crib mattress

How to Choose the Right Crib Mattress: A Comprehensive Guide

Making the Correct Choice for Your Baby's Sleep

Designing a nursery is one of the most exciting activities for any parent-to-be, and it’s a wonderful way to get ready to welcome your child into the world. But while you should keep aesthetic preferences in mind when decorating a child’s comfort and safety are paramount.

While parents will spend hours looking for a suitable pushchair with all the features, one of a nursery’s most important items is all too commonly overlooked - a crib mattress.

After all, your child will sleep on their crib mattress every night, so choosing the right one is crucial to give you and your child the best chance at having a relaxing night’s sleep.

Why Are Crib Mattresses Important?

Getting the right mattress is important for people at all stages of life, but none more sure than during their key developmental years. Babies need adequate sleep, and the better they sleep, the better you sleep, so providing them with the right sleeping surface is crucial.

But for babies, a mattress goes beyond being just a place to sleep. A mattress is where a baby grows, develops, and explores, so it needs to be as safe and comfortable as possible. Product safety is especially vital as the baby grows and becomes more active and able to move around by themselves.

What’s the Right Crib Mattress Size?

A crib mattress must fit properly in a full-size crib to be safe to use, with no space between the mattress and the side of the crib, in which your baby’s head could get stuck. You’ll need to choose a mattress that’s at least 27.25 x 51.25 inches and no more than 6 inches thick.

When fitting your mattress in the crib, there shouldn’t be a gap of more than ½ inch at any point when the mattress is centered, or more than 1 inch when the mattress is pushed against the side. A quick test is to check that you can’t fit more than two fingers between the mattress and the crib. If you can, the mattress is too small.

The dimensions of a full-size crib are regulated by the CPSIA. If you’re using a non-full-size crib, such as a travel crib, the mattress must be sold with the crib to ensure it fits properly according to the legislation for this consumer product.

What’s the Best Crib Mattress for Safety?

No one crib mattress’s the safest or most comfortable, but you should be looking for a mattress that’s firm, fits the crib, and is completely free from blankets and other toys that could be hazardous for your baby.

You should keep the mattress covered in a waterproof cover for hygiene and comfort. Ensure that the cover pulls off easily from the side of the mattress when the baby rolls over, or this could cause a safety hazard.

How Firm Should a Crib Mattress Be?

Babies need firmer mattresses than adults. If you’re buying an innerspring mattress, select one with a steel gauge of 15.5 or below and a high coil count. The mattress should also include border rods to stop the mattress from compressing around the sides.

If you choose a foam crib mattress, opt for one with a high foam density for maximum comfort on support. You’ll be able to find information about the model’s density online.

If you’re shopping in person, there’s a simple trick you can use to test whether the mattress is dense enough. Put a hand on each side of the mattress and press them together. The denser the mattress, the harder it will be to compress it.

Is It Safe to Buy a Used Crib?

If your budget permits it, you should always prioritize buying a new crib over a used one. Crib mattresses from decades ago can contain harmful chemicals and substances that have since been outlawed in new cribs. There’s also a risk of the mold with mattresses that have been stored in damp areas.

If you use a second-hand crib, get your crib from a trusted friend or family member who can confirm how they stored the crib and when it was manufactured.

If you intend to keep your baby’s crib for future children, store it in a dry location where there’s no condensation or dampness, and double-check its firmness and density before giving it to your next child.

Your baby will spend significant time sleeping, relaxing, and exploring in their crib. Make this experience as stress-free, comfortable, and safe as possible by providing them with the right tools.