Is it Safe to Reuse a Crib Mattress?

high angle view of a baby boy sleeping in a crib
Learn the risks of buying a used crib mattress. (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

There's no doubt about it: having a baby is expensive. After buying a stroller, crib, clothing, feeding supplies, diapers and other essentials, your wallet can quickly empty out. It's natural to begin looking for ways to save money on all the items you need for baby, and one way is by buying used items. While some used items are good news for your wallet and your new baby, there are some safety concerns to consider; this is especially true when it comes to used crib mattresses.

Sanitary Concerns

When buying a used crib mattress, you cannot be 100 percent sure of the care or abuse it went through while being used previously. An infant can be particularly dirty due to diaper leaks or spilled milk; all of these things can collect on a crib mattress and lead to moisture and mold growth if not cleaned properly. In addition, if the crib mattress was not kept in a cool, dry place, moisture can seep into the mattress, harboring bacteria and fungi growth. If you have a crib mattress that was used for an older child in your home, and you know that it was well cared for and stored properly, it likely poses no risk to your baby.

Improper Fit

While the standard crib mattress is at least 27 1/4 inches by 51 5/8 inches and no more than 6 inches in height, not all cribs are made to these exact specifications and an ill-fitting crib mattress can pose a significant health risk. According to ConsumerReports.org, a proper-fitting crib mattress should not have enough space between the mattress and the sides of the crib to fit two fingers snugly.

Firmness and Condition

A crib mattress should be firm to properly support your baby and reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. A used crib mattress might lose some firmness and could develop dips and bulges due to improper use or storage. Additionally, the condition of the mattress is vital. Do not use a mattress with tears, exposed springs or filling, or one that smells of mildew or dampness.

SIDS Risk

In the November 2002 “British Medical Journal,” a study was published by Scotland researchers that provided a possible link between the use of a pre-owned crib mattress and infant death from SIDS. The study found that an infant was up to three times more likely to die from SIDS when using a secondhand crib mattress. While the study did not find a firm cause-and-effect relationship between the use of an old mattress and SIDS, it did find sufficient evidence to warrant concern when accepting a used mattress from someone else’s home.

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