You asked

What should I look for when buying a cot mattress?

Choosing a cot mattress is an important task for a new parent. Your baby’s cot mattress will determine how comfortably, and safely, he sleeps at night, and you want to have all the facts before you start shopping.

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!

More questions

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There are several types of cot mattress available, and which one you choose will depend on your budget, and your specific requirements.
There are many different types of bedding available and you don't really need much to keep your child comfortable – the choice over which type to use rests on personal preference and convenience for you.
Any push chair you buy in a store, online or second hand, must comply with standard safety regulations.
The terrain you walk on, your transport and storage needs and the comfort of the push chair are all important factors when choosing a push chair.
The three main types of pushchair have different suitability, depending on how where you plan on using them and what kind of transport you use.
There are a few different types of high chair and various accessories you can buy, depending on what your requirements are.
Very often parents worry about their child getting too cold while travelling in a car seat; this can lead to over-compensating for the cold and making the child uncomfortable.
Baby slings are the cheapest, lightest type of baby carrier and are available in a couple of styles.