattress is unsafe, as this affects the integrity of the mattress and provides nooks and crannies for bacteria to accumulate. Finally, check the mattress for any sagging or a lumpy texture. These would indicate that the mattress has lost its support, and certainly won’t provide enough support for your child’s healthy development.
The bottom line
As you can see, a crib mattress is one of the most important purchases you will make for your child. The right crib mattress will help to protect your baby from SIDS. Also, it will give them the support they need to develop healthy bones and joints. Whether you decide to buy a mattress new or use a second hand option, make sure it is very firm and fits inside your crib properly. It’s also important to check that the mattress is made without the use of any harmful or toxic chemicals. If you bear all these factors in mind, you’ll be able to choose a mattress that will be both safe and comfortable for your infant.