Choosing the Right Crib Mattress for Your Baby 

 October 6, 2020

By  Julius Hagenes

When it comes to babies, we’re always extra protective, trying to bring them every comfort in the world. Sleep plays a pivotal role in the growth and development of your little ones. A good sleep helps your child in learning, increasing their focus and cognitive abilities, and aiding their physical development.

Proper sleep also improves the immune system of a child, helping them to fight various infections, and keeping them safe from cold and flu. A good mattress can help your child get quality sleep and keep them protected from a number of illnesses.

The sudden death of an infant, also referred to as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), is also associated with poor sleeping habits. A firm crib mattress is one of the many ways through which SIDS can be prevented.

What is a Crib Mattress?

Infants spend more time sleeping than awake. This essentially makes their crib their official home for most of their early life. In case you’re wondering what a crib is, a crib is nothing more than a bed or cot made for children, usually barred on the sides to prevent them falling out.

Because babies are in their cribs so often, it is only natural for them to need a sleeping companion that is designed to improve the quality of their sleep. This is where crib mattresses come into the picture.

Crib mattresses are small in size, comfortable, and more adjustable than adult mattresses, protecting the child as he or she sleeps. They are designed in a way that protects your child from various health conditions that usually occur due to bad posture or disturbed sleep.

Why Pick a Crib Mattress?

If you are still unsure whether you should get a crib mattress or not, there are a number of things you need to know. Comfort and the right sleeping posture are two very vital requirements for babies until they turn a year old. Here’s why:

  • Every year, many babies die in their sleep due to SIDS.
  • The major cause of SIDS is bad posture and discomfort while sleeping.
  • A crib mattress is said to be more protective and comfortable for a baby than a regular mattress.
  • Crib mattresses reduce the risk of SIDS by providing complete comfort. Even if a child turns over on his stomach while sleeping, a crib mattress can reduce the backflow of exhaled air into the lungs, preventing SIDS.

By picking the right mattress for your baby’s crib, you ensure their protection. It is always advised to pick a crib mattress for your baby over an ordinary mattress.

What are the Shapes, Sizes, and Dimensions of a Good Crib Mattress?

For many first-time buyers, the most frequently asked question is: what size is a crib mattress? Unfortunately, there is no set answer for this question. Crib mattresses are available in different shapes and sizes and need to be selected based on your requirements.

Crib mattresses come in many shapes, such as squares, rectangles, circles, ovals, hexagons, and more, each designed to make them look more stylish or inviting. When it comes to shapes, you can just select one that suits the vibe of your child’s room. However, the size of the mattress needs to be chosen with more care.

To help you make a choice, you must first find out what size astandard crib mattress is supposed to be.

Comparison: Standard Crib vs Mini Crib Size

Understanding what dimensions of a crib mattress you should opt for is not only required to protect your baby, but also required by law.

Crib mattresses come in both standard and mini crib sizes. Here’s some information to help you draw a better comparison between the two.

Standard crib size:

The standard sized crib is the most popular mattress, as it is big enough for an infant and can last a long time. There’s no danger of your child outgrowing this crib anytime soon.

There are certain specifications for the size of these mattresses under some government regulations in order to maintain a child’s safety. It is mentioned in the law that the minimum size of the standard mattress should be 27.25 inches X 51.25 inches, according to the Consumer Product Safety Act of 2008 .

They also regulate the thickness of the mattress, which should be no greater than 6 inches. Mattresses with a thickness of over 6 inches are extremely dangerous, as the baby may fall off a higher mattress while sleeping.

If you are going for a standard size crib, it is advised to check if the crib follows the general guidelines provided by the government.

Mini crib size:

The mini crib mattress is not as popular as the standard crib mattress. One reason for this is that the child outgrows it in very little time. It is certainly not an excellent investment for parents.

The size of mini cribs are not regulated by government laws. They are available in different ranges and are always sold with a mattress. The average size of the mini crib is 24 inches X 34 inches.

The mini crib mattress lasts approximately one and a half years, whereas standard crib mattresses can last for a period of more than 3 years. Mini cribs are usually only preferable when you have a small space to work with. Some of them can be folded and are easy to carry while traveling.

The Different Types of Crib Mattresses

There are many types of crib mattresses available on the market. You should become familiar with them before deciding what’s best for your child.

Coil Crib Mattress

Coil crib mattresses are specially designed to prevent SIDS among younger kids. These mattresses are more firm and do not mold according to the child’s weight or posture. The metal coils in these mattresses and layers of different fibers help make them more firm. The number of coils can be considered the quality standards for these mattresses.

The greater the number of coils, the higher the quality of the mattress. Look for a mattress with 170 coils or more to use as a benchmark. Rods are also available to provide extra support and stability.

These are more costly than any other crib mattresses due to their build quality. When considering the safety of a baby, these mattresses tend to be the number one choice among parents.

Foam Crib Mattress

Foam crib mattresses should be strictly used for toddlers. These mattresses do not have metal coils and are less firm and resilient as compared to coil crib mattresses. They are designed to be more soft, comfortable, and lightweight. They are also usually made of natural and organic materials, making them cheaper than coil crib mattresses.

Due to their softness, foam crib mattresses are dangerous for infants, as they can increase the chances of suffocation and SIDS.

When purchasing foam mattresses for cribs, always look for a mattress with a higher density (you can check this by looking at the weight of the mattress). Opt for a mattress that is both soft and firm, providing better support. This mattress is certainly the most cost-friendly option to select for a toddler.

Some foam crib mattresses are made using metal coils in an attempt to make them safer for your child. If you purchase a foam mattress for your baby, be sure it comes with metal coils. However, these are more costly compared to ones without metal coils.

Dual-sided Crib Mattress

The best investment you can make for your baby’s crib is a dual-sided crib mattress. These are designed in a way that allows your child to use it in both his infant and toddler stages.

One side is made softer like a foam mattress for toddlers, while the other side is more firm and has metal coils, making it more ideal for an infant. It is important to know the properties of both sides and use them as per your requirements. Never let your infant sleep on the softer side.

Dual-sided mattresses are generally the best option to buy when it comes to longevity, making them a great one-time investment. They are usually costlier than the other mattresses.

Which Crib Mattress Best Fits Your Needs?

The selection of the right mattress comes down to what you are looking for and what your needs are. If you have an infant, you should opt for mattresses that are more firm and resilient. Understanding your needs and the safety of your child is of prime importance when selecting the right kind of crib mattress.

Comparison: Toddler Mattresses vs Crib Mattresses

To make things easy for you, here’s a short comparison between crib mattresses and toddler mattresses.

Crib mattresses and toddler mattresses are not very different from each other, but they have some key differences that make them suitable for babies of different ages.

It is very difficult for an infant to move and change sides while sleeping. Therefore, crib mattresses are designed to be firm and resilient, making them safer for infants. Crib mattresses help babies to remain asleep on their backs, as advised by doctors to prevent suffocation and SIDS.

As children continue to grow and become older than 12 months, they start moving around and turning over while sleeping. For their comfort, toddler mattresses are softer, cozier, and more lightweight to give toddlers a better night’s sleep.

The key difference between crib and toddler mattresses is that they are designed for babies of different age groups, making them firmer or softer respectively.

How to Elevate Crib Mattresses

It is advised by many that an inclined position is important for a baby while sleeping. This is done to regulate the flow of liquid and fluid in the body. Many doctors suggest that an inclined position can prevent runny nose, congestion, ear infections, etc. The ideal angle of inclination should be between 15 to 30 degrees.

However, there is also some contradictory evidence suggesting that an inclined sleeping position may not be relevant for the health of babies. For a better understanding, you should always consult a doctor before elevating the crib mattress of your baby.

Here are two ways to safely elevate your child’s crib mattress:

Placing a pillow under the mattress

This is the easiest and cheapest way to elevate your child’s crib mattress. Take a pillow, blanket, or towel and place it about 5 or 6 inches above the bed support. Make sure it is not elevated over 6 inches to prevent falls.

You must also remember to make sure that the pillow or blanket does not go inside the sleeping area, as it can cause SIDS. Any stray parts of the blanket or towel should be safely kept out of the sleeping area.

Using crib wedges

You can also buy a crib wedge to elevate your crib mattress. They are easy to use, safer, and more efficient than just using a pillow. Generally, they are inexpensive, but offer more benefits than most other methods. Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • They securely maintain the incline of the sleeping surface, helping your baby get sound sleep.
  • They are customized in a way that leaves no extra material or cloth in the crib, reducing the risk of SIDS.
  • They are more comfortable for the baby.
  • There is a lower chance of a too-high elevation, as they are made by experts.
  • You can simply stick a wedge under the crib and be done.

There are other methods to incline or elevate your baby’s mattress, such as placing books, etc. However, most of these can prove harmful and should be considered with extreme caution.

Can I Make a Crib Mattress Softer?

The firmness of a crib mattress is really important in helping your baby to maintain a sleeping position on their back, preventing SIDS or any other kinds of sleep disorder. If you think your baby’s mattress is too firm, it is most likely because it is meant to be that way. Firm and resilient mattresses are best suited for infants’ needs. You shouldn’t try to make a mattress softer for more comfort.

If you’ve been looking up ways to make your crib mattress softer, they should only be done if your child is a toddler. Better yet, always consult a medical professional before switching to a softer mattress, as they can bring many health hazards if used without professional advice.

If you’ve gotten a green flag from a professional, here’s how you can make your crib mattress softer:

  • Keep a blanket under the crib to make it a little more comfortable. Be sure to not make it extra soft.
  • Use some soft cotton covers over the crib mattress to make it cozier.
  • In winter, you can use a woollen cover for the crib mattress, keeping the child warm and safe from the cold.

While these methods can make a crib mattress a little more comfortable, they may not always be one hundred percent safe. You need to be on high alert when making adjustments to a mattress.

Crib Mattress Buying Guide

There are many points to consider before buying a crib mattress for your baby. We’ve already mentioned quite a few that can help you out. Let us have a look at some more features one by one.

Waterproof Crib Mattress

It is important to check that the mattress has a waterproof covering. This can help prevent spills and leakages seeping into the material of the crib mattress.

Non-waterproof mattresses are more vulnerable to the growth of fungi and other microbes that may cause severe allergic infections. If the baby has had any prior allergic infections or mild asthma, purchasing a non-waterproof mattress is out of the question.

You should always check the waterproofing for yourself. Do not just trust the tag on the product. Self-assessment is crucial, as a non-waterproof mattress can also cause SIDS.

The Two-Finger Test

It is really important that your crib mattress fits the crib perfectly. There are various methods by which you can check this, one of which is the Two-Finger Test.

Basically, there shouldn’t be more than a two-finger space between the crib and your crib mattress.

Unfit crib mattresses increase the chances of accidents for the baby. They can also be uncomfortable, as legs and hands can get stuck in the empty spaces.

Perfectly Firm

In your child’s initial years, a firm mattress is required. A cozy and soft mattress can lead to suffocation and SIDS. The mattress should not conform to your baby’s shape.

When buying a mattress, check its firmness by placing your hand or some other weight on top to see if it bends with the weight.

Mattress Hygiene

Your baby is bound to create lots of messes on the mattress, from spilling things on it to soiling it. It is important to check that the mattress cover is easily washable.

Another thing to consider is that the cover is made up of natural fibers, as synthetic fibers can release certain chemicals after washing that may affect the child’s health. Make sure that the cover is waterproof too!

Crib Mattress Materials

Most synthetic polymers are considered bad for the health of a baby. Synthetic polymers can also cause skin infections, rashes, burns, and other allergy problems.

Going for a natural fiber like cotton will be in the best interest of the baby’s health and comfort. If you are opting for synthetic polymer, ask a health professional to make sure it does not pose any health risk to your baby.

Tips to Remember While Using a Crib Mattress

We’ve handed over all the information you will need in order to make a great mattress purchase. However, once you’ve gotten the right mattress, make sure you keep the following tips in mind:

Let the Mattress Breathe

It’s important to keep your mattress in the open air for about two or three days before use, and, if possible, let it soak in some sunlight before using it for the first time. This helps to get rid of the smell of chemicals from the mattress. Infants are extra sensitive to these odors and can become allergic to them.

Clean the Messes

Clean all the spills, foods, fluids, etc. immediately from the mattress. Not cleaning the mattress frequently enough can lead to bad odors permeating from the mattress, creating uneasiness for the baby and risking his health at the same time.

Be Cautious with Dual-Sided Mattresses

If you have purchased a dual-sided crib mattress for your child, you need to be extra sure about which side to use. Read all the instructions carefully. Go through the instruction manual more than once, just to be sure.

The firm and resilient side should always be used for your infant. Placing it the wrong way, even if by accident, can increase the chances of suffocation and SIDS.

The soft and comfortable side should only be used for a child above 12 months of age, but it is best suited for toddlers. Be careful and alert while placing a dual-sided mattress in the crib.

Final Thoughts

We have covered some of the most useful information about crib mattresses in this article, including all one needs to know before purchasing one.

When you’re about to head out to make your choice, remember to keep in mind the crucial requirements, from the material of the mattress and its shape and size, to the type of mattress best suited according to the baby’s age.

And while this article is meant to guide you, make sure to consult a medical expert for an even better understanding and to make a more informed decision according to your baby’s needs.

Julius Hagenes

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