How to Choose a Baby Crib Mattress

baby crib mattressPicking out a baby crib mattress for your newborn isn’t quite as much fun as buying cute baby clothes or nursery decorations. But since your little one will spend up to 18 hours a day snoozing, finding the right sleep surface is just as important. Here’s what you need to know about finding a crib mattress to help your baby sleep safe and sound.

Baby crib mattress buying tips

Always go new
Even though your baby will only use her crib mattress for a few short years, resist the urge to pick up a secondhand model. The reasoning is two-fold: First, some studies have linked used mattresses to an increased risk of SIDS. (According to research published in the British Medical Journal, secondhand mattresses have higher levels of bacteria, which are associated with SIDS.)

What’s more, crib mattresses manufactured before 2007 may not meet flammability standards set forth by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. If a used mattress is your only option, research the model’s safety history at Also make sure the mattress was stored in a clean environment, and absolutely buy a new mattress cover.

Pick the right size
Your baby’s mattress must fit snugly in her crib, with no more than two fingers’ width being able to fit between the crib and the edge of the mattress. A properly-fitting mattress shouldn’t be hard to come by, since crib and crib mattress sizes are government-regulated. But if you find that your baby’s mattress doesn’t fit correctly when you place it in the crib, return it immediately for a model that does.

Choose a firm surface
If you prefer sleeping on a soft mattress, you might think your baby would be more comfortable on one, too. But firm, flat mattresses are actually safer for the crib-sleeping set. That’s partly because very young babies have soft bones that need solid support, but also because soft mattresses pose a SIDS risk for infants.

Whether you choose a foam or innerspring mattress is a matter of preference and budget (foam models tend to be less expensive), just make sure the model feels dense and relatively stiff. If you press your hand into the mattress, it should spring back immediately.