Are Memory Foam Toppers Safe for Babies?
Your baby’s health and safety while sleeping matters just as much as when your little one is awake. Even more so, considering that infants spend 16 hours of the day sleeping. Now, there are a number of tips for ensuring that your baby sleeps safely, including putting your baby down on their back, keeping objects like blankets out of the cot, and etc. For now, we will only cover selecting safe mattresses for your newborn. Learning about good bedtime practices will greatly minimise the risk of suffocation, SIDS, and other fatal sleep accidents so your child can have a healthy sleep.
What is SIDS?
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS is the term used to describe a baby's death which has no known cause to explain the death after a thorough investigation. Another common term is Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy or SUDS. This is used when investigation after the death shows factors that contributed to the death.
In 1991, Australia introduced the Reducing the Risk of SIDS program which significantly reduced the number of infant deaths. This goes to show that by following simple safe sleep recommendations, you can keep your baby out of harm’s way while they catch some much needed Zzz's.
Safe Mattresses for Babies
Here are some pieces of advice for choosing a secure mattress for you child:
1) Babies' sleep surface should be firm, flat, and clean
Choose a crib mattress that fits perfectly with the cot. There should be no more than 20mm (less than 1 inch) gap between the mattress and the cot sides and ends. This is to ensure that your young one doesn’t get wedged between the gaps. The mattress itself should be firm with a tight fitting sheet. Typically, memory foam mattresses do not fit this criteria as your baby could sink too much and suffocate if they rolled over on their tummy.
However, there are some memory foam mattresses that are specialised for babies. The best way to check is to confirm with the manufacturer that the mattress is compliant with the new AS/NZS Voluntary Standard (AS/NZS 8811.1:2013 Methods of testing infant products – Sleep Surfaces – Test for firmness). For further information about ensuring adequate mattress firmness see here or watch the video here.
2) Baby’s sleep environment should be empty
Stay clear of pillows, quilts, comforters, cot bumpers, doonas, and soft toys. Don’t use padding or underlays like sheepskin, lamb’s wool, soft or loose bedding nor soft mattress toppers (ie. memory foam mattress toppers). It’s possible for infants to suffocate by rolling into these objects or being covered by them. So the safest way is to keep them out.
You should also completely remove the plastic packaging from the mattress and always make sure that your waterproof mattress protector is strong and fits well. Also check for any loose, hanging wires, or strings near the cot. These things can strangle your child.
3) Baby’s cot should meet current Australian safety standards
Cots that meet the standard should be clearly labeled: AS/NZS 2172 for cots and AS/NZS 2195 for portable cots. This ensures that the cot is built with the strict safety standards in mind. You can also look at Product Safety Australia’s guide to keeping babies safe. This is incredibly important as cost that don’t come up to par post many risks, including gaps that infants can get jammed in or sides that are too low that your child could fall over.
Only mattresses and cots that are compliant with national safety standards are good enough for your baby. Whether you decide to use a memory foam mattress or memory foam topper, it should meet all the safety checks before you purchase it. Products that don’t fit into this criteria should be avoided at all costs. As the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.