How Hard Should Baby Mattress Be

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How Firm is Firm Enough for a Baby Crib Mattress?

How Firm is Firm Enough for a Baby Crib Mattress?

I’ve seen several blogs and forums where people talk and ask questions about how firm a crib mattress should be. One person said “If it feels good to me, it’s okay for my baby.” Is that a good rule of thumb?

In fact, it’s not – unless you like a very firm mattress. Because babies are still growing, their spines and bones need more support than we do.

While there are no precise rules about crib mattress firmness, there are solid enough guidelines to help you choose the right one.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that a baby mattress be firm and flat.

Consumer Reports recommends buying the firmest mattress you can find. In fact, they address the exact comment made by the person on the forum: “Don’t worry that it may feel too firm. If it feels good to you, it’s too soft for your baby,"

To test a crib mattress to determine whether it’s firm enough, Consumer Reports suggests you “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.”

In Naturepedic baby crib mattresses, our organic cotton batting makes the mattress surface comfortable without sacrificing firmness. Babies are pretty cozy on our mattresses and they routinely sleep through the night. Soft, comfortable and firm – just right!

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Mattresses are a major part of our lives, but how hard or soft they are can make a big difference for the quality of sleep you’ll get. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each type.

Pros of a Hard Mattress

1. They facilitate a neutral spine position, keeping your body straighter
2. They reduce the pressure on your circulation system, allowing blood to flow better
3. They prevent your lower back from collapsing, which allows you to inhale more oxygen while you’re sleeping
4. They support the use of props like body pillows and pillows between the knees
5. The human body can adapt to sleeping on a hard mattress and begin finding it comfortable

Cons of a Hard Mattress

1. Changing to a hard mattress (from a soft one) can be uncomfortable for several days
2. Studies have suggested that hard mattresses are not a good option for people with certain lower back problems (arthritis, rheumatism, scoliosis, etc.)
3. It can be harder to notice the differences in firmness between harder mattresses, and some may not be quite firm enough
4. Very few locations ever advertise their mattresses as "hard and solid" instead of "soft and plush", perpetuating the problem of people who are harming their bodies by sleeping on the wrong type of mattress
5. Body weight can eventually create indentations

Pros of a Soft Mattress

1. Soft mattresses can reduce back pain and help aging individuals deal with joint pain and problems
2. Slimmer, lighter people can sleep on a medium-firm mattress and enjoy the plushness without sacrificing spinal support
3. Soft mattresses can be a better option for people who sleep on their side, especially in a fetal position
4. Softness can be added through the use of pillow-top systems, allowing for a firm primary mattress with just a bit of softness on top
5. Research is continuing to work on ways to support the body even when softer mattresses are being used

Cons of a Soft Mattress

1. The softness can push a spine out of alignment and reduce the quality of sleep
2. Soft mattresses can be more expensive than their firmer counterparts
3. Two people may disagree on the amount of softness they want in a bed, making it harder to share
4. Soft mattresses tend to grow softer over time and may cease being appropriate after a few years of use
5. Tend to result in below-average buyer satisfaction

In short? You may want to consider a firmer mattress unless your doctor says otherwise.

Is Your Baby’s Crib Mattress Too Hard? (What to Do)

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Babies, and especially newborns, need a lot of support while they’re sleeping.

Not only that, a firm crib mattress is an absolute must when it comes to safe sleeping and SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) prevention.

But many parents, after a few nights, week, or even months at home with baby, start to wonder: Is my baby’s crib mattress too hard or too firm?

Most likely, your baby’s crib mattress is exactly as firm as it’s supposed to be. What might seem rigid and uncomfortable to us adults is actually perfect for baby’s safety and development. You can switch to a softer mattress as baby gets a little bit older, and in the meantime, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to keep them comfortable while they sleep.

Let’s dive in a little deeper and explore the importance of a firm mattress for babies, when to switch to a softer mattress, and tips to keep baby comfortable if he’s having trouble sleeping in the crib.

How firm or hard should a crib mattress be?

I see this question over and over and over again on big parenting forums and mom discussion boards.

A baby is having trouble sleeping, and after trying every trick in the book to no avail, mom or dad tests out the crib mattress and finds that it’s hard as a rock.

Then they’re left wondering: Is the mattress too hard? Is that why my baby won’t sleep?

Chances are if you bought your crib mattress from a reputable company with all of the right safety certifications and inspections, the mattress is exactly as firm as it should be.

You would be surprised how firm a baby’s bed should really be! They need the support for a couple of important reasons:

  • Their bones are soft and just beginning to develop. Their spines, in particular, need far more support than adults do.
  • A firm mattress gives them a better base to push off of when they begin to wiggle and move around.
  • A mattress with too much give is a huge SIDS or suffocation risk for a baby that’s not able to move on its own very well yet.

So the bedding is SUPPOSED to be firm, or even hard.

Still, here are a couple of general rules of thumb you can use to gauge whether your child’s mattress is firm enough:

  • Press your hand into the sides and center of the mattress. It should have very little give.
  • When you release, it should quickly “snap” back into shape.
  • It definitely should NOT contour to the shape of your hand or body when laying down.

And ultimately, the overall rule is that if you think your baby’s mattress is cozy and comfortable, it’s probably too soft.

BUT… all of that doesn’t really help you if your baby doesn’t like the mattress or is having trouble sleeping. Believe me, I hear you!

Let’s talk about where to go from here.

When can my baby use a softer mattress?

There are a lot of first-hand accounts out there of parents using mattress toppers or pads, quilts, and other soft items to offset the firmness of their baby’s crib.

And from reading discussions online, a lot of the time it works! It seems some babies really do want a softer surface to sleep on.

But be warned: Putting anything in the crib other than a firm mattress and a tightly fitted sheet is a SIDS risk, and most doctors and pediatricians strongly caution against doing this.

The risk of SIDS peaks when baby is around 2-3 months old. So when it comes to newborns and smaller infants, it’s really best to stick with only the mattress, a tight sheet, and a really good swaddle.

According to Baby Center, 90% of SIDS cases occur in babies younger than 6 months — the likelihood of something going wrong during sleep decrease substantially after that.

However, SIDS risk still exists until a baby is 12 months old!

I wouldn’t consider switching to a softer mattress or adding a mattress topper/pad until baby is at least 6 months old and can move around or crawl on his own — and even then, you should definitely talk to your pediatrician first.

(I can’t stress that enough — I’m not a doctor and I don’t claim to be! Talk to yours before you make any major decisions about your baby’s safety.)

If you ARE looking for a good solution for a baby that likes softer bedding, I would definitely check out this Milliard Dual-Sided Crib Mattress on Amazon.

One side is super firm and safe for baby, while the other side is a little bit softer for an older baby or a toddler. Once you get the OK from your pediatrician to try a softer sleeping surface, you won’t have to buy something new — just flip it over!

Other ways to make baby more comfortable

Alright, so all of that still doesn’t really help if your baby isn’t ready for a soft mattress, but doesn’t like his firm one.

Fortunately, while you shouldn’t ADD anything into your crib for safety reasons, there are a few different things you can try to keep baby more comfortable and help him sleep better.

Let him sleep in a bassinet, cradle, or swing

It’s possible your baby just needs a different sleep environment. If so, you can plop him in a bassinet and keep him by your bedside — that’s a safe way to keep an eye on him and let him be close to you without bringing him to bed (which is a major no-no).

Or, try acradle! The gentle rocking motion may help soothe him and put him into a deep snooze.

Swings are a fantastic option for naps or short bursts of sleep, but usually aren’t safe for all-night sleep. (You guessed it, too much time spent upright can be a SIDS risk for baby.)

Try different pajamas and swaddles

A good swaddle can make a world of difference for young babies.

When it comes to newborns, it’s best to keep them tightly swaddled for overnight sleep, but you can experiment with different techniques and products.

One thing you might try is comparing sleep sacks with a little or a lot of room for their legs and seeing which one baby likes better.

These SwaddleMe swaddles on Amazon keep baby balled up tight, with very little wiggle room for legs. They’re as snug and cozy as it gets.

These Halo Sleepsack swaddles, on the other hand, give your baby a little more breathing room in the legs.

Both are great! Try both varieties and see if they help at bedtime.

Alter the sleep environment

When it comes to crib sleeping for newborns or younger babies, there’s really not much you can do to the crib itself safely.

But you can try lots of different things in and around the room to create a better sleeping environment.

Try a little white noiseor other sound machine sounds to soothe baby, or even play lullaby music.

Get the temperature right!Somewhere between 65-72 degrees in baby’s room is the ideal range, but you can try the lower or higher end if you think baby is getting too cool or hot at night.

Make it darker.You might think a room that’s too dark will scare your baby, but really the fear of the dark doesn’t start until later in life. Too much light can trigger alertness, so try making the room extremely dark or only using a very small, dim nightlight.

Related: Should I buy a breathable crib mattress?

There’s really no harm in a breathable mattress as long as it’s firm enough and up to the most recent safety standards, but “breathable” can be very misleading.

It implies that it’s OK to put baby to sleep on their side or stomach, or that you’ll be OK if you don’t follow the general guidelines for safe sleep.

That’s really not true. The only safe way to put a baby to sleep is on his back on a firm crib mattress with a tightly fitted sheet — that’s it!

You should only let baby sleep on his stomach or side if you’re specifically instructed by a doctor for a specific medical reason.

Related: Should I use sleep positioners to keep baby from rolling over?

In most cases, no, you shouldn’t!

Very young babies and newborns are extremely unlikely to roll themselves over on their own, so a positioner is unlikely to help very much. (Babies usually start learning to roll over around 4-months-old).

Plus, it’s just another obstacle in the crib that could become a major suffocation hazard. Most pediatricians and children’s groups strongly advocate against using any extra sleep props in the crib with your baby.

Wrapping Up

Your baby’s mattress might feel too hard to overly firm, but the reality is — it’s supposed to be that way!

There are extremely important safety and development reasons behind those stiff mattresses. And even though they may not be what YOU would want to sleep on, they are perfectly suited for newborns and young babies.

When your child gets a little older and has better motor control (and his SIDS risk starts to go down because of age), you can consider a softer mattress with input from your pediatrician.

And in the meantime, there are tons of things you can try in your baby’s room (or out) to make sleeping a little more comfortable.

Just remember not to put anything extra in the crib with a young baby, even if people online tell you it works! It’s just not worth the risk.

How to Choose a Baby Crib Mattress

Updated: March 29, 2019

This article was co-authored by Laura Marusinec, MD. Dr. Marusinec is a Board Certified Pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, where she is on the Clinical Practice Council. She received her M.D. from the Medical College of Wisconsin School of Medicine in 1995 and completed her residency at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Pediatrics in 1998. She is a member of the American Medical Writers Association and the Society for Pediatric Urgent Care.

There are 18 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

Selecting a baby’s first mattress can seem like an overwhelming task, but all you need to do is follow a few key pointers. Ensure the mattress has a certification seal and fits properly and snugly in the crib. Choose a mattress that is firm, has a thick cover, and is equipped with vent holes. Once you’ve chosen a mattress, simply add a fitted sheet and put the mattress in the crib to create a safe and comfortable resting place for your little one.

Hard Mattress Vs Soft Mattress – Which Is Better

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Poor body alignment and an improper mattress may prevent you from enjoying deep, restorative sleep. Sleep ergonomics can help you improve your sleep quantity and sleep quality. Read on to know more about this.

How well your body is aligned during sleep is, in essence, a strange, yet a very important, question. It is a strange question because common sense dictates that any posture in which you are able to sleep comfortably is a good one for you.

Yet, it is an important question on two counts: the position you are comfortable sleeping in may prevent your body from realigning itself, and misalignment can cause various health issues in the long run.

Besides other things, misalignment can cause or worsen back pain and affect both the quality and quantity of your sleep. Sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality, in turn, can impact your physical and psychological health.

Why do we get comfortable with an improper sleeping posture?

A comfortable sleeping position may not be always an ideal one, but why do we get comfortable with an improper sleeping posture in the first place? The answer lies in the inherent nature of the human body.

The human body, you see, is very adaptive. It automatically adjusts itself to counter any misalignment. If your body is not aligned properly, it will position itself in such a way as to counter any prevailing misalignment.

Comfort, simply put, can be an adaptive response, and may not be necessarily good for your health.

Importance of alignment when we sleep

Here’s one test question for you:do you often experience daytime sleepiness, headache, fatigue, and/or lack of focus after a night’s sleep?

If yes, chances are your body is poorly aligned during sleep.

To be more specific, you may be breathing shallowly during sleep. There is a clear and strong relationship between body alignment and breathing and sleep quality.

Structural imbalance in the body affects breathing, which, in turn, affects sleep quality. When our spine is in its natural position – a position in which the neck (cervical), middle back (thoracic), and lower back (lumbar) are in good alignment – our lungs are able to hold more oxygen. Adequate intake of oxygen during sleep facilitates smooth functioning of the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS), which induces and promotes relaxation.

On the other hand, reduced oxygen intake causes an excess production of cortisol (the stress hormone) and adrenaline, which prevents the body from relaxing. Correct body alignment during sleep also promotes proper blood circulation throughout the body and relieves joint pain, both of which help you get a good night’s sleep.

In whichever position you sleep, it is important that you maintain a ‘spine-neutral’ position (neutral spine position is the same as the spine’s natural position).

The mattress you sleep on has a huge influence on your structural balance. If the mattress is not appropriate, it can create, mask, and/or worsen structural imbalances, which can be detrimental to good sleep. It can also lead to health conditions such as sleep apnea and back pain.

Hard Mattress vs. Soft Mattress

Some say a hard mattress is better than a soft mattress, some say a soft mattress is better, and some say whichever type of mattress you are comfortable with is the right one for you.

Nevertheless, it is now believed that a it’s not only the firmness of the mattress but it’s ability to support the right parts of your body correctly. Proper alignment is critical to prevention of tossing and turning which leads to sleep disruption. We put together aspecial web classthat goes deeper into this…

Advantage of Hard Mattress

The new ergonomics of sleep dictates that when it comes to mattresses, less is usually better. The less cushioning the mattress provides, the more it is likely to support or facilitate a neutral-spine position during sleep.

According to the ergonomics of sleep, it is necessary that bones have some resistance for good sleep. When you lay down on a hard bed with a thin, hard mattress, your bones bears the most, if not all, of the pressure.

This, in turn, frees your muscles and allows your arteries and veins to relax. As a result, the blood circulation in the body improves, helping you sleep better. The other benefit of a hard mattress is that it prevents your lower back from collapsing when you lay on it. This ensures that your airways are not constricted, permitting you to inhale more oxygen. Ample oxygen intake, as we’ve seen already, is crucial for good sleep. Switching to a hard mattress after sleeping for many years on a soft mattress may not be easy.

You may feel a bit uncomfortable during the first few nights. The feeling of discomfort usually dissipates on its own within a few days. That said, people who have health issues like back pain, rheumatism, arthritis, weak capillaries, or scoliosis should not go for a hard mattress.

Technology is slowly evolving and beginning to understand that just the right firmness is required to support the body.

Advantage of a soft mattress

A new study has pointed out that a soft mattress may be beneficial to people with back problems, refuting the age-old belief that people with back issues should sleep only on hard surfaces. Here are the details of the scientific study: In the study, Spanish researchers analyzed the effect of mattresses on 313 participants who had back pain. The participants were randomly divided into two groups.

One group was asked to sleep on a firm mattress that had a softness rating of 2.3 out of 10. The other group was asked to sleep on a medium-firm mattress that had a softness rating of 5.6. The duration of the study was 90 days. The researchers assessed the patients at the start of the study and upon the completion of the trial.

Patients were also asked to assess their condition on a daily basis and to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 the intensity of pain they felt on rising from the bed, the intensity of pain while sleeping, and the degree of discomfort, disability, or pain they experienced during the day on a scale of 1 to 10.

At the end of the study, all participants experienced improvement in their condition. However, the participants who slept on a medium-firm mattress for 90 days experienced better results. The condition of participants who experienced back pain while lying down improved by as much as 80% on a medium-firm mattress, and 70% on a firm mattress.

The degree of discomfort experienced during the day decreased by an impressive 50% for participants who used a medium-firm mattress, and 30% for those who slept on a firm mattress. Overall, the participants who slept on a medium-firm mattress for the duration of the trial were less likely to require any pain-relieving drug treatment.

Again, it’s important to have the “right firmness”.

So what is the right firmness?

Great question! We cover that in our web class…

Disadvantage of a soft mattress

A soft mattress may be disadvantageous for healthy people as it may cause the back to collapse when you lie on it. When the back is collapsed, the lungs are not able to take in as much oxygen, which can prevent you from getting good sleep.

Bottom Line

Proper body alignment during sleep is necessary as it allows you to enjoy a good night’s sleep. Your mattress affects your body alignment which influences the quality of sleep.

The answer is lies not only in the firmness but also material which distributes weight correctly.

Plus there are certain things you can do to sleep more deeply so you can feel energized, refreshed and ready to take on the world!

We dive deep into this and much more…

…in a special web class that will give you powerful tips to sleep better and also help you understand further the 1 Secret To A Better Night’s Sleep.Hint: it’s what you sleep on!😉

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