Your baby’s crib is more than just an exciting piece of decor to add to the nursery–a crib must keep your child safe and comfortable throughout the night, during naps and at times when you may be out of earshot. Choosing a crib mattress that conforms to the strict safety standards set out by the Consumer Products Safety Commission and the Juvenile Products Manufacturing Association will give you the peace of mind that your little one is secure at all times when she’s in her crib.
According to the Crib Mattress Guide website, a mattress for a standard size crib should be 51 5/8 inches in length and 27 1/4 inches wide. Do not attempt to use a crib mattress that is not this size in a standard-sized crib. The mattress should not be more than 6 inches deep, although the exact depth can vary, depending on whether you purchase a foam or coil mattress. Foam mattresses should be approximately 4-to-6 inches deep, while coil crib mattresses should range between 5 and 6 inches in depth.
To be certain that the crib mattress fits snugly enough within the crib to prevent the baby from becoming trapped between the crib railings and the mattress edge, perform the “finger test,” described by the Consumer Reports website. Put two of your fingers side-by-side and push them between the mattress and the crib sides. If you can do this easily, the mattress is too small.
The Consumer Reports website recommends that, whether you decide to purchase a foam or coil mattress, you should choose a very firm, very heavy mattress. Soft mattresses and bedding, according to the Baby Center website, have been linked to some cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Test the firmness of the mattress by pushing down on its center, then its edges. If the mattress stays pressed down where you pushed on it and does not firmly spring back to its original position, it is too soft.
Older, previously used crib mattresses are not only not as firm as newer mattresses, they do not always conform to recently updated safety standards. The Baby Furniture Guides website reports that while newly manufactured crib mattresses are, by law, fire resistant, older crib mattresses are not. In addition, Consumer Reports warns that used mattresses may harbor mold or contain bacteria from improperly cleaned or stored mattresses. Purchase a new crib mattress to keep your baby as safe as possible.
Only use bedding specifically designed for standard sized crib mattresses and be certain that all edges of the crib sheets fit firmly and snugly around each side of the mattress. The bottom edge of the sheet should overlap the bottom of the mattress to prevent the baby’s movement from causing the sheet to come loose at a corner.