Do You Need a Crib Mattress? When Should You Replace a Crib Mattress? The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Crib Mattress for Your Baby
Parents are always concerned about the well-being of their little ones, and they have lots of questions about many different topics. One of the common questions parents have is whether they need a crib mattress.
Yes! You need a crib mattress because they ensure that your baby sleeps well and grows properly, and they also distribute pressure evenly and lower the risk of your baby getting injured as it grows. While a lot of parents might sleep with their babies or use bassinets, these are not exactly the safest sleeping options for babies as they develop.
First of all, ensuring that your baby sleeps on a good mattress is vital in order to make sure that they grow properly. Crib mattresses offer good pressure distribution, which lowers the risk of the baby getting injured as it gets bigger. Babies need firm crib mattresses that support them when sleeping, so that they have healthy spine, bone, and body development.
Secondly, with a good, breathable crib mattress, you won’t have to worry about your baby overheating. It’s common for babies to sweat while they sleep because there’s no air flow beneath them.
In this article, we will explain why a crib mattress can be beneficial for your little one, when crib mattresses should be replaced, and what type of mattress you should be looking for. We will also clear up some common questions that parents usually have about this topic.
- When should you transition from a cot bed to a toddler bed?
How To Choose a Crib Mattress for Your Baby
You might think that picking a crib mattress is somewhat similar to picking an adult mattress, but there are specific safety considerations to keep in mind and certain features that are worth looking for. While it is important and beneficial to get a crib mattress, you shouldn’t buy the first one you lay eyes on. There are a lot of factors to consider before making the purchase.
You should keep the following things in mind when you choose a crib mattress:
- Firmness: Crib mattresses should be much firmer than adult ones, in order to keep babies safe and to support their growing bones while they sleep. Make sure the mattress is rated for infant use.
- Surface: Crib mattresses should have a vinyl surface to make them waterproof and resistant to mold. If yours has a fabric surface, be sure to use a waterproof cover.
- Fit: The mattress should fit adequately within the frame. There is a “two-finger rule” that suggests that you shouldn’t be able to fit more than two fingers between the mattress and the crib. If you choose a mini crib or a bassinet, you can use the same rule.
- Materials: Some parents prefer using mattresses made from natural and organic materials in order to avoid chemicals used in standard mattress production. However, no actual health effects have been evaluated yet.
A crib mattress is one of the most important things you’ll purchase for your baby, because a big portion of your baby’s life and development will be spent there. Since a crib mattress can impact the baby’s quality of sleep, buying the right crib mattress is critical. Make sure you check out our article on cot bed sizes and cot bed mattress sizes.
Why Do Babies Need Firm Crib Mattresses?
One of the most important factors parents should consider when choosing their baby’s mattress is the firmness level. While you might think that the baby needs to have a cushion-soft surface, it can be very dangerous if a crib mattress is soft, floppy, or saggy. When it comes to babies, the firmer the crib mattress, the better. But why do babies need firm crib mattresses?
Babies need firm crib mattresses because they provide more skeletal support than a soft mattress. Firm mattresses are also safer because the baby cannot become trapped between the mattress and the crib frame.
In terms of development, firm crib mattresses give babies the support their bones and skeletons need as they develop and grow. Babies’ bones are a lot softer than adult bones, so a baby’s skeleton and spine require more support than adult bones do. Firm crib mattresses offer that support, whereas soft crib mattresses do not.
Firm crib mattresses are also essential to a baby’s safety. Soft crib mattresses are not very safe as they increase the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) compared to average or firm crib mattresses, according to this study from the New Zealand Medical Journal.
Soft crib mattresses also pose more of a suffocation risk to babies. If a baby is put to sleep on its stomach or rolls onto its stomach while sleeping, a soft mattress can cushion the baby's face too much and increase the risk of suffocation.
Soft mattresses may also be dangerous for other reasons. Some experts think that soft mattresses increase the risk of a baby’s exhaled breath getting trapped around its face, causing the baby to breathe in carbon dioxide (as seen in this study in BMJ Journals).
Additionally, soft mattresses usually have flexible sides and corners. This can allow gaps to be created between the crib edge and the mattress edge, which could cause a baby’s arms or legs to get stuck in the gap. Have you thought about cot bed bumpers? Here's a guide to cot bed bumper safety and alternatives.
Can I Stack Two Crib Mattresses?
We have explained why you should get a crib mattress and given you some advice on what to look for in a mattress, but another common question parents may have is whether they can stack two crib mattresses. When your baby is in their crib, you may feel like they are too low for you to pick them up easily. If that’s the case, you may wonder if more mattresses are needed, or if you could stack more than one in the crib.
No, you cannot stack two crib mattresses. While we understand why you may want to do so, cribs are designed to be used with only one mattress.
Depending on your baby‘s size, you can adjust the crib to a level that you feel is safe. If you put a second mattress in the crib, it might make it too high, which can be very dangerous for the baby.
If you’ve seen a crib that looked like it had more than one mattress, it probably had a bed skirt rather than an extra mattress. A bed skirt is meant to hide the space below the mattress on a high setting.
Can You Reuse a Crib Mattress for Another Baby?
There’s no doubt that raising a baby is expensive. With all of the different supplies you need to buy for your nursery, you might be tempted to buy a second-hand mattress or reuse a mattress that your older child used.
However, you shouldn’t reuse a crib mattress for another baby. A reused crib mattress may not be clean or in good condition, and reusing a crib mattress could put your baby at increased risk for SIDS.
Reused Crib Mattresses Aren’t Always Clean
One of the most obvious reasons not to reuse a crib mattress is because of hygiene. Crib mattresses get urinated on constantly, and you can’t really be sure that it was cleaned and treated properly. Even spilled milk can lead to mold growth, and worse, if not cleaned properly.
Besides that, you can’t know exactly what’s crawling inside the mattress. Depending on where it was stored, the interior could be full of bacteria, which can be very dangerous to a newborn. For more information, see this study in the American Journal of Infection Control that discusses bacterial growth in crib mattress covers.
A Reused Crib Mattress Could Be in Bad Condition
Mattresses don’t last forever, and one that’s been used for a while might not be safe to use anymore. The crib mattress should be as firm as possible, and if it’s already been used, it might have lost its firmness.
Having a mattress that is in good condition is vital for your baby’s health. If the mattress is damaged in any way or has any tears or holes, it should not be used.
There Is an Increased Risk of SIDS With a Reused Crib Mattress
In 2002, a study published in the British Medical Journal showed a possible link between the use of a pre-owned crib mattress and infant death from SIDS. The study found that an infant was up to three times more likely to die from SIDS when using a second-hand crib mattress.
While the study did not find a concrete cause for why this happens, it’s best to avoid taking any chances and buy a new mattress.
When Should You Replace a Crib Mattress?
If a mattress is well taken care of, it can easily last for a decade. Crib mattresses do need to be replaced after some time, but this depends on individual factors such as the type of mattress, its durability and resistance to stains, and your own care and maintenance of the mattress. However, the smallest problem with it may mean that it needs to be changed.
You should replace your baby’s mattress when you notice that the mattress has indentations, damage on the surface, or stains, or if it has lost firmness.
Here are some more details about when to replace a crib mattress:
- Indentations: If you plan to use the same mattress for more than one baby, you need to make sure that there are no indentations, since it’s a SIDS risk. Foam mattresses tend to lose their shape and are more prone to ‘’spoil’’ over time, although they have recently improved in quality and durability.
- Damage on the surface: Once you notice that the surface of the mattress is worn out or damaged, it’s a good time to change it. If the mattress cover is made of vinyl, then there’s a chance that the mattress will get damaged. On the other hand, those made from durable material like nylon are more likely to last longer.
- Stains: There’s no reason to use a stained mattress, especially if you’re not familiar with the origin of the stain. Since babies are extremely sensitive, their surroundings should be perfectly clean.
- Loss of Firmness: Many mattresses tend to lose their firmness over time. It’s a good idea to replace a mattress that isn’t firm enough to support your baby. After all, you don’t want to put your baby on its stomach on a soft mattress since it’s dangerous and will increase the risk of SIDS.
To get the most life out of your crib, remember that proactive care and maintenance are your best options. Also make sure you read about our tips on making cot beds more cozy!
Babies sleep for over twelve hours each day, so it’s important that you make sure that their beds are as safe as possible. Crib mattresses play an important role in keeping babies safe, and knowing what to look for is the key to providing a safe sleeping environment for your baby.