Babies spend a lot of their time lying down, so it is important to consider what surface they have to lie on.
Maybe you have already planned to put your dear newborn baby in a crib where he or she will sleep sweetly with a smiling face – leaving you with so much needed free time. You will finally get a chance to take a nice shower, cook dinner, or read a book. Well, I don’t want to disappoint you, but reality can be a bit brutal.
I know perfectly well what I’m talking about. Looking back, I can say, for our first child, the crib may as well have not existed. Frank took his first nap in the crib around 6 months. Before that, he spent his nights sweetly cooing in his parents’ ears from their bed – meaning OUR bed!
Buying a mattress for your child is no small task. There are so many options that make it overwhelming. After all, you just WANTED TO BUY A MATTRESS, right?!?
What features should the chosen mattress have? Firmness, Resilience, and Ventilation.
Mattress Quality #1 – FIRMNESS. Medium-hard mattresses are the best choice for newborn babies. The surface of the mattress should be relatively smooth. Deeper grooves might cause the baby to sink into them.
The mattress should support the entire spine evenly. That’s why it can’t be too soft or too hard.
Remember, a baby, even when lying on his or her back, works on developing core stability. Any surface that is too soft will prevent the baby’s muscles from “doing their work” and thus, from developing properly. Soft surfaces that baby’s sink into do not support the child in achieving correct core stability. Another danger of a soft mattress is that it may interfere with an infant’s ability turn his or her head or change positions.
The right degree of firmness is significant when the baby is lying on his or her tummy. Firmness is especially important when babies push up with their arms against a stable surface or when they start to stand.
The degree of firmness for mattresses is indicated by the symbols H1, H2, H3, & H4. These stand for: H1 – a soft mattress; H2 – a medium hard mattress; H3 – a hard mattress; H4 – a very hard mattress.
When choosing a mattress for a child, I would not rely on these symbols alone because there may be some variations from manufacturer to manufacturer. Nevertheless, I would aim for any given manufacturer’s H2 and H3 products. This will significantly narrow your search.
Mattress Quality #2 – RESILIENCE. When I say resilience, I am referring to the ability of a mattress to retain its original shape. In order to check whether a mattress is springy (resilient), press the palm of your hand against its surface. A mattress that is springy immediately returns to its original shape after your hand pressure is removed.
Mattress Quality #3 – VENTILATION. Can air easily circulate through the mattress? A mattress should be porous and easily wick away moisture. Poorly ventilated mattresses can be a danger to a baby turning over on his or her tummy during sleep. Soft, thermoelastic foams that are not porous enough can significantly hinder the child’s breathing.
– Other factors affecting mattress ventilation are the mattress materials and the type of glue used to hold the mattress together. It should not be glued together with typical solvent-based glue. Safe, water-based glue should have been used instead. When it comes to material, high-resilience foam mattresses and latex mattresses seem to be a good choice nowadays.
Recently, I bought two baby mattresses. One of them is a high-resilience foam mattress with a latex insert. The other one is also a high-quality, highly elastic foam with a 3D insert for optimal air circulation.
What about the popular buckwheat or coconut mattresses?
This is just a personal opinion, but since I owned and used such a mattress, I can honestly say that it did not meet my expectations. Even though the natural material sounded great, it was far from being springy or evenly supportive of my baby’s back. It also provided an excellent environment for the growth of mold when exposed to moisture.
In my opinion, the mattress should be new. Even if your baby doesn’t spend many hours a day in his or her crib, the mattress, like a good shoe, adjusts to its owner over time.
Of course, when you finally track down your dream mattress, you have to remember some basic hygiene rules:
– Protect the mattress from wetting. Get a mattress protector.
– Flip the mattress over from time to time (if the manufacturer recommends doing so).
– Ventilate the mattress every so often by removing all the sheets. At least once a week, my children are not obliged to make their beds so that we can let the mattresses air out. Before every trip we strip our mattresses.
– Avoid placing the mattress directly on the floor, which decreases ventilation.
– Try to implement good habits from the very beginning – the crib is for sleeping, not for snacking.
- Baking soda is great for cleaning mattresses.
- Children and adults should have their mattress replaced roughly every 7 years. Some manufacturers recommend doing it even more often. (I think in our house, it’s probably time for a change. 😉
- Point elasticity is great for co-sleeping. Point elasticity means that the mattress bends only at the point of pressure. To put it simply, when I turn to my side, I have no idea what is happening behind my back.
- The best place for babies to sleep is on a flat, medium-hard surface. Research shows that a reclining position can lead to a drop in blood oxygen saturation.
I am curious what mattress you have chosen and whether you are happy with your choice!!!
Let me know!
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Do you know what to do with your baby when he or she is not sleeping on the right mattress? You can make active time not only fun, but meaningful for your baby’s development. Check out my ideas for playtime – from birth to first steps!
E-book: A COLLECTION OF IDEAS FOR THE MOST FUN PLAYTIME WITH YOUR CHILD: