When to Replace a Baby's Mattress

By Melinda Gaines

Baby mattresses are often handed down to younger children within families or bought used at a discount. Even brand new baby mattresses can quickly wear down or need to be replaced under certain circumstances. To keep your baby or toddler safe and comfortable, it is important that you recognize when to replace the mattress.

Staining and Dirt

Staining is to be expected on a baby mattress and can be the result of spilled milk or juice and even nighttime accidents. Most stains and soils can be removed from a baby mattress by cleaning it with warm or hot, soapy water or steam-cleaning it with a vacuum attachment. However, if you cannot remove the dirt or stain, or if it has soaked through, replace the baby mattress. These types of extensive stains are not only unsanitary for babies and toddlers to sleep on, but they can stain your child's bedding and clothing, too.

Odor

Some odors can be removed from a baby mattress by having it steam-cleaned with a vacuum cleaner attachment, using odor-removing fabric sprays or spot-washing it with a cotton cloth soaked in soapy, warm water. However, if the odors linger, you need to go ahead and replace the baby mattress. Where there are lingering odors, there is bacteria causing the odors. Babies and toddlers that sleep on foul-smelling, bacteria-ridden mattresses are more susceptible to becoming sick and developing skin rashes and conditions such as eczema.

Size

If your baby or toddler is of an above average height, you will likely need to replace the mattress sooner than you normally would. If your child can lie on the mattress with the head and feet hanging over the edge, it is definitely time for a new baby mattress. When there is less than four inches of space between the head or foot of the bed and your child's body, you need to replace the mattress. Not only is sleeping on a mattress that is too small uncomfortable for your small child, it is unsafe.

Firmness

Babies and toddlers need to sleep on a firm mattress. Soft mattresses pose a suffocation risk to small children and make it more likely for babies to die from sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. If you have a memory foam baby mattress, it should last for at least five years, provided there is no extensive staining and it is not retaining odors. Although a memory foam mattress is meant to conform to the shape of the body, imprints shouldn't be left in it permanently. If there are permanent imprints or grooves in your memory foam baby mattress, it should be replaced.

If you have a coil spring baby mattress, check to ensure that none of the springs are poking the surface of the mattress and that the mattress itself hasn't lost its firmness. If an imprint is left on the mattress after your child gets off of it, or if a groove is forming in the area where your child sleeps, the mattress is too soft, no longer supportive and should be replaced.

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