Why Your Baby Needs a Firm Crib Mattress
Choosing the right mattress for your baby’s crib is an important factor in helping to ensure your baby has a restful night’s sleep. Since your baby spends most of the day sleeping, the quality of the mattress in your baby’s crib will play an important role in determining the quality of your baby’s sleep.
Even after their first years are up, your baby will spend about half their time in their beds, if not for sleep, and then for things like play, both before and after a nap. Quality construction in a mattress is necessary to provide the right type of support for baby during their early years, the period of their fastest growth.
Even if your baby will spend their first half-year or so in a crib or crib, it is still a good decision, and a good investment, to choose a comfortable, high-quality mattress for eventual use in your baby’s crib.
The importance of firmness in your baby's mattress
The American Academy of Pediatrics, or AAP, generally recommends that babies lie on their backs on a firm mattress. The most common belief regarding this is that it is best for babies’ growth and development, providing support for baby’s soft bones as they grow and that it prevents babies from tipping over and possibly disrupting their sleep.
However, the evidence indicates that the baby’s growth and development as a reason for the preference of sleeping them on a firm surface are defective. A careful reading of the available data indicates a higher incidence of skull deformities in babies who generally sleep on their backs, as a result of the softness and general malleability of babies’ bones. This, along with choosing a relatively inflexible (baby) hard surface, like that of firm crib mattresses, is believed to be a factor in those skull deformities.
At birth, the bones that make up a baby’s skull are designed to move, making it easier for the baby to pass through the narrow and confined space of the birth canal. Unlike an adult, a baby’s skull bones look more like pieces of a three-dimensional puzzle than a solid dome that protects the brain.
Unlike children and adults, a baby’s skull is not yet solid; the shape is not fixed yet. Babies who lie down to sleep in the same position repeatedly on a firm surface have specific points on their skulls that receive more pressure over time, due to the weight of the head in that area, causing deformities.
Sleep on the belly
As for the assumption that using a firm crib mattress prevents babies from tipping over, ensuring more restful sleep, that’s also a mistake: a firmer sleeping surface actually makes it easier for a baby rollover compared to a less firm surface child. Furthermore, experts in sudden infant death syndrome have confirmed that babies apparently sleep better and more comfortably on their stomachs.
This is, surprisingly, an opinion also held by most pediatricians, stating that babies will sleep through the night earlier and are less likely to start waking up if they sleep on their stomachs. Dr. Jane Williams, Early Childhood Development Specialist and Director of Child Development Programs for GymbaROO, states that babies “… should spend more time on their tummy than lying or leaning on ‘bins’ like car seats, Baby seats, swings, and highchairs, however, adds that sleeping on your back is safest – best to save time on your bellies for when they’re awake.
Ultimately, it seems that the reason the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends firm crib mattresses, specifically with a fitted sheet, is apparently to prevent your baby from breathing carbon dioxide: in other circumstances, a baby is more likely to breathe again. Inhale the exhaled air, instead of breathing fresh, clean air.
With babies who cannot raise their heads for the first 3 or 4 months of their lives, lying on a firm crib mattress with a tight-fitting sheet prevents such breathing, unlike how the folds of a loose sheet, or a softer mattress, you may end up trapping carbon dioxide in the fabric.
While most babies will react to such a situation by crying, coughing, or trying to get out of the distressing situation, apparently not all babies’ brains can process that there is a problem, and these babies end up sleeping because of the problem, continuing to remake your exhaled air. The results can be fatal.
Similar to this, a baby may end up entangled in a loose sheet, or within the folds of a softer and looser mattress, which can cause a fatal increase in body temperature. However, just like breathing again, not all babies’ brains can process danger, and the results of a baby overheating while sleeping can be as fatal as breathing their exhaled carbon dioxide.
Medical professionals are currently unable to determine whether a particular baby’s brain has the necessary brain function to react to such “distressing situations.” Without advances in current medical technology, it is important to protect sleeping babies from the possibility of overheating and re-inhaling exhaled air.
In addition to choosing to use firm crib mattresses, it is also vital to keep blankets, stuffed toys, and pillow-like objects, pillows such as bumper pads, loose sheets, and other soft objects such as pillows outside your baby’s crib.
One last but important consideration is to make sure that your baby’s crib mattress is fire retardant. It is common practice to keep older baby furniture in the family, passing it on to the next generation. However, many older mattresses are unlikely to be fire retardant, and in fact, may be worn and unable to provide the necessary support. This is an important factor to consider when choosing to buy a new mattress for your baby.