Here’s What You Really Need to Know About Crib Mattress Safety
Here’s What You Really Need to Know About Crib Mattress Safety
October 20, 2020

Here’s What You Really Need to Know About Crib Mattress Safety

Here’s What You Really Need to Know About Crib Mattress Safety.
Here’s What You Really Need to Know About Crib Mattress Safety

Sometimes shopping for a crib mattress can feel like learning a second language. What’s the difference between polyurethane and polyethylene? What does it mean to be GOTS-certified or to have an OEKO-TEX Standard 100 label? Were you supposed to be getting a degree in chemistry while preparing for your baby, and everyone simply forgot to mention it?

The people who know the most about crib mattresses are usually the ones who make them. So we’ve partnered with Naturepedic—makers of some of the safest crib mattresses around, including the Babylist exclusive mini crib mattress—to shed some light on which features to look for and what all that jargon really means.

What’s On the Inside

Shopping for a crib mattress can get pretty confusing when you start looking at the labels. What’s the big deal with polyurethane? Is any kind of plastic bad? What do those certifications mean?

When it comes to safety, crib mattresses are regulated for important standards like size (to make sure it fits snug in your crib), flammability and some chemicals like phthalates. But there’s a lot of leeway around what materials crib mattresses can be made out of—from using natural and organic materials to more complex synthetic ones.

While the research around these synthetic textiles is still developing, a good rule of thumb to follow is to look for the words “certified organic” in the description of your baby’s mattress. You can also look for mattresses that use food grade plastics, which have to adhere to certain standards to make them safe for food contact. For example, Naturepedic’s organic crib mattresses use food-grade polyethylene in their fabrication, which means it’s made out of the same kind of plastic you’d wrap a loaf of bread or pound of cheese in. Basically if it’s safe enough to touch the foods you eat, it’s safe enough to touch your baby.

Another thing to look for is a stamp of approval from well-known organizations that monitor the safety of consumer materials. Keep an eye out for GOTS certification or MadeSafe certification—both of which test textiles for potentially harmful substances.

What You Want to Keep Out

There’s more to mattresses than just materials, though! Some of the most important safety features are the ones we take for granted: like firmness and waterproofing. While it might be strange to have your baby sleep on a mattress you would find uncomfortable, a firm mattress is still the safest place for your baby to sleep per CPSC recommendations (softer mattresses can pose a suffocation risk).

As for what you want to keep out of your mattress, that one’s pretty simple too: moisture. If moisture (like spit-up or urine) gets into your baby’s mattress, it can turn into mold. So look for a crib mattress that offers waterproofing or get a waterproof mattress cover. (All of Naturepedic’s crib mattresses are waterproof and can be wiped clean, thanks to a special waterproofing process that uses non-GMO sugarcane.)

Naturepedic also throws in a few bonus features with their mattresses: like having the only lightweight mattress with firm sides, for added safety.

The Safest Crib Mattress

There’s a saying that the best car seat is the one you can install safely every single time. It’s the same with crib mattresses. The safest mattress, health-wise, is the one that is going to be the easiest to use properly and to take care of. So when in doubt, ask yourself some questions about what that might look like for you. Are you on the shorter side? A lightweight mattress is easier to lift, which can be a game changer for sheet changing and keeping the mattress clean. Do you have multiple children (or are you thinking about expanding your family in the future)? An innerspring mattress is designed to last for-e-ver—or at least through multiple toddlers.

Your baby will spend a significant portion of their early days sleeping and hanging out in their crib (12-18 hours a day!). So while you don’t need to become fluent in mattress jargon, it’s helpful to know what you’re buying. And if you want more information about mattress safety, Naturepedic has a whole bunch of education right here (they’re nerds for this stuff).

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