Buying a Mattress for Your Baby

Written by on December 21, 2012 in Family - No comments | Print this page


babies-in-cribChoosing the right mattress for your baby’s cot is important. You need a nice firm mattress that fits, is easy to keep clean

Size and fit

There are two basic sizes of mattress that fit cots you can find in the shops. Either a ‘standard’ (56x118cm) or a ‘continental’ size (60x120cm) will fit most cots. It is essential the mattress fits properly as otherwise your baby could get trapped in the gaps between the cot and mattress. This gap shouldn’t be more than 4cm. If your cot is smaller than the standard sizes, you can get mattresses specially made to fit.


You need to keep the mattress as clean and hygienic as possible so choose one that has a PVC cover or a detachable top panel that can be washed at high temperature.


Before buying a mattress, test it out. It should be firm at the centre and edges as you need it to give your baby good support. It should be 10cm thick as if it’s thinner than this, it won’t provide enough support. Be careful of foam mattresses as these can lose shape easily. Similarly a travel cot mattress should be 10cm thick and a mattress in a crib or Moses basket should be 5cm as specified by the safety regulations on cot mattresses (BS 1877 Part 10: 1997).

Types of mattress

You have a choice of man-made or natural fillings. Foam mattresses are the cheapest and the simplest versions are made from a single layer of supportive foam covered with a waterproof PVC cover. They are easy to keep clean and can provide good support. However some parents don’t like the PVC-covering which might get clammy.

Also some mattresses that come with ventilation holes to help keep your baby cool can be difficult to keep clean if your baby dribbles a lot or often vomits as the residue can get stuck in the holes.

Traditional spring foam mattresses also represent good value for money and are easy to clean. They come with a coiled spring interior and have layers of felt and foam to provide the padding. Often with a cotton cover on one side and a PVC one on the other, they are popular and the wipe-clean side is generally good for the baby to sleep on, but you can always use the cotton side if it’s hot and your baby is feeling a bit clammy. It’s more costly than an ordinary foam mattress and although the cotton side might be preferable for the baby’s comfort, it can be much harder to keep clean.

Coir cot mattresses are stuffed with coconut fiber and layers of other materials. The latex-coated fibres provide strength while the natural fibre filling helps keep air circulating. The mattress is available with wipe-clean covers. It provides the firmest support and is usually more long-lasting and holds its shape well. They are not so easy to get hold of however and are much more expensive.

Increasingly parents are going for organic mattresses or ones made of natural materials like wool or cotton. These mattresses can be quite pricey but are often seen to be much better for the baby as they avoid using chemicals and synthetics substances that might be harmful.

If you are concerned about allergies or asthma, hypoallergenic baby mattresses are available. Coming with a quilted top layer, this is easily detached from the mattress for washing. It’s a good choice if your baby is sensitive to dust or has allergies and is easy to keep clean. They tend to be much more expensive than other types of mattress however.

Whatever the type of mattress you opt for however, most crucial to your should be its fit and that it provides good support. When you take into account that newborn babies sleep over 16 hours a day and a lot of this time will be spent on the mattress, your baby needs to be comfortable but at the same time safe. Soft mattresses and ones that don’t fit well in the cot can increase the risk of problems like infant

This is a guest post.  An article by Jo who loves writing baby and children’s articles.

Image courtesy of David Castillo /


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