Do Baby Crib Mattresses Expire? (And When to Replace It)


Parents that are setting up their nursery for the first time or even those getting things ready for their second baby are bound to wonder about things like whether or not crib mattresses expire. Raising a baby is expensive so it’s great to know when things can be reused and when it’s time to replace them.

Crib mattresses do not normally have an expiration date and you should expect a quality crib mattress to last for at least 3 to 5 years. It’s time to replace it when there is physical damage, sagging, or significant soiling. Many parents choose to replace the mattress with a new baby to avoid potential bacterial, mold, mildew, or fungus contamination.

As a parent of three (with the fourth on the way!) I am always looking to save money by reusing things whenever I can. Ultimately, you must make the choice for yourself by looking at the quality of the current mattress and evaluating its safety. Let’s explore the areas we’ll need to consider!

Do crib mattresses have an expiration date?

Crib mattresses do not have an expiration date under normal circumstances. Some manufacturers may recommend replacing the mattress after a certain amount of time, but replacement is more a matter of safety than anything else.

There are some aspects that should be taken into account before reusing them versus purchasing a new one for your baby. It really needs to be judged by the condition of a certain mattress. 

How long are crib mattresses good for?

A mattress, whether it be a twin, queen, or a crib mattress is typically perfectly fine to use for approximately three to five years. It will depend on the quality of the mattress, for instance, the materials that it is made from, as well as the brand of the mattress. As long as the mattress is clean, firm, and has no physical damage it should be fine to use the mattress for as long as you need it!

Can you reuse a crib mattress?

Yes. 

You can reuse a crib mattress. There are no rules that say you cannot reuse a crib mattress and many parents (this one included!) have done just that over the years without any issues or concerns. You’ll need to make the decision for yourself about whether or not the mattress you have is fit for another few years. Don’t forget that you can always replace the mattress later if you change your mind!

If you are a first-time parent, then you are faced with the decision of purchasing a new mattress or reusing a crib mattress that you buy or receive as a gift. There is a lot of controversy surrounding this question that we’ll cover in more detail below. Essentially, there might be some cause for concern when reusing a crib mattress from someone that isn’t in your family.

When to replace a crib mattress

There are signs that will indicate when you need to purchase a new crib mattress. A few signs that it is time is when there are sagging spots at the top of the mattress. The baby may even seem a bit restless; more than normal. Crib mattresses that need to be replaced can also cause allergies to flare up due to accumulated dust mites or other allergens. 

Do I need to get a new mattress for a new baby?

There is a bit of confusion when this question is brought up. There are many people that absolutely disagree with purchasing a used crib mattress or reusing a crib mattress. There are also many people who are on board with saving money and purchasing a used crib mattress or reusing one. Just as anything else when it comes to parenting, it depends on the opinions of the parents. There is no right or wrong answer, just a few facts to check before using one that is used. 

Personally, we’ve bought new mattresses and also used mattresses given to us from other family members without any issues!

If you are reusing or purchasing a used crib mattress, then here are some things that you may need to keep in mind. Some of these stand for new crib mattresses as well. 

  • Does the used crib mattress have any soft spots where your baby’s weight may cause them to sink into it a bit? 
  • Are there any mysterious stains that could be attributed to another child’s waste? 
  • Do the springs seem to be in good condition? 
  • Is the price lowered enough from the price of a new mattress to make the purchase worth it? Do research online to determine how much you’ll really save.
  • What brand is the mattress? There are lower quality brands that will not provide enough life to the mattress. 
  • How long was the mattress used before being put up for sale? Remember a crib mattress is good for three to five years. Most parents will continue to use the crib mattress up until the child is ready for a twin bed which could be the majority of that time.

If you have a used mattress in mind, say from a close friend, then you are able to ask about these issues. Make sure to ask to see how long the mattress has been used. When purchasing the crib mattress online from a site or in a resale shop, these questions are a bit harder to get answered. You can test the mattress yourself to ensure that it still has good quality and life left. If you are purchasing a used crib mattress and planning on replacing it later due to money situations, just ensure that the top bounces back the way it should. 

Also, many babies end up co-sleeping or bedsharing with their parents for much of their early life. This means that even if the mattress is several years old, it could be very lightly used!

If you decide that you would rather purchase a new crib mattress, there is nothing wrong with that option either. However, when you do purchase the mattress, you will need to do the same checks. Even though you will not have to worry about the life of the mattress due to it being new, you will need to ensure that the mattress is firm. Ensure that there are no issues with the mattress during shipping, and ensure that the measurements are correct for the crib that you have procured. 

Why do babies need a firm mattress?

As set forth in the sleep guidelines by the AAP, firm mattresses should be used inside of a crib. Babies do not have the muscle strength to move their bodies. In order to keep your baby safe during sleeping hours, you need to ensure that the mattress is firm to a baby’s standards. This will ensure that the baby does not suffocate should it toss and turn while sleeping. If the weight of the baby pushes the mattress top-down too much, then the baby is in danger of suffocation and SIDS. 

It is also not safe to place a bumper or stuffed animals inside of the crib due to the same issue. The baby may move while he or she is sleeping and not be able to remove the object obstructing his or her breathing. They also express not to use pillows, blankets, wedges, or even positioners. Different objects of this nature can conform to the face and cause death due to suffocation. 

How do I know if my crib mattress is firm enough?

In order to test the used crib mattress to see if it is firm enough you will need to press on the top of the crib mattress in the middle. You will also need to push on the edges as well. The mattress top should snap back into its original shape quickly.

You need to keep in mind that if it feels good to you, then it is probably too soft for your baby. 

If you are unsure of the pressure by pushing down on your hand, you can follow a simple way of doing this test. Find something that weighs about the same as an infant. Place this object on the mattress. Check to see if the object sinks into the mattress top. If it sinks too much, then the crib mattress is not firm enough and you should move on to the next option. 

What if the crib mattress is sinking in the middle?

If the crib mattress is sinking in the middle, it is time to purchase a different one. In order to make sure that the new mattress or used crib mattress that is purchased is firm enough, press your hand to the top. The mattress should not have much give and should spring back into its original shape immediately. Sinking in the middle means that the top part of the mattress is soft. Having a crib mattress that is soft will put your baby at an increased risk for SIDS or suffocation. 

Are all crib mattresses the same size?

Consumer Products Safety Commission, also known as the CPSC, requires that full-sized baby crib mattresses measure at least 27 ¼ inches wide by 51 ¼ inches long. The maximum thickness is to be six inches. They also express that the mattress should fit inside of the crib firmly with no space in between the edge of the crib and the crib mattress. (SOURCE??)

It should be noted that there are standard sizes that are also considered to be full size. The measurements are 8 inches wide and 52 ⅜ inches long. It is extremely important to measure your crib or check the measurements before purchasing the crib mattress to ensure there are no spaces when putting the crib mattress inside of the crib. If there is a little space, it should be no more than the width of two fingers. If there is more space than that there is a great risk of suffocation of your baby.

Josh

I'm the dad in charge of Natural Baby life. With 10 years of parenting experience across three children, I am constantly learning how to raise children more naturally. I'm passionate about doing whatever it takes to raise a happy and healthy baby! Find out more about me here.

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