Every day your newborn baby will sleep for an average of 14 - 16 hours and children aged 2-5 years for an average of 11-13 hours.
The one place where they are left unattended for long periods of time is on a cot mattress, so it's vital that your mattress performs to the standard you require.
Your priorities for a cot mattress are?
Safety, Comfortable, Support, Easy to keep clean, Hygienic, Durable, Waterproof protection, Breathable, Complies To British Standards, Price
Do you have a preference for the type of cot mattress that will suit your needs?
Natural coir and lambswool, Foam free, All Foam, Pocket Springs, Spare Covers, (one for the wash). does it need to last for more than one baby or 4/5 years in a cot bed or maybe occasional use at the grandparents?
Will your choice of mattress the growing concern about our planet’s resources, recycling and biodegradability influence your choice of mattress?
So many types of cot mattress to choose from but how do their benefits match your needs?
By and large you get what you pay for, mainly because the price is dictated by the cost of the components, unless you buy from a department store, where you pay a little extra for the privilege of being able to touch before you buy.
At the lower end, cot mattresses are made specifically to tempt you with a cheap price. The savings are made by lowering the quality of either the fibre, foam, springs, or covers. These cot mattresses work ok for occasional use at the grandparents. Generally these products will be under £50. You will find that they might be fine for 6 -12 months but then they will dip or dent, and offer only average support. The cot mattress covers will not offer full breathability or total waterproof protection and may not machine wash well at 60°c - the temperature required to kill dust mites. You will be hard-pressed to find one that offers a years guarantee let alone five.
At the higher end there will be mattresses made with top quality components, quality pocket springs (encapsulated in 33 or 50 weight foam) or a very high density fibre.
Natural mattresses are made with high density coir and lambswool, some with pocket springs, all with total waterproof protection to the mattress core. They will have breathable machine washable covers or toppers and a spare cover or topper and guaranteed for 5 years. These mattresses will be around £100 - £150.
Safe, comfortable, supportive and durable all go together. All the safety research overwhelmingly says “A cot mattress must be firm, no dips or dents and it must keep this standard throughout the life of the mattress”. The cot mattress will be more comfortable if the initial lie is welcoming, perhaps with a padded cover or top layer of lambswool.
Easy To Keep Clean, Hygienic, Waterproof Protection
All the safety research also says “Total waterproof protection to the mattress core is essential”. It is vital that no body fluids get to the core because of reaction with the foam or creation of bacterial growth. The cover should be easily removable and washable with a possibly a spare cover for the unexpected night-time accident when the urine goes through the sheet. Underneath the cover should be wipe clean waterproof protection.
Complies To British Standards for Cot Mattresses
Currently the British Standards are not too demanding, but moves are afoot to raise these. Some companies will ignore the standard in order to help sell a mattress. One example of a British Standard for a cot mattress is the depth should be 10 cm. You will see many mattresses on sale boasting 13 cm deep, implying that this extra depth is more comfortable. It’s a marketing ploy! -The fibre or foam used is a low quality. A 10 cm deep mattress made with top quality components will last so much longer and give much better support and comfort than 13 cm of cheap basic fibre.
Natural, coir and lambswool and or springs
Many parents are put off foam because of the bad press it had in the late 80’s. As an alternative, quality coir mattress are very firm and they have a layer of lambswool each side. However we prefer we put a double layer of lambswool on one side and that mean you get a choice of a very firm or firm side. Instead of a solid block of coir you can have pocket springs encased in coir and the same lambswool tops.
The covers for a natural mattress are not an easy choice. If you have just cotton to keep your mattress “all natural,” the cotton cover will not be waterproof (we will not sell an all cotton covers because it will not protect the mattress) There are companies that do and in the small print they say “This natural mattress needs a waterproof protector.”
We have a cover called Outlux which is 92% cotton and is waterproof Outlux has a layer in the middle which is PU and gives full waterproof protection. The drawback is the cover is not fully breathable, only a little air from above the PU membrane gets through. If breathability is on your priority list then keep the natural base and look at Coolmax© and Maxispace toppers with a waterproof base protective cover below.
But the Coolmax© and Maxispace is not natural, Decision time' Catch 22!
All Foam, Pocket Springs, basic Springs
All foam is what it says, a block of foam, these can vary enormously in quality depending on the standard of foam, generally this will be a 28 weight foam but to get to a price advantage mattresses are being made with a lower quality (you wont know until it dips and dents after you have bought it)
Foam as a product does not like heat weight and damp (that is what a baby is), a lower grade foam will not give support as your baby gets heavier and more active and the foam will dip and dent and perish.
If you remove 70% of the foam and put in springs the mattress becomes less hot (good for baby) as air moves over the springs. The springs give a nicer feel to the foam. Pocket springs give an even better feel than basic springs as they do on your own bed.
This is key to quality, comfort, safety, and durability :-
As you now know the British Standard for a cot mattress is 10 cm deep made up of:-
The pocket springs are 6 cm deep
2 cm of foam covering one side if the springs and 2 cm the other
2 cm +6 cm + 2 cm = 10 cm
The weight of your baby is pushing down on just a thin layer of 2 cm of foam and 6 cm of springs are pushing back up. Unless the quality of this foam is significant the mattress foam will dip and sink, Virtually every cot manufacturer uses 28 weight foam , we use 33 weight and 50 weight this makes a massive difference to the comfort, support and durability of the mattress.
Spare covers and waterproof protection?
We know we need to protect the core with a wipe clean waterproof protector but what are the choices of covers?
A variety of covers that are water resistant not waterproof but breathable.
A variety of covers that are "plastic type" and waterproof but not breathable.
A combination of two covers where the base cover is waterproof ant the top cover is quilted and breathable
An Easychange variety where the topper zips on to the waterproof protective cover. If the nappy fails and the sheet is so wet the mattress topper underneath gets wet too, just unzip the topper and zip on the spare one.
NB in the unlikely event that there is so much liquid the base protector under the topper gets wet too. Just wipe the waterproof base protector with a product like Milton or a mild Detol solution
We are all feeling the current pressure to do what we can to save our Planet, Will this affect your decision when buying a cot mattress?
If you purchase a mattress that is highly durable (The Excellence, Dependable, or Reassurance) and it has been is turned and rotated periodically, and the toppers or covers washed regularly at 60 °c. it should show little signs of wear and tear after one baby’s use, (depending on the individual activity) You should be able to use it for another baby or pass it on with the cot to be used again.
Conversely you can buy a budget priced mattress that will last a year or so and buy two or three more that end up in landfill. None of these would offer the same comfort, support or hygiene as the superior cot mattress has done for the past 20.000 hours!
More to consider
Foam and fibre takes many hundreds of thousands of years to biodegrade. If you have a mattress with a sprung core it is easy to remove it, and put it in the metal recycle bin, this will make a significant difference to the amount of landfill.
Fibre is made form recycled plastic bottles. If you like fibre then seek out high density fibre not the basic fibre which will not last. Thousands of these cheap fibre mattresses end up in landfill every year.
Springs, these are recyclable.
Lambswool biodegrades in a year.
Polyester covers take 40 years.
Coir is a very good seed starting medium. biodegrades easily
In 2010 we stopped using heavy duty plastic bags to send out our mattress, your mattress now arrives in a recyclable cardboard box.
If you require any further information please phone our Helpline on 01299 823223