What is the safest and healthiest possible crib mattress for your baby? When your child is asleep, you need to be sure he or she is away with the angels, secure and breathing softly.
It is especially worth knowing that common buzzwords such as “eco”, “green”, “healthy”, or “non-toxic” are in fact unregulated, meaning that there are no real standards to define what is actually healthy. There have been some pretty high profile companies sued for materials used in their baby products.
Today’s crib mattresses are generally well designed to provide a safe and supportive surface for your baby to sleep on. However, because every mother wants the best for her little one, the market has become very competitive and many claims are made that are not strictly true. The safety and comfort of the mattress depends mostly on the material inside, but there are huge variations even within these.
Here are five types of crib mattress you might want to consider:
- A foam mattress is the lightest of all, and thus a good choice if you have a portable crib which folds up when not in use, or suffer from back problems or other physical limitations. It is also the cheapest option, but all foams are not created equally – some are made of Polyurethane, some bamboo fiber and some latex. Polyurethane is the cheapest of all, but “sinks” easily while latex is longer lasting but more expensive.
- Foam also comes in different densities and varying levels of firmness, with higher density materials considered safer because a soft sleeping surface could be a suffocation hazard and raise the risk of SIDS. Generally speaking, the firmer a foam mattress is, the safer it is for your baby. The way to test this is to push your hand into the middle of the mattress and check how quickly it regains its shape. The quicker the better, because sleeping babies make an impression on the foam, and it will be harder for them to change position if the mattress stays flattened.
- Coiled Spring Mattress
- This design has a steel construction making them quite heavy, which could present difficulties if you have to move the mattress frequently. And while marketers may boast of the coil count, it does not actually mean it is firmer or more comfortable. Instead, check the gauge (thickness) of the steel – it should be 15.5 or lower.
- Avoid cheaper models however, because they can squeak with the baby’s every movement and both you and your child need your rest.
- Pocket Spring Crib Mattress
- The pocket spring mattresses is similar to the coiled spring, but with each spring sewn into an individual material pocket which allows each spring to move independently of the others and compress according to the weight it has to support. Many mothers find this mattress ideal because your baby’s back will be supported better that his or her legs.
- The downside, however, is that this is one of the most expensive mattresses as well as the heaviest.
- Memory Foam
- This type of mattress has temperature sensitive foam that molds to your baby’s body, and when you lift the child you will see that it slowly springs back to its original shape.
- Since memory foam hugs your baby’s body, air circulation is reduced and can make the mattress feel warmer, so is an option if you don’t have central heating or live in a colder climate. The problem, however, is that it is difficult to flip and may be too warm for the baby in summer.
- Natural and Organic Crib Mattress
- Health conscious parents today are all too well aware that conventional mattresses are often made from petroleum by-products and treated with flame retardant chemicals like boric acid, and will prefer a mattress made from natural materials and fibers. These can include untreated wool, which is a natural flame retardant and also dust mite resistant, or organic cotton. Beware, though, that due to lax advertising standards a mattress that claims to be organic may only contain a small amount of natural material.
- Organic mattresses are usually chemical free and ideal if you think your child may have allergies. The downside, however, is that you need to carefully investigate the maker before trusting the organic or hypoallergenic label. One organic cotton mattress pad product that has received good reviews is Greenbuds Baby line, but there are lots of good companies offering great products. Just make sure you are discerning in your choice!