How to Shop for a Cot Bed Mattress

How to Shop for a Cot Bed Mattress

Posted in Family
read time
5 mins

Welcoming a new member of the family can be a stressful time, especially when it seems there’s so much to buy! Bottles, bedding, onesies - there are so many things to consider and so much choice for each one.

Many parents may feel lost when preparing for a new baby to come, especially when it comes to getting them a good mattress. Honestly, where do you start?

Well, we here at Mattress Online are here to demystify the world of cot mattresses forever.

A baby and toddler laying on a mattress with their arms around each other, surrounded by a heart made of flowers.

What features should a good cot mattress have?

  • A firm feel - Your baby shouldn’t sink into the mattress and should be supported along their whole body. It may be tempting to go for a very soft and comfy model. However, soft mattresses can increase the chances of a baby’s nose or mouth being covered. This can lead to overheating and suffocation, so a good cot mattress will always be fairly firm for this reason.
  • A removable, machine washable cover - Night-time accidents are inevitable in your child’s early years trust us, you will appreciate the ease of cleaning when the time comes!
  • Hypoallergenic materials - To create a safer sleeping environment for your baby and ensure they can breathe freely, it is always worth checking that your cot bed mattress is allergen free.
  • A waterproof panel - or consider investing in a mattress protector. These will ensure that no mess or liquid seeps into the cot mattress’ core (which cannot always be washed). A protector or waterproof panel will allow you to get the best, longest and most hygienic use out of your mattress as your baby grows older.

What cot bed mattress size can I get?

When it comes to cot mattresses, there are two standard sizes you are likely to encounter: a continental cot mattress size and a cot bed mattress.

A continental cot mattress is a little smaller, at 60cm wide and 120cm long. A cot bed mattress measures 70cm wide by 140cm long.

Make sure to measure your cot or cot bed before committing to a purchase, as there can be some small variances between brands and manufacturers. It's very important that the mattress you choose is a good fit for the cot bed you have. Any gaps larger than about a centimetre can lead to babies getting limbs or even their heads trapped!

What type of cot bed mattresses can I buy?

In terms of material, there are three main types of mattress you will encounter.

Foam mattress

  • Firm and supportive material, ideal for growing bodies
  • Very light and easy to move
  • Typically has a lower price point than sprung models

Foam-free mattress

  • Often contain more breathable fillings such as wool, cotton or polyester to keep your baby cool throughout the night
  • Less man-made materials and chemical treatments used during production
  • Typically odour-free

Sprung mattress

  • Springs provide targeted support for your little one
  • Sprung mattresses are often more durable and long-lasting
  • Typically a higher quality, higher-spec product

There are benefits to each type, but choose the one you feel is the best fit for your baby.

There is an ongoing debate on many parenting forums: sprung vs. foam. Which is better for your baby? Again, there is no one clear answer.

Some parents opt for a cheaper foam model for the first few months before switching to a sprung model later on. A good time to do this is when changing from a cot or Moses basket to a larger cot bed. So, if you really can’t decide between a foam or sprung mattress, this is always a handy option!

Can I use a second-hand cot mattress?

To save money while preparing for a new baby, many parents look into the second-hand market for certain items. When it comes to products like cots, highchairs and pushchairs, this can be a good way to save some cash.

A pair of babies laid on a blanket in onesies, drinking from bottles

When it comes to cot mattresses, however, there are some things you should consider:

  • Cleanliness - A larger cot bed mattress may be in use for up to four years. It is also more likely to carry spills, stains and even faecal bacteria than an adult mattress. If you buy a used mattress, find out whether the previous owner used a mattress protector. Even if they did, it's still a good idea to wash both the cover and core before using it.
  • Condition - Inspect the mattress carefully before committing to taking it. It should have a firm, flat, even surface with no dents, creases or tears. If the mattress is misshapen in any way, it is not fit for purpose and should not be used.
  • Trustworthiness - Buying a second-hand mattress online can be especially risky from sites such as eBay or Facebook. How can you know it really is from a smoke- or pet-free home? What is the seller’s personal definition of ‘lightly used’? Buying from a relative or somebody you know well is much safer than getting one from a stranger.

The above information is confirmed by The Lullaby Trust, who mention the link between Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and accepting a second-hand mattress from outside the family home.

For more information on sleeping your baby safely, please visit The Lullaby Trust. The Lullaby Trust is the UK’s number one charity working to help reduce incidents of SIDS and support families who are affected.

An aerial view of a child's room with an attractive wooden cot and white decor.

What next?

We hope this guide has given you a good starting point for your cot mattress shopping journey.

If you're a new or first-time parent, you may like to check out our articles on co-sleeping (and how to co-sleep safely) as well as how to get a good night's sleep when your new baby arrives.

For more information about purchasing your first cot bed mattress, as well as some of our best sellers, head over to our baby mattress advice page.