Every parent wants to protect their new baby from harm. But sometimes the safest solutions are not the most feasible. For example, you’d think all crib mattresses would be safe, or that all safe crib mattresses would be easy to find in stores. But somehow this is not the case.
Most crib mattresses are made with harmful materials such as PVC and chemical flame-retardants. And the healthier options made from all-natural materials tend to be more expensive and made by smaller brands, so they are rarely sold in popular baby stores. These safer mattresses are easier to find online, but you have to do your research.
Second-hand crib mattresses
Many parents take over a friend’s crib mattress or buy second-hand in order to get high quality at an affordable price. But while second-hand baby clothes are perfectly safe, a used baby crib mattress may not be.
Studies have linked used crib mattresses to an increased likelihood of SIDS. The prevailing theory is that the second baby is exposed to the bacteria from the first baby’s sweat, saliva and diaper leakage. A second issue is that used mattresses are often stored improperly and can expose the baby to mildew and fungus.
For many new parents, a second-hand crib mattress or one made from synthetic materials is your only option. But don’t worry. There are a few simple and affordable things you can do to safeguard any crib mattress.
Safeguard a new (but synthetic) crib mattress
First, remove the crib mattress from its plastic wrapping to release trapped chemicals. Let it air out for a few days, preferably outdoors.If outdoors isn’t an option, put the crib mattress in a well-ventilated room that you don’t need to visit for a while. Close the door and cover any vents to avoid spreading chemicals throughout the house. Turn on a fan and face it toward the window to force the air outside.
Once the “new mattress smell” is gone, wrap it with a cover made from food-grade polyethylene plastic or tightly woven wool. This will keep any harmful chemicals from touching your baby directly and will help to keep the mattress dry.
Plastic is not breathable, so place a cotton pad over the polyethylene cover to let air flow more easily between the baby and the mattress.
Safeguard a used crib mattress
Inspect the crib mattress thoroughly to ensure it does not have mold or mildew stains before accepting it.
Pour distilled white vinegar (readily available at the supermarket) into a spray bottle. Spray down the mattress with the vinegar to safely disinfect it and leave it to air dry in a clean room for a few days.
Wrap the crib mattress with a food-grade polyethylene plastic or a tightly woven wool mattress cover. Then top it with a cotton mattress pad.
You might also like: Choosing the Safest Crib Mattress for Your Baby.