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The Genius Behind Modern Baby Mattresses

Remember those crunchy mattresses when you were a kid? So...what changed?

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Join Patty as she shares the biggest innovations in the crib mattress industry!

Back in the “old days”…

Back in the “old days”, or at least when I had my babies, the purchase of the nursery furniture was my number one focus.  Turning my vision in to a reality helped me create what I thought was the perfect sleep environment for my newborn.  Soft lighting, a pastel palette, a beautiful crib and the most comfortable rocking chair would allow me to cuddle my little one in a way that would create nights and days of blissful sleep.

So why in the midst of all my daydreaming did I never think about the comfort of the sleep surface I was going to lay my newborn down on?  The answer is quite simple.  NO ONE thought about it, as there were simply no differentiating choices.  We all threw whatever mattress the uniformed retail clerk suggested as we were bundling up our purchase and walking out of the store with our beautiful nursery furniture.  I look back now and remember all the things that were simply wrong with that mattress.

Hmmm, were mattresses supposed to have that “crunchy sound” every time we applied pressure to them, like the weight of a baby? Why hadn’t the sales clerk reminded me I needed bumper pads to fill in the gaps that existed in each of the corners of my crib, due to the rounded corners of my mattress? After all, something had to keep my baby’s arms, legs, and face from getting lodged down into these spaces.  Oh yea, and how was I going to respond to the challenge of a leaky diaper or bottle soaking that sewn border material as the liquid ran across the mattress?  How would I keep germs and bacteria from festering in the material used for that border seam?  Could that taped edge border seam even be washed? Why was no one thinking about these challenges, let alone the true needs of a baby?

Well eventually someone did!  And just like in the past where an adult mattress model had been shrunk down to a crib size, the adult foam mattress model would now be sized to fit a crib in a much more baby specific needs way.

The Fit

Finally, a crib mattress that was made to fit the 90* squared corners of a crib.  No more gaps to fill with bumper pads, which we now know have been recognized as a safety hazard and the use of them in some states completely banned.  With the implementation of foam and the ability to cut it into any shape needed, the “gap problem” was now solved.  So why had we consumers been forced to live with all those corner gaps prior to this?  It’s because the crib mattress manufacturers were limited in their ability to create the right fit due to the curved border rods that edged all of those innerspring mattresses.  The metal borders were rounded so the mattress wouldn’t have a sharp edge as it encased the springs and therefore wouldn’t break through the mattress cover.  So being brilliant marketers, the innerspring crib industry touted these metal bars as a way to create a firm edge for the mattress, simply ignoring the fact that the mattress didn’t fit properly in the crib.

The Feel

Understanding a noisy, crunchy feeling mattress would never give a baby the comfortable sleep surface and quiet environment we all crave for our babies, the technologically advanced manufacturers started to look outside the industry to utilize newer textiles that were quiet, flexible, and could easily handle all the fluids one might encounter in a crib. (think sticky, wet, leaky diaper or bottle)   The medical industry having dealt with all of those challenges  in both the young and older populations had the answer.

Medical grade fabric became the obvious choice.  It was quiet with no crunchy or resistant feel, it flexed when pressure was applied, allowing the foam core of the mattress to provide the comfort support babies needed, while also being waterproof, hypoallergenic and could have antimicrobial properties added to it.  In addition, the manufacturers ability to wrap this pliable performance fabric over the edges of the mattress allowed for what today is called a dropped side-seam.  No more taped edges that would collect spilled fluids and harbor bacteria.  It was simply genius.

The Function

The obvious need here is for a crib mattress to provide the appropriate type of support for babies as their needs change.  With this idea in mind, the dual sided crib mattress was born.  Innovative manufacturers now had the ability to provide the high density infant firm foam that was required for infant safety, but with the flip of a mattress a more pliable, plush sleep surface could now be offered up to a child.  Why was this so important?  As a newborn’s body continues to grow and age, their muscular structure starts to firm up and look for more comfort. (Ever wonder why toddlers seem to sleep so much better in Mom & Dad’s comfy bed?)  We could now look to these foam mattresses to deliver the appropriate comfort level from newborn through the toddler bed years.  It all made sense and became the standard for dual sided crib mattresses.

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