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Crib Mattresses and Allergens

Allergies are increasingly common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 10.6 percent of children report environmental allergies — more than double the number of children with food allergies. While there are many potential sources of environmental allergens, many babies will first be exposed to allergens like dust, dust mites, pollen, pet dander, and more in their cribs. After all, this is where newborns spend much of their time.

While it’s impossible to provide a completely hypoallergenic sleeping environment, there are steps you can take to reduce your baby’s exposure to allergens in his or her crib.

The first and most important thing you can do is to buy a brand new mattress for your newborn. Most experts recommend against buying second-hand or used crib mattresses. Because these mattresses are used, it’s very difficult to know how clean they are, how they have been stored, or if they have been contaminated with diaper leakage or other fluids. Older mattresses can also have potential allergens, including dust mites, insect droppings, fungus, pollens, and other problems.

Hypoallergenic crib mattresses and covers

Some crib mattresses and mattress covers are labeled “hypoallergenic.” These are often made from organic cotton or other materials that reduce the risk of allergies. While these will protect your baby’s skin from contact allergies, they do not necessarily protect against environmental allergens that drift onto your baby’s bedding.

New mattresses can be outfitted with mattress pads or covers and snug-fitting sheets to reduce allergen exposure. Once you’ve set up your baby’s sleeping environment, you can cut down the number of allergens and other contaminants by regularly cleaning the bedding, including the mattress pad or cover and mattress itself. Many mattress pads are designed to be removed and cleaned in a conventional washing machine.

Cleaning mattresses can be more difficult, especially if the mattress has been exposed to liquids. Innerspring and foam mattresses can be steam cleaned. Some newer mattresses are made from fully washable material and can simply be washed down in a shower or tub. Before attempting to clean your mattress, you should check with the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure you aren’t causing damage to the material.


  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Allergies and hay fever.
    Consumer Reports. Are used baby products safe?

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