With a shopping list that keeps growing longer, you may be looking for ways to save money with your second or third child. One easy way to spend less is to reuse some of the items from an older sibling.
As long they are well-maintained and thoroughly cleaned, you can reuse clothes, linens, bottles (throw out the nipples) and toys.
What about a crib/cot mattress? Is it safe to reuse?
Unlike clothes that can be washed and put in the dryer, you can’t wash a cot mattress. So anything that manages to get inside is most likely to remain there.
Now imagine the kind of mess a baby can create from spitting to milk spills and leaky diapers. When these fluids get trapped in the mattress, they could lead to mould and bacterial growth. Both are major health risks for an infant.
In a 2002 study, researchers at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children studied the link between cot death (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and used crib mattresses. While the results did not establish any solid causes, they showed a slightly higher risk of SIDS for infants who sleep on used cot mattresses.
Should you be concerned?
You definitely should be extra-cautious if you are planning to reuse a cot mattress. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a no-no. There are situations where it’s perfectly okay to reuse a crib mattress rather than buying a new one.
When can I reuse a cot mattress?
- If it has been very well-maintained. Before reusing the mattress, check for any signs of damage or deterioration. There shouldn’t be any tears, holes or exposed springs. The mattress should not sag or feel extremely soft. If the mattress looks and feels like it’s still new, you can reuse it.
- If it was used with a water-proof cover. A water-proof cover reduces the risk of mould and bacteria from trapped fluids and moistness. If the crib mattress had one, it’s much safer for the new infant.
- If the mattress is relatively new. If you’ve had kids in quick succession, then the old crib mattress might still be in good shape. Check its state and decide whether you are comfortable using it with your baby.
When is it dangerous to reuse a cot mattress?
- If it has any sort of deterioration. Holes, sagging, tears – all these are bad. Also check if it is too soft. If a crib mattress has lost its firmness, it increases the risk of cot death.
- If it has a mildew or mouldy smell. That’s a sign that there is moisture trapped inside and there could be mould growing. The mattress is a serious health risk. Recycle or throw it away.
- If it has stains on it. This could indicate bacterial or mould growth inside the mattress.
- If it was used in another home. If you are going to reuse a crib mattress, it’s best if it was used by an older sibling and not by a child in another home. You’ll be better able to judge the safety of the mattress. Do not buy a second hand crib mattress online or from a garage sale.
It’s always best to get rid of badly damaged or mouldy crib mattresses. But if it’s not too bad, you can keep it around for playing when the kids are older (more than a year old). They can use it in their playroom to build forts or as a place to sit.
How to maintain a crib mattress for future reuse
If you’ve decided to buy a new mattress, take good care of it such that you can reuse it in the future with another baby.
First make sure you buy a good quality cot mattress. Don’t be afraid to spend a little more to get a safe, comfortable and durable mattress. If the mattress doesn’t come with its own waterproof cover, buy your own. Also make sure the mattress is the right fit for the crib.
Wash the mattress cover and bed linen regularly to prevent bacterial growth. When the baby moves on from the crib, store the mattress properly in a cool dry place with no dust or moisture exposure. Keep the waterproof cover on.