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Crib Mattresses

As a parent a crib mattress for your baby is one of the most important purchases you'll ever make for your child. Get it right and you will help give your baby the best start in life. Sleep is one of the most crucial aspects of your child's development; good sleep mean good development.

Choosing the best crib mattress for your child doesn't have to be that hard. All though it can seem overwhelming at first, with literally hundreds of different mattresses for sale, it's important to remember that the plethora of mattresses out there are mainly brand name that break down into a few generic types of mattress.

Here's some advice that will help you in making your decision of the one to buy.

1. It may sound obvious but you should buy a mattress that fits your baby’s crib. When in place, the gap between the mattress edge and the rails of the crib should be no more than a finger’s width. If a mattress is too small there is the possibility that your baby’s fingers, hands, toes or legs could become trapped in the gap. As a crib is usually more expensive to buy than a mattress it makes sense to purchase the crib first and then find a mattress that fits it perfectly.

2. It’s recommended that a baby’s mattress should be firm. Too soft and there is a possibility that your baby’s spine may curve. When very soft there is even the risk of suffocation. ConsumerReports has this to say on judging how firm the mattress should be: “Press on the mattress in the center and at the edges. It should snap back readily and should not conform to the shape of your hand”.

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3. Check the mattress covering (ticking) carefully. It needs to be water-resistant so look for double- or triple-laminated ticking reinforced with nylon. Just like you, your baby will ‘punish’ your mattress. A good cover will protect your mattress against holes, tears, leaking diapers etc.

4. Check for venting. This applies more to innerspring crib mattresses as many foam mattresses do not have vents. Having vent holes on the side of the mattress allows air to circulate in and around, which helps prevent odors and ensures it will dry out after diaper leaks.

5. Do not use a second hand crib mattress if at all possible. While relatives and friends may have the best of intentions in donating their baby’s mattress, you can’t guarantee that it is free of bacterial infection or fungus. So, buy a new one.

6. Is it certified? The CPSC and the American Society for Testing and Materials has set certain standard that all crib mattresses meet adhere to. Organic mattresses are certified by Global Organic Textile Standard. In the United States, the largest certifier is Oregon Tilth, a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable agricultural processes. Make sure your mattress has one or more of these certificates.

Innerspring or Foam

There seems to be an overblown debate about which type is best. Well, the truth is that both are as good as each other. The main difference (and advantage) of foam over innerspring is that they are usually cheaper.

When choosing either type make sure it’s firm. When buying a foam mattress thickness isn’t as important as density. Choose a high-density mattress, about 1.5 pounds per cubic foot. Not all foam mattresses list their density so, if in doubt, move on a buy one that does. A foam baby mattress weighs around 8 lbs. However, memory foam mattresses can weigh much more than this. If you do buy a memory foam crib mattress bear in mind that lifting it to remove bedding is going to be slightly more problematic.

The firmness of an innerspring mattress is a combination of coil count and coil gauge, that is, the number of coils and how thick the coil wire is. Consumer Reports recommends mattresses with 135 to 150 coils and a gauge of 15.5 or lower.

Organic Crib Mattresses

Over the last 10 years or so there’s been a huge increase of sales in this type of mattress. Parents are becoming interested in all things organic so it’s not surprising that they also want their baby to sleep on an organic crib mattress.

Organic mattresses are typically made of all-natural or organic materials, usually cotton, wool and natural latex. They also come in either foam or innerspring varieties.

Of course, like all things organic, you’ll probably pay more than you would for non-organic. However, many parents think that the extra cost is worth it. Some believe that chemicals and industrial compounds used in standard mattresses –such as flame retardants known as PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), vinyl, and polyurethane foam – emit toxic gases, and that the substances used to make mattresses could harm babies. They also believe crib mattresses made from organic materials are better for the environment.

Whichever type of mattress you do decide is best for your baby just remember that it should be firm, fit the crib perfectly, should be new, and is certified. It doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many perfectly adequate crib mattresses for sale that are very affordable and will give your baby a good night’s sleep.