Your babyâs crib is likely to be covered in wonderful, quality linen, and dressed up to look like the perfect sleeping place for your new child. However we should never forget that underneath all this wonderful fabric should be a reliably function and high quality crib mattress. In the excitement surrounding the arrival of your baby unfortunately it is often so very easy to overlook the importance of the mattress.
And yet, it is the crib mattress that provides the support for your new child and it is important that it is both firm and well ventilated. So, when although you may be happy to spend hours selecting your crib furniture and the fabric that dresses it, spare some time to consider probably the most important aspect of your crib; the crib mattress.
The crib mattress is so important that it probably only ranks behind the purchase of a car seat in importance; from the perspective of your baby that is rather than you. After all, your baby will not really care what color or style the bed or furniture in its new room is, and even if it did it may well be a long time before it is able to express any such views.
But think of it like this, the mattress that you buy for your crib is likely to last your child until it grows at least into the next size of bed. From my experience this can be up to 4 years, and then if you have more than one child it is quite likely that you will pass the crib mattress, along with the bed of course, onto your next child thus extending its potential usable life even further.
And remember, when babies are very little, they will spend an awful lot of their time lying down, sleeping (hopefully) or not. Indeed, even when your little one gets a bit older they are likely to need a good 12 hours sleep every day in order for them to develop properly.
So, at this time, literally a formative time as their bodies grow rapidly, you really should make sure that in making your choice of mattress for your baby to sleep on that you do your level best to buy the best crib mattress that you can afford.
The fact that you are reading this site is great because it means that you have both worked out the importance of the crib mattress and are hopefully looking for some idea as to what the best quality crib mattress you should buy; be it foam construction, or with innersprings, or be organic in origin, I hope that you will get some of the answers that you are looking for on this site.
And not only that I have provided a great way for you to purchase that preferred crib mattress quickly and easily, by offering some select crib mattress products available to purchase at Amazon. If you like the look of anything you see on this site, try clicking the image; it will take you through to that product page on the Amazon site.
So what are the different types of Crib Mattress?
Well, the vast majority of crib mattresses available on the market today are made in one of two ways; they are either made from polyurethane foam or they are made with an innerspring construction. The most significant question to ask therefore; perhaps before you have even started the search for particular products, is which type of crib mattress is the best, foam mattresses or innerspring ones?
It would nice of course if life were simple and the answer to this straightforward, but actually the reason there continue to be two essentially different manufactured types of product available on the market is a reflection of the fact that both types of crib mattress can be good. And of course, both types can be bad, and some potentially completely unsuitable for use as a crib mattress, although fortunately these days such unsuitable products are rare indeed.
For anyone looking for a simple theme therefore you should take away the idea that it is not necessarily the material the crib mattress is made from that is of overriding importance; rather you should concentrate on making sure that the crib mattress you do select is a good quality crib mattress, indeed it really should be the best quality crib mattress that you can afford.
So, how do you know if a crib mattress is good quality or not? Ah, wellâ¦ this is a bit more tricky. It easy, unfortunately to be fooled. Because we spend such a relatively short amount of time buying such products there is little in the way of stored up experience in any of us. We may thing that a soft crib mattress is the most important thing, and in doing so completely overlook the fact that the material should be breathable.
This fact reinforces the need to take time and care over the purchase of your new mattress. This is the reason why it is always better to go with products made from well known high quality brands rather than simple price. Take your time, know what is important and therefore what you really want from your product and then buy it from a reputable manufacturer and for that matter a reputable retailer.
So, remember, there are two different types of crib mattress the foam mattress and the innerspring mattress, but the other important component of your mattress is the crib mattress cover. We will now look at each of these components in turn, providing you with information and insight as to what is good and what is not good.
Foam Crib Mattresses
Foam has been used in the manufacture of all mattresses, not just crib mattresses for many years now. Fortunately in that time the foam product has developed beyond recognition from some of those early foams. They used to get hard over time, and because of this hardening they would be liable to get broken into chunks within the mattress outer. This would significantly impair the essential ability of the mattress to provide comfort and support.
Thankfully foams are made nowadays that are far less likely to exhibit this sort of characteristic. However, there remain some products on the market, some foam crib mattress products that in order to be made at the lowest possible cost do still use cheap and inferior foam within; you should be on the lookout for this, especially when looking at cheaper crib mattresses, if that is where your price point should happen to be.
In short there are three factors to consider when determining the quality of the foam within your chosen crib mattress. These three factors are density, firmness and resiliency. Of them, perhaps density is the most obvious sign that your crib mattress is made from quality foam.
In essence, the more dense the mattress foam, which will be relatively easily determined by its weight, the better the quality. So when looking a foam crib mattresses always make sure that you pick up the mattress and test its weight.
Next comes the firmness. It is easy when thinking about the surface that your baby is to sleep on to make the wrong assumption that soft is better. This is not necessarily the case. Remember, the foam will give way when your baby is placed upon it already.
What you do not want is for it to compress too much and end up retaining heat and moisture that could make your baby uncomfortable.
Finally, test your preferred mattress for resiliency. Resiliency really means springiness, or the speed at which the foam after being compressed returns to its original shape.
So in summary, when looking for a foam crib mattress, concentrate on a firm, heavy foam that feels springy to the touch.
Innerspring Crib Mattresses
The construction of an innerspring crib mattress is by definition more complex than a foam crib mattress; almost self-evidently as what could be simpler than foam as a mattress choice. This additional complexity means there is more to understand when trying to determine the quality of one innerspring crib mattress as oppose to another.
The basic construction of all innerspring crib mattresses, indeed of all innerspring mattresses generally is to house a number of springs in various pockets within the mattress body. These springs are spaced out and sometimes interlinked so that they provide proper support to any body that is place upon the mattress. In effect the wire springs push back against the babies body to ensure it is held in proper alignment.
The interlinking of these pockets, together with the outer support rods called border rods, which create the overall shape of the mattress, ensures that the mattress provides a good even amount of support wherever the baby is placed on the mattress and it also means that there is no sagging, or the creation of a soft spot in the mattress which could cause your baby some discomfort over time.
It is commonly thought that the greater the number of coils or springs within the mattress, the better the support and the longevity of the mattress is likely to be. However this is not in fact the case. The fact of the matter is, as in the case of foam, the quality of the innerspring mattress is difficult to precisely determine, but it is perhaps best to look at the load deflection results, for the edge and center especially, which all reputable crib mattress manufacturers should be happy to publish and make easily available.
Above the innerspring section of the crib mattress you will get another layer called the insulator pad. This is a layer of material that lies between the innerspring unit and the soft cushioning unit of the crib mattress. Itâs purpose is to prevent the upper soft layer from being distorted by the spring layer below.
The insulator pad can be made from any number of different products; the essential characteristic is resilience and durability as the quality of this layer will largely determine the useful life of your crib mattress. At the top end of the market you should be looking for the insulator pad to be made from a material called coir fiber, which is a natural material made from coconut shells.
However, many other products are good too; indeed scrap cloth, which is cleaned and compressed into a single fabric layer, similar in look and feel to felt, is a popular product for use in the insulator pad; although it is not as resilient as coir fiber.
The final layers used in innerspring crib mattresses are the layer that provides the mattresses softness; the cushioning layer. The product most usually used in the cushioning layer is some form of foam, to provide support and springiness. The foam layer may well be supplemented with other material which provides a natural barrier between the foam and the sleeping surface of the crib mattress, such as cotton.
Crib Mattress Covers
The cover to almost all crib mattress, whether they be foam crib mattresses or innerspring crib mattresses is made from vinyl. This allows the mattress to be washed easily and quickly and prevents staining and other damage associated with various bodily fluids that are emitted from time to time from all small babies, and toddlers too for that matter.
The attention given by the crib mattress manufacturer to the vinyl or crib mattress cover is telling. At the cheap end of the market the mattress cover is quite likely to be made from a simple single vinyl layer. Better quality crib mattresses might have two covers, either both vinyl or one simple vinyl layer and one perhaps strengthened with nylon, thickened or perhaps even quilted. The very best type of crib mattress might even have a third layer.
You may well have some concerns about vinyl being used as the crib mattress cover, but before looking for more natural alternatives you should be aware that when it comes to bedding products the word ânaturalâ does not sit that comfortably with the government required treatment with boric acid or other such nasty chemicals in order to ensure it meets the standards of flammability resistance.
A number of mattress covers include vents, whether they be eyelet vents or standard mattress vents. Not all covers have such vents and the reason is that there is no real consensus on whether they make a difference to the overall quality of a mattress and if they do, whether that difference is for the better. However, despite this vents do tend to be used on the better quality crib mattress and so it is worth taking note when looking around to see if your preferred crib mattress does indeed have such vents.
Finally, look at the quality of the stitching on the edges of the crib mattress cover. The stitching of a good quality product will look neat and strong especially around the corners. This can be an easy way of dismissing some covers straight away as of inferior quality and therefore less likely to last long enough for you to get full value.
Hopefully, that has provided you with a good idea as to what to look for when examining the crib mattress products available. Remember, with foam crib mattresses, the key to look for is weight, firmness and speed of returning to shape when compressed. With innerspring crib mattresses the key is to check the load deflection test results for various areas on the mattress and the quality of the materials used in the insulator pad and the cushioning layer. And for the crib mattress cover, the quality of construction together with the quality and layers of the vinyl used are important.
Check your Crib Mattress warranty offer
Although warranties do not necessarily confer the assurance that the particular crib mattress you have selected is a good quality one, the absence of a warranty offer on your preferred product should certainly set alarm bells ringing.
Remember only this however, rather than have to rely on a manufacturer fulfilling their warranty obligations in the event that something does go wrong and the inconvenience, time and expense that such a claim might require of you, the best advice is to take a little bit more care in the purchase of your crib mattress up front and reduce the likelihood of the frustration and time lost in making a subsequent claim.
In short buy the best quality crib mattress you can afford from the most reputable retailer you know. In this way, hopefully you will never have to read the small print of the warranty offer after you have bought your crib mattress.
Finally a word of warning when buying a Crib Mattress
Earlier in the article I suggested you err towards buying your crib mattress from good quality manufacturers or brands. In general this remains good advice, however the manufacture of these crib mattresses is sometimes awkward and costly for some mattress manufacturers. The result is that they tend to outsource or licence the manufacture of crib mattresses to other suppliers. These other suppliers may not be as reputable as the main manufacturer.
So it pays to make sure that you know exactly who or which manufacturer is making the mattress you are thinking of buying. This is perhaps another example of the warranty warning above, make sure that you both know who makes the crib mattress and whether they are indeed up to the job of producing a quality product.
This article has covered quite a lot of topics, hopefully the article should have provided you with a good overview of the different types of crib mattress available, how they are broadly constructed and how to go about determining whether they are good quality crib mattresses or not. If I have not succeeded then please leave a comment with your thoughts, or if you prefer send me an email using the contact form on the contact page.