New Baby-New Mattress- Is it still true today?

Is "NEW BABY NEW MATTRESS" Still Valid Today?

The saying "NEW BABY NEW MATTRESS" gained popularity in the late 80s as a precautionary measure against potential health risks associated with cot mattresses. Back then, concerns arose about bacteria and fungus growth on cot mattresses, as well as the release of toxic gases when body fluids reacted with flame retardant chemicals used in foam manufacturing.

The recommendation originated from a TV program called "THAT'S LIFE," which combined investigative journalism with satire and light entertainment. The show featured incidents of people falling asleep while smoking, resulting in fires that engulfed their homes and belongings.

In response, regulations were introduced to make all foam materials in homes, including those used in baby furniture like Moses cribs and cot mattresses, flame retardant. Subsequently, Mr Richardson and Dr Spock proposed a hypothesis suggesting that body fluids could cause bacteria to react with flame retardant chemicals in foam production, leading to the release of toxic gases. These gases were believed to increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) when inhaled by babies.

The news of this hypothesis spread rapidly, sensationalized by the media, which prioritized dramatic storytelling over accuracy. Understandably, parents became alarmed at the idea of placing their precious infants on foam mattresses that could potentially lead to SIDS.

To address the situation, the government formed a group of experts to investigate the hypothesis. After thorough analysis, they found the claims to be unsubstantiated, which helped restore some confidence in foam mattresses. However, despite the government's comprehensive report, the scare remained ingrained in public consciousness and still carries some credibility among certain professionals today.

Following the scare, several measures were implemented to alleviate concerns and promote safe sleeping practices for babies. These measures included modifying the flame retardant components used in cot mattresses, advocating for babies to sleep on their backs in well-ventilated rooms, avoiding the use of bumpers and keeping the baby's feet at the foot of the bed, maintaining room temperatures between 16°C and 20°C, prohibiting smoking in nurseries or near babies (including e-cigarettes), and using a waterproof washable barrier between the baby and the foam mattress.

The impact of the subsequent "back to sleep" campaign resulting from these measures was remarkable, leading to a significant decrease in SIDS cases and producing heartwarming results.

Today, new concerns have emerged regarding environmental sustainability. Rather than discarding perfectly usable mattresses into landfills, here are some guidelines to consider:

  1. Avoid reusing a cot mattress for a second or third child if you are unsure about its history, maintenance, and cleanliness.

  2. Ensure the mattress has washable covers and a waterproof protector to preserve the core and prevent body fluids from reaching the foam or other components.

  3. Steer clear of mattresses with visible dips or dents, as they may lack proper support.

  4. If you stored the mattress in the attic without sealing it in a plastic bag, it should not be reused unless it is thoroughly washable and has waterproof protection for the core.

You can safely reuse a mattress for another child if:

  1. You are aware of its history and can verify that it was well maintained.

  2. The mattress has a protector, preferably wipe-clean or washable, that is waterproof and prevents body fluids from reaching the core, whether it's made of foam, springs, coir, or lambswool. The waterproof protector can be placed beneath a washable cover and over the base.

  3. The covers have been regularly washed at a temperature of 60°C, effectively eliminating dust mites.

  4. The mattress shows no visible dents or dips and has been well maintained.

  5. The mattress has been stored in a clean condition. All covers, toppers, and protective