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Is It Safe to Reuse a Crib Mattress?

by | Sep 26, 2017 | 0 comments

Providing for children these days can get very expensive.  First of all, there are all the products, supplies and services that you have to provide for your child, including clothes, cribs and then beds, strollers, car seats, food, toys, educational material, dental upkeep, medical things, etc.  Things can get so demanding, in fact, that sometimes parents are forced to play the “either or” game—i.e., pay for your teenage child’s new braces or make repairs you’ve been putting off on your car; buy a new refrigerator or buy a new crib instead of using the old one you’ve had for your two previous children; or, as is more applicable here, buy a new crib mattress or accept the one your sister recently offered you.

Maybe your sister is a super-clean, super-responsible parent and maybe you know that none of her kids ever suffered from highly contagious/infectious diseases (which might be one of the biggest objections against used mattresses)—even so, there are legitimate safety concerns that should be considered, if you are deciding whether to let your child sleep in a mattress that has been previously used by other children.

Legitimate Concerns To Keep In Mind

Sanitary Issues

You have no way of knowing what type of treatment said mattress endured while in the hands of another parent, guardian or caretaker.  It’s simply impossible, anyway, to know what types of messes the mattress was put through, whether they involved multiple episodes of diarrhea, vomiting, urination, and defecation—all of which involved not only potentially disease promoting germs but enough wetness to induce the growth of mold, something that may not be readily visible, especially when it occurs deep inside a mattress or underneath a cover.  This, by the way, can even be a problem with supposedly waterproof mattresses.

A simple rip or tear (too small perhaps to be readily visible) is all it takes for enough moisture to seep through and cause problems.  Also, mattresses that were stored in a very humid environment can also develop nasty issues, including bacterial and fungal growths.  Moisture is also highly sought after by bugs, including cockroaches, dust mites, bed bugs, etc.  All these different critters can make their home inside a mattress.  While a new mattress (especially ones that were sitting in large warehouses for long periods of time) can’t possibly be guaranteed to be bug-free or even 100% mold free, used ones are simply more likely to be infested in some way.  Learn the risks of buying a used crib mattress.

Crib Fitting Issues

Although standard sized mattresses make up the preponderance of the mattresses being used out there, there are mattresses that are either custom-made or made according to other than “standard” sizes.  If the used mattress you are considering using isn’t a good fit for the crib you own, then such a mattress may turn out to be more of a pain than a blessing—in fact, it may turn out to be a dangerous safety concern.

A mattress that doesn’t fit well into a crib will leave dangerous gaps between the mattress and the railing. Those “gaps,” meanwhile, can become places where an infant’s hand or arm get caught or, worse yet, where a tiny head can get caught, possibly leading to suffocation.  For the record, there shouldn’t be too much space left open because a mattress was too small for a crib.

Condition & Firmness Issues

For the record, one of the most important features in a crib mattress is having enough firmness (and, therefore, enough resistance) for rapidly developing infants.    Said firmness, furthermore, should be high-quality enough to properly support a baby, not to mention also possibly preventing cases of SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome.  Unfortunately, though, yet another thing that might be wrong with a used crib mattress is the fact that it may have over time lost some (or  significant amounts) of its supportiveness, strength and firmness.

This may not be easily discerned, even if you simply push against the surface of the mattress.  As a general rule, don’t use a mattress that has any rips, tears, major stains, bulges, dips, exposed coil springs, and fillings sticking out in any way; also, avoid a mattress that has a noticeable (or even faint) smell of mildew, mustiness, mold, urine, vomit or feces—as well as a mattress with a blood stain, even if old, dried up and most probably, by now, no longer harboring dangerous microorganisms.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Issues

Unfortunately, research studies have established a connection between instances of SIDS and the use of re-used crib mattresses.  In fact, such studies posit that a child is 3 times more likely to die as a result of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome if made to rest on reused crib mattresses.  This isn’t to say that the used mattress was a direct cause of death but the fact that some of the kids that died from SIDS had been using a used mattress is something that has to raise all kinds of alarms of concern.

Additional Considerations, Best Practices And Caveats To Keep

In Mind

Here are some other thoughts, reminders, recommendations and warnings that may help you make up your own mind (without having to depend on other people’s personal opinions):

–Some people are so financially needy or challenged, that using a secondhand or used crib mattress may be the most practical and most feasible option for them—accordingly, it’s not appropriate to make these people feel guilty or ashamed for availing themselves of this option; a used mattress can both safe and workable, depending on the mattress in question.

–Assuming that a used mattress is full of nasty germs, smells, stains, and mechanical/physical faults is just that, an “assumption”; a used mattress doesn’t have to be a cesspool of germs, totally worn out or ready to be completely disposed of.

–Some used crib mattresses may actually have never been “used”;  consider, for example, a couple that bought a crib mattress but, due to a miscarriage or some other mishap, lost the child that was supposed to use the mattress; that mattress may then have been stored away and, technically, it may be classified as “used,” but, in fact, it isn’t.

–A decision whether to accept or pay for a used crib mattress should be made easier if you know the person that owned the mattress, about the children that used it, and if the mattress is in excellent shape, has no major stains, and is a highly-praised make and model.

–It simply isn’t true that germs that may have once landed on a mattress will live forever; most organisms (e.g., bacteria) need a host to survive in or on for long periods of time and do die off after a while; an exception might be viruses, which can “live” (though they aren’t really alive, being merely strands of DNA or RNA) for a long time.  All these organisms, though, if they may still be lingering on a surface, can be killed simply by using strong anti-bacterial, anti-viral, or anti-fungal cleaners.


Although there are legitimate concerns to keep in mind in deciding whether to reuse a mattress, the fact is that a mattress, like anything else out there, can be evaluated using a number of useful criteria.  If the mattress can pass the test you submit it to, then it’s okay for you to use it, depending on your needs and the unique circumstances that apply to your situation.  For example, does it have any major tears/rips, does it have any unsavory smells, is it relatively clean and fine-looking, is it a well-recognized, high-quality make and model, do you know the person that gave it or sold it to you, were the children that used it previously relatively healthy kids, etc? Reusing a mattress can be perfectly okay—by all means, make up your own mind and just do what you have to do.

Author: Emma Megan

I am a mother of two beautiful girls.I know that when a mother gives birth to a child, she has to be very cautious than a father for the health of that child.Wherever I get the opportunity to write, I write about the wellness of the children because a real mother knows how to keep a child healthy.Lets’s write on the web for whatever is needed for a baby.
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