How to Choose a Crib Mattress

It is exciting to plan for a new arrival and buying a baby crib mattress is high on the list of needed items for any new parents. Finding a baby bed mattress is not difficult as almost every major manufacturer of bedding offers a crib option.

In addition, companies that specialize in baby furniture and supplies offer their own designs as well. This is not often an expensive product to buy and you may think an inexpensive choice is best for a mattress that will be used only for a couple of years.

How to Choose

Most cribs manufactured today have similar measurements that make it easy to find a mattress that fits well. Many families pass a baby bed down from one generation to the next. If this is done in your family be certain to carefully evaluate the baby bed for safety.

Older cribs often were the source of injuries to babies due to improperly placed slats or rough metal parts. Today we are better informed about the health hazards that can exist in baby cribs and carriers.

If you are using an older crib or one that may be custom made it will be more difficult to find a baby crib mattress that fits perfectly. A perfect fit is critical as you want the mattress to fit tightly in the corners and on all sides to prevent baby from being caught in a crevice between the bed frame and the mattress.

As adults we often judge a mattress by its comfortable softness. When choosing a baby crib mattress the priorities are different. You will need a fairly firm mattress that provides a solid sleeping surface. Tiny babies cannot move from positions that are uncomfortable or dangerous and even babies old enough to turn over may not do so if they are sound asleep.

A soft mattress can pose a danger as the child's face can sink into the surface and restrict air flow into their lungs. Test a baby mattress by pressing your hand on the surface to see how much "give" it allows. You want a surface with a firm level of resistance.

Baby mattresses may be constructed with coils or foam. The number of coils will determine the level of firmness and foam mattresses should be high density foam to provide a firm sleeping surface.

For many years any baby crib mattress you would find was covered with a vinyl waterproof fabric. This was practical as it did not allow fluids to be absorbed by the mattress stuffing layers and prevented the growth of bacteria. The vinyl cover eliminated problems of dust mites and bed bugs and was easy to keep clean. For many new parents, buying baby bedding with a sturdy waterproof cover still makes sense today.

However, the plastic is hot in warm rooms, is slippery when the child begins moving around in the crib and can cause heat rash from trapped moisture on the bed. If your family is prone to allergies, the waterproof vinyl mattress cover may still be your best option. Be sure to choose a fabric that has anti-allergenic properties.

Organic products are popular today in the consumer marketplace and this is no different when it comes to products for babies. Organic mattresses feature natural products throughout the manufacturing process. If you choose a mattress covered with fabric that lacks moisture protection you can use a sub sheet or crib pad between the mattress and crib sheet to provide a layer of protection from baby messes.

Examine seams carefully to be certain the baby crib mattress is sturdily built and will hold up to an active toddler as well as an infant. This is a product that will have a limited life of use as your child will quickly graduate to a big boy bed but it must provide a safe environment for your child from infancy to toddler age.

The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association is a voluntary professional regulator of quality standards for baby products. Many of the leading manufacturers of crib mattresses will carry the JPMA seal which tell you the product meets the high standard of quality required by the association.


Cost is not a major factor for parents shopping for a baby crib mattress. This is an inexpensive purchase and high cost is only found if you choose luxury brands. Baby needs a solid surface that is safe to sleep on. It's not necessary to choose a designer label for a baby mattress.

For a high quality baby crib mattress you will spend about $70 to $100. Products priced over $100 do not offer more benefits of comfort or safety. You can find a decent mattress for $50 but should be extra careful to check seams and materials used.


When shopping for a baby crib mattress, safety should be your primary consideration. The mattress should completely fill the crib space and extend tightly into the corners of the baby bed. No gaps should appear between the sides of the bed and the mattress as small bodies can easily become trapped.

The mattress should be firm and the surface should not give easily when you push on it with your hand. Tiny babies cannot always change position and an overly soft mattress can allow small faces to be pressed into the surface and restrict breathing.

Materials used should be hypo-allergenic and not contain synthetics that will cause out gassing or fumes for the baby to breathe in. Seams should be well stitched and tight. A vinyl surface covering will protect the mattress from bacteria and liquids but organics mattress are gaining popularity as the materials allow increased air flow.

Choosing a baby crib mattress with safety in mind is an easy rule. Low prices are common even for high quality products so a safe baby bed is within the reach of any parent's budget.