Memory foam is NOT safe for babies. A crib mattress should be firm enough not to sink and cause suffocation. A memory foam crib mattress is too soft and will allow a baby’s head to sink.
On top of that, memory foam mattresses are warm to sleep on. Babies should sleep on a cool sleep surface because they can’t regulate their body temperatures like adults.
Furthermore, you should know a couple more things when it comes to memory foam mattresses.
Some of the things you might be wondering are if memory foam mattresses are toxic for babies, good for pregnant mommies, and what type of mattress will be best for your little one.
We cover all these questions down below, so take a look before buying one for your baby!
What is Memory Foam?
Memory foam is a very solid and dense material that has elastic properties.
When you apply weight to it, it sinks and takes on the shape of the object on top of it. With its elastic properties, it goes back to its original shape a few seconds after.
Memory foam was invented and first used by NASA to provide safety and comfort for astronauts during launch. People liked it so much that it was eventually used for other purposes like mattresses, cushions, and pillows!
Memory foam is also great for those who want a warmer sleep. Memory foam retains body heat better than standard foam, making it a great option for those who get cold easily.
Memory foam is made up of a polymer called polyurethane foam.
But more on this in the next section.
Is Memory Foam Good for the Health?
Since a memory foam mattress is made of polyurethane foam, there are a couple of things that parents should know more about for the safety of their children.
Toxic Substances in Memory Foam
Polyurethane foam is a petroleum-based material that’s added with a lot of chemicals during production and manufacturing.
It’s also a highly-flammable material, which is why flame retardants are commonly added to it to pass anti-flammability standards and regulations.
Sure, a fire-resistant memory foam crib mattress is great and provides added security if a fire breaks out.
However, flame retardants are highly toxic and not suitable for babies, especially if exposed to high amounts!
Flame retardant chemicals have been linked to developmental problems, endocrine disruption, and neurological issues that can also appear later on in the life of your child!
Other than flame retardants, another toxic chemical that can be found in memory foam is formaldehyde.
Formaldehyde is a type of volatile organic compound (VOC) commonly found in glue, paint, and polyurethane foam. You can also usually find this chemical in composite wood like Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) and plywood.
It’s not enough to own a non-toxic crib mattress for your baby; you should also ensure you have a non-toxic baby crib to go along with it. If you own a wooden crib, double-check to see if it’s made of solid wood or composite wood.
VOCs like formaldehyde have been linked to skin irritation, eye irritation, and throat irritation if exposed to high amounts. These substances have been linked to cancer as well!
Are Memory Foam Mattresses Safe for Adults?
Taking all of these into account, you might be wondering, “Is memory foam safe for adults?”
A memory foam crib mattress is unhealthy for babies because they still have sensitive and developing bodies.
A small amount of flame retardant or formaldehyde exposure from memory foam can be safe for adults, but it could be toxic for a baby.
You can still choose to get an adult memory foam mattress for your own if that’s what you prefer. What’s important is that your baby’s crib mattress is not made of memory foam.
Is Memory Foam Good for Pregnancy?
For the pregnant mommies reading this, going for a memory foam mattress for your own benefit won’t be a bad idea.
Memory foam is known to be exceptionally soft, comfortable, and perfect for those who need to have the best sleep possible, something that all pregnant moms should have.
Unlike infants, all parents can safely lie on a memory foam mattress without worrying about any suffocation risk.
Since an adult has fully developed body systems, they don’t have to worry about high toxic chemical exposure ruining their health due to memory foam.
As long as you don’t allow your baby to lie down with you on your memory foam mattress, purchasing memory foam products for yourself won’t be a problem.
What Type of Mattress Is Best for Newborns?
Now that you know why a memory foam crib mattress is unsafe for infants, it’s time to know more about the crib mattress you should purchase for your baby.
The best type of mattress for safe infant sleep are firm crib mattresses that aren’t that thick. A firm mattress is optimal for infants because it won’t pose a suffocation risk to your baby.
Additionally, it would be best to get a firm mattress made of organic or non-toxic materials.
Some of these materials are organic cotton, organic raw latex, organic wool, coconut coir, and plant-based/soy foam.
Organic Cotton, Latex, Wool, and Coconut Coir
These four material types are the best of the best when it comes to getting the safest and healthiest crib mattresses for your baby.
Being organic, these materials have no added chemicals that can be harmful to infants. Some manufacturers even use a combination of these materials and are also two-sided.
One side could have latex or coconut coir, which is firmer and more suitable for infants, while the other side is made of organic cotton or wool, which is softer and more comfortable for older kids.
You can check out our article on the most popular organic baby crib mattresses for good options.
An alternative to organic materials is to use plant-based crib mattresses instead. However, we don’t recommend buying these mattresses if you have the budget to buy an organic one anyway.
Plant-based crib mattresses have some materials sourced from plants, making them seem environment-friendly and safe for infants.
Many people don’t know that most of the time, the material of plant-based crib mattresses is only up to 20% plant-based. The other 80% are made from petroleum-based foam.
If you somehow end up with these products, we recommend using organic mattress toppers and sheets to cover it up. That way, your baby won’t come in direct contact with it and reduce exposure to harmful substances.
Still, going for these kinds of mattresses for the budget is still better than buying polyurethane foam crib mattresses for your baby.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
With the suffocation risks that come from using memory foam, infants exposed to risky situations like lying down on memory foam mattresses are more likely to experience SIDS.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexpected death that can happen to infants under 12 months old.
It’s more likely to happen to infants younger than 6 months and infants born prematurely or have low birth weight. It’s also slightly more common in male infants.
Overall, the chances of this happening to infants is very low. However, it’s still a concerning complication that all parents should try to avoid.
Thankfully, there are some practices you can do to reduce the chances of SIDS risk.
Tobacco exposure has been linked to SIDS, so it would be best for parents to avoid smoking altogether. This includes during pregnancy and even when a parent is not around the infant.
Traces of tobacco can still linger in a person’s breath after smoking, so getting close to your baby post-smoking can still contribute to health risks for the infant.
Another thing parents should do is to ensure that their baby will always sleep on their back. Newborns can suffocate when their face is near any object while sleeping. Being on their back is the safest way to sleep for them.
Additionally, you should ensure that no other objects are inside the sleeping space of your infant. This includes blankets, pillows, toys, and other baby products.
Memory foam mattresses can bring a lot of benefits for comfortable sleep. The feedback regarding its effectiveness is more positive than not.
It’s not surprising for parents to question if memory foam is hazardous for their baby.
With the information provided in this article, you should know now that memory foam is not safe for infants because it doesn’t provide the right support for their proper sleep.
On another note, you should opt for safer sleeping surfaces that are more suitable for babies.
Once you identify your budget and preferences, you can start your search for the best home crib mattress for your baby!
FINAL TIP: If you’re looking to know more about all kinds of baby stuff, you can check out our List of Baby Furniture to help you out.
August 22, 2022 – minor content edits
December 23, 2021 – updated article title
August 5, 2021 – added 1 new article link
July 23, 2021 – reviewed and updated article links, updated article title