Last Updated on May 27, 2021 by Ines
Safety of the used crib mattress
Furnishing the nursery is not cheap at all! New crib mattresses can cost up to a few hundred dollars, so a second-hand crib mattress might sound like a good solution. But, is a used crib mattress safe for your baby?
Although a second-hand crib mattress can be safe, I do not recommend it, especially if you don’t know its history. There are a few new, safe, and affordable crib mattresses on the market. For instance, you can get a new Graco Premium foam crib and toddler bed mattress only for $60.
Anyway, to help you determine how safe is a used crib mattress, we have made an inspection checklist. Follow all steps, and buy an old mattress only if everything is OK after your inspection!
And remember, even if old crib mattress looks in excellent condition, it might contain hidden risks inside! In the core of secondhand crib mattresses can be hidden harmful pathogens, such as mold, fungus, bacteria, and mildew. So, if you don’t know how the mattress was handled, how many splits and accidents happened during the usage, you can’t know how big is a risk of the pathogen formation in the mattress’s core.
I do not want to scare you, but few studies have shown the possible link between used crib mattresses and a higher risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). That is because of the pathogens in the core, which cause respiratory problems. And infants with respiratory problems are at higher risk of SIDS.
What about used crib mattress from older siblings?
Using a used crib mattress from your older child is certainly your best choice. You know exactly how well you handled and maintained the mattress, so you can predict the potential risk for pathogen formation in its core.
- If the fluids have accidentally penetrated the core, have you adequately and sufficiently dried out the mattress?
- Did you use a waterproof or only water-resistant crib mattress pad? Quality waterproof covers prevent liquids from entering the mattress’s core. Water-resistant pads retain fluid on the surface only for a certain amount of time then it slowly penetrates inside.
- Did you properly clean and dry out the mattress, every time an accident occurred?
- How did you store the mattress if it wasn’t in use for a while?
How to properly store a crib mattress when it is not in use?
- Clean and air out the crib mattress thoroughly! First of all, clean all visible stains. Then sprinkle baking soda on the mattress’s exterior and let it sit for some time. That will remove odors! Thoughtfully vacuum the mattress from both sides, and let it air out in the well-ventilated room.
- The crib mattress must be completely dry before the next step! When it is dry, wrap it in plastic and secure the plastic with packing tape to create a tight seal.
- A correctly stored mattress must lay on the flat surface! Such storage will mimic the crib mattress’s natural positioning and prevent sagging or dents.
- Never store anything on top of the crib mattress! Heavy objects can damage the core and create more wear to the exterior.
- Find the proper place to store it! Places with a lot of moisture, like basements, or those with big temperature changes, are not a good choice at all! Sore it in a clean and dry place!
So a crib mattress from the older sibling is clean, and it was well stored. Is that enough to use it safely?
No, not yet! You have to make a throughout inspection first. Check up everything described below, and use it only if you didn’t find any errors!
Is it safe to buy a used crib mattress?
The following steps will help you determine how safe is the used crib mattress!
1. Is a used crib mattress on the Recall List?
Before you even bother to see it, check-up if the mattress is by any chance on the recall list. Baby products are tested over and over. Unfortunately, sometimes certain defects show up only when the product is already in use.
If these defects are potentially dangerous to the infant, is the product immediately recalled and placed on the recall list.
So, whenever you are buying anything second-hand for your baby, check the recall list on CPCS (Consumer Product Safety Commission) first.
Here is the link to recall list for baby crib mattresses: CPSC crib mattress recalls
2. Visual inspection of used crib mattress:
Your first step is a thorough visual inspection! If there are any visible stains, dents or tears, don’t buy it! If it has a strange smell, don’t buy it either! The surface must be even, without visible dents and noticeable sagging!
If the crib mattress appears to be in good condition, without any visible stains and damages, then proceed to the next steps!
New or used one, a crib mattress must meet required safety standards!
3. Does the crib mattress fit perfectly in your crib?
A crib mattress must fit snugly into the crib! Dimensions of new models are regulated by the government, so any new standard size crib mattress should fit into any new full-size crib.
As we are talking about second-hand crib mattresses, you have to make sure that it is a proper fit.
You can use a very simple two-finger test. Place the mattress in the crib, and make a two-finger test. There shouldn’t be more than a two-finger space between the edge of the crib mattress and the crib’s frame. If there is a bigger space, then it is not safe. Your baby can trap into the gap, which is very dangerous!
4. Is the mattress firm enough?
A safe crib mattress must be very firm! As such, it prevents suffocation and lowers the risk for SIDS!
An old crib mattress can settle and soften over time, so don’t forget to test its firmness! Place the crib mattress on the flat surface and press on it with your hand. A firm crib mattress will snap back into the initial form right away. If your hand leaves an impression which doesn’t go away, don’t buy the mattress!
5. Are the mattress’s edges firm and well-supported?
Mattress’s edges can also weaken over time. Because of the re-enforced edges, the mattress doesn’t cave down under the baby’s weight. That’s why it’s important to check up if they are still in good condition! Edges must be strong and firm!
If the edges don’t offer enough support, the baby can fall between the mattress’s edge and crib’s frame. That can lead to injury or even suffocation.
Sit on the mattress’s edge and observe how well it performs. Does it feel comfortable to sit on the edge? If you don’t feel like the mattress is sinking, or forcing you off, then it has quality edges.
Second-hand crib mattress can contain mold, fungus, dust mites, and bed bugs
One of the biggest problems with using a second-hand crib mattress is not knowing what’s inside. You can’t know if mold or fungus had formed in the core, because you can’t see into it. It is also hard to see if there are any bed bugs or dust mites.
The only crib mattress, where you can see the entire core is a Newton Wovenaire baby crib mattress. It is made of special Wovenaire material and air. Yeah, 90% of this durable crib mattress is air!
It is not cheap, so why am I talking about it here? Because if you find a second-hand Newton crib mattress it’s might your winner! It is the only crib mattress that is 100% washable! So it is the only crib mattress where you can be 100% sure there are no pathogens in the core!
What can you do?
Mold and fungus:
Visible stains on the mattress’s surface are indicative of a greater risk of mold and fungus formation in the core. I would avoid used crib mattresses with visible stains!
Humidity increases the chance of mold formation, so if you are living in a humid climate, you should consider this too.
Dust mites are invisible to the naked eye, so you can’t be sure if there are any. The only thing you can do is a thorough cleaning. Vacuum the mattress, sprinkle it with soda and leave it for some time, then vacuum it again.
Bed bugs are visible to the naked eye, but they are very good in hiding. Look closely at vent holes, edges, seams, … and search for any visible bed bugs or little black dots on the mattress’s surface.
Second-hand foam or innerspring crib mattress which one is better?
There is the air around springs, so in theory, innerspring mattresses are less susceptible to mold and fungus than foam crib mattresses. But, high-quality foam mattresses are very breathable too, so that differs from model to model.
While the inspection of both types is the same, when buying an innerspring crib mattress, examine if any springs are sticking up through the cushioning.
So, should your baby use a used crib mattress?
You need to aware that a second-hand crib mattress has been in use at least two to three years. If that doesn’t bother you if it meets all standards, and if you are satisfied with the results of your inspection I don’t see a reason why you wouldn’t use it!
Once again, to be as safe as possible, a used crib mattress must:
- be clean and dry
- without dents, tears, rips, and creases
- be firm
- fit into your baby’s crib snugly
- with strong edges
- be without loosening seams
You can find everything about crib mattresses here: Baby crib mattresses 101