Bassinet Mattress Safety

By Meg Campbell
A proper mattress is very important for an infant's safe sleeping.

There are many sleep options for today’s newborns, including Moses baskets, bassinets, cradles and cribs. With each option, it’s very important for the health of the infant to consider all safety aspects of the bed, from bedding and blankets to bumpers and mattress quality. Bassinets offer parents the convenience of having baby at bedside in the early weeks of life, as well as mobility a crib can't provide. There are currently a plethora of bassinets in every price range on the market. While price is a consideration, the safety of the mattress is far more important.

Mattress Safety

According to Baby Center’s Medical Advisory Board, a bassinet mattress should fit tightly into the bassinet. If more than two fingers fit between the mattress and the side of the bed, the mattress is too loose and constitutes a hazard. The most important quality for a baby’s mattress to possess is firmness. The mattress shouldn’t be too soft. It shouldn’t be too thick, either, because a thick mattress will raise a sleeping baby closer to the edge of the bassinet, which might be dangerous.

Mattress Dangers

A bassinet mattress that is too loose inside the frame of the bed poses the threat that, should an infant roll to the side, she could become wedged in the space between and possibly suffocate. A soft mattress increases the danger of SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome. According to Dr. James Kemp, assistant professor of pediatrics at St. Louis University School of Medicine, the best way to avoid SIDS is to place a sleeping baby on a firm mattress on her back.

General Bassinet Safety

Outside of a snug-fitting, firm mattress, there are other important safety considerations for bassinet owners. There should be plenty of air flow, or ventilation, “in and around the bassinet,” say the writers at birth.com. If on wheels, the bassinet wheel should be kept in the locked position when not actually being moved--especially if there are other children around. If the bassinet is an older model, it should not have a coat of lead paint on it, nor should it have any wood or wicker splinters. If on a stand, it should sit on the stand securely.

Other Considerations

Foam mattresses are another safe option for bassinets, as long as they are made of high-density foam that is at least 10 centimeters thick. Bassinets come in many sizes and shapes, and it’s possible, especially with a secondhand or heirloom one, that a suitable mattress can’t be found. In such cases, one can be cut from high-density foam in the proper, tight-fitting dimensions. Just measure the depth, length and width (at the widest point) of the bassinet, being sure to take into account the shape of the corners.

Length of Use

According to birth.com, the usability of a bassinet is short-lived. Once a baby can roll over or even pull himself up, the bassinet has become unsafe, as it’s small and its sides have insufficient height relative to a baby crib. This could mean a bassinet must be exchanged for a crib sometime between a baby’s fourth and sixth month of life--or earlier, depending on his rate of development. If the bassinet is someday used for another baby, a new mattress should be purchased.

About the Author

Based just outside Chicago, Meg Campbell has worked in the fitness industry since 1997. She’s been writing health-related articles since 2010, focusing primarily on diet and nutrition. Campbell divides her time between her hometown and Buenos Aires, Argentina.