Stay Safe With These Used Crib Mattress Safety Guidelines

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Is it safe to use a second hand mattress with your new baby? Maybe. Here are some used crib mattress safety guidelines for you to follow to ensure safe sleep for your newborn.

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.

A second hand crib mattress shouldn’t be completely out of the question. If you look for firmness and edge support and things look good it could be an ok mattress for your new baby.

You’ll want to look over the mattress for stains, smoke smell, allergens, bed bugs and mold as well before settling down with that particular mattress.

If you notice any type of strange stains or smells with the used mattress, please do not use it.

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 chemicals were banned from baby products. If you are looking into a used crib mattress, try to find one that is only a few years old to make sure that it doesn’t have those harmful fire retardants and other chemicals in it.


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. Your baby will require a firm safe sleep surface to sleep on. As mattresses get older, they can get softer on their own. Foam mattresses tend to get quite soft with old age and innerspring coils can become uncoiled unevenly over time as well.

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 have a frim edge, skip it.


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 are invisible to us so it can be difficult to check for them. Dust mites love to eat flakes of skin and they certainly love moist and warm environments. Dust mites are common causes of allergies.

Because you can’t see dust mites, you’ll want to clean off any potential dust mites from your used mattress. To clean a crib mattress properly you’re going to want to put it out in the sun for 24 hours if you can to kill off any bacteria. Then when you bring it inside the house, sprinkle it with baking soda and let that baking soda sit for 2 hours. Vacuum the baking soda up thoughourouly.

When the baking soda is gone from the mattress you’re going to want to spray the mattress with hydrogen peroxide. This helps kill off any additional germs on the mattress.

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.


Second hand and third hand smoke are very bad for your health. Third hand smoke is the kind of smoke that is left over when a cigarette is put out and the smoke sticks to clothing, hair, skin, curtains, walls etc. It can be very difficult to clean off third hand smoke.

Third hand smoke is very dangerous to children, especially babies. Babies who inhale third hand smoke have a higher chance of SIDS. Third hand smoke can also cause asthma in all people.

Make sure the second hand mattress does not come from a smoking family.

Risks With Using A Used Crib Mattress

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.

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(This post contains affiliate links. Our full disclosure policy is really boring, but you can find it here.)


As a mom of 3, and completely overwhelmed by baby products during each pregnancy, I set out to make life easier for parents by researching in great detail all the ins and outs of baby gear. It is my goal to help parents be informed about the products they spend their money on and help them figure out if they even need to purchase certain baby gear. Thanks for stopping by!

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