What to Know About Crib Mattress Safety
Here’s What You Really Need to Know About Crib Mattress Safety
September 7, 2021

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

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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 a polymer again? And what does it mean to be made of food-grade materials or GREENGUARD Gold-certified? 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 HALO—best known for parent-friendly safe sleep essentials like the HALO BassiNest and HALO SleepSacks—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 foam? 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 snugly 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 synthetic textiles is still developing, one thing you can look for is a mattress that uses food grade materials, which have to adhere to certain standards to make them safe for food contact. For example, the HALO DreamWeave Breathable Crib Mattress and BassiNest Breathable Mattress Pad use a food-grade polymer for their breathable mattress core, which means it’s made out of the same kind of material used for things like yogurt containers. Basically if it’s safe enough to touch the foods you eat, it’s safe enough to touch your baby.

Some parents also choose to avoid certain materials like foam, latex, glue or added flame retardants (none of which you’ll find in the HALO DreamWeave). But if you don’t have time to become a part-time chemist, a good rule of thumb to follow is to check for certifications, like GREENGUARD Gold, that go above and beyond the standard safety requirements to cover things like chemical emissions that could impact your baby’s air quality.

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 or cleanliness. 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 AAP recommendations (softer mattresses can pose a suffocation risk). But if you want extra peace of mind, mattresses that market themselves as breathable like the HALO DreamWeave—which includes a quilted 3D mesh cover, making it fully breathable from cover to core—are designed to allow for extra airflow. More airflow can also help your baby avoid overheating (or at least avoid the sweaty back baby!).

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. A mattress that’s easy-to-clean can help you avoid that (you can machine wash the DreamWeave cover and rinse the core off right in the shower or with a hose. And since it’s made up mostly of air, it dries pretty fast). You can also look for one that has infant and toddler sides, with waterproofing on the toddler side for when you start potty training.

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. So when in doubt, ask yourself some questions about what that might look like for you. Are you worried about keeping a mattress clean through potty training? A washable mattress can help you get through those tricky toddler years. Hate changing sheets? A lightweight mattress is easier to lift, making the process a whole lot easier (especially handy when you’re recovering from birth and can’t lift heavy objects).

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. Regardless of what you choose, remember that the safest place to sleep is always on their back, on a firm, flat surface without any blankets or soft items in the crib. For more on safe sleep, check out our expert tips and answers to your most frequently asked questions.

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