Crib Mattress Buying Tips

Some new parents mistakenly put little thought and effort into choosing a crib mattress to buy and they often pick the cheapest one available. While it's not necessary to buy an expensive one, some thought should be put into the selection process because it's the place baby will be spending a lot of time for the first few years of their lives. Statistics say that since babies sleep so much, they can spend as much as 70 percent of their lives on their crib mattresses. During the toddler years they spend about 50 percent of their time in the crib.

Not all crib mattresses are made the same and they can typically be divided into two categories: foam or coil.

Foam Mattresses

Foam mattresses are made up of the foam and the cover. These types of mattresses can come in different level of qualities with higher quality maintaining their shape over time. Be cautious if buying used foam crib mattresses. Even if it has a plastic cover that's completely sealed with no cracks, the foam could be damaged if it's of lower quality. Check for overly hard sections where the foam has become brittle. Brittle foam runs a higher risk of breaking apart in chunks inside the cover.

Usually heavier foam mattresses are better quality since they're made from denser foam. They tend to be firmer as well. Although lower quality foam mattresses can also be firm initially, they can become softer over time. It's important to choose a firmer, more solid sleep surface for babies because their limited ability to move means their faces can easily sink into a softer mattress when they turn over. The risk of suffocation is higher. Check the firmness of a mattress by pressing your hand into it to see how deep your hand will go with moderate pressure. This will also show you how resilient the foam is. Resiliency refers to the mattresses ability to quickly return to its original shape once weight is removed. Better quality foam tends to regain its shape faster.

Coil Mattresses

Innerspring mattresses are more complex and made up of several layers. The quality of the entire mattress depends on the quality of those layers. More coils do not necessarily make a better mattress. What's important is how the springs are positioned and reinforced with the border rods. Border rods are the biggest pieces of steel in the mattress and are at the top, bottom and the edges of it. If properly positioned and made out of large enough pieces of steel, the border rods provide extra edge support and help provide better weight distribution. This reduces soft spots or sagging in the mattress.

If buying an innerspring mattress, make sure you look at the border rods. Quality mattresses will provide a cut-out sample so you can see inside of them. Nine gauge steel border rods are considered good. If there are fewer than 150 coils, they should be a thickness of 3.5 gauge. Mattresses with fewer coils tend to be made out of thinner steel.

The insulator pad lies on top of the coils and makes the mattress comfortable. Make sure the insulator pad is good quality. Top quality ones tend to be made out of coir fiber which is made from shredded coconut shells. Don't forget to check the cushioning layers. Quality ones are made out of a mix of quality foam and natural cotton batting

Mattress Cover

Most crib mattress covers are made out of vinyl with the option of a single layer or multi-layer of quilted vinyl. If budget allows, purchase a mattress with a double laminated cover. An even better choice is a cover that's triple laminated or hospital grade vinyl or nylon reinforced. The most expensive type of cover is the nylon reinforced type which allows the mattress to stretch reducing the chance of tearing or ripping.

Be aware that cloth covers are not necessarily a more environmentally friendly option. They're treated with chemicals like boric acid to make them moisture resistant and pass federal flammability standards.