As a mom, I know how overwhelming it can be finding out you’re pregnant! It’s a mix of emotions - excitement and joy combined with anxiety and the reality that you’re bringing a baby into this world! I felt like I could barely take care of myself, so how was I gonna take care of a baby? Having a baby is supposed to be exciting - and it is! That said, there are still realities that we can’t ignore and the biggest one is SIDS.
When we started Nook 11 years ago, our mission was to make products that are safe and help reduce the risk of SIDS. October is SIDS and Pregnancy and Infant loss Awareness Month. As a brand, we realized that the reality of infant death is triggering. It's hard to talk about. It's heavy but the reality is also that it's very real and we have a responsibility to spread awareness and help educate parents and expectant mothers on how to reduce the risk of SIDS. The first place to start is your crib mattress.
How to Choose a Crib Mattress
We understand why crib mattresses aren’t at the top of the baby gear list for many moms. When it comes to our little ones, however, it’s important to remember that they can spend up to 18 hours a day sleeping, so not only do we need to consider their sleep environment but also the other important crib mattress and safety factors. So where do you begin?
1. Make sure it’s breathable
2. Understand the difference between Waterproof vs. Water-Resistant
3. Ensure it’s non-toxic and free of off-gassing chemicals
4. Check to make sure it’s a snug fit
5. Firmness is important
6. Understand that this is the most important investment for your baby
What are the Benefits of a Breathable Crib Mattress?
What does breathability even mean? In short, a breathable crib mattress allows maximum airflow around baby and throughout the mattress. This is important because when a baby breathes, they exhale CO2 (carbon dioxide) and that exhaled CO2 needs a place to go so the baby isn’t inhaling recycled CO2. Putting baby on a breathable crib mattress allows the exhaled CO2 to move away from your baby’s face, allowing him to breathe fresh, oxygenated air. Baby’s can also have a higher body temperature, resulting in them breathing more and exhaling more CO2.
A 2008 medical research study from UC Berkeley and Kaiser Permanente indicated that improved ventilation and air circulation within the nursery—and especially in the immediate crib area—may reduce the occurrence of SIDS by as much as 70%.
We believe the Kaiser study's findings about air circulation impacts two factors as your child sleeps: air quality and body temperature. Oxygen rich air is essential to brain development. A crib mattress that allows air to flow freely will stop heat from building up under and around baby which will eliminate overheating and unnecessary middle of the night wakings.
Do I Need a Waterproof Crib Mattress Pad?
One of the most eye-opening discoveries during our market research is that expectant moms said the two most important factors in purchasing a crib mattress are safety and waterproof.
But how can something be waterproof and breathable at the same time? In order to be 100% waterproof, an impermeable plastic backing is required. We all know it’s dangerous to put your head in a plastic bag because you can’t breathe through it, so how is wrapping a breathable mattress in plastic any different? The truth is, it’s not. It basically negates the breathability of the mattress and, instead, the plastic acts as a reflector for your baby’s exhaled CO2, increasing the risk of them breathing recycled carbon dioxide.
As a mom, I felt confused about all of that, which is why we designed our SafeSleep™ water-resistant crib mattress covers to work in conjunction with our breathable crib mattresses. Our SafeSleep™ nanosphere technology wicks moisture away, which basically means that it pulls the moisture away from the surface without compromising the breathability. Spit up, accidents, sweat are all pulled away from the surface and can be easily wiped away. Why buy a breathable crib mattress and then cover it with a non-breathable waterproof crib mattress cover? Nook’s SafeSleep™ all-in-one crib mattresses protect your baby and your mattress. While a mattress pad or mattress wrap is often an additional cost, all Nook crib mattresses are all-in-one and come crib-ready with your choice of stylish, supremely soft, breathable, organic, water-resistant SafeSleep™ cover that not only guards the mattress but, more importantly, keeps your baby safe.
Bottom line: A breathable crib mattress increases the air circulation around your baby, thus reducing the risk of SIDS and regulating your baby’s body temperature, which makes for a more rested baby (and family). Make sure to protect your baby and your crib mattress without compromising the safety and breathability with a waterproof cover.
Why Does Buying a Non-Toxic Crib Mattress Matter?
The first thing to consider is where the materials are in relation to your sweet baby’s face. If a mattress core is non-toxic, but it’s covered in a waterproof vinyl, polyester or plastic covering, then your baby is still likely breathing in toxic chemicals. Invest in an all-in-one system that ensures the softest, most natural, organic and non-toxic materials are next to your baby’s skin - where it matters most.
We should consider ourselves lucky that there are so many safe options when it comes to creating a safe nursery: VOC-free paints, solid wood cribs, rugs made of natural fibers like cotton or wool and, of course, crib mattresses. But don't be fooled. Just because something claims to be “organic” or “non-toxic,” does not always mean it is. Look at ALL of the materials.
For example, all of our mattresses are GREENGUARD Gold certified safe and non-toxic. Non-toxic does not have to mean organic or all-natural, either. While our Pure Organic mattress is completely organic and non-toxic, we also offer great safe, non-toxic crib mattress options that are both safe and eco-friendly. We’re proud to offer plastic and polymer-free mattresses in our efforts to continue reducing our carbon footprint.
All of our SafeSleep™crib mattress covers are made of organic cotton, eucalyptus and a non-toxic cotton/poly blend. A lot of people might shy away from polyester, but it’s an essential material to ensure durability and there are non-toxic options out there.
Bottom line: Babies spend more than half of the first year of their lives sleeping, likely on their crib mattress. Make sure that’s a healthy space, free of harmful toxins.
Why are Crib Mattresses So Hard?
Many adults may not prefer a firm mattress, however it is essential to the safety, development and well-being of a newborn. Recent studies have shown that a soft crib mattress can increase the risk of SIDS by more than 20-fold. How will I know if the mattress is firm enough? Consumer Reports suggests this test: "Press on the mattress in the center and at the edges. It should snap back readily and should not conform to the shape of your hand.” Some mattresses even offer dual-sided firmness where one side is more firm for infants whereas the other is a little softer for older toddlers. Consult with your pediatrician when it comes time to “flip” the mattress.
Bottom line: We may not want a very firm mattress as adults, but making sure your baby’s mattress is firm will ensure your baby is getting a safe and healthy night sleep.
How Much Should I Invest in a Crib Mattress?
The average cost of a crib mattress and mattress pad can range anywhere from $100 to $600+. When considering how much you are wanting to spend on your baby's crib mattress, it is important to keep the following in mind:
1. How does the cost of your sleep system (mattress and cover) compare to what you are spending on other key pieces for baby (i.e. Crib, Stroller, Car Seat, etc.) when it comes to hours of use?
2. How does investing in your crib mattress affect safe and healthy sleep habits for your baby and your family?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, babies sleep approximately 16-18 hours per day during the first year of their lives. When you factor that into the average cost of a crib mattress with protective mattress pad (approx. $350), you’re investing about $0.80 per day for the first year (at which point you’ve paid off your investment.) Now let's look at a stroller system at $1,000. Your baby may only spend an average of 1-3 hours per day in the stroller the first year (an investment of $3.00 a day). Given those averages, baby will be spending a lot more time sleeping than strolling. As adults, we invest in a good, comfortable mattress without question. Babies need to be safe and comfortable, too. When you invest in a good, quality crib mattress, everyone will be getting better rest! Next, ask yourself:
1. Are you really getting what you are paying for?
Given the fact that a mattress made of quality products will last for multiple years and multiple babies, it’s an investment worth making not only for your wallet but also for your baby’s health. While a lesser mattress may “work” for the time being, you may end up spending more down the road to replace it.
Bottom line: You can spend anywhere from $400-$5,000 on baby gear. Take a look at which investments give you the most bang for your buck based on how much time your baby will be using it and its shelf life.
SIDS is a compounded cause of death. More than 100,000 parents experience child loss in a year and SIDS itself will take 2,500 babies this year, which is beyond saddening. An additional 2,000 infants will pass in their sleep, unattributed to SIDS. There isn’t one thing that causes SIDS, so one thing can't fully prevent it. But that just means you can take steps to reduce the risk starting with creating a safe sleep space for your most precious little one.
Use code SLEEPYHEAD15 for 15% off your Nook purchase! At Nook, safety and quality are never sacrificed! So whether it's a crib mattress, nursing pillow, play mat or toddler pillow you can rest assured that these are safe products for your child.
Helenita Frounfelkner is the Chief Marketing Officer at Nook. When she isn't working she enjoys spending as much time as possible with her 3 kids, dog, bunny and tasting wine with her wine expert husband! Her favorite Nook product is the Niche nursing pillow. She used it while pregnant and nursing, to help prop up her babies when they were starting to sit or when they had the sniffles and even as a laptop pillow!