Crib Mattress – The ultimate guide to know if yours is safe
The most important thing to any parent is keeping their baby safe. It’s no surprise then that part of this role is to ensure your baby is safe even when they’re sleeping. Consequently, choosing the safest crib mattress is a top priority.
The Science behind Crib Mattresses and Safe Sleep
The science behind safe sleeping and safe crib mattresses has evolved in recent years. Scientific evidence shows some air-permeable mattresses provide a significant decreased risk of both suffocation and rebreathing carbon dioxide (CO2).
It takes 2 minutes for CO2 to evaporate on a firm mattress with a tight sheet. However, on an air-permeable one, it only takes a half of a second (.05) to evaporate. It’s easy to identify which crib mattress is safer.
Learn more about the science of crib mattresses to determine the best crib mattress for your baby.
Difficulty Distinguishing SIDS from Rebreathing
We already know it’s difficult to tell Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) apart from other sleep-related infant deaths. This includes both overlay and suffocation. We also know infants in the face down position on fiberfill mattresses, quilted, soft or pillow-like surfaces, vinyl covered mattresses, and surfaces that claim to be breathable, show an increased risk of rebreathing CO2.
Rebreathing can lead to hypoxia. Hypoxia is a condition associated with SIDS. Anything in the crib that can cause a build-up of CO2 or heat is an unnecessary risk. Consequently, these risks should be avoided.
Which Infants are More Vulnerable on a Crib Mattress
What we don’t know is which infants are more likely to fall victim to SIDS. Also, which ones are more likely to rebreathe CO2. With so many crib mattresses claiming to be breathable, we still don’t know the CO2 retention level of many of them. Further, there is no comparable published studies or valid scientific testing showing if one baby mattress has a lower or higher SIDS risk.
Therefore, it’s important that we look at reducing key SIDS risks to protect our sleeping babies.
Unsafe Sleep Conditions
Studies suggest parents are still inadvertently placing their infants in unsafe sleep conditions. This continues, even though health care providers and public education campaigns encourage safe sleeping conditions.
Infants in unsafe sleep conditions is the most common cause of mortality among babies. According to a recently published study, 21% of infants that took part in the study were put in unsafe sleep products. Thirty- three percent (33%) were placed in risky positions. And 87% had a risky item in their sleep space. These items include loose blankets, stuffed toys, bumper pads, pillows, and sleep positioners.
American Academy of Pediatrics Crib Mattress and Other Safe Sleep Guidelines
The following recommendations are issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics to encourage safe sleep for infants:
- Place an infant on their backs to sleep every time.
- Use a firm crib mattress.
- Keep softs toys and loose items out of the crib.
- Avoid overheating. Keep your baby lightly clothed. Keep the room temperature comfortable.
The Risk of SIDS
There is scientific research known as the SIDS Triple Risk Model. This model suggests SIDS is likely to occur if three things are going on at once.
- Research published in The Journal of Pediatrics state that there is evidence that suggests infants who die of SIDS have underlying vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities can place them at risk. It is believed some infants have a brain abnormality. This abnormality is either genetic or developed during pregnancy. Consequently, the abnormality makes it more difficult for infants to easily wake up when faced with a potentially dangerous situation such as breathing difficulties.
- The model considers the changes in the infant as they go through a critical brain growth phase. This phase typically starts at one to two months of age. However, it can last for several months. Like all growth, each baby is different. Babies that appear adequate at moving their heads when faced with a dangerous situation may become critical during this phase.
- An outside stressor that makes the baby vulnerable. This stressor includes low oxygen, and rebreathing exhaled air. Examples of outside stressors include, a baby sleeping face down, or blankets covering their head, or simply sleeping on their stomach.
No Way to Know
There is no way of knowing which babies have a brain abnormality until an autopsy can be conducted after death. The issue isn’t whether a baby has the muscle control to roll over or turn their head. The issue is rather the problem of stirring themselves enough to get out of a risky situation.
Warning Signs of SIDS
Unfortunately, there are no symptoms or warning signs of SIDS. If no cause of death can be identified, SIDS becomes the diagnosis. SIDS is technically a diagnosis of exclusion.
Many researchers believe, however, that SIDS is associated with an infant’s inability to stir themselves from sleep when a risk or dangerous situation exists. These dangers are low levels of fresh oxygen either from face compression or rebreathing.
With the Triple-Risk model outlining three conditions that make a baby vulnerable and explaining why there are no external warning signs for SIDS, it’s up to parents to reduce the risks as much as possible to prevent SIDS from occurring.
Additional Recommendations Include a Breathe-Through Crib Mattress
In addition to the recommendations issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics and outlined above, parents should:
- Not smoke when pregnant.
- Not allow smokers around the baby.
- Breastfeed where possible.
- Use an air permeable or breathe-through crib mattress that doesn’t trap CO2.
With over 3400 infant deaths being classified as SIDS, and with no warning signs to look out for, it’s important that parents make choices that reduce the risks.
How to Prevent SIDS
By implementing the risk reductions above, you are one-step closer to ensuring your baby is safe while sleeping. However, to further protect your baby, there are other steps that can reduce the risks of SIDS:
- Get Your Infant Vaccinated. Evidence suggests that vaccines help protect against SIDS. In fact, they reduce the risk by up to 50%.
- Don’t Co-Sleep. Insufficient sleep associated with parenthood can prevent adults from stirring when they roll over on their infants. This can cause accidental suffocation. This, along with loose bed sheets and blankets is one of the biggest risks of SIDS and other infant sleep related deaths.
- Keep the crib in your room and as close to you as possible. This allows you to check on them quickly and take measures if they’re not breathing. The first three months is sufficient.
Will a Baby Wake if They Can’t Breathe
Most babies will wake if they can’t breathe, as mentioned above. However, infants that have brain abnormalities may struggle to stir from sleep during a risky situation.
Infants primarily breathe through their nose. Consequently, airway obstructions can occur most often when a baby’s nose is obstructed.
As adults, we have a built-in defense mechanism when we sleep that wakes us when CO2 rises. Some infants appear to not have this ‘arousal trigger’ for waking up. It is Dr Hannah Kinney who discovers that these infants have low serotonin levels in the brain or high serotonin levels in the blood.
AAP Expanded Safe Sleep Recommendations
In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on SIDS expanded the safe sleep recommendations to include the reduced risk of rebreathing and other sleep related infant deaths.
The recommendations focus primarily on eliminating the risk of infants rebreathing CO2. This recommendation is based on years of study. They include:
- That prone or side sleep can increase the risk of rebreathing expired gases.
- Room sharing without bed-sharing is recommended.
- Separate sleep areas for twins and other multiples are practical.
- Obstructions within the crib are hazardous including pillows, quilts, and other soft surfaces.
- Avoid overheating and head covering.
Will a Breathable Crib Mattress Prevent SIDS
There is scientific evidence suggesting that crib mattresses with fiber, porous interiors, or other core materials do cause problematic rebreathing for babies. Consequently, these studies indicate that only some breathable mattresses help reduce the risk of SIDS.
Crib mattress companies have a big responsibility when marketing their products as ‘breathable.’ There currently aren’t any approved standards for what this means. No studies exist comparing infants who sleep on various crib mattresses to see which one has fewer SIDS deaths. Simply put, his means that the ‘breathable’ crib mattress label can be very misleading.
It can’t be said with any scientific certainty that any of the AAP’s safe sleep recommendations avoid SIDS. So the real question should be, can a breathable crib mattress avoid known SIDS risks?
The recommendations outlined above rely on the hypothesis that rebreathing of CO2 is a potential contributor for unexpected infant deaths. For example, the AAP Task Force recommends air-permeable sides in bassinets. This is suggested due to infants being found in a side sleep, face-wedged environment.
Why a Crib Mattress Should be Air Permeable
The definition of air permeable when it comes to fibers and fabric is the rate of airflow passing perpendicularly through a known area under a prescribed air pressure differential.
Many parents believe that a breathable crib mattress is the same as one that is completely air-permeable. And with many mattress companies marketing their fiber or plastic filled baby mattresses as ‘breathable’, it’s important parents know the difference.
There are some similarities between the two. Specifically, both admit air to the skin and allow sweat to evaporate. However, a completely air permeable crib mattress is the only mattress recognized by medical professionals and safe sleep experts as addressing the risk factors associated with infant sleep related deaths.
The SafeSleep® air-permeable crib mattress is the only crib mattress on the market today that is approved and endorsed by leading AAP physicians. Why? Because it is the only crib mattress that addresses the multiple risk factors associated with infant sleep related deaths.
Find out why the SafeSleep® is the best crib mattress for tummy sleeping babies.
Testing of Crib Mattresses and Rebreathing
Dr James Kemp and his colleagues are some of the first to study the potential for various sleep surfaces to prevent infant rebreathing. They found that four of the five surfaces, including firm crib mattresses, consistently allowed lethal rebreathing of CO2 when vulnerable infants sleep prone. This suggests that what parents believe to be safe sleep options for their baby, including the need for a firm crib mattress, may not meet the risk reductions for SIDS.
The Truth About Firm Crib Mattresses
Let’s set the record straight. A firm crib mattress that ‘properly’ supports their bones and skeletal growth is not true.
The second fastest growth phase (the first being while in the womb) is from birth to 12 months. Baby’s bones are soft during this phase. Placing a baby on a firm mattress is not considered desirable for proper bone growth.
So, why does the AAP recommend a firm crib mattress? The AAP Task Force admits that a baby’s ideal sleeping condition for their bone and skeletal growth is for them to be gently cradled. Further, the admit that tummy sleep is more comfortable for babies. Tummy sleep supports longer, better sleep for babies. However, research suggests that tummy sleep is not safe for babies. And neither is a soft mattress.
The argument is that infants are dying on soft surfaces while sleeping on their tummy. They aren’t dying from bone and skeletal issues that are meant to be supported by a firm mattress. As a parent, it’s important to be aware of this myth when dealing with crib mattress manufacturers and marketing.
The Ideal Crib Mattress Surface
The ideal sleep surface for your infant is a baby mattress that doesn’t have any fill to cause positional pressure, while still being firm enough to prevent CO2 accumulation or suffocation.
It’s difficult for a parent to know if their crib mattress is too firm or too soft.
A simple test, developed in Australia, has now become the standard for determining the minimum level of firmness for an infant mattress. Simply apply weight to the product. You want it to have a small but almost imperceptible amount of give, whereas a solid product would have no yield.
The question must then be asked, can a crib mattress be too firm? It is believed that the increase in incidence of positional plagiocephaly – flattening of the back of the head – is related to the recommendations that babies be placed to sleep on their backs to avoid SIDS. This gives evidence that repeated exposure of the infant’s head to the sleep surface can alter the head shape/ This means the harder the surface, the more resistance placed on the developing skull. So, a baby mattress that is too firm can cause undesired skull deformities in infants.
The Don’t of Safe Sleep
There is considerable growth in educating parents on what to do and what not to do when it comes to safe sleep for infants. Back in the 1800’s, mothers slept with their baby to keep them warm. Houses were not well heated then.
Over the years, there has been strange and often dangerous crib designs that would not meet today’s guidelines for safe sleep. For example, the window cage, which was designed to ‘renew and purify the blood’ and build stronger children. Or, the cage style air crib. The air crib was a completely enclosed crib with three solid walls and a ceiling. This mattress was designed to control the temperature and the humidity.
List of Safe Sleep Don’ts
We still have progress to make in supporting safe sleep for infants. Our list of don’t is import for sleeping babies.
- Don’t put anything in the crib except a properly dressed baby. As mentioned above, this includes pillows, blankets, bumpers, toys, and any other items.
- Don’t use a traditional swaddle blanket. Swaddling creates a safe sleep environment to keep your infant warm instead of using blankets. However, traditional swaddle blankets can easily come unraveled and cover your baby’s face. This can be frightening, especially when parents are sleeping at night.
Safe sleep recommendations suggest that a baby’s arms should not be bound in a swaddle once they show any signs of beginning to roll. Infants normally begin to roll from back to tummy at around four months. However, they can sometimes roll much sooner. The best swaddles are ones that require no wrapping.
- Don’t place your baby on their stomach to sleep. This may seem obvious. But as we all know, some infants end up sleeping on their stomachs no matter how many times you turn them on their backs. Choosing a breathe-through crib mattress keeps these tummy sleepers safe.
- Don’t co-sleep with your baby. Co-sleeping is considered a highly unsafe sleep practice. It’s not worth the risk. At around 4 months, babies start to learn and form their own sleep habits. I’s important to let them fall asleep on their own at this stage to prevent sleep dependency. If they don’t, working with a certified sleep consultant can help.
Safe Sleep Tips for New Parents
As a parent, you can’t help but constantly wonder if you’re doing enough or doing the best thing for your baby. Trust us, we’ve been there.
Constantly being alert to ensure the safety of your baby often heightens your anxiety as a new parent. Clearly, some of the most anxious times are when your baby is sleeping.
Remember, your habits play a big role in ensuring your baby is sleeping safely. Whether you’re expecting or already have your bundle of joy, here are some tips that encourage safe sleep for your baby:
Tips to ensure your crib and crib mattress are safe
- Make sure your baby’s crib is safe. We don’t recommend using a second-hand crib that’s over 10 years old. It was ten years ago that the consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) set strict standards for cribs.
- Choose a firm crib mattress. Soft crib mattresses are not safe for your baby.
- Ensure proper fit of your crib mattress. A mattress should fit snugly against the inside of the crib. There shouldn’t be a gap larger than 1 inch.
- Choose a safe crib mattress. With your baby beginning to roll from as early as two months, it’s important to make sure they’re safe if they roll in the night. A breathe through, air permeable mattress is best to reduce risks associated with infant sleep related deaths.
- Keep crib free from clutter.
- Use a wearable blanket or swaddle.
- Don’t bed share. Room sharing is recommended, but co-sleeping is not.
- Give baby a pacifier. The AAP recommends a pacifier without straps or clips.
- Daily tummy time.
- Avoid dangerous sleep products. Currently manufacturers are not restricted by regulations, structured testing, or testing methods. Consequently, they will continue to create and produce anything for infant sleep so long as it hits the bottom line. Innocent lives will continue to be lost due to unsafe infant sleep products . These are products that should never have been sold to consumers in the first place.
Putting Things into Perspective When it Comes to Your Crib Mattress
A baby spends around 15% of their time in the first few years in a stroller. They spend 12% of time in their car seat and 5% of their time in a highchair or booster seat. But, in the first year of their life, a baby spends 70% of it sleeping in their crib.
For many parents, finding a crib mattress is usually an afterthought. But, knowing these statistics and the safety risks regarding safe sleep, it’s a no brainer that parents should be prioritizing this purchase before anything else.
Read our Ultimate Guide for choosing the best crib mattress for your baby.
It is, without a doubt, that the best crib mattress is the SafeSleep® Breathe-Through Mattress.
This crib mattress was created after the founder, Julie Andreae was affected by the unthinkable. A loved one rolled over in the middle of the night and from there, everything changed.
Along with her sister Dr Margie Andreae, a pediatrician with over 30 years’ experience, they began researching baby mattresses, infant sleep safety and scientific studies on crib mattresses, SIDS, and other infant sleep related deaths.
Julie and Dr. Andreae never intended on becoming crib mattress designers or manufacturers. However, after their experience, it was something they couldn’t ignore.
Using Science to Create the Best Crib Mattress
They began the overwhelming task of researching a plethora of peer-reviewed published studies on all things related to determining what the best crib mattress should look like.
They used scientific testing, AAP safe sleep guidelines, the 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 to create the safest and best crib mattress available.
Meeting all crib mattress regulations, Julie and her sister came up with the following criteria for creating the best baby mattress:
- Safety is the number priority.
- No potentially harmful chemicals are used.
- Ease of cleaning and sanitizing.
- Ease of use.
- Durability and longevity.
About the SafeSleep® Crib Mattress
The SafeSleep® Breathe-Through Crib Mattress provides safer, better, longer sleep for infants and toddlers. It scores higher than breathable baby mattresses for breathability and lower suffocation risk according to scientific testing. The reason it surpasses all other crib mattresses for safety, comfort and ease of cleaning is the fact that it has no fill or core.
Providing 100% peace of mind while your baby sleeps, the SafeSleep® Breathe-Through Crib Mattress is by far the best crib mattress available according to leading professionals.
Safe sleep awareness should be a priority for every parent. With parents still inadvertently placing their infants in unsafe sleep conditions, the risk of SIDS is higher than it should be. With no warning signs of SIDS, parents need to be aware of the SIDS Triple Risk Model. More importantly, parents can reduce the dangers of SIDS and other sleep related infant deaths.
We can’t know if a baby has brain abnormalities preventing them from stirring from sleep in a risky situation. This is only apparent after the worst thing has already happened. Not all infant deaths are preventable. However, many are. Therefore, a breathe-through crib mattress that is also air permeable is important in protecting a sleeping baby.
The ideal baby mattress has no fiber fill to block airflow or trap CO2. In short, it allows an infant who is face down to breathe normally with no risk of suffocation or rebreathing.
With infants spending a whopping 70% of their time in their crib during the first year, making sure parents know what safe sleep is and what to do and not to do is critical. Buying the safest and best crib mattress available on the market, parents are on the right path to significantly reducing the dangers of infant sleep.
Don’t be mislead by crib mattresses claiming to be breathable. There are no standards for “breathable.” Make sure you buy a crib mattress that is tested to allow an infant who is face down to breathe normally. You can compare the SafeSleep® to other breathable crib mattresses to see the differences.