Setting up your nursery can be a costly affair, so having family heirlooms to furnish the room is good news for your budget. But what about that mattress? Do crib mattresses expire?
Crib mattresses don’t have an expiration date, but most of them only last between 3 – 5 years. It’s crucial to replace the mattress at any signs of sagging, damage, or extensive soiling. Replace the crib mattress with each new baby to avoid exposure or contamination of bacteria, mold, or mildew.
- Do crib mattresses really expire?
- Factors that influence how long a crib mattress will last
- Is it OK (and safe) to reuse a crib mattress, such as an old one?
- Should you get a new mattress for your next baby?
- When should you replace a crib mattress?
Do crib mattresses really expire?
Crib mattresses don’t expire but they do lose their firmness after continuous use and then it can start bunching up. This in turn can lead to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) as your baby might struggle to breathe as the weak parts of the mattress bunch close to their face.
Expiration dates of some popular crib mattresses
Many of the more popular crib mattresses don’t reflect expiration dates on the packaging. Still, most manufacturers recommend sticking to the 3 – 5 year rule and regularly inspecting your mattress for noticeable damages. Here are what some top manufacturers recommend for care or replacing their mattresses.
Whether you’re using a Graco crib or not, you can use a Graco Premium Foam Crib Toddler Mattress. This is a firm favorite among both new and experienced parents.
Graco has no expiration date on their crib mattress, but they do recommend following the exact cleaning and maintenance guidelines to keep the mattress in good condition. For this mattress, follow the 3 – 5 year replacement guide.
Dream On Me
With the waterproof cover, the Dream On Me Twilight 5” 80 Coil Inner Spring Mattress is another popular option.
Dream On Me also doesn’t indicate a specific expiration date but it’s recommended that you do routine checks to ensure the mattress remains firm and safe.
Another one of the more popular crib mattress choices is the Sealy Baby Flex Cool 2-Stage Airy Dual Firmness Mattress. While Sealy also doesn’t have a particular expiration date listed, this particular mattress has a 2-stage feature. So, for the first 2 years, your little one sleeps on one side (which is the baby side) after which you flip the mattress over. The alternating side is designed for a toddler’s weight.
The Serta Perfect Start Dual Sided Baby Crib Mattress is another type of 2-stage mattress that has been designed to increase the lifespan of the mattress. One side offers a firm option for your baby to sleep on for the first two years of their life. The other side is a softer option for toddlers. Like Sealy, Serta recommends flipping the mattress after two years. Both sides of the mattress come with a waterproof vinyl cover for easy cleaning.
For a list of other affordable crib mattresses, you might consider an article I wrote recently discussing these options! If you’ve opted for a mini crib, you’ll need a mattress that isn’t standard size. To know which options to consider, read on the great mini crib mattresses for a clearer indication!
How long are crib mattresses good for?
In general, crib mattresses can last anywhere between 3 to 5 years. Depending on the firmness and quality of the mattress, this period can be shorter or even longer. It’s always important to check the particular manufacturer’s recommendations. How you care for your mattress will also affect its lifespan.
Factors that influence how long a crib mattress will last
When you’re investing in a mattress, there are a few factors that will give you an idea of its potential lifespan. You might not want to opt for the cheapest pick on the market, as this will leave you replacing it sooner rather than later!
Type of crib mattresses
Is the crib mattress the correct type and size for the specified cot? If you’ve squeezed an ill-fitting mattress into the crib, it won’t last.
The durability of the cover (material & construction)
Check the quality of the cover and the sponge the mattress is made of. You’ll easily be able to tell if it’s inferior quality. Be sure to check any sewing and stitching to determine if it will come loose. Check the type of foam used. Ideally, you want a premium type of durable foam.
If the mattress has a waterproof cover, it’s an indication that the mattress might not have been exposed to too much liquid from feedings or nighttime accidents. Waterproof mattress covers are generally easier to clean as they can just be wiped off.
If the mattress doesn’t have a waterproof cover, you’ll need to determine the stain resistance of the material used as the cover. Night-time accidents can leave the mattress soaked and stained before you realize it needs to be washed. A stain-resistant material keeps the mattress more hygienic.
How do you keep it clean?
Keeping your mattress clean is one of the top ways to ensure a lasting lifespan. Simply follow these easy steps to keep your crib mattress clean.
- Check the manufacturer’s label for the precise instructions
- Clean accidents and spills as soon as they happen
- If the mattress doesn’t have a waterproof cover, invest in one to help control the leaks that seep through to the mattress
- Vacuum the crib mattress to eliminate dust and dirt and possible dust mites
- Remove any machine washable covers and place those in the machine
- If you’re handwashing the mattress, scrub it down with warm water and a mild detergent
- Rinse the soap from the mattress
- Place the mattress outside to air dry
- Placing the mattress in the sun won’t only dry it but will also reduce the growth of bacteria, mold or mildew.
- Before placing the mattress into the crib, you might want to spray it with some disinfectant spray
- Once the mattress is completely dry place it back in the crib, with clean, dry bedding
- Wherever possible, always dry your mattress and bedding in the sun as it’s a great way to eliminate bacteria
- Consider reading another crib-related article on how many crib sheets to get. Having extra bedding is a good way to ensure the mattress stays clean and dry!
To see just how easy it is to keep your crib mattress clean, watch this short clip!
How do you store it (for the next baby?)
If your crib mattress is still in very good condition when your little one is ready to move onto a toddler bed, you might consider placing the existing mattress into storage. The following steps will make storage easy and safe.
- Double-check the firmness and safety of the mattress
- Wash the mattress and all its bedding and covers in the recommended way
- Dry the mattress and bedding in the sun to eliminate the chances of mold and bacteria
- If you have the original box, use this to store the mattress or use plastic wrap to securely wrap the entire mattress – this will keep dust and bacteria out
- Place the mattress in a cool dry area where it won’t get damaged by heavy items resting on it
- If possible, place the mattress on its side, for it to maintain its firmness while it’s in storage
- Keep the mattress away from direct sunlight, moisture or heat as this will deteriorate the quality of the mattress
- Before using it again, perform all the safety checks I’ve shared, and be sure to give it a good wash and dry
Is it OK (and safe) to reuse a crib mattress, such as an old one?
For some parents, this is a definite no. However, if it’s a crib mattress that you’ve cared for and you stopped using it before the 3-year mark previously, there’s a strong possibility that you can use it again. Or you can let someone else reuse it by selling the mattress.
If your precious little one spent a lot of time jumping on the mattress as they got older and more lively, it might be a good idea to invest in a new one!
Should you get a new mattress for your next baby?
No hard and fast rule says you can’t or shouldn’t reuse your previous crib mattress. When you’re considering re-using a mattress, it’s important to check the quality and cleanliness of the mattress. If you have doubts, opt for a new one!
When should you replace a crib mattress?
Just because the recommendation is that you’ll need to replace your crib mattress around the 3-year mark, it’s also not a hard and fast rule. Generally, there are visible signs that it’s time to replace the mattress. Some of these signs include the following:
Safety and other considerations
Always check the mattress for safety. Is it bunching up? Does it appear flatter in areas where the baby lies the most? Is the material torn, exposing the foam?
Whether you’re opting for a new or used mattress, check the firmness. The mattress should always offer some resistance. A mattress that’s too soft will allow the baby to become enveloped as the soft sides fold up.
It’s important to note the mattress shouldn’t be rock hard but your little one should lie comfortably without any sinking in. When you check the firmness, be sure to observe the baby lying in the crib and take note of whether or not the mattress sinks in or the baby seems uncomfortable.
One of the biggest concerns parents have about using an older or previously used mattress, is the germ and bacteria factor. Using a mattress owned by someone else means you don’t have any idea how often it was cleaned and what could be lurking inside.
If the mattress was in storage at any point, it could have been exposed to mold or mildew which could result in your little one suffering from allergies and asthma. If you notice relevant symptoms, especially around bedtime or naptime, it might be time to replace the mattress.
Check for loose threads from unraveling stitches. If your little one pulls on the threads and happens to ingest them, it could be a choking hazard. Unraveling threads can also expose sponges or foam which might be harmful. If the sponge is fine, you can easily replace the cover with a newer, stain-resistant, and waterproof option.