Many first-time (and even repeat) parents spend an inordinate amount of time choosing just the right crib for their baby, and yet aren’t quite as choosy when it comes to picking out a mattress to put in the crib. Choosing the right mattress for baby is just as important a decision, if not more so.
Newborns sleep up to 18 hours a day, and your baby will thus be in close proximity with the best crib mattress you choose for prolonged periods of time. The wrong choice in mattresses can adversely affect your baby’s health and development.
The right mattress for baby should be firm and durable, and still provide a comfortable sleeping surface for your child. A popular mattress option which provides all three is the coil crib mattress. If you’re considering just such a purchase, it’s useful and handy to consider the features associated with them.
A Springy Sleep Surface For Baby
The three most common types of innersprings for coil crib mattresses are steel, Bonnell coil type and continuous coil type. Steel is the most common, and most familiar, being the traditional method of construction when it comes to innerspring coil mattresses.
The steel used in innerspring coils is high quality and is firm and doesn’t sag, providing a reliable amount of reinforcement.
Bonnell coil type inner-springs generally provide a more uniform mattress surface when compared to steel, and continuous coil type mattresses are characterized as having the best support system, with few pressure points.
As opposed to mattresses made entirely of foam, coiled crib mattresses are generally firmer and more resilient, and generally have a longer usable lifespan than foam mattresses. The general incidence of holes or tears is greatly reduced when compared to that of foam mattresses. The layered structure of coiled mattresses also “breathes” better, providing better airflow, which helps to keep your baby cooler.
Compared to one of foam, however, a coiled crib mattress is decidedly, significantly heavier and more difficult to position and maneuver. This makes them a lot more difficult to pull out of the crib when it comes time to change baby’s sheets.
The coils may eventually sag, negatively affecting the firmness of the mattress. The coils may also be noisy, which can negatively impact your rest, or that of the baby. Finally, the mattress’ layered structure can become a haven for dust mites and such, which can negatively affect your baby’s allergies, if any.
The specific firmness of a coil mattress depends on the number of coils used in the mattress, the gauge of steel used in the coils, and the number of turns per coil: a crib mattress with upwards of 150 innersprings is generally considered to be the best type of coil mattress for babies and infants.
The gauge of the steel wire used in the innerspring coils is also an important factor to consider. The lower the gauge, the thicker the coils, which results in a firmer mattress; for infants, a gauge of 15.5 and lower is considered ideal.
Generally speaking, the more layers there are in a coiled crib mattress, the better it is. The quality of the layers, however, is an important consideration, and lesser layers in a higher quality mattress may be better in the long run than a mattress with more, but poorly-constructed, layers.
The five basic parts of an innerspring mattress are the border rods, the coil bed, the insulator pad, the cushioning, and the cover.
The border rods constitute the frame of your mattress and are a major factor in determining the durability of the mattress. The more solid the border rods, the better they protect and support the layers of the mattress, preventing the sides from slowly collapsing under the baby’s weight. This results in a safer, firmer mattress for your baby.
The coil bed, or spring unit, forms the heart and core of an innerspring mattress. This is the part that supports all the other layers of the mattress and determines is overall firmness. The coil count is the total number of coils in the coil bed, and this, factored together with the gauge of steel used in the coils, determines the overall quality of the coil bed.
The Insulator Pad
The insulator pad is a layer that acts as a barrier preventing the softer cushion layer from sinking into the coil bed, or the coils from poking through the cushioning. A durable, high-quality material is essential, as this layer will end up taking a lot of abuse, especially from the feet of an energetic baby.
The most durable source of insulator pads is coconut coir, a material made from shredded coconut shells. Fiber-wrap also works well, and costs less than coir fiber padding.
Lower quality materials such as polyester and plastic mesh should be avoided in an insulator pad layer, as these materials break down over time. This may cause the cushioning to collapse into the spring bed, causing the mattress to sag, and may be a factor in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS.
The cushioning layer in innerspring coil crib mattresses most commonly consists of a single layer of cushioning, though it is not uncommon for mattresses to have up to three layers of such cushioning. In general, the more layers of cushioning, the more comfortable the mattress will be.
Foam and cotton generally figure in the most comfortable, better quality mattresses, but this will also increase the price involved. Polyester, while easily available and significantly less expensive, is not as durable as either foam or cotton. The choice of comfort or affordability can be a difficult one when it comes to this particular aspect of choosing a mattress for your baby.
The mattress cover is the layer that surrounds and protects the other layers of the mattress. Vinyl is a common material for mattress covers, is generally water resistant, and notably more durable than fabric; covers made of vinyl will stand up to significantly more wear and tear.
Vinyl, however, does not lend itself well to breath-ability, or air circulation; in choosing a mattress with a vinyl cover, it is important to ensure that the mattress has sufficient ventilation along the sides to prevent the buildup of unseemly odors.