Rock A Bye Baby
It’s important to ensure a safe sleeping environment for your newborn since their slumber-land can last for as long as 16 hours or more. We delve into the safety features that make a cot and mattress worth buying.
You might think buying a suitable cot and mattress is like taking candy from a baby as long as you pay through the nose, but a hefty price tag doesn’t mean you’re getting a quality product for your little one. This is because babies may get into dangerous situations while they’re sleeping. They could:
- get suffocated by the mattress.
- choke on small toys or objects.
- get trapped between the cot’s edge and mattress.
- get strangled by cords from window blinds and curtains.
- fall out from their cot.
- suffer from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
There certainly are a lot of factors to consider while shopping around for a suitable cot and mattress. Babies have yet to learn how to avoid dangerous situations so you, as the parent, should minimise the risks as much as possible. Here is a helpful checklist.
1. Corner Posts
Should not be more than 1/16 inches (1.5mm) above the top panel to prevent hanging of items that could lead to strangulation. Avoid decorative ones as they may catch onto your baby’s clothes and cause injury.
2. Headboards & Footboards
Avoid decorative ones that could catch your baby’s head or limbs in openings and cause injury.
3. Adjustable Base
Should preferably come with 2-3 adjustable heights to accommodate your baby’s growth. For example, you can have one that allows you to lower your baby without straining your back and another when your little one is learning to stand and is prone to jumping.
4. Crib slats
Not to be more than 2⅜ inches (60mm) apart. Never use a crib with loose or missing slats.
Should be sturdy and have no jagged edges
6. Mobile toys
Ensure they are out of your baby’s reach and never hang toys across the crib with strings, ribbons or cords. Remove all toys when your baby is able to push themselves up on their hands and knees. Don’t put big toys that can aid your baby in climbing out of the crib as well.
Fit snugly in the crib with no more than 2 fingers’ width between the mattress and cot edge. Never use plastic to cover the mattress, but go for a tight-fitting crib sheet instead.
8. Metal Hardware
No detachable or small parts that can be swallowed. All bolts, screws and mattress hooks should be tightened and secured.
9. Teething Rails
Materials used should be non-toxic and safe for your child.
There are generally 2 types of mattresses:
- Available in a variety of thickness but go for mattresses that have a high density. Weight is a great indicator, but you can do a density test by putting your hands on either side of the mattress and press. A dense mattress won’t allow you to press in too deeply.
- Test the resilience of the mattress by pushing into its middle with your hand and see how fast it can regain its shape. A mattress that is too soft does not provide adequate support for your baby, so having a fast recovery rate is important.
- More expensive than foam, but is comparatively more durable.
- The more good quality layers there are, the better it is.
- Don’t buy an innerspring without border rods because they provide extra support and firmness for your baby.
- Go for mattresses that have between 135-150 coils with a steel gauge lower than 15.5 (the lower the number the thicker the steel).
SAFEseal Foam with Spacetec™ and Coolmax® from Mothercare (S) Pte Ltd. Price: $234
Parents can also opt for an organic mattress, but don’t be taken in by the hype that claims to be the “only true organic mattress in the market“. Organic mattresses are made with at least 95% natural/organic materials. These are typically non-toxic materials that are flame retardant, such as wool. If you’re not sure what materials are in the mattress, ask the retailer for more details. If necessary, request for a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).
When buying a mattress, remember Two things:
1. Water Resistant Cover
Accidents happen, so be sure to buy a water-resistant cover that protects the mattress from baby leaks especially if you intend to keep the mattress for a second child.
2. Ventilation Holes
These help to increase airflow through the mattress so that moisture will not be trapped and cause problems like mould, mildew and odour.
Image by Mothercare (S) Pte Ltd
Notes of Caution:
1. Drop Sides
Avoid cots with drop sides as they may drop due to a loose latch, thus increasing the chances of your baby falling out. In fact, such cots are banned in USA due to its association with baby-related injuries and deaths.
2. Used Mattress
A second-hand mattress may sound like a good way to save money, but mattresses will become uneven over time. They may also harbour things like bacteria, mould, and mildew in the middle. If you intend to keep the mattress for a younger sibling, then make sure you keep it clean and dry while using it.
If you’re not using a sleep sack to keep your baby warm, then opt for a light-weight blanket. Avoid covering your baby’s head with the blanket.
These are cot liners that are supposed to protect your baby’s head from hitting the sides or prevent their limbs from slipping between the slats. The American Academy of Paediatrics and SIDS prevention groups advise against using it as bumpers can lead to entrapment, strangulation or suffocation. Some bumpers may even reduce the circulation of fresh air in the cot, which can contribute to SIDS. Children have also been known to make use of bumpers to try and climb out of the cot. Try putting your child in a sleep sack instead.
5. Stuffed Toys
For the same reason experts advise not to use bumpers, avoid leaving stuffed toys or pillows in the cot. A clean and clear cot with no clutter is best.
Image by Mothercare (S) Pte Ltd
If you’re a first-time parent, the information may be a tad overwhelming but it’s going to be all worth it when you see your little one sleeping soundly in a safe cot. As for veteran parents, do share with us your experience when buying a cot and mattress for the very first time. We’ll be thrilled to hear from you!