Cot Mattress: Foam or Innerspring?

The Cot Mattress is the most important item you will purchase for your baby. Many parents purchase a cot mattress without really considering whether it is the best mattress for their new baby.

They put time into considering the cot and whether it meets their style and quality requirements and then just purchase the cot mattress that comes with it, or the mattress that the shop staff recommend.

It is very important that you spend time considering the cot mattress you purchase. Given that your new baby will spend up to 65% of their first 12 months sleeping, the cot mattress is the most important item you will purchase for your baby.

There is a wide range of cot mattresses available to purchase and it can be difficult to understand the features that really matter. Overall, here are some important things to consider when purchasing a cot mattress:

  • Firmness: if it is too soft, this increases the risk of suffocation. Ensure your mattress meets the voluntary test for firmness, AS/NZS 8811.1:2013
  • Comfort: it shouldn’t be so firm that it is uncomfortable for your baby
  • The correct size. Make sure your mattress suits the recommendations on your cot, and there is no more than 2cm gap between the mattress and the cot on every edge
  • The mattress must be clean and in good condition. Consider carefully if you are planning to buy a second-hand mattress or using a mattress that has been in unsealed storage.
  • Ventilated for breathability, temperature regulation and hygiene.

Most cot mattresses can be grouped into two main categories – innerspring core or foam core.

An innerspring core mattress is typically made from a core of steel coil springs which are then covered in varying layers to provide comfort which may include netting/webbing, felt pad, foam and fabric.

A foam core mattress is typically made from a polyurethane foam core with a cover. Sometimes, manufacturers will use varying grades of foam glued together to make up the core.


So which type is right for my baby?

Given the wide variety of products available, there is no easy answer to this question. When deciding on your cot mattress, it is important to consider the features of each mattress. Traditionally, innerspring mattresses were considered to be better mattresses overall. However, popularity of foam mattresses is increasing, and there are some key reasons why. Read on to find out more. 

Pros of a foam core mattress

  • Ability to achieve a better balance of firmness, comfort and support. Innerspring mattresses are typically quite firm due to the steel spring unit, which may not be the most comfortable for your baby. With a foam core, providing the right foam grades are used, it is possible to achieve a better balance of firmness, comfort and support.
  • Ability to have a baby side and toddler side. Cot mattresses cannot exceed a certain depth in order to meet the requirements of the cot. Most cots require the depth of the mattress to be no more than 12.5cm thick. With an innerspring mattress, in order to keep the depth below 12.5cm, it is difficult to include varying comfort layers on top of the springs. However, with a foam core, by utilizing 2 or more different foam grades, it is possible to achieve one side of the mattress that is more suited to a baby under 2, and one side that is more suited to a toddler between 2 and 4.
  • Able to achieve a thinner mattress, meaning it should suit the requirements of most cots. Some cots require a mattress with a maximum depth of 10cm. It is very difficult to produce an innerspring mattress with a depth of only 10cm and doing so would likely lead to an uncomfortable mattress. It is much easier to achieve with a foam core.
  • Recyclable: innerspring mattresses are difficult to recycle due to the components. They have to be taken apart in order to recycle the steel spring unit and the other components separately. With a foam core mattress, the cover can be recycled for various uses and the foam can be recycled into carpet underlay.
  • A foam core mattress can be as little as 1/3rd of the weight of an innerspring mattress, making it a lot easier for linen changes. It’s inevitable that there will be some linen changes at very inconvenient times – that’s when you’ll be very thankful for a light cot mattress.
  • A foam core will be less bouncy for toddlers jumping on the bed.

Cons of a foam core mattress

  • A low-quality foam mattress is likely to deteriorate more quickly than an innerspring mattress and may not maintain a suitable level of firmness
  • Soft edges – unless your foam mattress has firm edges (usually achieved by using a much firmer foam on the edge), the edges will be quite soft and collapse under the weight of a toddler standing on the edge. An innerspring mattress should maintain firm edges due to the steel rim around the springs.
  • A foam mattress is likely to be less sturdy than an innerspring mattress.
  • If the wrong foam is used, it may be too soft and therefore be unsafe. Also, memory foam or latex on the surface of the mattress is not a recommended sleeping surface for your baby as the baby can sink into the mattress surface.
  • If the foam core is not ventilated, a foam mattress is likely to be less breathable than an innerspring mattress and therefore it will also build up heat while your baby is sleeping.
In summary, we believe that if you are looking for a particularly low-price mattress, it is better to purchase a cheap innerspring mattress than a cheap foam core mattress. However, if you really want the best for your baby, a good quality foam mattress with the following features is better than an innerspring mattress:
  • Meets the firmness standard
  • Has a ventilated core
  • Has reinforced sides
  • Has a baby side and a toddler side
  • Suitable warranty

We also have an article that covers off on some common misconceptions of a foam cot mattress. Click HERE to view

Babyrest has a range of cot mattresses, including innerspring and foam core. You can see the range HERE. We would be more than happy to assist you with this very important purchase and discuss the options in more detail. Please don’t hesitate to CONTACT US.

Now read about the Babyrest DuoCore Bamboo Cot Mattress. An innovative new mattress combining form, function and safety in a single solution, without compromising on comfort.


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