How firm should your baby’s mattress be? get our checklist

One thing I was not prepared for when becoming a parent was all the decisions I had to make.From the best stroller to the right type of food to the type of clothes we were going to use, all the choices were overwhelming!My partner and I both had some different ideas about how to set up our baby’s cot and bedroom and this quickly became a nightly debate topic

Everything from the size of the cot, which room the cot should be in, to what should (and shouldn’t) be allowed into the cot were hot topics of discussion. We were also confused about what type of mattress to use. My partner and I prefer a soft mattress, and we thought our baby would prefer the same, until we did some reading! Based on what we read, a firm mattress with a fitted sheet is the gold standard for baby safety.

This brought up another really important question:

Too soft, too hard, or just right?

The more we read, the more we understood mattress firmness was an important factor for our baby’s health.If a mattress is too soft it can increase the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, we wrote an article about SIDS you can read about it here ) as it doesn’t protect the baby’s airway.If the mattress is too hard, the baby might be uncomfortable during the night.We needed to find the Goldilocks of mattresses -not too soft, and not too hard, but just right

The best sources we found to determine just how firm our mattress needed to be were the Royal Children’s Hospital and Red Nose Safe Sleeping guidelines, recommending that

The mattress should be firm enough to maintain its shape, without indenting or conforming to the shape of the baby’s head when the baby is placed on its surface.

This brings us to the next important thing:


How to test a cot mattress for it's firmness? 

A simple press test should work -placing pressure on the mattress and noticing how far it can be depressed, and if the shape remains in the mattress after releasing the pressure.

Other recommendations include keeping bedding to a minimum, making sure your sheet is well fitted to the mattress and leaving out any extra pillows, blankets, teddies, and toys.

Another thing I was worried about was my baby sleeping on her stomach. We quickly learned that experts advise babies sleep on their back, with their head and face uncovered, to protect their breathing.  However, several friends told me their babies started on their back at the beginning of the night but ended up rolling over and sleeping on their tummies.  This led us to search for a breathable mattress not made of foam or other dense substances.  In this way, if she did roll over, the mattress would not compromise her air supply.

Based on Australian expert guidelines, we came up with the following checklist:

  • A firm mattress:
    • Make sure the mattress is firm, clean and flat and is the right size for the cot. 
    • The mattress does not strongly indent when pressure is applied to it.
    • No impression remains after pressure is released.
    • Use a mattress that is compliant with the new AS/NZS Voluntary Standards.
  • A fitted sheet:
    • The sheet is fitted to the mattress.
    • There is no bulky bedding or extra material hanging loose in the bed. 
    • The sheet material is breathable and has a loose weave (like cotton)

Armed with this checklist we felt more confident choosing the right bedding for our baby. We hope our checklist will help you make a safe and informed decision about what mattress to use for your newest addition!

Read about our 100% breathable organic cot mattress here