8 Important Things To Look Out For If Buying A Crib Mattress Second Hand

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It’s difficult to have a baby on a tight budget. Our guide on the safety of used crib mattresses will assist you in deciding whether to purchase a new or used baby mattress.

Are you looking to purchase a crib mattress for your nursery? You might have a friend or a well-meaning family member offer you a crib mattress that they are no longer using. Would you, or should you consider using it with your new baby?

The answer is yes, you should consider using it. You’ll want to make sure it passes all the safety checkpoints before you use it in your nursery, but there is no reason to say no to a crib mattress without asking some reasonable safety questions.

Having a baby gets expensive, and it’s no surprise that parents everywhere are looking to save a few dollars on baby gear wherever they can. It is safe to use (some) baby gear. The main things to look out for in a used mattress are firmness, firm edges, and cleanliness. Overtime older crib mattresses can settle and become uneven and misshapen. You’ll need to be able to lay your new baby down on a completely flat mattress surface that is firm and free of curves. Firm edges ensure that the baby doesn’t get trapped in between the mattress and the crib rails which could be a fatal accident in the night. No parent should have to go through that kind of pain.

Here are some things you should look for when looking to purchase a used crib mattress.

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Is It Safe To Buy A Used Mattress

A new mattress for a new baby is always the best option. Here is a guide on finding the best non-toxic crib mattresses and a guide on how to choose a crib mattress for your baby crib.

The safest approach is to get a new crib mattress for each new baby. A second-hand crib mattress, on the other hand, may be used securely. Check the mattress for firmness and edge support, mildew and stains, recalls, third-hand smoking, bed bugs, and allergies if you’re thinking about buying a used crib mattress. Mattresses with obvious stains or a musty odour should be avoided, and a decent mattress cover should be purchased.

There are a few additional things you can do to make sure your baby’s crib mattress is secure. Continue reading for a detailed guide on how to buy a used crib mattress.

Risk of SIDS

A study published in the November 2002 issue of the “British Medical Journal” found a probable relationship between the usage of a used crib mattress and baby mortality from SIDS. When a newborn sleeps on a used crib mattress, he or she is three times more likely to die from SIDS, according to the research. While the study did not uncover a definitive cause-and-effect link between sleeping on an old mattress and SIDS, it did discover enough evidence to raise concerns about adopting a used mattress from someone else’s household.

Issues You Can Run Into With A Used Crib Mattress

Mold and Fungus

Mold is very dangerous for all humans, but babies are much more negatively affected by mold than adults are.

The problem is that it is very hard to know if mold has infiltrated a mattress unless you can see the inside of the mattress. You could try to inspect a mattress for possible signs of mold without looking into the mattress, but know that you could possibly miss mold this way.

You’re going to want to look for stains. If there is a stain, there is a high chance that liquid got into the mattress. Babies spit up, and have pee accidents on their mattresses often, so look out for any sort of sign of stain.

If you live in a more humid climate, think about getting a brand new crib mattress for your new baby because mold thrives in humid environments and there is a higher chance of the second hand mattress having mold.

You’ll want to smell the mattress for any sort of musty, wet smells. If there is any sign of a bad smell, then there is more likelihood of mold in the mattress.

Fire Retardants & Other Chemicals

Crib mattresses that are older may have been manufactured with harmful fire retardants before these harmful c

Some older crib mattresses may still contain hazardous fire retardants like PBDEs, which have been outlawed in Europe and phased out in the US. As a result, it’s advisable to buy a used crib mattress that’s only a few years old and keep up with changes in hazardous chemical laws.

On the plus side, when furniture is new, it tends to off-gas and produce the most VOC’s. You won’t have to worry as much if you buy a secondhand crib mattress.


Your crib mattress should be flat and firm without any sort of dips and curves in the mattress. small sags and slumps and unevenness on a crib mattress poses a high risk of SIDS.

You should never make your crib mattress softer.

Firmer is usually preferable when it comes to infant crib mattresses. Soft baby mattresses, as well as crib mattresses that droop, slump, or have inconsistent hardness throughout the surface, are a safety issue. If your baby sleeps on a soft or uneven crib mattress, the mattress may conform to his or her face, smothering them.

Mattresses can degrade with time, becoming softer overall. The interior parts of a mattress, such as foam density in a foam mattress and coils in an innerspring mattress, don’t always degrade at the same pace, resulting in unequal firmness throughout the surface. For a baby, this is potentially hazardous.

All of these things can be very dangerous for your baby.

If your mattress is not firm across the entire mattress, then you should not use it.

Firm Edges

Along with a firm flat mattress surface, the edges of the mattress should be firm as well. The mattress needs to have firm edges because the baby can roll over the edge and get stuck between the mattress and the crib if the edge is too soft. The space between the crib mattress and the crib should be very small so that the baby doesn’t get stuck in that space. Edge support is important if you plan on using the same mattress when your baby is in a toddler bed as a firm edge can save your toddler from falling off the bed in the night.

A firm edge is important to prevent babies and toddler from falling off beds. If the mattress you are looking at doesn’t

Edge support, or how firm and well-supported the mattress’s edges are, is one area where a used crib mattress may be inferior to a new mattress. It will feel comfortable to sit on the edge of a mattress with adequate edge support, and you will not feel as though the mattress is sinking or forcing you off.

For a variety of reasons, edge support on a crib mattress is critical.

Soft and flexible crib mattress edges have the potential to produce gaps between the mattress edge and the crib side. Babies can become caught if the distance between the crib and mattress edge is too big (current standards demand for no more than two finger widths), posing a risk of injury.

If you plan on using the same mattress as your child, edge support is also crucial. You’ll want something supportive for when you’re perched on the edge of the mattress during storytime.

Finally, many individuals say that mattresses with adequate edge support make them feel safer and less likely to tumble out of bed. When switching to a toddler bed, excellent edge support will be crucial for your peace of mind and your child’s safety.


Always check the recall list when purchasing used and second-hand items for your baby. In the United States here is the website to follow –  the Consumer Product Safety Commission. If you are in Canada, you’ll want to check here – Healthy Canadians website.

Dust Mites

Dust mites, unlike bed bugs, are not apparent to the human eye. Dust mites, on the other hand, love mattresses and bedding because they consume our shed skin flakes and flourish in warm, wet conditions.

Dust mites can cause allergies, therefore it’s important to keep them under control. If you do decide to purchase a secondhand crib mattress, make sure to clean it well once you bring it home. Sprinkle it with baking soda and vacuum it up (preferably with a HEPA vacuum) after allowing it to rest for 15 or 20 minutes. Wipe the surface of the mattress with a wet cloth soaked in vinegar and lemon.

Unfortunately, the only method to ensure that your crib mattress is dust mite-free is to get a latex mattress, which is dust mite resistant. Alternatively, get a nice (and safe) mattress cover to keep any existing mites out.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are super scary. Bringing it furniture that contains bed bugs can contaminate your entire home.

If you do get bed bugs in your house, you might have to throw away all of your clothing, and all the furniture too. This is a huge financial burden and inconvenient too.

While you can pick up bed bugs sitting on a bus or at the movie theatre, it is less likely to catch them and bring them home this way.

It is definitely worth taking the time to look over the crib mattress properly to ensure you’re not going to be bringing bed bugs into your home.

The good things is, you can see bed bugs. Make sure you look at any vent holes, corners, seams and other smaller spaces they can hide in.

Look for small black dots all over the mattress. These dots would not be the bed bugs themselves but they could be signs of bed bugs.

If you have any suspicion that he mattress has bed bugs, run.


Third-hand smoke is what remains after a cigarette or cigar has been put out. Poisons stick to clothes, hair, and skin, as well as furniture, floors and carpets, walls, and drapes. It resists cleaning and can accumulate over time, even infiltrating your home’s dust (source).

Third-hand smoke is hazardous to all members of your household, but it is especially hazardous to babys. “Infants exposed to thirdhand smoke are more likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and those exposed are at an elevated risk for asthma,” according to Breathe Easy Maine, a government-funded tobacco-awareness website.

If you’re buying a used crib mattress for your baby, be sure it’s from a non-smoking household to minimise third-hand smoke exposure.

Used Crib Mattress Inspection Checklist

When shopping for a used mattress, here is a handy used mattress safety checklist for you to go over to make sure it is safe to bring into your home for your new baby.

  • The mattress shows no signs of sagging
  • There are no rips in the fabric
  • There are no peaks and valleys in the mattress
  • The edges are firm and in good shape
  • The mattress has no musty smell
  • The mattress is 5 years old or newer
  • The mattress is not on a recall list
  • The mattress does not have any stains
  • The mattress does not have signs of bedbugs
  • The mattress has no signs of mold

If you have these boxes checked off, your mattress should be safe to bring home. Here are some additional questions you might want to ask about the mattress for extra precaution.

  • Are you the original owner
  • Do you have pets
  • Do you smoke in the home
  • Where has this mattress been stored
  • Was there a humidifier in the nursery when this mattress was in use
  • Have you been using a waterproof cover on the mattress
  • How old is the mattress

Things You Can Purchase Second Hand For Your New Baby

There are some things that you can purchase used if you are having a baby on a budget.

Anything that you can wipe down really well and disinfect thoroughly should be ok to purchase second hand.

Items such as pacifiers, mattresses, cribs, car seats, bottles, and breast pumps should be purchased brand new.

Used Mattress Safety

When choosing baby items and making your baby registry you should keep in mind where you can save some money by purchasing items second hand.

Check out our baby on a budget checklist to help you find ways to save.

If you do purchase a used crib mattress for your baby, please follow the checklist provided and make proper decisions when making the decision to go through with the sale.

Should You Buy a Second-Hand Crib Mattress?

This is one of those instances where you have to evaluate the dangers vs. the rewards, as with most everything in life and parenting. While a new crib mattress is generally the safest choice for the reasons stated above, most individuals who buy a secondhand baby mattress will likely have no issues.

If you do decide to purchase a used crib mattress for your child, we hope that our checklist will assist you in evaluating any mattress that you are contemplating.

Unfortunately, most people will tell you that you can’t possibly contemplate used crib mattresses, as if it’s a crime against children to do so.

However, this is not a complete picture of the dangers. Yes, there are dangers associated with using used mattresses, but they are often identified and controllable. There are certain used mattresses that are absolutely not fit for usage, just as there are some brand new mattresses that you should avoid. On the other hand, there are times when a second-hand mattress may suffice, particularly if you are on a tight budget, want a mattress in good condition, and know the person who is giving it to you.

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