Choosing the Perfect Crib Mattress for Your Newborn
When you find out you are going to be a parent, your mind immediately jumps to all the things you need to purchase and do to get ready for your baby to arrive. One of the most important items you will choose during this time is the crib mattress that your child will lay their head on each day and night. Because of the amount of exposure your baby will have to their crib mattress, it is of the utmost importance that your baby’s crib mattress be free of stimulants and harsh ingredients like toxins and chemicals. To help you make the best decision possible when selecting the ideal crib mattress for your child, we have put together a guide to make finding the best crib mattress and why you should choose an organic crib mattress.
The Importance of Purchasing a Natural Crib Mattress
Organic is a moniker that seems to be increasingly desirable in modern society, and understandably so, as culture has shifted to being more environmentally conscious and health aware. One of the most important ways to go organic is with your baby, as this will provide the building blocks upon which they can build a happy, healthy life. Some may be skeptical about how vast the differences could truly be between organic and non-organic crib mattresses; however, the two could not be more different. Below are just a few of the main reasons why choosing an organic crib mattress is vital to your newborn’s well-being.
- Polyester Fabrics: Polyester is known to being an itchy, irritating material to many; however, many crib mattresses possess fabric and batting that is made with polyester. Polyester has been linked to respiratory tract irritation and severe skin rashes, making polyester a material you want to keep far away from your baby.
- Petrochemical Foams: As mentioned above, the majority of crib mattresses are made with petrochemical-derived foams, such as polyurethane. Polyurethane foams have been linked to asthma and allergy development.
- Cheap Glues: Many standard crib mattresses contain a large amount of cheap glue in order to keep their structure firm and rigid. The danger of cheap glues is that they contain a number of chemicals that have been proven to be harmful to children. Many of the glues utilized in the manufacturing of standard crib mattresses contain volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), which paint companies are also moving to remove from their paints. If you do not want your baby breathing in chemicals each night while they sleep, avoid crib mattresses manufactured with cheap glues.
- Brominated Fire Retardants: Brominated fire retardants are used in the manufacturing of some crib mattresses and have been linked to cancer, developmental problems, and thyroid dysfunction. With each exposure, Polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs, are stored within the body, which makes them bioaccumulative. This makes them especially dangerous in a crib mattress your baby will lay on each night.
Choosing the Perfect Crib Mattress for Your Newborn
Before delving into the detailed intricacies that differentiate types of crib mattresses, it is important first to have a firm understanding of why buying the right crib mattress matters. The first, and more important reason why, is that your baby will be spending a significant amount of time on this crib mattress. On average, infants sleep up to eighteen hours per day, which makes their exposure to their crib mattress extremely substantial. Another important consideration to keep in mind is that finding the right crib mattress reduces your baby’s ability to get hurt due to gaps caused by an ill-fitting crib mattress. An extremely vital consideration to keep in mind is that though it may seem logical for you to want the softest crib mattress for keep your baby sleeping soundly, it is in fact very important that the crib mattress be firm. If the crib mattress is too soft, it can conform to the shape of your baby’s head or face, which increases the risk of suffocation. While a crib mattress may seem like an easy purchase in theory, it is one of the most conscious and deliberate safety decisions you will make in the early days of your newborn’s life.
Types of Crib Mattresses
There are two main types to choose from when selecting a crib mattress: foam and innerspring. If you buy a high-quality version, either type should maintain its form and provide adequate support for your infant or toddler. Even though both can potentially serve the same purpose, there are several differences between foam and innerspring mattresses. Innerspring mattresses most resemble mattresses adults sleep on, as many adults in the United States sleep on innerspring mattresses as well. Innerspring mattresses have more spring in them, hence the name, which can lead to trouble down the road when toddlers begin to stand and bounce in their crib. Innerspring mattresses are comprised of multiple layers and what each layer is made of, as well as the quality of the covering, combine to determine both the comfort of the mattress and how much it will cost. Foam mattresses, on the other hand, tend to be lighter than innerspring mattresses by quite a bit. The average innerspring crib mattress weight fifteen to thirty pounds, while a foam crib mattress weighs anywhere from five to thirteen pounds on average. The lightness afforded by a foam mattress makes changing the sheets easier as the corner lift with much less exertion. Foam mattresses are often made from polyurethane.
Always Choose Quality
When choosing a crib mattress, always keep in mind that quality is of the utmost importance. Cheap foam and innerspring mattresses are often manufactured using lowered quality materials, which likely contain more toxins or chemicals that could be potentially harmful to your baby. Many cheap crib mattresses come with a Polyvinyl Chloride (vinyl) covering to keep it waterproof; however, as vinyl breaks down it off-gasses vinyl chloride, which is a known human carcinogen that has been linked to liver cancer. In addition to this, vinyl also cracks much more frequently, which can lead to bodily fluids collecting in the mattress and being breathed in by your child as they lay in their crib. When selecting a crib mattress for your baby, target mattresses with a thicker composition, natural latex, reinforced double or triple laminates, and an organic cotton exterior.
Buy a New Crib Mattress
There are many items in life in which hand-me-downs or used options are wonderful, but finding a crib mattress is not one of them. One of the most important reasons to buy a new mattress for your baby’s crib is because you will know it is one hundred percent safe for your baby. If you do not know the environment in which a crib mattress has been stored, cared for, or cleaned, then you could be exposing your baby to any number of bacteria. Mold can grow within the interior of crib mattresses if they are not cared for properly, and bacteria can develop on the surface from bodily fluids and liquid that were not properly cleaned. That being said, if you have a crib mattress from your older child that you still believe is a clean and safe option, feel free to use it as you know the conditions in which it has been kept. Another reason you may potentially want to go with a new option, however, is that crib mattresses are constantly evolving to be more comfortable, safe, and relaxing for your baby.
Crib Mattress Features
When selecting a mattress, you will notice the different features offered in the two main types of crib mattresses: foam and innerspring. The unique features of the crib mattress will vary based on which type it is, but to begin deciding which type is right for your baby, it is helpful to delve a bit deeper into the features.
- Waterproof Cover: Waterproof covers are often sold separately, even if the particular crib mattress you decide on is marketed as leakproof. Waterproof covers will help protect the crib mattress from bacteria and bodily fluids seeping within it, and are easily removable to be washed frequently. This allows you to keep your crib mattress as clean and sanitary as possible. In addition to being a cleaner option, the inclusion of a waterproof cover also increases the comfort of your baby by reducing any chill that could arise from the external cover of the crib mattress. A waterproof cover is a not a suffocation hazard because it goes underneath the sheet.
- Foam Firmness: As mentioned previously, you want to be sure that the foam on your crib mattress is firm. To do a quick test in the store, merely press in the center of the mattress and at the edges and keep an eye on whether the foam snaps back to its original shape quickly or maintains the shape from your hand. If it maintains the shape from your hand, it is too soft and could post a suffocating hazard to your baby. If it snaps back quickly, it is firm enough to be safe for your baby to lay its head on each night without the risk of it conforming.
- Foam Density: Foam firmness is not the only foam metric that matters; foam density is also important. When picking a crib mattress, always pick the denser foam as this will be better for your baby. This may be difficult to assess in public in the middle of the store, but is often in the specifications section for crib mattresses online. To give a quick cursory foam density test in the store, place on hand on each side of the mattress in the center and press together. The denser the mattress is, the less it will allow you to press it together.
- Innerspring Specific Features: There are many features specific to innerspring mattresses. One of these features is border rods, which surround the perimeter of the top and bottom. Their purpose is to provide durability, firmness, and a strong edge support to prevent any sagging from occurring when your baby crawls or walks near the edge. Do not ever buy an innerspring mattress without border rods. Another innerspring specific feature to consider is innerspring layers. The general rule of thumb to follow when purchasing an innerspring mattress is that the more layers there are, and the better quality those layers are, the better the mattress will be. This increase in layers and cushioning may make for a heavier mattress, but the quality will outweigh the potential disadvantages of the heavier weight. Innerspring mattresses also possess an insulator pad, which is a thick pad that lays on top of the steel coils in an innerspring crib mattress. When selecting an innerspring mattress, be sure to find an insulator pad that contains coir fiber or fiber-wrap. Both of these are of good quality and will provide a better night of sleep. Avoid insulator pads that are made from woven polyester as these are often low quality. Innerspring mattresses are often described in terms of their coil count and steel gauge. Be wary, however, of assuming that a higher coil count results in a firmer, and therefore better, mattress. While the total number of coils present is important, equally important is the gauge of the steel in those coils. The final feature to consider that is specific to an innerspring mattress is the cushioning layer above the coils. The cushioning layer is often made from foam, cotton, or polyester. Target crib mattresses that utilize foam or cotton as those are higher quality. If you cannot find out exactly what is in the layers in the crib mattress, do not purchase it.
- Airflow Pockets: While having an entirely waterproof mattress sounds desirable in theory, if your baby’s crib mattress is entirely waterproof it will not allow any ventilation, or breathing, through the surface. To abate this issue, be sure to purchase a crib mattress that possess airflow pockets to allow for proper ventilation.
Essentia knows how much your baby’s health and welfare mean to you and has developed a safe, comfortable natural memory foam crib mattress to give your baby the safest, most relaxing night of sleep possible. Essentia crib mattresses are made of natural latex memory foam, 100% organic cotton and organic dyes for covers, a removable waterproof covering, and no glues or adhesives. Invest in an organic crib mattress and make sure your baby sleep safely and soundly each night.
Thanks for the great tips! My wife is expecting soon, and we want to get the right mattress for our upcoming baby.