You may have spent quite a lot of time choosing your baby's crib and the lovely bedding to go inside. But what about the crib mattress? Babies aren't often too choosy when it comes to sleeping spaces, so you don't need to worry much about picking a crib mattress that is comfy enough. Safety, though, is a big issue with crib mattresses, so read on for advice on choosing a style that works with your crib.
Time Required: Thirty Minutes
- Double check the size of the mattress against the size of your crib. Most cribs and crib mattresses are made in standard sizes these days, so the mattress size shouldn't be an issue. Occasionally you may find that a mattress doesn't fit well with a certain crib, though, so checking the fit is important. The mattress should fit fairly tight inside the crib. There shouldn't be an obvious gap between the crib frame and mattress. Can you fit more than a finger in between the mattress and the crib rail? If so, it's not a good fit. If you can't check the fit ahead of time, find out about your baby store's mattress return policy, so you're not stuck with a mattress that isn't safe with your crib.
- Find a reasonably firm mattress. Soft mattresses and pillow tops seem like a good choice from an adult perspective, but babies need a more solid sleep surface since they can't move themselves out of positions where their face sinks into the mattress if they get turned over. Push down on the mattress and see how much your hand sinks into the mattress. The more resistance, the firmer the mattress.
- Foam or coils? It doesn't really matter. Foam crib mattresses are usually less expensive than coil mattresses, and are just as safe, as long as they aren't too soft. Foam mattresses are lighter, weight-wise, when you pick them up to change sheets. For coil mattresses, check the number of coils. Generally, more coils means a firmer mattress. If you're on a budget, though, it's unlikely that your baby would complain about a low number of coils. Crib mattresses also tend to be used for a much shorter time frame, and for lighter-weight people, so a low coil crib mattress probably won't sag or break down like an adult mattress would.
- Check the cover. Multi-layer covers will give you the most durability over time, in case one layer gets worn through or torn up. Some crib mattresses have an anti-microbial layer on top, and this may help cut down on germs from spit-ups and diaper accidents. You can also check to see how the mattress cover is sealed. Do the plastic seams appear to be sturdy, or are they weak and ready to split open? Are the plastic seams on the edges sharp? If so, you may end up with scrapes and cuts when you change the sheets. Are fabric seams smooth from the start or do they appear stressed and ready to pop open? If allergies run in the family, a fully sealed crib mattress may be a good choice to keep dust and other allergens at bay.
- Think about cost. If you're on a budget, don't worry. Crib mattresses actually don't have to be expensive to be safe, durable or useful. Expect to spend $75 to $100 for a good crib mattress. Of course, you can spend more, but with crib mattresses, you don't necessarily get any more useful features or added benefits with the heftier price tag. Exceptions to this are crib mattresses with allergy-reducing covers, natural materials or organic crib mattresses. These specialty mattresses are more expensive, but worth every penny if they properly fill a need for your baby or your family.