Best Crib Mattress – The Science Speaks

Best Crib Mattress The Science Speaks

BEST CRIB MATTRESS

Looking for the best crib mattress?

Parents want to make sure their baby is getting plenty of good sleep.  After all, if baby is sleeping well, so is mom and dad.  Sleep is essential for both baby and parent’s well-being.

For many parents, finding a crib mattress is normally an afterthought.  There are plenty of purchase decisions to make when preparing for the arrival of a new baby.  Some of these purchases are more exciting than others. 

PUTTING THINGS INTO PERSPECTIVE

But let’s put things into perspective.  Your baby will spend about 15% of their first few years in their stroller.  They will spend about 12% of their time in their car seat.  About 5% of their first few years will be spent in their highchair or booster seat.  And 70% of their first year of life will be spent sleeping in their crib.  Consequently, choosing the best crib mattress for your baby is an important decision. 

Time Baby Spends on Crib Mattress

THE RESEARCH TO CREATE THE BEST CRIB MATTRESS

I have spent many years researching crib mattresses, infant sleep safety, and scientific studies pertaining to crib mattresses, SIDS, and other infant sleep related deaths.  I have had the unique opportunity to speak with many of the top SIDS experts and safe sleep policy makers.  My knowledge of SIDS and safe infant sleep has earned me the recognition as a “SIDS Content Expert.”  My expertise has been sought to review sleep surfaces involved in infant sleep-related death cases.  I also know firsthand the devastation of losing a loved one to SIDS.  Unfortunately, sometimes what you think is perfectly safe ends up not being. 

Knowing what I do, the mattress I rate as the best crib mattress overall is the SafeSleep®  Breathe-Through Crib Mattress.  And to be totally transparent, my sister Dr. Andreae and I developed the SafeSleep® Breathe-Through Crib Mattress.   And we are proud it is rated the best crib mattress among leading medical professionals and safe sleep experts.

SO WHY WOULD YOU TRUST US?

I never intended to become a crib mattress designer or manufacturer.  In fact, I was running my own successful design firm when an acquaintance introduced me to a very crude prototype of a breathe-through crib mattress and asked if I would be interested in developing it.  As you can imagine, it was no easy decision.  However, one thing I was certain of, a baby mattress of this type will save a lot of young lives.  It was something I couldn’t ignore.  

I introduced the concept to my sister, a leading pediatrician who has served on several national committees and authored many peer-reviewed publications to advance the health and wellbeing of children.  We knew the concept was brilliant.  We knew this project was too important to infant safe sleep to overlook. Consequently, we decided to begin the daunting task of researching baby mattresses and the many issues relating to their safety, health, sanitary issues, and comfort.  This research includes a plethora of peer-reviewed published studies on crib mattresses, play yards, SIDS, infant sleep related deaths, plagiocephaly, off-gassing, toxins used in mattresses, Staphylococcus aureus (Staph) and other bacteria found in crib mattresses, to determine what the best crib mattress should look and feel like.

Some of the more notable studies include:

In creating the safest and best crib mattress, we used scientific testing, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) safe sleep guidelines from the 2016 technical report. Consumer Products Safety Commissions (CPSC) findings, the National Institute of Health (NIH) safe sleep guidelines, and interviews with SIDS experts, AAP experts, child safety experts, pediatric lung specialists, and parents who lost an infant while sleeping.

OUR RESEARCH 

Not only are we familiar with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) data on safe sleep; we challenged the Task Force in 2015 that resulted in updated information on crib mattress designs that are completely breathe-through and do not retain carbon dioxide.  I have spent time with three of the Safe Sleep Task Force Members including the Chair, Dr. Rachelle Moon.   Dr. Moon and I were both expert witnesses in the same trial which involved the death of a 7 ½ month old baby.  I had the unique opportunity to discuss with Dr. Moon the many challenges the Task Force Faces in creating safe sleep guidelines. Learn more.

Further, we consulted with members of the AAP’s Committee of Fetus and Newborns (COFN). The COFN is tasked with overseeing the AAP’s Safe Sleep Task Force’s members, policies, and recommendations.  The Committee on Fetus and Newborn studies issues and current advances in fetal and neonatal care; makes recommendations regarding neonatal practice; collaborates with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) to consider perinatal issues on which the practices of obstetrics and pediatrics merge and works cooperatively with ACOG on new editions of Guidelines for Perinatal Care.  COFN also oversees the policies and recommendations set forth by the AAP Safe Sleep Task Force. 

We also met with Dr. James Kemp, Pediatric Pulmonologist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.  Also present in our meeting was Dr. Brad Thatch, a neonatologist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital (now retired).  Both Kemp and Thatch are recognized as top SIDS researchers.  Kemp is consistently recognized in “The Best Doctors in America” list.  Thatch received the Anaheim Award for Sleep and Breathing Research in Infancy in 2000.  He was also a long-term board member of First Candle SIDS Alliance.  Both Doctors are credited with extensive SIDS research including identifying rebreathing as the probable cause of many infant sleep related deaths.  Rebreathing is the leading theory behind SIDS deaths and is used for the majority of the Safe Sleep Task Forces’ safe sleep guidelines and recommendations.

I met Dr. Ron Somers on an infant list service.  Somers created the Australia and New Zealand standard for crib mattress firmness, known as AS/NZS 8811.1:2013.  The best crib mattress, the SafeSleep®, is the only mattress in the United States that has passed the Australia and New Zealand crib mattress firmness test and received an unsolicited endorsement from Dr. Ron Somers.  Australia and New Zealand’s standard, also known as “method 1: Crib Mattress – Test for firmness,” is the only standard to formally address the issue of minimum safe firmness for all infant sleep products.  Somers is the former director of Epidemiology in Australia.  In case you do not know what an Epidemiologist does, they work to prevent injuries and put practices into play that promote safety.  Most often, this involves plugging the gaps that other people have somehow overlooked.

I met with Dr. Thomas H. Shaffer, Department of Biomedical Research, Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children.  He is the Director of the Center for Pediatric Lung Research.  Schaffer also created and collaborated on the scientific testing used to determine carbon dioxide dissipation levels in crib mattresses.  His testing and methods are used by accredited international testing laboratories. 

In fact, Dr. Ron Somers warns parents in an article published in 2020, for Infant & Nursery Products Alliance of Australia (INPAA).  INPAA is the peak industry body in Australia for infant products.  INPAA works alongside major industry partners with one key goal in mind: to reduce preventable injuries of children.   Somers states, “If you really want to protect your baby from suffocation, you need to be aware of false mattress-safety claims.” 

Somers goes on to explain, “Rebreathing of carbon dioxide causes suffocation. With many of the so-called air-permeable mattresses, the carbon dioxide (being heavier than air) sinks into the mattress, and it is then sucked up by the baby for rebreathing. In other words, the carbon dioxide does not dissipate. This has been determined by a special test using a mechanical baby that breathes in and out like a real baby. If a manufacturer will not show you their results on this kind of test, don’t fall for their safety hype.”  Somers is referring to the testing and methods created in part by Dr. Shaffer.  Don’t worry!  We show our test results for the best crib mattress.

We also spoke with a few different representatives at the Consumer Product    Commission (CPSC).  We also used their database to find reviews and recalls pertaining to infant sleep products.  Multiple SIDS organizations as well as parents who had lost an infant while sleeping were contacted to help us get a better understanding of additional possible risk factors pertaining to infant sleep related deaths. 

We already knew the effects chemicals in baby mattresses have on young children. Consequently, avoiding the use of potentially dangerous chemicals was a must in creating the best crib mattress.

WE ARE PARENTS TOO

Even though we are both professionals, we are also parents.  We know the challenges of changing crib mattress sheets, trying to clean up messes in a crib and fussy sleepers.  As parents, we also realize the importance of good sleep for both infants and parents. So, comfort was a high priority.

As parents we also realize the importance of purchasing quality products at a reasonable price.  Having an aesthetic appeal was also considered with the design and color choices of the SafeSleep® Breathe-Through Mattress. 

TOP CRITERIA

After a lot of extensive research, we used the following criteria when creating the best crib mattress,

  • Safety is our number one priority.  We addressed suffocation risk, carbon dioxide rebreathing risk, entrapment, overheating, and pooling of liquids on the surface.
  • Chemicals used.  We were adamant about having a crib mattress design that didn’t use any potentially harmful chemicals.
  • Ease of cleaning and sanitizing.  We believe the best crib mattress is one that can be completely washed and sanitized easily and conveniently.  We avoided a design where the cleaning process allows mold and other bacteria to build up. 
  • Ease of Use.  Being parents, we realize that lifting a mattress up to change sheets is not always an easy task.  We designed the best crib mattress with a user-friendly design.
  • Comfort. We realize the importance of having a firm mattress to prevent carbon dioxide rebreathing and suffocation, but we wanted to find a way to create a firm baby mattress but eliminate the positional pressure that can cause discomfort and skull deformities.   
  • Durability and longevity.  The AAP warns against the use of reusing a crib mattress.  There are many peer-reviewed studies we found that support the AAP’s recommendation.  Including a study in Scotland.   But what if we could find a way to eliminate the risks associated with using a second-hand baby mattress?
  • Affordability.  A must!  We want every baby to sleep safely and comfortably.

WHAT REGULATIONS ARE REQUIRED FOR CRIB MATTRESSES

Unfortunately, there are very little restrictions placed on crib mattress manufacturers.  Basically, a “standard size” crib mattress has to be at least 27¼ inches by 51⅝ inches, and no more than 6 inches thick. This size ensures a snug fit in a standard-size crib. Safe crib mattresses keep their shape when a properly sized fitted sheet is used and fill out the interior crib space without gaps of more than two fingertips between the mattress and the wall of the crib.

The other requirement is a crib mattress cannot cause an open flame when in contact with fire.  This regulation is known as 16 CFR Part 1633 Open Flame Testing.  We will explain later why this testing has led to many chemicals being used in crib mattresses.

There is a voluntary requirement which is proper labeling of fiber content. 

In October of 2020, the CPSC proposed some new rulings in reference to crib mattress safety, but these rulings have yet to be adopted.  However, we believe these rulings are worth mentioning.  They include

  • There is no gap wider than two finger widths between the mattress and the side of the crib. 
  • The firmness standard proposed by Dr. Ron Somers be mandated
  • Durability standards and testing

In the incidence and hazard patterns used to support the proposed new rulings, in 80% of deaths on crib mattresses infants were found prone (66% identified as prone and 13% identified as being face down).  Surprisingly, there is no mention of air-permeable mattresses in the proposed new rulings.

TYPES OF CRIB MATTRESSES

What’s on the inside: 

Foam crib mattresses

Foam crib mattresses are generally lightweight.  They are usually four to 10 pounds. Most foam mattresses are made of polyurethane, which is petroleum-based.  Remember we said we would explain why 16 CFR Part 1633 Open Flame Testing. has led to many chemicals being used in crib mattresses. It’s because of foam mattresses.  Since foam mattresses are a petroleum-based product, they ignite easily. If a fire were to break out in a home and the crib mattress is foam, without flame retardants, the crib mattress would become both engulfed with flames and emit dangerous chemicals since most foam mattresses contain formaldehyde.

Some foam mattress manufacturers claim to use “eco-friendly” or “green” materials that are often made with a small amount of soy or plant-based oil.  There are foam mattresses made of bamboo fiber or latex foam.  Bamboo is flammable and can catch fire somewhat readily.  Latex is also flammable when it is in a solid, or hard polymer form.  So, even though words like eco-friendly, organic, and green are used, these mattresses contain fire retardants to meet federal requirements.

Innerspring

Innerspring mattresses are made with steel coils with varying degrees of steel gauge.  The thicker the steel, the higher the gauge.  They also range from 80 to over 200 coils per mattress.  Obviously the higher the gauge and the more coils, the heavier and firmer the mattress. 

The springs are covered with varying layers and types of materials. These materials include wool, cotton, latex, foam, and even coir fibers.  Depending on the number of layers and the content of each layer, determines how much and what fire retardants are used.

Organic and hybrid mattresses

Organic and hybrid mattresses are typically made from organic cotton, untreated wool, natural latex coconut fiber, and even food-grade and polyethylene plastic.  Some of these materials do not require the use of flame retardants, but most of them require the use of waterproofing chemicals.

What’s on the outside:

Since crib mattresses often have fiber contents that will become contaminated by human excretions and even water, most crib mattresses have an outer layer that creates a barrier to liquids. One common barrier used is vinyl fabric cover. These vinyl covers vary by layer and type.  For example, three-ply vinyl covers are thicker and less likely to rip, tear, or dry out. Some vinyl, like polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, contains phthalates—plasticizers that make the vinyl softer and more subtle. 

Studies have linked phthalates (PVC) to decreased fertility, obesity and asthma and even certain types of cancer.

Organic and hybrid mattresses use some type of fabric with a brushed or sprayed on waterproofing chemical.  These chemicals include silica, nano-coatings, and polyethylene plastic. These materials are considered safe for humans, but they need to have a binding agent which normally uses monomers which are a known toxin.

ELIMINATING TOXINS

In creating the best crib mattress, we wanted to find a way to eliminate the need for both fire retardants and waterproofing chemicals.  However, in 2014, the CPSC changed from an “open flame” testing method to a “smolder” making the use of flame retardants non-essential. This change was prompted by a Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago Tribune investigation on the convoluted history of flame retardants in furniture.

We were familiar with multiple studies on the effects of, VOC’s, phthalates, plasticizers, flame retardants, and isocyanates in infant crib mattresses. Some of these studies include:

Besides the chemicals used, we were concerned about the potential dangers of liquids pooling on the surface of the mattress. We wanted a crib mattress that would not allow liquids to pool on the surface.  Not to mention, a baby stays dryer, more comfortable, and sleeps longer when separated from pooling liquids.

When designing the safest and best crib mattress, we couldn’t ignore the adjectives being used to market crib mattresses.  Terms like, “organic,” “pure,” “eco,” “green,” “natural,” “breathable,” and “certified.”

Even though there is no scientific evidence proving organic crib mattresses are any safer than crib mattresses containing non-organic contents, we believe there are health benefits to infants sleeping on organic materials. Consequently, in creating the best crib mattress, we consider organic materials as a necessity.  In fact, we were insistent on removing all types of fill since we could never be certain if the fill was entirely organic.  

CRIB MATTRESS CERTIFICATIONS

We also considered the multiple certifications available to mattress manufacturers. After researching the many certifications, we decided to use fabrics that are OEKO-TEX® certified, ensuring there are no harmful chemicals. We did not qualify for GOTS certification since our mattress had no fiber fill.  GOTS certification, which means that there’s no polyurethane foam, no traditional flame retardants, no formaldehyde, pesticides, or glues, and all materials and filling inside are certified organic.  We were confident the air – the only fill in our crib mattress – is as organic as it gets.

CertiPUR-US and Greenguard Gold certified, which verifies low VOCs. It is free of PVC, vinyl, phthalates, chlorine, halogens, nanoparticles, and a flame retardant called PBDE was also meaningless since our mattress has no fiber fill of any kind. 

We were dedicated to scientific testing.  Consequently, we invested in actual research vs. certifications.

SCIENTIFIC TESTING

We were surprised there were few regulations set by the CPSC and other consumer agencies regarding crib mattresses.  After all, it’s the one item an infant comes in contact with multiple times per day and for long periods of time.  Further, there was very little scientific testing of crib mattresses even though a crib mattress was present with most infant sleep related deaths.

This lack of testing prompted us to seek out professionals to conduct scientific testing to substantiate our claims that our breathe-through crib mattress is safer than conventional foam and innerspring, organic, hybrid, and breathable crib mattresses. 

ABOUT BREATHABLE CRIB MATTRESSES

We already looked at foam, innerspring, organic, and hybrid baby mattresses. Breathable crib mattresses seem to be the new buzz word.  I was the one who first popularized the term back in 2010.

I remember having discussions with different crib mattress manufacturers back in 2012 when we first introduced our “breathable” crib mattress to retailers, manufacturers, and the press at the 2012 ABC Kids Expo. I remember speaking with the two brothers who helped their father design the Naturepedic organic mattress.  Nice guys, but they let us know consumers were not interested in “breathable” crib mattresses and “organic” was what they wanted. I was a bit surprised to see Naturepedic begin using the term “breathable” as early as 2017.

Two other brothers, Alan and Richard, who run the Colgate Mattress Company, were more supportive.  However, they did believe at the time “breathable” would only be a small niche’ market. 

During our time at the Expo, the machine the brothers use to demonstrate the durability of their mattresses broke.  The machine simulates the legs and weight of a toddler jumping up and down continuously.  We were able to help them fix their machine and a relationship ensued.  They invited us to put our mattress to the test.  They were both amazed at how durable it is.  And yes, Colgate now uses the term “breathable” for some of their products.

Today, we see many crib mattress manufacturers using the word “breathable” as loosely as manufacturers used the term “organic” back in the late 90’s.

BREATHABILITY AND THE SCIENCE

I have seen many baby mattress reviews who dismiss the importance of breathability and air-permeability in crib mattresses and sleep surfaces, suggesting there is little data to suggest that crib mattresses that promote this feature and that claims to reduce the chance of rebreathing carbon dioxide when an infant is sleeping face down, do so, or reduce the risk of SIDS. 

Most often, these reviewers will quote or paraphrase Dr. Rachel Moon (Chairperson of the AAP’s Safe Sleep Task Force). According to one reviewer, ““An AAP spokesperson told us that the organization “does not have a position on these mattresses because there is not enough research,” and that Rachel Moon, MD, chairperson for the AAP Task Force on SIDS, is aware of a single study, from 2000.””

The fact is, there are several including,

The fact is, the AAP Safe Sleep Task Force was forced to take a position in 2016. How do I know?  We were the ones that pushed the issue. The task force was given four peer-reviewed published studies proving air-permeable mattresses that had CO2 dissipation rates that are faster than the rate of an infant’s breathing significantly reduces the risk of rebreathing carbon dioxide.

Dr. Moon claimed that there are no gold-standard studies to prove rebreathing is what causes SIDS. As a side note, this type of study would be unethical, so no gold-standard studies exist in SIDS deaths. Further, there are not enough air-permeable mattresses in use to provide retrospective analysis to determine if infants sleeping on air-permeable mattresses are less likely to die of SIDS.  We challenged the Task Force citing that all their current recommendations on Safe Sleep rely on the hypothesis of rebreathing carbon dioxide.  The following quotes taken from the AAP’s Safe Sleep Policy Statement,

  • Supine sleep position: “The prone or side sleep position can increase the risk of rebreathing expired gasses, resulting in hypercapnia and hypoxia.”
  • Room-Sharing Without Bed-Sharing Is Recommended: “Bed-sharing might increase the risk of overheating, rebreathing or airway obstruction, head covering, and exposure to tobacco smoke, which are all risk factors for SIDS.”
  • It Is Prudent to Provide Separate Sleep Areas and Avoid Cobedding for Twins and Higher-Order Multiples in the Hospital and at Home: “Furthermore, there is increased potential for overheating and rebreathing while cobedding, and size discordance might increase the risk of accidental suffocation.
  • ”Pillows, Quilts, Comforters, Sheepskins, and Other Soft Surfaces are Hazardous When Placed Under the Infant or Loose in the Sleep Environment: “However, such soft bedding can increase the potential of suffocation and rebreathing.”
  • Avoid Overheating and Head Covering in Infants: “It is not known whether the risk associated with head covering is attributable to overheating, hypoxia, or rebreathing.”

While the studies do not demonstrate a direct prevention of SIDS or suffocation, they rely on the hypothesis of rebreathing of CO2 as a potential contributor for these unexpected infant deaths.   A basic pathophysiological principle is the hypothesis that rebreathing C02 is associated with ALTE/SIDS/asphyxia.  Indeed, no studies have substantiated this hypothesis; however, this is the same hypothesis used by the AAP Task Force to support the majority of their recommendations.

Next, we pointed out to Moon in the 2011 safe sleep policy statement the Task Force recommends air permeable sides when bassinets are used. This recommendation is based on a retrospective review and analysis of infant deaths occurring in bassinets between June 1990 and November 2004 that were reported to the CPSC (Pike/Moon 2008). The authors identified at least six infants who were found with their “face wedged against the side of the bassinet.” While there is no mention of any bassinets having air permeable sides in the study, the study authors, Rachel Moon, recommends “a bassinet with vertical sides of air-permeable material, such as mesh, may be preferable to one with air-impermeable sides.” 

The Task Force makes the recommendation for air permeable sides based on infants with faces wedged against the side of the sleep environment.   We pointed out logic would dictate that air permeable mattresses as being preferable to air impermeable mattresses to address infants face-straight- down on firm mattresses.

To our surprise, this recommendation is not found in the 2016 Safe Sleep Policy.  Hum!  And instead of recognizing the benefits of air permeable mattresses that do not allow CO2 accumulation in the Safe Sleep Policy, it is buried in the Technical Report. The technical report states,

“Certain crib mattresses have been designed with air-permeable materials to reduce rebreathing of expired gasses, in the event that an infant ends up in the prone position during sleep, and these may be preferable to those with air-impermeable materials.”

I will add, they did remove the quote about special mattresses that appeared in the 2011 Safe Sleep Policy, “Avoid commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS—These devices include wedges, positioners, special mattresses, and special sleep surfaces. There is no evidence that these devices reduce the risk of SIDS or suffocation or that they are safe.”

So why is the Safe Sleep Task Force afraid to take a stance on air-permeable crib mattresses designed to eliminate the risk of rebreathing carbon dioxide? I believe I found this answer while spending a morning with Dr. Rachel Moon and several attorneys.  Dr. Moon and I were expert witnesses in a trial involving the sleep related death of a seven- month-old. Moon finally admitted, “Anything in front of a baby’s face should be breathe-through.” 

Later, she went on to say, they were working on a writing to receive a grant.  You see, Moon and colleagues receive grant money from organizations like NIH (National Institute of Health). These organizations pay for their time to conduct research. The belief is organizations like NIH believe strongly in the back-to-sleep campaign and they believe parents will ignore the back-to-sleep campaign if they know their baby is safe to tummy sleep on an air-permeable crib mattress.

Growing up in Michigan, I remember when the automotive safety advocates lobbied and petitioned to keep airbags out of cars. The belief was, if airbags are in cars, people would no longer use their seatbelts. We now know that seatbelt use, and airbags have made the automobile much safer. We believe back-to-sleep and the use of air-permeable mattresses are the safest combination.

LOOKING AT TOP RATED CRIB MATTRESSES

We looked at several crib mattresses in various categories and decided to review the top ten ones we felt were popular with parents. We wanted to see what made them popular with parents and what we believed makes them potentially unsafe for babies.

WE LOOKED AT 10 CRIB MATTRESSES AND COMPARED THEM TO OUR PICK FOR BEST CRIB MATTRESS

WHAT WE LOOKED FOR AND HOW WE TESTED

We began by looking at the fiber content as well as the fabric covering. Each crib mattress was a standard size mattress and conformed to CPSC crib mattress standards for labeling and size requirement.

We checked to see if the mattress did or did not require a sheet.  We also noted how easy or difficult it was to change the sheet or washable covers. And the level of difficulty to clean the mattress or its removable surface.

All the mattresses we looked at held the weight of an adult. Some crib mattresses had more deflection than others. Some also were a lot firmer than others.

We looked at the overall quality of the crib mattress, the price, the warranty, and any options or characteristics that give it added value.

WHY THE SAFESLEEP® BREATHE-THROUGH IS THE BEST CRIB MATTRESS PICK

The SafeSleep®  is a completely “breath-through” crib mattress that stands alone in the breathable mattress market as the only scientifically tested breath-through crib mattress.

SafeSleep® Breathe-Through Mattress continues to be the industry standard for safe sleep as it addresses all risk factors associated with conventionally-designed crib mattresses, listed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and associated with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDs) and sleep related infant deaths; rebreathing of carbon dioxide, wedging, toxins, off-gassing, overheating, microorganism buildup, impeded airflow, strangulation from sheets and bumpers, and suffocation. Positional pressure, a risk factor attributable to plagiocephaly (flat head) is also significantly reduced.

The SafeSleep® breathe-through crib mattress contains no core or fill. The combination of the open weave 3D spacer fabric stretched taut over top of an open box with side openings allows an infant to breathe normally even if face straight down.

  • “Breathe-through” sleep surface is possible because of 3-D open weave fabric channels
  • Machine washable, preventing growth of harmful bacteria and mold linked to asthma and other respiratory problems
  • Dispelled liquids wick through the mattress material and pool on the bottom which is easily accessible and wipe-able
  • Has been tested to support up to 80 lbs.
  • Its firm, comfort-contour sleep surface designed to alleviate positional pressure associated with skull deformities (a.k.a. plagiocephaly)
  • Fabric comprised of 3-D warp knitted fabric with zipper on each side to easily attach and remove from the top frame
  • Fabrics are OEKO-TEX® certified, ensuring there are no harmful chemicals
  • No harmful toxins, nano-coatings, or off gassing in fabrics and sundries
  • The topper dries in a few minutes 
  • The plastic bottom prevents any dispelled liquids from leaking onto the floor
  • The topper and the base can be easily wiped clean without removing from the crib

NATUREPEDIC® 

Naturepedic is known for their “organic” crib mattresses.  The Company prides themselves on what goes into their mattresses are certified as organic using GOTS certification. 

GOTS is a textile production certification that limits the use of toxic bleaches, dyes and other chemical inputs during the production process of textiles. It is internationally recognized as the toughest organic textile standard because it goes far beyond verifying the organic farming process to include every step of manufacturing.

The Naturepedic organic crib mattress is a traditionally designed crib mattress with metal springs with multiple layers of fabric that is encased in an outer layer of fabric brushed with a food-grade waterproof coating.  Naturepedic does have one model that has wave shaped plastic versus metal springs.

The Naturepedic crib mattress is priced ranging from $259-$429

Even though the Naturepedic crib mattress is masterfully crafted using high quality products, it does nothing to address several safety issues including, rebreathing, liquids pooling on the surface, and positional pressure.  Consequently, 

We find the Company’s breathable crib mattresses that have a removable, washable, breathable layer of organic cotton surface to be a substantial risk for carbon dioxide rebreathing should an infant roll prone.

We appreciate the commitment to using all natural, organic materials.  We consider the Naturpedic the best crib mattress when it comes to natural materials.  However, we believe having free flowing air as the only fill of a crib mattress like the SafeSleep®, makes the SafeSleep® the most organic.  

AVOCADO GREEN

Another organic crib mattress we examined is the Avocado Green Organic Crib Mattress.  It has a coconut fiber core with a layer of latex and wool.  It has an outer cover of organic cotton.  The mattress does not have a waterproof barrier.  However, the company recommends some type of waterproof pad to prevent contamination. 

The Avocado Green Crib Mattress mattress retails for $279

You can purchase the cotton waterproof crib mattress protector from the company for an additional $59.

The quilted surface and the soft layers of wool and the coconut fibers makes the Avocado Green Crib Mattress a high risk for carbon dioxide retention.  In one study by Dr. James Kemp and Dr. Brad Thatch, they warn against the use of such fibers in mattresses since they have been shown to trap harmful carbon dioxide.

NOOK®

Nook is another crib mattress that shares many of the same components as the Avocado Green Mattress.  It too has coconut fibers, latex, and wool.  The outer layer has raised bumps that are intended to increase airflow.  Not sure how raised bumps increase airflow. The outer layer has a waterproof coating allowing liquids to pool on the surface and it shares the same hazards as the Avocado Green Crib Mattress.

The Nook crib mattress has a steep price tag of $419-$439.  Even though the Nook crib mattress is pricey, we don’t believe it is the best crib mattress.  

MOONLIGHT SLUMBER®

The Moonlight Slumber crib mattress is also a conventionally designed  mattress with multiple layers of foam as the core.  It has a “flexible fabric” outer covering with a waterproof barrier. The mattress has a firmer side for infants and a softer side for toddlers.

The Moonlight Slumber crib mattress line ranges in price from $200 – $350

There is nothing organic about the Moonlight Slumber crib mattress.  And it does nothing to address sleep related risks such as rebreathing, liquids pooling on the mattress surface, and positional pressure.  Further, the seams on the mattress are heat sealed.  This process makes it so there are no bulky seams and makes cleanup easier.  However, once the seal is broken, the mattress is a breeding ground for pathogens.  Most hospital mattresses use a heat-sealing process and when a seam becomes open or exposed, the mattress is discarded.

SEALY® COTTON BLISS

Sealy Cotton Bliss Crib Mattress is also a traditionally designed crib mattress with metal springs with multiple layers of fabric that is encased in an outer layer of natural cotton cushioning with a plastic-free waterproof and allergy barrier cotton cover 

The Sealy Cotton Bliss crib mattress retails for $149.99 making it at the lower end of crib mattresses we explored.

We did not find anything that promotes a safe or comfortable sleep.  The outer cover is waterproof allowing liquids to pool on the surface.  The natural cotton cushioning is ideal for carbon dioxide retention.  The firmness also creates direct positional pressure on an infant’s delicate bones.

COLGATE® GOODNIGHT OWL

The Colgate Goodnight Owl Breathable Crib Mattress is anything but “breathable.”  The company states, “The soft fabric next to the baby’s skin is lined with a waterproof backing that lets nothing get inside.”  They then go on to mention the Highly breathable Channel-Tech™ foam core.  We found nothing unique about the Colgate mattress. It’s a foam mattress with a waterproof fabric overlay.

The price of the Colgate Goodnight Owl Breathable crib mattress is reasonable at $269.99

LULLABY EARTH®

The Lullaby Earth Breathe Safe Breathable Crib Mattress is the exact type of crib mattress Dr. Ron Somers warns consumers about. The mattress is a conventionally designed crib mattress with a waterproof cover and an air-permeable overlay.  The fact the air is flowing through the top cover and stopping at the next layer, carbon dioxide is easily trapped.

The Lullaby Earth Breathe Safe Breathable crib mattress retails for $250

NEWTON®

The Newton Breathable Mattress is a step in the right direction. If you are not familiar with the Newton Breathable Crib Mattress, it is a hybrid mattress.  It has a plastic core that almost looks like a large block of silly string.  The core is actually a food-grade polymer.  It has an overlay of a 3D spacer fabric which is air-permeable.  The cover is machine washable.  

Newton Breathable Crib Mattress retails for $299.99.  The waterproof version retails for $349.99

Even though we consider the air permeable characteristics of the Newton Breathable Crib Mattress as beneficial and a design trait we consider the “best crib mattress” should have, the cleanup requires far too much effort. 

The mattress must be completely removed from the crib and unzipping the entire cover to remove it and washing and air-drying it before your child can lie on the mattress again. When there is an accident  on the mattress such as a diaper leak, spit up, or the results from of a stomach bug, it means having to wash the cover and the plastic mattress core.  The core requires a bath or shower with a mild detergent and  mattress, then air-dry which takes between 5-7 hours.  

The quilted topper is also questionable.  The AAP warns against the use of quilted toppers and blankets since they are known to trap harmful CO2.

HALO® DREAM WEAVE

The Halo Dream Weave Breathable Mattress is a step in the right direction. In fact, it is no different than the Newton Breathable Crib Mattress.  It has the same plastic, food-grade polymer core.  And the same quilted 3D spacer fabric overlay. The cover is also machine washable.  

Halo® Dream Weave Breathable Crib Mattress retails for $249.99. 

The Halo® Dream Weave Breathable Crib Mattress shares the same difficult and cumbersome the cleanup requirements the Newton Breathable Crib Mattress has.  The mattress must be completely removed from the crib and unzipping the entire cover to remove it and washing and air-drying it before your child can lie on the mattress again.  The core requires a bath or shower with a mild detergent and  mattress, then air-dry which takes between 5-7 hours.  

RESPIRO

Respiro Crib Mattress by Baby Trend® is a great contender for the best crib mattress based on the design that promotes high rates of air-permeability.  We like the idea that Respiro has no fiberfill or core that impedes air flow or traps harmful carbon dioxide.  The crib mattress frame is a heavy metal structure with open sides.  The sleep surface is a mesh fabric that is pulled taut when placed in the metal structure.

Respiro Crib Mattress retails for $104.99

The Respiro Crib Mattress falls short in reference to safety and convenience.  The metal frame is very heavy and many parents have complained in reviews the contusion issues associated with the metal frame.  The frame must be lifted out of the crib in order to change and wash the mesh sleeping surface.  

CRIB MATTRESS SAFETY TIPS

No matter what crib mattress you end up with, here are some basic tips to help keep your sleeping baby safe.

  • Put your infant to sleep on their back, and avoid putting any other bedding inside the crib. This includes blankets, quilted toppers, pillows, stuffed toys, and bumpers . The AAP and CPSC both have detailed guidelines on safe sleep. The AAP stresses that to reduce the risk of entrapment, suffocation, carbon dioxide rebreathing and strangulation infants should be on a firm mattress with a fitted sheet, and advises against bed sharing or placing an infant on an adult-size bed, couch, or armchair to sleep.
  • Air permeability.  Look for a crib mattress that is breathe-through.  There is a significant difference between breathable and breathe-through crib mattresses.  
  • Make sure your mattress passes the two-finger test. When you place the crib mattress, make sure there is no more than two fingers’ worth of space between the sides of the crib and the side of the mattress.
  • Use of sheets. Look for a crib mattress that does not use sheets.  Sheets have been linked to both rebreathing risks and strangulations.
  • Washable.  Make sure your mattress is washable to prevent the build up of pathogens and microorganisms.  
  • Watch out for indentation. Mattresses can lose some of their firmness, which is especially important for newborns and infants, after repeated use. The AAP recommends against using a mattress that has an indentation or pocket in it because it can increase the chance of rebreathing or suffocation if the infant is placed in a face-down position or rolls over to one.
  • Store properly. If you’re going to save a crib mattress for a future child, make sure that it is cleaned and stored in a cool, dry place so that bacteria doesn’t fester and mildew doesn’t grow on its surface.
Best Crib Mattress

Your baby will spend over 70% of their first year in their crib.  Make sure your baby is sleeping safely on a SafeSleep® the best crib mattress according to leading medical professionals.  Learn more about the best crib mattress at www.safesleeptech.com