New Baby New Mattress

This is a précis of the facts -  there are hundreds of pages written on this subject!

How it all started

In the late 1980’s there was a theory that the then recently introduced fire retardant chemicals used in the production of foam, when mixed with the body fluids, warmth and moisture from a baby, caused a toxic gas.This gas was said to affect the baby’s breathing and heart functions.

When this news hit the press it caused chaos in the baby mattress industry and utter confusion and immense worry for parents. The government responded by getting together a team of experts that worked tirelessly on this theory and found “no evidence of harm to infants from the use of fire retardant chemicals in cot mattresses!

So who do you believe?

As a result of the government's Limerick Report and also a belief that perhaps the toxic gas theory might have some credibility, some components in foam mattress production were changed, but the fire retardant requirement in cot mattresses stood and is still law.

UK fire regulations makes us put fire retardant chemicals in baby mattresses. It is not an EU requirement - only U.K baby mattresses have to conform. 

The advice from The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths, now called The Lullaby Trust, recommended a whole host of measures such as “Back to Sleep”, having no bumpers, having good ventilation, avoiding your baby overheating and also the notion of a “New Baby New Mattress” and if you are buying a mattress ensure it has a waterproof wipe clean cover and it is firm, and gives good support.

The “New Baby New Mattress” advice was due to the following dangers:-

1) Using a second hand mattress that was not looked after and you don’t know the history the mattress could be soiled with baby fluids and a fungus allowed to grow.

2) With wear and tear the foam could have lost its support, foam does not like heat weight and damp (which is exactly what a baby is.) this causes the foam to become weak and dip or dent.

3) Good ventilation and baby's sleeping on their backs so they take in more air and if there is any toxic fumes from the mattress, they would not be inhaled by the baby

4) Sleep your baby on a wipe clean waterproof cover that makes a seal between the foam and your baby

The response to this advice was amazing, cot deaths in the UK dropped dramatically.

One small conflict in this advice is :- If you put as baby on a waterproof cover you restrict the airflow to the baby. Also PVC is now considered carcinogenic. Don’t worry technology has moved on as you will see, we can improve on this

“New baby New Mattresss”

Consider a baby mattress where the core is protected by a separate machine washable waterproof wipe clean cover made from PU not PVC. So no body fluids get to interact with the foam’s fire retardant chemicals.

On top of the waterproof protective cover you zip a highly breathable temperature controlling topper like Coolmax© and Maxispace and also have a spare topper so you can keep your mattress clean.

But we still have a support problem to solve:-

The core is made of springs or pocket springs encapsulated in foam. 95% of current quality foam mattresses are made of 24/130 foam (28 CMHR) it passes British standards. This foam cannot be more than 2 cm deep each side. The springs are 6 cm deep and you cannot have a baby mattress deeper than 10 cm according to British standards. So 2 cm foam on the base and 6 cm of springs and 2 cm of foam on top makes up the 10 cm.

On average a good quality mattress with 28CMHR foam will last at most 18 months to 2 years before it dents under normal activity. The 2 cm layer of foam surrenders first. If you are using a cot bed you will most probably have to buy a second mattress.

Consider a mattress made from 30/150 foam or even 50/215 foam, It is still 2 cm deep but this foam will not dip or dent and last 5 - 7 years or more if turned as per instructions and costs only a few pounds more and gives far better support from day one.

Also the world is changing we are all getting more aware of the effects of waste on our planet. more thought going    what we put in landfill. Foam takes 1 million years to biodegrade, Food for thought?

So consider buying a cot mattress that offers:-

1) Protection of the core from body fluids,

2) A way to keep your cot mattress clean and hygienic,

3) Excellent support for many years so your cot mattress will not dip or dent.

When your first baby has finished using the cot mattress providing the mattress has no dents in it. It has been kept clean, no body fluids have got to the core it will probably look like a new mattress then no reason why you should not use it again.

There are 650.000 babies born in the UK. We could greatly reduce the landfill if we did not buy so many disposable cot mattresses. Yes save the landfill by more than 3000 tons a year or if laid end to end almost enough to go from Lands End to John 'O' Groats every year.

When you dispose of your old cot mattress and take it to the tip. Please rip out the inner metal springs unit, only takes 5 minutes and put them in the metal recycling bin.

Natural Mattresses

The same principles apply in terms of using your natural mattress for a second child. However you cannot have a natural waterproof protective cover that is highly breathable. but there are options.

1) Certainly a top quality lambswool and coir mattress or lambswool coir and pocket springs will not dent or dip and should last for 5 - 7 years

2) There is a school of thought that says as body fluids do not react to natural fibres as they do with the fire retardant chemicals in foam so then you do not need waterproof protection to the core. Many disagree! why take the risk, it is better to keep the core clean from bacterial growth. To do this you need a waterproof cover but it will not be 100% natural.

3) You can get a 93 % natural cover with 7 % PU sandwiched in the middle of two layers of brushed cotton (OUTLUX)

4) There is an option to put on a Easychange® set up; a cover with protective base and toppers. "well at least that way you can eliminate a chemical foam base (if you wish) and have protection to the core and a way to keep your mattress clean" Also coir and lambswool will certainly biodegrade a thousand times faster than foam.