Having a baby is expensive and parents usually want to save money whenever they can when it comes to buying baby gear. A crib mattress is a must-have item for your baby's nursery, but they don't always come cheap. If you're in the market for a secondhand crib mattress or want to reuse your older child's mattress, understanding the safety guidelines helps you determine if it's a safe choice.
Before using a secondhand crib mattress, even if it's yours, check to be sure the product hasn't been recalled. In 2011, the Consumer Product Safety Commission approved a recall of all drop side cribs, so if the mattress accompanies that style of crib, discard the crib, but make sure the mattress meets all safety recommendations if you plan to reuse it in a new crib. It the crib mattress itself has been recalled, get rid of it and buy a new one.
Consumer Reports suggests buying a new crib mattress instead of reusing an old one, if possible -- though they also state that if you have kept a new mattress from your first baby clean, in a dry environment, you can likely use it again. However, a used mattress that appears to be in good shape might be unsanitary or could be harboring mold if it was stored in a damp place, making it an unhealthy choice. Avoid reusing a crib mattress from someone else, as you can't be sure how the mattress was stored or cared for and it could contain bacteria.
Condition of the Mattress
Avoid crib mattresses made with thin vinyl, as they tear, crack and fall apart easily. Regardless of material, check it very carefully before putting it in the crib. Make sure there are no tears, broken springs, stuffing falling out or damaged corners. If the mattress isn't in like-new condition, toss it and get a new one.
The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that a crib mattress should fit snugly into the crib and be the same size as the crib. If you're reusing a mattress, but have a new crib, it is important to make sure it fits properly. A crib mattress that is too small leaves gaps that could trap a baby, resulting in suffocation. At the same time, make sure the mattress is firm, to help prevent the risk of suffocation or SIDS.