Why Do Babies Need A Firm Mattress?-Is It safe for cribs?

Infants are mostly in active sleep mode when dozing. It is quite normal to make noise and squirm during sleep. All these movements take a toll on their developing bones. For that, you must provide adequate underlying support. A mattress can offer much-needed resistance and protection.

Why do babies need a firm mattress?

An infant’s body deserves a solid mattress for proper development. Firmness helps the baby’s bones to rest conveniently and comfortably. Hard beds also help to reduce sudden infant death syndrome. The firm surface also offers resistance that a baby will eventually need for moving purposes.

In this article, we will talk about how crib mattresses affect your baby’s health and what can be done to provide utmost safety. Please bear with us. 

Why Do Babies Need Firm Mattress? 

You must know that an infant’s body is very sensitive, and their bones are pretty flexible too. Flexible bones are prone to bending if they are not shielded properly. This is one reason why a baby needs a firm mattress in their crib. 

Not only for comfort but also to help them move without any hurdles. When a baby moves, they push on the surface and shift places. This is when their bones come in contact with the mattress. If the bedding is soft, then a baby might not be able to move properly and rather sink inside. 

Here, a firm mattress can work wonders by providing certain resistance to curb the sinking. The hard surface puts pressure on the baby’s flexible bones rather than the muscles, keeping them away from any discomfort.

Please note that a soft surface is unbalanced, which can make the baby roll over and get hurt.  

Firm beds not only protect the baby but also ensure the healthy growth of their muscles and bones. According to research, it is believed that firm beds can help lower the chances of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). So, why take a chance anyway?

why are baby mattresses so hard?

You have to keep in mind that the firmness of a baby bed and an adult bed differs a lot. You, as a parent, can be used to a firm bed, but that firmness will not work on a baby. If you force the similar firmness of the mattress on your baby’s crib, chances are you are causing problems for your little one. 

As for proper hardness, AAP (American Academy Of Pediatrics) recommends the mattress has to be hard enough that it doesn’t promote a dent when your baby’s head rests on it. If you are familiar with mattress firmness scales, your baby’s crib mattress must be within the range of 7-8. 

How Is Mattress Hardness Measured?

  • Extra Soft

A rating from 1-2 is known as an extra soft mattress. This hardness will not provide any support to your back whatsoever. 

  • Soft Plush

A scale of 3-4 provides a plush cloud-like mattress. Your body will sink completely on soft mattresses.  

  • Medium Soft or Medium Firm

If you are looking for a soft mattress that offers some stiffness, then a reading of 5 or 6 is for you.

  • Firm

A firm mattress has a scale reading of 7-8. It boasts hardness but allows a marginal sink to perfectly align the body.

  • Extra Hard

Moving up to a scale of 9 or 10, you will get a super rigid mattress. This is something the majority of people will avoid. Try samples before you purchase them.   

How to Determine The Correct Firmness?

To ensure whether the mattress is good enough to sleep on, you can perform a test by yourself. Yes, it is very easy to determine whether a bedding firmness is ideal for your baby or not. These are the steps you must follow. 

Step 1: Look for Defects

Before you start testing the firmness, it’s wise to lay the mattress on every side and scour every part. Locate any possible wear, bumps, seam issues, etc. There should be no valley or peaks on the mattress. It must be as flat as possible.

Step 2: Pressure Test

Make sure the mattress is out of the crib. Now use your hand and palms to exert pressure on the mattress. Reach the sides, as well as the center, and see if the force allows the mattress to conform to the shape of your hand. 

If the mattress surface bounces back to its normal position, then it’s safe to say that the mattress is ideally firm. If the surface dents inward, then the structural integrity is in question. 

Step 3: Double-Check

If you are satisfied with the toughness of the mattress, don’t put it back on the crib immediately. Re-check the mattress for possible defects; if you find one, call the manufacturer’s helpline to solve the issue.

Step 4: Test It Inside the Crib

Place the mattress inside the crib and then follow steps 1 and 2 again. This is to make sure the mattress is functional and hard enough when sitting on the bed frame. 

If the results are unsatisfactory, please contact the store or dealer you bought the mattress from. 

Can Extra Hard Bed Affect Your Baby?

Why Do Babies Need A Firm Mattress?

Although it is advised that you provide a hard mattress for your baby, you also must make sure the mattress is not solid as a rock. A firmness level of 8 is worth going for, but don’t put something that imitates a rock slate. That being said, testing the mattress is your best option. 

Extra hard beds won’t be able to push in, whereas a decent firm bed will take on the pressure of your hands, compress a little bit and eventually come back to its natural position. An extra hard mattress is destined to put pressure on the shoulder, torso, and hips, causing discomfort and irritation with time.

Always remember that a baby’s developing bones need comfort as well as resistance from the mattress surface, so medium-hard bedding is what you should get. 

When Should You Allow Your Baby to Enjoy Soft Mattress?

The transition period may vary from person to person, but generally, when a baby reaches the age of 1.5 or 2, it is considered safe to accommodate them on a softer bed. At this age, your kid’s bones will be developed to a limit that can safely embrace cushy surfaces. 

We recommend you avoid excessive soft beds for kids and even adults. It might seem comfortable, but many underlying causes can channel discomfort. Get a semi-hard mattress rather than a soft one that can sink your body and cause pain.

Some Drawbacks of Soft Mattress

  • Not ideal support for spinal alignment
  • On the expensive side compared to hard mattresses
  • A heavier body sinks in quickly and can cause body aches
  • Wears out faster and might need frequent changes
  • Not suitable for a shared bed

What You Must Know When Purchasing a Crib Mattress

Buying a mattress might sound easy, but it is not. You just don’t go to the market and settle for any mattress. Doing so will put you and your baby in jeopardy. Before preparing your baby’s crib, you must know a thing or two about the mattress. Some of its critical aspects have to be taken into consideration.

Size of The Mattress 

To start up, you must first know the size of your baby’s crib; only then you can fit in the mattress properly. The unmatched size will push you towards the problem, and you will have to either change the crib or the mattress. 

For an ideal setup, take a standard fitting, for example. The standard crib size measures 28″ by 52″ and will accommodate a mattress with a size 27 ¼” by 51 ¼” (thickness of 6 inches).

Gap Between the Mattress Edge and Crib Frame

A crib mattress has to be tightly fit on the frame and still have some gap between the frame and mattress edge. To see if the mattress is the perfect choice for your crib, be sure to test it yourself. 

First, put the fingers in between the crib frame and the mattress sides. Now observe whether the gap fills up with one or more fingers. If you are using more than 2 fingers, then the crib mattress might be on the smaller side. A perfect fit should have a gap of 1-2 fingers at max. 

  • Quality Matters

You must nitpick every angle and side of the mattress. Make sure that the mattress is built with high-quality materials. Best if you get a mattress that is crafted with natural fiber, innerspring, hemp, 100% latex, or organic wool/cotton. 

These are some of the healthier options than purchasing a mattress with synthetic foams.

  • Durability

No matter what bedding items you are using, be it a mattress or the cover, everything has to be durable and long-lasting. Kids’ beds are prone to take a lot of movements and therefore have to be tailor-made to withstand impacts, jumps, scrapes, etc. 

  • Maintenance

Without proper maintenance, the crib mattress will not last for very long. It is prone to accumulate dirt and spills; therefore, it has to be cleaned up well. Mattresses can be a little tricky to clean. To do it properly, follow the steps.

1.     Look at the manufacturer’s site or the care label on the mattress to determine whether to use warm or cold water. 

2.     Take a vacuum cleaner and clean the crib from every side. Use attachments if needed to reach tough spots. Vacuuming should remove the upper dust. 

3.     Use either cold/warm water as per the manufacturer’s guidance and scrub the mattress using a gentle detergent. After the cleaning, make sure you wipe off the soap residue completely.

4.     Use a disinfectant spray, like Lysol, to spray on the surface to take off any soapy odors. This spray should also fight any mold buildup on the mattress. 

5.     Now, take dry towels to blot the moisture from the top. To finalize the process, air-dry the mattress by exposing it to sunlight. You have to make sure the mattress is completely dry before putting it back on the crib. A wet mattress will attract mildews and mold very easily.  

Credit: hayneedle


Have you ever been cradle shopping and discovered that baby mattresses are very rigid? Why do babies need a firm mattress? Well, a baby consists of flexible bones that go through a development phase as they grow. These bones and muscles desire a proper support system when a baby sleeps. 

A firm mattress is what makes things easier. It provides comfort and also lowers the chances of SIDS. Even for grown-ups who are a little bulky, it is wise to rest on a firm mattress to provide relief to their body. Soft mattresses are prone to forming ridges and valleys, which can eventually turn out to be harmful. 

The next time you go on to purchase a mattress for a baby crib, make sure it is firm enough to provide a certain resistance; only then your loved one will be able to move and stand freely. 

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Rene C. Evans

Hi, I'm Rene C. Evans author and owner of this website. Though this website is not related to manufacturing company of mattresses but I extensively studying, and analyzing mattresses and inform you solutions regarding mattress problem that will help you to take rest properly.

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