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CAN YOU PUT A CRIB MATTRESS ON THE FLOOR

As a parent, one of the most important things you can do for your baby is to ensure s/he gets safe, comfortable, and restorative sleep. This includes making sure they have the right sleeping environment, which includes choosing the right type of crib, mattress, and bedding, and providing a safe environment to prevent potential accidents, such as strangulation.

Are you considering placing your crib mattress on the floor, and wondering if it is a safe option for your baby? In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of placing a crib mattress on the floor and provide safety guidelines to help you make an informed decision.

Table of Contents

What Is a Crib Mattress?

Before we dive into the convenience and safety considerations of placing a crib mattress on the floor, let’s define what a crib mattress is. A crib mattress is a mattress designed specifically for the needs of a newborn and/or toddler. It fits snugly into a baby’s crib and can either be rectangular or oval, depending on the crib designed you have chosen for your baby.

A crib mattress is typically made from firm materials to provide support for the baby’s developing bones and to reduce the risk of suffocation. While most crib mattresses are made of foam construction, you will find select hybrid crib mattress. While it is difficult to give true dimensions to a crib mattress, due to the various crib bed designs and measurement, a crib mattress is generally about 27 1/4″W x 51 7/8″L. It is important for your crib mattress to fit snugly inside its frame, in order to avoid a child getting stuck between mattress and bed frame.

The Importance of Safe Sleep for Infants

Safe sleep is critical for infants, as it helps reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related accidents. Unfortunately today, SIDS is the leading cause of injury death in infancy. And while some cases are not preventable, other may be. Starting with a safe sleeping environment is instrumental in reducing sleep-related incidents.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has 3 recommendations when it comes to creating a safe sleeping environment for babies:

1- Infants should be laid down on their back in their own crib. It is recommended that infants do not share a bed with a parent or sibling, to avoid suffocation from a parent rolling over, adult sheets covering the baby’s face and body, or rolling over and falling from bed.

2- Babies should be placed inside a crib, bassinet, or pack ‘n play, fitted with a firm mattress and a tight fitted sheet on top of it. Sleeping anywhere else – couch, armchair, parents’ bed, swing, car seat, etc. – can lead to dangerous sleeping positions an infant cannot physically move out of.

3- Keep the sleeping space free of loose items, such as blankets, stuffed animals, pillows, bumpers, etc. Best is to wrap the baby in an approved infant sleep sack (aka. wearable blanket), to ensure s/he remains warm at night, without the risk of his/her head getting covered or anything getting stuck or trapped on top of the baby.

In summary, the AAP recommends that infants sleep on their backs on a firm, flat surface free of soft objects, loose bedding, or other potential hazards, alone and inside their own crib.

Pros of Placing a Crib Mattress on the Floor

We are looking at whether or not it is safe to put a crib mattress on the floor. While, based on the AAP recommendations, an infant and toddler should be laid to sleep inside a crib, we do understand that placing a kid’s mattress on the floor, or using a Montessori floor bed instead of a toddler bed, may have some advantages. It is however only recommended as the child ages from their crib, and not before age 2 to 3:

Convenience

It can be easier for parents to tend to their child’s needs if the mattress is at floor level. A middle-of-the-night breastfeed might be easier done in baby’s room, with mom laying next her child and leaving his/her bed at the end of the feed. Tending to the baby with a hug, or just presence, if easier done at floor level than having to lift the child in and out of bed, making bonding easier at times when the child needs it most.

Affordability

If you don’t want to purchase a crib or a bassinet, placing a crib mattress on the floor can be a more cost-effective option. With cost of living rising and baby items often priced at a premium, building a newborn or toddler room can take a financial toll on new parents. If you choose to use a floor bed, you may find that you are saving on a bed frame and other assorted baby room furniture.

Encourages Movement, Independence, and Exploration

Placing the crib mattress on the floor can give your baby more freedom to move and explore their surroundings. S/he can easily climb out of bed when needing a hug, comfort, or feeding; helping the child to explore independence and the fulfilling of his/her own needs. In the morning, as the child rises, a floor bed makes reading a book or bringing clam toys into bed much easier than with the barrier of a crib. Lastly, if a child does not feel stuck in bed, or obligated to stay in bed, they may develop a healthier relationship with sleep, as they can freely get up when done resting.

Prevents Falls

A crib can become a source of concerns for parents, as their child, as young as 18 months, start climbing out of bed. At that point, transitioning the baby onto a crib mattress on the floor can help prevent unfortunate falls from the top of their crib.

Cons of Placing a Crib Mattress on the Floor

Despite the multiple advantages, there are some potential risks to consider before placing a crib mattress directly on the floor:

Risk of Suffocation

Suffocation is a real risk when it comes to infant sleep, and we want to stress that it is a threat to both cribs and floor beds. When placed on the floor, if the mattress is not firm enough, your baby could become trapped between the mattress and the floor, increasing the risk of suffocation. In his/her crib, as well as on a floor bed, ensure that all cords (often hanging from window treatments or binds) are inaccessible to the child – best is to entirely remove them from the room. Things like ballons, strings, long electrical cables, etc. are much easier reached by a mobile baby from a floor bed than a crib, as the crib keeps your baby in a safe place while you are both resting and you cannot devote your attention to his/her safety.

Accessibility to Pets and Siblings

If you have pets or other children in the house, they could potentially climb on or near the mattress, which could pose a risk to your baby. If you do decide to put yyour baby’s crib mattress on the floor, we recommend having clear rules with family members, and ensuring that no pet can enter the baby’s room. Again, suffocation is a real threat, as a young child simply does not have the strength to free his/her airways.

Lack of Support for the Mattress

Without a proper crib or bassinet, your child’s crib mattress may not have enough support, which could cause it to shift or collapse. Additionally, since mattresses are designed to be placed on a bed frame, laying it on the floor can lead to quicker deterioration, which could also void your warranty – make sure to read the manufacturer’s warranty page prior to placing your crib mattress on the floor.

Free Unsupervised Range

A mobile child can easily get in and out of a floor bed, which gives him/her full unsupervised range in your home, while you are sleeping. Consciously, or not (think sleepwalking, which is not unusual in children), your child could find him/herself in dangerous situations. If you decide to let your child sleep on the floor, make sure that you have safety measures in place, such as door and window alarms, maybe even movement detectors, to wake you up in case of an emergency. There have unfortunately been instances of children walking out of their homes on cold winter nights, or out to the pool deck, and parents only noticing the following morning.

Moisture / Mold Build Up

Mattresses are designed to be lifted off the ground, while laying on a raised bed frame. That extra space from the ground allows for air to flow underneath the mattress, keeping your mattress dry and mold and mildew at bay. By laying your crib mattress on the floor, the moisture accumulated in your baby’s mattress from sweat and other sources (i.e., body oils, drool, leaking diaper or bottle, etc.), can cause mold and mildew build up, which can flare up allergies or create asthma-like symptoms.

Hygiene

In order to keep a crib mattress on the floor clean, you will need to go through the extra step of lifting it off of the floor and cleaning underneath it. You will also notice, that pets, other sibling, and your baby, may walk right across the bed, leaving it dirtier than if it was laid inside a crib. Even if you vacuum frequently, the dust and dead skin cells accumulated from the ground, may also interfere with your baby’s breathing and create allergies or respiratory issues.

Heat

As mentioned earlier, most crib mattresses are made of foam, which is the last type of mattress you should ever lay on the floor. Foam mattresses are known to retain heat. With the airflow almost entirely blocked by the floor, the heat will get trapped in the crib mattress and you will notice that your child overheats at night, which may be dangerous.

Safety Guidelines for Placing a Crib Mattress on the Floor

The ultimate decision lays with you, the adult and parent. If you decide to place your baby’s crib mattress on the floor, it is essential to follow some safety guidelines to reduce the risk of accidents:

Choosing a Firm Mattress

Whether or not you lay your child’s crib mattress on the floor, his/her mattress should be firm to allow for proper spinal support, bone growth, and lessen the risk of your baby rolling over and getting stuck in the foams, unable to turn back onto his/her back. The mattress should also be firm enough to prevent your baby from sinking in or becoming trapped between the mattress and the floor.

Avoiding loose items in the sleep area

Keep the sleep area free of blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, loose clothing, towels, or other soft objects that could pose a suffocation hazard. Remember that a baby is unable to pull something from his/her face and/or airways. Once a loose item makes its way to the top of his/her head, it may become hard for your baby to breathe and panic may be close. We recommend using a breathing monitor for peace of mind.

Placing the Mattress in a Clean and Safe Space

The sleep area should be free of any potential hazards, such as cords, sharp objects, or electrical outlets. Make sure you do not leave objects such as baloons or string laying around the baby’s room, as s/he may be mobile enough to move and bring those items inside his/her bed. It is also important to keep the sleep area clean and free of dust, mold, or other allergens by frequently cleaning around the room, underneath the mattress, and by airing the mattress.

Using a baby monitor

If you’re not in the same room as your baby, make sure that you have of knowing what is going on. Laying your baby on a crib mattress on the floor means that your child may be moving around his/her room, and the house, without you knowing. It is important that you use a sensitive baby monitor to alert you of baby’s movements or struggles (especially as your child ages and becomes more mobile).

Air the Mattress Weekly

Because a crib mattress placed on the floor collects moisture, make sure that you air the mattress at least once a week by raising it on its side for a couple of hours. If you live in hot and humid areas (i.e., many southern states), we recommend airing the mattress twice a week, and investing in a flippable mattress, which can be flipped weekly to give it a chance to truly air.

Clean Around and Underneath the Crib Mattress

This may seem like a no brainer, but we could not leave this tip out. Ensure that you keep your baby’s room as clean as you possible can, to avoid dust and dead skin cells from accumulating on his/her mattress. We recommend a hypoallergenic mattress and/or sheets, to help you in maintaining a healthy sleep environment for your baby.

Clean the Sheets / Use a Mattress Protector

While we always recommend protecting your mattress investment with a mattress protector, it is even more essential that you do so, if you decide to lay your crib mattress on the floor. This will protect your baby’s mattress from collecting the dust and dirt inherent to residing on the floor. Simply wash it once a week, with your baby’s bed sheets, to ensure a clean sleeping environment night after night.

Alternatives to Placing a Crib Mattress on the Floor

If you are concerned about the safety risks of placing a crib mattress on the floor, there are alternative options to consider, which we recommend:

Using a Bassinet or a Co-Sleeper:

A bassinet or a co-sleeper can provide a safe and convenient sleeping option for your baby. These options are typically smaller than a crib and can be placed next to your bed for easy access. Many come with wheels so you can easily move baby from his/her room to yours, and some have the side come down, so baby is easily accessible from your bed, so you do not have to move more than you have to, or even have to get out of bed, to tend to his/her needs in the middle of the night!

Transitioning to a Toddler Bed

Once your baby outgrows their crib, you can transition them to a toddler bed, which typically features a low-to-the-ground frame that can provide a safe and comfortable sleeping space for your growing child, without laying the mattress completely on the ground.

Can You Put a Crib Mattress on the Floor?

Placing a crib mattress on the floor can be a convenient and affordable option for parents, but it is important to weigh the potential risks and take the necessary safety precautions to reduce the risk of accidents.

If you are concerned about the safety risks based on reading the above pros and cons, there are alternative options to consider, such as a bassinet or a co-sleeper, or transitioning to a toddler bed as your child ages and is able to climg out of his/her crib by him/herself. Remember that safe sleep is critical for infants, and it is up to parents to provide a safe and comfortable sleeping environment for their little ones.

References

FAQ

Most frequent questions and answers

While nothing prevents you from doing so, it creates more risks than it has benefits, and should be considered carefully and in full understanding of the risks associated with laying a crib mattress on the floor.

As long as your choose a firm mattress that fits snugly to a wall (or is completely away from all walls), add a snug fitted sheet, and ensure that no loose objects are in the child’s bed, and no loose cords are accessible, your baby should not suffocate if you put their crib mattress on the floor.

Some benefits include convenience for the parents to tend to their child’s needs, affordability of not having to purchase a frame, it prevents falls from a crib and helps the child gain independence and develop a healthy relationship with sleep.

Some serious risks are associated with placing a crib mattress on the floor, including risks of suffocation, the ability for the child to leave his/her room unsupervised, accessibility to pets and siblings, lack of support for the mattress, moisture and mold build up, overheating of the mattress, and easy build up of dirt and dust.

Ensure that you are choosing a firm mattress and that no loose items can be found in, and around, the sleep area. Place the mattress in a clean and safe place, clean underneath and around it often, and air the mattress at least once a week. Finally, use a baby monitor to keep an ear on your baby’s whereabouts during the night.

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Can I put a crib mattress on the floor?

While nothing prevents you from doing so, it creates more risks than it has benefits, and should be considered carefully and in full understanding of the risks associated with laying a crib mattress on the floor.

Can my baby suffocate if I put their crib mattress on the floor?

As long as your choose a firm mattress that fits snugly to a wall (or is completely away from all walls), add a snug fitted sheet, and ensure that no loose objects are in the child's bed, and no loose cords are accessible, your baby should not suffocate if you put their crib mattress on the floor.

What are the benefits of placing a crib mattress on the floor?

Some benefits include convenience for the parents to tend to their child's needs, affordability of not having to purchase a frame, it prevents falls from a crib and helps the child gain independence and develop a healthy relationship with sleep.

Are there any risks associated with placing a crib mattress on the floor?

Some serious risks are associated with placing a crib mattress on the floor, including risks of suffocation, the ability for the child to leave his/her room unsupervised, accessibility to pets and siblings, lack of support for the mattress, moisture and mold build up, overheating of the mattress, and easy build up of dirt and dust.

How can I make sure my baby is safe if I decide to place their crib mattress on the floor?

Ensure that you are choosing a firm mattress and that no loose items can be found in, and around, the sleep area. Place the mattress in a clean and safe place, clean underneath and around it often, and air the mattress at least once a week. Finally, use a baby monitor to keep an ear on your baby's whereabouts during the night.

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Laura Georgieff

Laura is a mother of three who did not sleep through the night for the first 5.5 years of her kids' lives. She is passionate about sleep quality and loves sharing her experience and knowledge of all thing bedding! It is her mission to help you make the best decisions when it comes to sleep and help you get the best deal on the market!

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