We have tried to answer all questions fairly, honestly and without prejudice.
Q: Do I have to worry about chemicals in mattresses?
A: Let's start with the biggest question first. Almost 25 years ago there was a scare that chemicals used in the production of foam mattresses and fire retardency were a cause of cot deaths. The whole cot mattress industry was thrown into utter chaos. The TV and press media fueled these fears with some outrageous and irresponsible headlines. The Cook report encouraged all mums to wrap their mattresses in black PVC dustbin bags! (PVC is now not recommended for babies and it is widely thought it is carcinogenic)
As you can imagine, there were thousands and thousands of extremely worried and confused parents in the UK. The UK government had no choice but to set up its team of eminent and highly qualified scientists to completely discredit this toxic gas theory and restore some calm. (Limerick report)
However, as a precaution or because perhaps there was some question mark over the foam, all the so called added chemical 'nasties' were then removed from foam cot mattress production so as to ensure piece of mind.
Furthermore, if there was a risk, parents were told to ensure that they:
1) Sleep babies on their backs.
2) Have well ventilated rooms with air movement.
3) Ban smoking in the house where there were new babies and toddlers.
4) Ensure your baby cannot overheat - most quilts and duvets have been reduced in tog rating.
Since most parents have been doing these most important safety routines, cot deaths have been reduced
There are some scientists that still believe in the toxic gas theory even though they now admit the risk is clearly reduced by the removal of chemical nasties in mattress production and by following the guidelines above... but somewhere the debate continues. This along with a more environmentally aware public has given rise to a growth in the sales of natural mattresses using recyclable materials and also man made mattresses where the foam is sealed but there is an air layer for the baby to sleep on.
All parties (including The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths - FSIDS) agree that it is absolutely vital that points 1-4 above are rigorously carried out.
We would say if you want to be extra safe (and avoid any harmful bacterial growth and dust mites) then in addition to the key points above you can do the following.
a) Buy a mattress with a where the core is protected from body fluids either a waterproof slider or a waterproof cover (not PVC) Ensure the slider or cover is washable at 60°C or more,or if it is PU then it is wipeable
b) Ensure that the cover on the mattress is breathable, removable and washable at 60°C and wash regularly or after urine or vomit spillage.
If you do feel there is some merit in the toxic gas theory and you wish to buy a mattress that will ensure that your baby has plenty of ventilation and no body fluids will reach the core and you can keep it scrupulously clean then take a look at our safeguard Mattress we specifically designed this with you in mind. follow this link http://www.cotmattress.com/products_safeguard.php
Q: What does CMHR 28 foam mean, I see this in a lot of mattresses adverts?
A: This is short for Combustion Modified High Resilient foam. CMHR is the standard of foam to be used in a cot mattress and the number is the weight per kilo. The minimum that should be used is CMHR 25, some companies use less to cut the price but it will sink and flatten. Companies who make quality cot mattresses will use CMHR 28, Some companies who make the very best mattresses will invest in CMHR 35 and even CHMR 50 to afford extra support and durability.
When you buy a Mattress which has a foam component and you want it to comply to FSIDS then it is marked so that it complies with these three requirements conforms to BS7177 and BS1877 and is marked "No added Phosphorous or Antimony as recommended by FSIDS" (The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths - FSIDS) Yes most of all our mattresses comply to this, We do have two mattresses that do not because we need to offer choice and some customers prefer the Continental foam ie without the use of melamine used as a flame retardent
Q: How tight a fit does the mattress have to be?
A: Mattress sizes are all important to your baby's safety in the cot. If the mattress is much too small there is a real danger of your baby's head getting trapped between the mattress and the sides of the cot, or if it has a smaller gap, then perhaps a foot or hand can get trapped.
If your mattress is too big, it either won't fit or you won't be able to operate the dropside (if your cot has one) and you may not be able to tuck bedding in the sides without making an uncomfortable bulge in the in mattress.
British safety standards recommend that the mattress should not leave more than a 4cm gap between the mattress edge and the side of the cot.
Q: Do I need to buy an expensive mattress?
A: Like most things, price has a bearing on durability, comfort etc. In general, 3" (7cm) thick mattresses are best suited to occasional use or short term duration. 7cm foam ,mattresses are made to a price generally given free with cots and cot beds and the foam used is normally the very basic.
For everyday and long periods of use you need 10cm thickness and for best durability look for CMHR 35 foam or sprung mattresses. The 7cm rule does not apply to coir and natural mattress. These mattresses tend to be a centimetre or so thinner but they are more resilient. There are some excellent products now, pocket springs make a considerable difference to comfort and there is a new breathable fabric called Futura. Natural mattresses too now have breathable organic covers to protect them.
Q: Does a mattress have to exactly fit my cot?
A: It is vital that you choose the right size mattress. If you need to measure your cot for a mattress, see our pages on how to do this.
Q: Why do some foam cot mattresses dent more than others?
A: Foam as a product does not like heat, wet and damp - that is exactly what a baby is! Some babies are more hotter, wetter and heavier than others. The lighter weight foam you get (cheapest), the more it will be susceptible to dipping. Obviously the foam will indent when your baby or toddler lies on it, but it will come back, and turning and rotating the mattress helps it to recover.
Q: Can I buy memory foam for my baby?
A: To be honest, we as a company would not risk it ( we have made samples and it has a soft feel) but - unless it was proven beyond all doubt that it was safe and beneficial to use. Currently there are questions about toxicity, support, carbon dioxide pooling and breathability that remain unanswered.
Q: Can I have any mattress in a crib or pram?
A:Tiny babies are not heavy, and they are not in a crib or pram for very long, therefore most crib and pram mattresses are made of basic foam and some have PVC coverings (we do not use PVC in our products). However what ever the foam the mattress has to be supportive. cheap thin foam will not do the job. 5 cm deep foam 35 kilo weight is just perfect. Natural crib mattresses are very supportive because coir is firm and the wool layer gives their softness. We have recently gone over the top with a sensational pocket sprung crib mattress, it is the ultimate in luxury and support and has a Futura cover. Al our covers can be washed at 60°c.
Q: Is a Coir Fibre mattress good for my child?
A: Coir Fibre is becoming increasingly more popular as it is a natural product, The standards have improved and it is more durable than it used to be,there is a good feel to it. Good quality coir is very resilient and it is normally made with either latex, or wool to give it a more comfy wumfy feel. It is of course biodegradable.
Q: I need a mattress only for occasional use, which should I choose?
A: If you need a cot mattress for just occasional use, perhaps for when the family visit, then you could get away with just a 7cm (3") thick one. Sometimes when you purchase a cot and get a free mattress, the mattress supplied with your cot is generally a 7cm thick mattress to hit a price point
Q: Which mattress should I choose for a cot-bed?
A: If you are going to use a cot mattress for more than two years it is wise to get a more substantial mattress - one that is sprung or better still pocket sprung or with a better quality foam such as CMHR 35. As your child gets heavier and more active, the cot-bed mattress needs to be able to cope with the extra weight and stress. There are now pocket sprung mattresses available with some of the top manufacturers combining thess with CMHR 50 foam if you find this combination (it will be expensive) it will ensure absolute best support from baby to toddler.
Q: Which cot mattresses are anti-allergenic?
A: Most products used in mattress production are anti-allergenic, but they only keep the property if they can be kept clean. Choose a mattress with a cover that can be washed at 60°C, like SafeTex or SafeTex Plus that will offer maximum protection against dust mites. Natural cot mattresses are naturally Anti- allergenic, and there is a new cot sheet made of Bamboo (a fabric of the future) that will not allow dust mites or bacteria to live in it and has the most luxurious gorgeous silky feel to it.
Q: Should I buy a second-hand mattress or use my mattress for my second or third child?
A: If you know the history of the mattress and are sure that it has been kept clean, stored well, wrapped in dry conditions, with no possibility of mould or bacteria growth on the inside of the mattress (either from urine on foam or damp in poor storage conditions), has not sunk due to usage and you are able to wash the cover at 60°C, then you won't be passing the bacteria of one child on to the other and there is no problem in using the mattress for a second child.
However, if you have purchased a second-hand cot or you are in any doubt about the history of the mattress, then play safe and buy new.
Finally, this was a great question sent in by a great grandmother who bought a cot mattress from us...
Q: In my day we used the same mattress for three children in both the cot and pram. In the pram the babies were outside, with snow on the ground, tucked up warm in the lovely fresh air. They all grew up to be fit and healthy. How did they survive without a modern day mattress?
A: All we can say is: "well, yes, you are right - we have just moved on a bit."