Buying a crib mattress is one of the most important decisions new parents can make for their baby.
Of course, you want your children to be safe, comfortable, and able to get plenty of rest, so the type of mattress you choose for the crib is just as important as the mattress you choose for your own bed.
The right mattress means comfortable and restful sleep; the wrong mattress can be nothing but trouble.
Crib Mattress Material Options
The biggest debate among crib mattress manufacturers these days is one of organic verses synthetic materials.
Advocates of organic crib mattresses cite the health benefits of going organic, and modern parents have the choice of purchasing fully organic, synthetic, or mixed mattresses. The choice of materials is entirely up to individual parents and how they feel about each one.
Regardless of the type of crib mattress you choose, never sacrifice quality to save a few dollars. A poor quality mattress could not only interrupt the sleep of your baby, it could also be a health hazard. Make sure your crib mattress is from a trusted manufacturer with a good track record of making quality crib products.
Fit and Firmness
When purchasing a crib mattress you need to take the measurements of the inside of the crib. Measure from head to foot and side to side as tightly as you possibly can. You need a mattress that fits in the crib and leaves no gaps between itself and the frame. Gaps can be dangerous for your baby. Fortunately, modern cribs come in standard sizes so most mattresses will fit snugly. But with an older crib you may have a harder time finding a mattress that fits.
When it comes to firmness, you want a mattress that is firm enough to support the baby without letting him sink at all. A mattress that’s too soft could pose a suffocation risk while the baby is sleeping on his stomach. Soft mattresses also inhibit a child’s ability to roll and move freely in the crib. The more firm the mattress, the better it is for baby.
Foam or Coil Spring?
Neither a foam mattress nor a coil spring mattress is inherently better or worse than the other. It’s all a matter of preference. Foam mattresses are most common because they are lighter and easier to handle, which comes in handy when moving the crib or changing the sheets. If you’ve chosen to go with organic materials, latex rubber will be the most common type of foam mattress you’ll find.
Should you choose to go with a coil spring mattress, realize that it will be prone to the same pressure point issues as adult-sized coil spring mattresses. For a new mattress and a new baby this will be a non-issue. But if you’re using a coil spring mattress passed down from your parents or grandparents, it can be worn enough to cause discomfort for your baby.
The Mattress Cover is Key
Unlike the mattress on your own bed, the crib mattress is not likely to be used for 15-20 years, unless you have a lot of children. With that in mind, the mattress cover tends to be more important than the mattress itself in terms of care and maintenance.
A cover with multiple layers will be more durable and long-lasting than one with a single layer. You’ll need to check whether a specific mattress cover is manufactured to resist stains, spit-up, urine, etc., and whether or not it has an antibacterial layer on top. Wool is a great choice for mattress covers, as are rubber and plastic.
The right crib mattress could be the difference between a pleasant sleeping experience for your baby and a miserable one. Be sure to follow all the safety instructions that come with your mattress and ask the advice of seasoned parents on how to create the best sleep environment for your baby. You’ll be glad you did.