The short answer is yes, a bassinet needs a mattress, but not just any mattress.
What might surprise you about this topic is the fact that a mattress for a baby shouldn’t be soft like an adult mattress. We all think babies should be surrounded by soft things like plush toys, pillows and soft clothes. Soft clothes yes, and soft toys maybe but never for sleep. Soft mattresses on the other hand, definitely not.
So what does this mean for your bassinet mattress?
Soft sleeping surfaces are dangerous for babies. A bassinet mattress that is too soft, provides a soft surface that a baby’s face might sink into. If a babyhappens to end up in a vulnerable position, a small baby might suffocate because he is not capable of lifting its head.
What should a bassinet mattress be like
The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) advises that the mattress for an infant’s crib or bassinet should be no more than one inch thick. That might sound uncomfortable to an adult, but it’s crucial for the safety of a baby.
A bassinet mattress should be firm because babies need an unyielding surface to sleep on. If the mattress is too soft, the baby can sink into it without being able to lift himself out again. If a baby rolls over on his stomach on a soft mattress, there are possible dangers, especially if he is not strong enough to roll back the other way.
On the other hand, if the mattress is thin, hard, and breathable the baby will be able to continue breathing even if he rolls over on his stomach, face down.
Most bassinets nowadays are certified by safety authorities and come equipped with safe mattresses. There are however third party manufacturers that make unsafe mattresses so the best bet is to stick with the original equipment manufacturer’s mattress option.
The bassinet mattress should fit snugly inside the baby crib. There should be no space between the mattress and the sides of the bassinet. The surface of the mattress should be absolutely level and flush with the sides of the bassinet.
Gaps between the mattress and the walls of the crib are dangerous because a baby can roll into such a gap and get stuck.
For safety sake, always use the mattress that comes with your bassinet. The mattress that the manufacturer provides with the bassinet is the safest option as it was made to fit the bassinet perfectly.
A mattress made from non-toxic materials creates a safe sleeping space for babies in their first few months. Check the manufacturer’s label to make sure the bassinet you buy doesn’t have a mattress that was made with toxic chemicals.
It’s best to avoid a foam mattress since the manufacturer may have used toxic chemicals in the manufacturing process. Rather go for one of the many organic options available, like a mattress made of compressed cotton or bamboo.
Easy to clean
Little babies are messy beings and your bassinet mattress is bound to get rather grimy at times. To ensure your baby’s health, make sure you buy a bassinet with a mattress that is easy to clean.
A waterproof mattress that can simply be wiped clean is the most practical option.
Your bassinet needs a mattress that is thin, firm and fits snugly. It should preferably be made from natural materials and be easy to clean.
The bassinet mattress shouldn’t be soft and the sleeping area should be clear of soft toys and loose blankets while the baby is sleeping.