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Polyurethane foam, Commonly known as Memory foam is the most common part of most mattresses manufactured today. Memory foam mattresses are known to be used for people with back problems, surgeries and all sorts of complicated diseases. The question is , are they safe for babies? Apart from safety, are they comfortable for babies?

Safety : Memory foam mattresses are safe for use, if you are an adult. For infants, there are a few concerns which deem these mattresses not so safe, unless tested by a verified third party.

Firmness

Memory foam mattresses come in various firmness. Soft, medium firm, firm are the most common firmness levels  usually advertised. A baby will require a firm mattress. Any mattress for babies will have to be firm. It doesn’t matter if it’s latex, Memory foam or normal foam mattresses.

Mattress Firmness has a lot to do with the Infant mortality rate in the USA. Softer mattresses were recorded as having higher SID or the sudden infant death syndrome than firm mattresses. A 1996 research conducted (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8668299/) in Europe and another research conducted in chicago , USA both indicate The risk SIDS when using a soft mattress is 5 times higher than that of medium firm or firm mattress.

The firmness of the mattress did not indicate any discomfort to the baby during their sleep and did not affect sleep positions in any way.

Off Gassing and Allergies

Your concern for safety does not end there. Allergies are common in memory foam mattresses. Most memory foam mattresses are processed with chemicals. These chemicals give out a smell often termed as off gassing in the mattress industry. These nauseous chemicals could create allergies in infants and even adults. 

Its not just memory foam mattresses that create allergies. Babies are naturally allergic to certain proteins in latex and Latex mattresses are equally harmful for babies when their skin comes in contact to the latex. 

Memory foam mattresses are made from petroleum chemicals and contain formaldehyde, benzene, toluene among others. These chemicals may create allergic reactions in infants.

Comfort

Memory foam mattresses are known to retain heat. While children may not be able to express themselves as adults may, they have on response to every inconvenience they face. When mattresses become too warm or too cold, infants start to cry. While this may not be a terrible thing if it happens once a day it’s not something to look forward to if your baby starts crying every time you put him or her to bed. 

Infants spend most of their day in bed and if the bed is too warm or uncomfortable in any way, they will start crying. 

What kind of mattress is best for infants?

There are a lot of reasons to believe that innerspring mattresses are much more suited for infants. It has better weight distribution, Breathability, Water resistance or waterproofing, edge support among others. They are known to be less prone to allergies if the foam is right and not the normal memory foam. PRefer a mattress which has organic cotton covers. 

How firm should a baby mattress be?

Evidently, Firmer mattresses are good for babies but how firm is firm. To test this, put pressure with your palm down on the mattress and take it out. If the mattress snaps back to shape instantly and does not conform or contour to the shape of your hand, The mattress should be good. The mattress should be firm enough yet tough. Any firmer and the mattress should feel uncomfortable to you. 

Why are newborn mattresses so hard?

The main Reason why Mattresses for newborns are hard is because they have a tendency to roll over, which is a primary cause for SIDS in infants, especially with a softer mattress. Softer mattresses tend to suffocate children because they conform to the shape of their body. They also make moving around hard for babies and a bit hotter. On the other hand, firm mattresses do not conform, retain heat and are always easy for the infant to move around. 

When can a baby have a softer mattress?

SIDS is common in children below 3 years old. Once your child is older than 3 its safe to consider a softer mattress. When they reach the age of three, they are well aware of their bodily requirements. Most children are capable of waking up when they want to pee and often have control over bedwetting. They can feel when they are not sleeping right and make necessary movements to make themselves comfortable. 

Do babies need a new mattress?

There is no indications that babies require a new mattress. A research in 1996 conducted stated that there was a higher risk of babies death due to old mattresses but a research conducted later in 2004 indicates no direct relationship between old mattress and the death. Old mattresses are entirely ok for infants as long as they are well maintained, in good shape and hygienic. Ensure that the mattress was well stored by the previous owner and ensure that the mattress is well aired before use.

Is organic crib mattress necessary?

While common sense says organic products are great, and an organic mattress for babies should be safe, its found that not all organic products or material are actually safe for babies. Babies are known to be intolerant towards certain proteins in latex, though its entirely natural and organic. Cotton, though, is safe for babies and has no adverse effect at all. An organic crib mattress is not necessarily safe and is not a must. The right mattress which the baby can be safe, without allergies and possibility of suffocation should be the key deciding factor. This includes having a mattress which is firm and free from chemicals