For a number of reasons crib mattress will be some of the most important and, in some ways, challenging (because there are so many ways to make mistakes, if you don’t do your homework and exercise due diligence) purchases you will ever make. Consider, for example, the long periods of time that your kids will spend in bed (as many as 16 for the little ones), the medical problems that you can avoid simply by buying the right baby mattress, and the dangers that you can protect your children from (like toxic chemicals, a fire, SIDS, etc.) by buying the right types of mattresses.
Although there are many things to consider, if you have been considering buying a coiled spring mattress, some the features that you need to look into are the mattress’ support, durability, and firmness, things best determined, among other ways, by the number of coils in the mattress.
Some Other Features/qualities To Look For In The Best Mattresses
Before going into the type of coils and their quality, perhaps it would be in order to pinpoint other things that you should be considering when selecting the best mattress for your child:
- When possible, go for dual-sided mattresses.
- Make sure the mattress offers the firmness that an infant needs for muscle/bone development.
- Make sure the mattress offers the support/comfort that a toddler needs for peaceful sleep.
- Make sure that the mattress doesn’t sink too much, if it’s for a crib—in order to prevent suffocation, SIDS, etc.
- Make sure that the mattress isn’t prohibitively heavy—i.e., so heavy that you won’t be able to lift it or change the sheets on comfortably.
- Go for organic and environmentally friendly materials, if they are available and affordable.
- Go for mattresses that don’t come with too many strong chemical smells (if any) and let your mattress de-gas appropriately before using it.
- If affordable, buy brands with an established reputation to uphold—they will generally make good on problems.
- Get mattresses that come with a good warranty.
- Avoid mattresses with known toxic things like vinyl, PVC, polyethylene, phthalates, polyurethane, etc.
- Make sure that the mattress comes with good air circulation, anti-heat-retaining capacity.
- If possible, get a mattress that is waterproof or for which you can get a waterproof cover.
- Make sure that you mattress is fireproof or fire-retardant, as long as the chemicals used to achieve such aren’t toxic.
- Go for CertiPUR-US and GREENGUARD certified mattresses.
- If possible look for mattress surfaces that are antibacterial, anti-mold and anti-dust mite.
- Make sure your mattress rates highly on breathability, durability, edge support, firmness, comfort, general support, etc.
- Get mattresses labeled as “easy to clean” and, as an important added bonus, “anti-staining.”
- Make sure that you check out mattress reviews and comments made on online discussion boards.
- When possible, purchase mattresses that are hypoallergenic.
- Make sure that your mattress has a waterproof & machine washable removable cover—if not, at the very least, make sure that the non-removable cover or surface is waterproof and stain-proof.
How Are Coiled Spring Mattresses Superior To Foam Mattresses
Although both types of mattresses may be suitable for your needs, coiled spring mattresses do enjoy some advantages. Coiled mattresses, first of all, generally provide that all-important resistance-providing firmness that infants need so much as their bones and muscles get stronger. In fact, the National Institute of Human Development and Child Health has posited that having a firm mattress may be one of the best weapons against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Other things that coiled spring mattresses excel at include:
- They can last for years, if properly taken care of and not abused—in other words, they generally have excellent durability.
- They generally come with most of the bells and whistles seen in the best foam mattresses, with a few features unique to coiled springs mattresses added in.
- They’re generally tough and sturdy—in other words, they can take a lot of punishment.
- The come in a wide range of prices, some of them suitable even for people on a low budget.
What You Should Know About “coils”
A “coil” is high-density steel curved into special springs that are supposed to evenly distribute weight inside a mattress—hence the name “innerspring.” These coils can be strung together or they can be independent (e.g., Marshall coils), which makes for less movement transference and, therefore, better stability.
The quality of a coil spring mattress is measured in terms of the gauge—the lower the number the wider it is. The lower the number the more rigid and firm it is; a gauge of 14 is considered “high quality” and gauges usually range between 12 and 15. Yet another factor is the number of coils—the higher the count, the more firmness, durability and support the mattress has
How Many Coils Should A Crib Mattress Have?
The verdict is that the more metal (and the higher the quality of the metal) is found in a coiled spring mattress, the better the mattress tends to be in terms of firmness, support, edge support, comfortableness, and durability. Consumer Reports, as a matter of fact, recommends that a good mattress should have between 135 to 150 coils, preferably using a 14.5 gauge, approximately.
One should keep in mind that there is an important proportional balance between the number of coils and the gauge—i.e., changing one number can affect the other or, to be more accurate, the quality of a mattress depends not just on one of these numbers but both. A higher gauge, for example, makes for a springier, softer mattress and a lower gauge for a more firm one; as for the coils, well, in general, the more the merrier.
To put these numbers in perspective, perhaps it is best if a comparison is drawn between mattresses made for adults and those made for kids. A full size adult mattress should have about 300 coils, a Queen sized bed about 400 coils and a King sized bed about 480 coils.
Best Practices, Reminders & Caveats To Keep In Mind
If you’ve made up your mind to buy a coiled spring mattress, then there are a number of things to keep in mind and be aware of—things that can prevent trouble, make things easier and may even extend the life of the mattress:
- Just as there is no such a thing as a perfect foam mattress, there is no such a thing as a perfect coiled spring mattress—your goal should be to find the product with the features you want/need, a good reputation/reviews and with more pros than cons.
- Having a higher price tag doesn’t necessarily make a mattress better than a lower priced one—it’s the features and qualities of the mattress that you should concentrate on, regardless of the price.
- Make sure the mattress you select has a set of border rods going all around the top and the bottom of the mattress. These not only help the mattress keep its shape, add to its durability and keep it from sagging prematurely but they also help improve its edge support tremendously, making it less likely that kids will fall off the bed or into a gap between the mattress and the rails.
- Whereas foam mattresses often weigh less than 10 pounds, coiled spring mattresses can weigh, on average, between 15 and 25 pounds. You should keep this in mind if you have back problems, would prefer to not deal with these heavier mattresses, or simply cringe at the idea of changing sheets or turning over such “monstrosities.”
- Coiled spring mattresses are sometimes used like impromptu trampolines by naughty kids and their older siblings when no adult supervision is at hand—since this can be dangerous for kids and bad for the mattress, by all means take precautions against this possibility.
- Although some coiled springs mattresses are environmentally-friendly, hypoallergenic and lacking in any of the best known toxic chemicals and manufacturing substances, it’s hard (if at all possible) to find “organic” coiled spring mattresses—for the record, you don’t have to buy an organic mattress in order to keep your children safe while they sleep.
- Make sure that the mattress you select fits snugly into your crib or toddler bed—in other words, make sure that the crib/bed and the mattress are standard sized products; if you get an odd sized mattress (although the crib and bed can also be odd-sized, especially if you got it from a country with a different perception of “standard size”).
- You may have to spend more for a mattress if you need the mattress for a specialty or “designer” crib or bed.
- Don’t be fooled by long-term warranties . . . while getting a good warranty is a good thing, seemingly long warranties are usually mostly marketing over-kill gimmicks—what are the chances that you will still have in 25 years the same mattress or, for that matter, that the company will still be in business and, even if they still are, that they will honor such a warranty?
- In general, experts recommend that you don’t buy a “used” crib/bed mattress—whether made from foam or with coiled springs—the reasons they give include:
They have no doubt been subjected to feces, urine, vomit and, therefore, may be carrying many germs or, at possibly, nasty-looking stains—perhaps in unseen places;
They may be harboring bed bugs, dust mites, cockroaches, viruses, mold, bacteria, and other nasty, disease-promoting living organisms.
They may have problems and deficiencies that may not be visible, such as mold growing on the inside from moisture that sank in and couldn’t be dried up appropriately or bed bugs that dug their way deeply into some small crevices.
They may tend to sag too much after more extended use or if a certain weight is placed on them (something you might not detect simply by just pushing on it or on the end not experiencing the most problems).
- Be aware that standard sized crib mattresses in the US and Canada must measure between 27 5/8 inches to 28 5/8 inches in width and between 51 ¾ inches and 51 ¾ inches length-wise. Measure your crib just you’ll know what size you need—the size shouldn’t be a problem unless your crib or bed is an off-size or custom-made product.
- All crib mattresses in the US have to meet some basic safety standards, including not lighting on fire too easily—so, even if the mattress isn’t advertised as being fireproof, it may still have some anti-fire qualities
What should be remembered here is that there really isn’t any magic, absolutely correct number to look for when it comes to how many coils a crib or toddler bed should have. Ideally, you want a mattress that has from 150 to 250 coils but that number needs to be kept in direct correlation to the gauge of the coils (the lower the number the thicker the coils and, therefore, the firmer), the quality of the cushioning material used over the coils, and the overall design of the mattress. For the best mattresses available, look at all these factors, including the reputation of the maker, as well as the reviews you read on the product.