A crib mattress is an essential purchase for your baby. One of the most important things caregivers can do for newborns is to provide them with a safe sleeping environment. To help reduce the risk of suffocation, SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) or SUID (Sudden Unexpected Infant Death), a properly assembled crib and proper fitting crib mattress should be used without toys, blankets, pillows or corded electronics in or near an infant’s sleeping space.
Choosing the right crib mattress for your baby can require a bit of research as there are many to choose from. Purchasing a new crib mattress is best instead of second hand. You don’t know how the previous owner used or stored the product. Plus crib mattresses available today are made to the latest standards.
Crib mattresses are designed to fit inside USA standard size cribs and toddler beds. Each crib mattress will fit inside a 52” x 28” crib (with plus or minus dimensions) and are no thicker than 6” measured from seam to seam. Find information about crib fit and measuring the inside dimensions of your crib to help ensure a snug fit for your crib mattress. You can purchase two-stage models which offer a firmer side for infants and a softer side for toddlers.
Focus on the 4 C’s of a Crib Mattress to help you decide: Core, Cushioning, Cover and Certifications
Innerspring coils are made of steel and are heat-tempered, which means the coils will bounce back into shape easily. For the best type of innersprings, look for a higher coil count, which means the coils are closer together, helping to create a firmer surface overall.
Upgraded innerspring models include border wire or border rods, which is thick steel wrapped around the edges to keep them supported. Additional features include weight distribution systems, cross frames and corner and side protectors, like pylons, which help to make the core more durable, firmer and supportive.
The great thing about steel coil innersprings is that they last a lifetime and you can find high-quality innerspring coils from affordable models to premium crib mattresses. Coil crib mattresses will weigh between 10 and 20 pounds depending on the interior core and cushioning. Anything much heavier than this is the exception, not the norm, for crib mattresses, as you want to easily be able to lift and change crib sheets.
A high-density polyurethane foam core that is at least 1.5 pounds per cubic foot. The higher the number of pounds per cubic foot, the firmer the core. Premium foam models include soybean enhanced foam cores made with CertiPUR-US Certified foam, which have been tested for durability and chemicals.
Some crib mattresses use a polyester material that are not considered high-density, but are more affordable models for short term use. New ultra-firm and ultra-lightweight models include polyethylene foam, which can weight around 5 pounds. Quality high-density foam crib mattresses typically weigh between 8 and 13 pounds making it easier to lift and change crib sheets and crib mattress pads.
Cushioning inside crib mattresses offer your child comfort, firmness and some can even offer a cooling effect! Hypoallergenic cushioning like polyester, cotton, organic cotton, memory foam, and new innovations like soybean cool gel foam are popular materials used inside baby’s crib mattresses. These materials are more popular and preferred over heavy coconut coir or gray ortho pads. One thing to note about organic cotton is that organic materials or covers can be used, although the entire crib mattress is not made of organic material.
A waterproof and easy-clean crib mattress surface is the most important thing to look for. Despite added protection from crib mattress pads, you want to be sure that the mattress cover and binding is waterproof to avoid liquids from seeping inside the crib mattress, which can cause mold and bacteria build up.
Vinyl laminate covers are the most popular because of their durability and easy-clean surfaces that don’t allow leaks to seep through at all. If you have any concerns about vinyl covers just look for the GREENGUARD Certification, which means the crib mattress has been tested for chemical emissions and is safe for use with infants. Upgraded crib mattresses can include a hospital-grade antibacterial cover to help keep germs from spreading on a crib mattress surface.
Many premium crib mattress covers include woven fabrics and soft cotton cloth. These fabrics are treated with safe waterproofing and stain-resistant materials while giving your child a softer, more breathable material on a premium crib mattress.
The key certification to look for is GREENGUARD Gold Certified crib mattresses, formerly known as GREENGUARD Children & Schools Certification, which measures the chemical emissions from the mattress. If a crib mattress has been certified, this means an outside laboratory tested it to see whether it poses any air-quality risk to your baby. The materials including the core, cushioning and cover are tested. CertiPur-US is a seal found on high-density polyurethane foam sourced from companies who comply with a high-quality foam without hazardous materials.