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Crib Mattress Buying Guide

When it comes to setting up your baby’s nursery, you’ll have to make dozens of choices that will affect your baby’s comfort and safety — but one of the most important is a piece of furniture most people won’t even see: the crib mattress.

Cribs are an essential part of your nursery, and while there are extensive guidelines for crib safety and design, many parents aren’t aware of how advances and changes in the crib mattress industry have expanded their options. Your baby will likely spend more time in his or her crib than anywhere else. After all, newborns sleep up to 18 hours a day, and cribs are the only place most babies are ever left alone for extended periods of time.

Crib safety considerations

The crib mattress is one element of overall crib safety. According to current recommendations, you should buy a mattress that fits the crib snugly and provides a firm sleeping surface for your baby. A full-size crib mattress is at least 27 1/4 inches by 51 5/8 inches and up to 6 inches thick.

When you set the crib up, experts advise against adding bumpers, pillows, or other plush objects that could increase suffocation risk and the risk of SIDS.

Types of crib mattresses

Crib mattresses come in several styles, each with different features. In general, it’s a good idea to buy the best crib mattress you can afford. A higher quality crib mattress will last longer, easily until your baby graduates from the crib to a toddler bed. Mattresses made from cheaper vinyl and other materials are more likely to crack, stain, tear, and otherwise become an issue.

It’s also a good idea to buy a new mattress, rather than use one from a previous child or a secondhand or used mattress. The main consideration is cleanliness. Older mattresses may be harboring allergens, fungus, or other unsavory substances you wouldn’t want to come into contact with your newborn baby.

When you start to do the research, you’ll find the following types of crib mattresses:

  • Innerspring and pocket spring
  • Foam mattress
  • Natural and organic
  • Breathable


  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Choosing a Crib.
    Consumer Reports
  • Crib mattress buying guide.
    Greenguard. Greenguard Certification.
    Journal of Environmental Science and Technology
  • Infant exposure to emissions of volatile organic compounds from crib mattresses.

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