Which type of mattress you buy doesn’t matter as much as how well the mattress fits the cot (there should be no gaps) and whether it’s firm enough to provide good support. It should also not be damaged, and wear and tear on a cot mattress is usually a sign that it needs replacing. As they are so important to your baby’s health and safety, experts also agree that unless you know everything about a second hand cot mattress, which is unlikely, you should steer clear of second hand options.
Foam mattresses are one of the most popular options, mainly because they are cheap and lightweight. You should opt for a mattress that’s fairly thick – around eight or ten centimetres (3 to 4 inches), and while there are some with PVC covers for easy cleaning, those with ventilation holes are generally safer.
Spring mattresses for babies are much like those for adults: a spring inner, covered with foam. They’re more expensive, and while one side is usually covered with plastic for easy cleaning, that can make your baby warmer when he sleeps.
Natural fibre baby mattresses are made from plant material – usually coconut fibres, coated with latex. They’re easy to clean, hold their shape for longer than other options, and because they’re natural, they’re unlikely to cause or aggravate allergies. They are much more expensive than foam or spring mattresses, and they’re not readily available.
A hypoallergenic cot mattress is the ideal choice for families where allergies and asthma are a risk. They have a detachable foam layer that can be washed, and they’re easy to clean. They are, however much more expensive, and unless your baby is at risk of allergies, you may find it a bit too expensive.
A good idea, whichever mattress you choose to buy, is to buy two. Accidents do happen, and that way, you always have a back up!