Airflow around your baby is critical to her developing brain and her well-being. Learn how a firm sleep surface can improve airflow and create a healthier, safer sleep environment.
Most parents don’t give much thought to their baby’s crib mattress. They scour the Web and read hundreds of online reviews to find the best crib – but the mattress that goes in it is an afterthought.
The truth is, though, that the surface your baby sleeps on is critical to his safety and development. While the crib may be beautiful and set the tone of your nursery design, the mattress you choose for your baby will determine both the amount and quality of clean air he breathes while sleeping.
Oxygen and Your Baby’s Development
Oxygen is an element required to sustain human life. Without it, we can’t survive. It’s part of the air we breathe, but it’s also part of the water that nourishes us.
Cells become unhealthy and weak without enough oxygen. The human body loses its natural immunities and becomes susceptible to health problems. Oxygen also destroys harmful bacteria in our bodies, while supporting the beneficial bacteria we need for proper metabolism.
Our brains especially need oxygen to function.
Pilots use fingertip monitors to monitor their blood oxygen levels for this reason. At higher altitudes, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that pilots use supplemental oxygen in order to avoid accidents. Why is this? Because lack of oxygen impairs brain function. Decision-making becomes difficult and reaction time is slower.
An environment with clean, oxygen-rich air is critical for every human being – but especially for your rapidly developing baby.
During your child’s first three years of life, her brain creates around 1,000 trillion nerve connections and triples in weight. This is the most critical period for your child's lifetime of brain development, and will affect behavior, memory, emotions, motor skills, language and learning.
Choosing the right mattress helps ensure that your baby breathes in optimal levels of good, clean oxygen to spur her brain development.
How the Right Mattress Averts the Danger of Rebreathing
Believe it or not, the firmness of a baby’s mattress has more to do with airflow than physical comfort.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a firm mattress to prevent your baby’s airway from being obstructed. What many parents don’t understand, however, is that a baby doesn’t need to have his nose and mouth completely covered to be in danger. Rebreathing exhaled carbon dioxide is also a risk.
When a baby flips onto his belly and is face-down on a soft mattress, the CO2 he exhales has nowhere to go. He rebreathes this exhaled air instead of breathing fresh, oxygenated air.
Rebreathing CO2 is especially hazardous for babies under 4 months old who cannot yet lift their heads. At any age, though, some babies will recognize they are in distress in this situation and cry or cough – but some babies do not have this instinctive reaction. This is why it’s so critical that parents make sure there is enough airflow around their baby’s face to prevent rebreathing.
A firm mattress makes it less likely that a baby’s exhaled, CO2-filled breath will remain near her face and be re-inhaled. So be sure to choose a firm crib mattress for your newborn. It’s the safest place to lay your little one to sleep at night and for naps.
Remember: Soft mattresses, bumpers, blankets, pillows and stuffed toys may look cozy, but they can be dangerous for your baby.
The Most Important Part of Your Baby Sleep Solution
A firm sleep surface with lots of clear airflow is the most important part of your baby’s sleep environment. It ensures that fresh, clean air is available to your baby’s developing brain and that harmful CO2 isn’t getting trapped near his face.
Enjoy picking out beautiful baby furniture and fun accessories for your nursery -- but don't leave your crib mattress as an afterthought!