Guide to Buying a Cot Mattress – Things Parents Should Know

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OK, so you have made the decision to buy a new cot bed for your baby.  What is your precious little one going to sleep on?  You may need to look into buying a cot mattress that is suitable.  This guide will help you make the right decision.

Some cot beds come with mattresses already included, although you will generally find that this is the exception.  To make sure that you keep you baby as safe as possible, there are a number of things to consider when buying a cot mattress.

The Main Factors

According to the Lullaby Trust, there are four factors that are important when choosing a mattress for your cot:

  • It must be firm, not soft.  His will prevent the possibility of suffocation.
  • It fits tightly into the cot base and has no discernible gaps.  Any gaps could be a trapping hazard for your baby.
  • It doesn’t sag.  Sagging could allow your baby to roll over and pose a suffocation hazard.
  • It has no signs of wear and tear.  Second hand mattresses may have a bit of a history and be unclean.  This can be a potential health hazard.

To ensure that you choose a good mattress, look for the Safety Standard BS 1877-10:2011+A1:2012.  This will ensure that mattress has been tested and meets all recommended safety standards.  If in the USA, the mattress should have the relevant Federal Mattress Regulations tag and the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) tags.

Types of Mattress

As with adult mattresses, cot beds are pretty much the same in the range available.  Typically you should choose a mattress that is between 8cm – 10cm deep.  This is perfect to support your baby.  The choices of mattress type are listed below.  I have also included some positives and negatives that you may consider when making your choice:

Hypoallergenic Cot MattressesHypoallergenic Mattress

These mattresses are very popular if you have a history of allergies or asthma within your family.  This type of mattress has a quilted top layer that can be removed at any time and put into the washing machine.  Doing a wash at 60°C – 140°F – will ensure that all dust mites that can cause allergies are killed.

Positives:

  • Very easy to keep clean

Negatives:

  • Very often this type of mattress is a very expensive buy so is often a luxury item if it is not specifically needed.

Coil Spring Mattresses

This is the more traditional type of cot mattress.  They consist of layers of foam and felt padding with a coiled spring interior and quite often come with a wipe clean PVC side with cotton on the other side.coil spring mattress

This is a very popular choice as the airflow is increased due to the space between the spring and the material.  This will help your baby to keep a more regulated body temperature.  A coil sprung mattress will tend to keep their shape and last for quite some time too.

Positives:

  • These mattresses are relatively cheap to purchase and many manufacturers to choose from.
  • The PVC side is easy to wipe clean.
  • Can be turned over in warmer weather to help keep you baby cool.

Negatives:

  • Some parents can be concerned about their baby sweating and becoming clammy when sleeping on the PVC side.
  • They can be harder to clean on the cotton side, especially if your baby is a dribbler or tends to sick up quite a bit.

 

Foam Cot Mattresses

By comparison, foam mattresses are the cheapest of all the mattresses to buy.  They are lightweight and firm and many have different features.  For example, some may have ventilation holes to regulate temperature; they may have a removable wipe-clean PVC cover or they may have removable cotton covers that are easily machine washable.Foam Cot Mattress

Positives:

  • These mattresses are relatively cheap.
  • They are lightweight.
  • They have a variety of covers to fit.

Negatives:

  • There are generally very few negatives, but if you choose the ventilated mattress, they can be harder to clean if not using a PVC cover, as the dribble and sick will penetrate the cotton covers.
  • They may also lose some of their shape over a period of a few years.

 

Pocketed Spring Mattresses

These mattresses are similar to the Coil Spring Mattresses except that each of the springs is separate from the others.  This gives added support and is considered to be more comfortable.  They also have a much longer life than the traditional mattresses.Pocketed Spring Mattress

Positives:

  • They provide excellent support.
  • They have a much longer lifespan.

Negatives:

  • They are more expensive than the others although if you weigh up the lifespan and added support, they are a more cost effective choice should you have the finances available.

 

Dual Core Mattresses

This type of mattress is becoming more and more popular.  They often have a natural fibre, such as coir – extracted from the husks of coconuts – combined with a layer consisting of foam, quite often memory foam.  The second layer consists of micro-pocketed springs.  Combining these two layers makes for a very firm mattress that is incredibly durable.  As you baby grows, the micro-pockets will naturally adjust to the increase in weight.  This ensures that the mattress never loses its shape for many, many years.  This type of mattress will last on your cot bed from infancy all the way through to ages five or six.

Positives:Dual Core Mattress

  • This mattress provides excellent support throughout your baby’s development and into nursery years.
  • It is extremely hard wearing.
  • I doesn’t lose its shape or firmness.

Negatives:

  • This is possibly the most expensive of all the mattresses.

 

Natural Fibre Mattresses

As the name suggests, this type of mattress is manufactured using natural fibres such as coir or wool.  These are often coated in latex which gives them added strength and better protection.  The nature of the natural fibres also makes the mattress very breathable, so air circulates more freely helping maintain a regulated body temperature.  These mattresses, like the others, have a wide variety of cotton and easy-wipe covers.Natural Fibre Mattress

Positives:

  • If you are concerned about chemicals in the materials this is a very good choice of mattress.
  • Long lasting, these mattresses will hold their shape for a long time and are very hard wearing.

Negatives:

  • Not as widely available as the other mattresses, although they are increasing in popularity.
  • The mattresses can be very expensive to buy.

 

Additional Tips

  • Regularly clean any removable covers.
  • Vacuum the mattress regularly to ensure that all dust mites are kept to a minimum.
  • Make sure that the mattress fits the cot bed properly.  There should be no gaps that your baby could become trapped between.
  • Try squeezing the mattress to check its firmness at the edges and also do this in the centre too, as this is where you baby is going to sleep.
  • Make sure your mattress has the appropriate Safety Standards for your country.

I hope you find the information here helpful.  Should you have any questions or comments, please feel free to fill out the comment form below – Martyn


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6 Comments on "Guide to Buying a Cot Mattress – Things Parents Should Know"

  1. Hi Some parents may find it difficult to decide which is the best and safest mattress for their baby, Your review about choosing a cot mattress will surely help many parents to make the right choice.
    In my opinion and personal experience Foam mattress are generally the cheapest and may be the choice of many parents due to the cost and also they are designed to provide the right support and maintain your baby’s natural posture.

    • Hi Julie,

      Choosing a cot mattress is different for everyone, especially if you already have a child as you may be more comfortable sticking with what worked before. Of course, some babies may not get comfortable on one particular type, or need a hypo-allergenic mattress due to a medical condition.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment on your own personal experience, I’m sure it will be of benefit to others – Martyn

  2. Hello,

    Its been a while since I’ve bought one of these. My kid is almost 6 now and on to a larger bed. We do have another one on the way and will be in the market again soon. I believe the last one we bought was the foam style and we had the protective cover for it. Would you recommend going the same route again or do you have a better preference? Thanks for the information here I learned a bunch about the other styles as well.

    -Anthony

    • Hi Anthony. It is always a matter of personal preference when buying a cot mattress. If you and your little ones had a good experience with the foam mattress then stick to that. If your next child has sensitive skin, then you may want to look at a hypo-allergenic or natural fibre mattress. There are many available, just make sure that they are a good, tight fit, have the approved safety standards and it is nice and firm – Martyn

  3. Hey Martyn,

    good info man I thought that you put quite some effort into detail! Thanks for that.

    I was confused about one point though. In my personal experience mattresses with coils are loosing their shape way faster than mattresses made out of foam. Has that just changed over the years with the progression of technology or is it different for the small kinds of mattresses for cots?

    And even though it is probably not really safe, but are there waterbeds for babies? They would probably have a lot of fun on them 😉 but I can see how they would have a few big disadvantages for the baby apart from the fun.

    Thanks again and best wishes,

    Philip

    • Hi Phillip.

      Mattresses are now of much better build quality than they were years ago and undergo much more stringent testing before they can be approved for manufacture. Coil sprung mattresses keep their shape as much as foam and the hybrids (made of one or more materials). It comes down to personal preference now, providing that the mattress is firm enough.

      I have seen water-bed mattresses advertised although as they are not firm, I have yet to see one authority body approve their use in the UK and would think that they are pure gimmick. If your baby wants to bounce, put them in an approved baby bouncer is what I would do. Water beds are classed as suffocation risks so I would stay well clear.

      Hope this helps and thanks for the comment – Martyn

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