Types of mattresses
Foam mattresses are generally the lightest option. These are available in a variety of thicknesses, usually between 3 and 6 inches. Look for foam mattresses that are firm, on the heavier side, and resilient when you press your hand on them. Too soft a surface can conform to a baby's shape and create a risk of suffocation and a sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) hazard.
Innerspring mattresses are coils covered with foam, padding, and fabric.
Better-gauge steel and higher-quality cushioning is heavier and more expensive, as well as firmer and more durable.
Organic mattresses are made with all-natural or organic materials, including cotton, wool, coconut fibers, food-grade polymers, plant-based foam, and natural latex. These mattresses can be innerspring, foam, or other – it’s hard to classify a mattress stuffed with coconut-husk fibers.
Organic crib mattresses can be expensive, but some people say the peace of mind is worth the price. They contend that chemicals and industrial compounds used in standard mattresses – flame retardants known as PBDE (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), vinyl, and polyurethane foam, for instance – emit toxic gases, and that the substances used to make mattresses could harm babies. Others say materials like latex can produce an allergic reaction in infants.
As researchers continue to analyze issues of toxicity, advocates for going organic point out that if these chemicals could be harmful, the safest thing to do is to buy a crib mattress that doesn't use them.
“Breathable” mattresses, made of materials that are supposed to allow a baby to breathe freely even if his or her face is pressed up against it, are getting more popular. Experts haven’t yet weighed in on their efficacy.