The Crib Mattress of Our Dreams: Moonlight Slumber
Crib mattresses are sold by most stores as a no-brainer accessory, and purchased by just as many parents as an afterthought. But a crib mattress can make or break an entire nursery's safety. Shoddy crib mattresses are to blame for many crib fatalities, ranging from too-soft choices that collapse on babies in the corner, to too-slippery models that contribute to crib sheet entanglements.
Most mattresses are filled with either foam or springs, each having their pros and cons, but it's the toxic cocktail of other chemicals in both that had us concerned. The Internet is rife with rumors about the noxious chemicals from crib mattresses having a possible link to SIDS.
We're moms, so of course, we worry, not just about the fumes - most crib mattresses do smell really, really bad - but also about mold growth deep inside a mattress bound to get wet from our little pee machine, but also germs that hide in cracks and wait for the second sibling.
We've tested every crib mattress on the market. We poured water on them, pulled at their seams, tested how firm the corners were and even jumped on them ourselves. We put them into full-size cribs and then attempted to change them, noting height, depth and corner struggles. We placed newborns on them and watched diligently as they slept noting their comfort, ability to breathe, and general noisiness of the mattresses.
And we're happy to report, we've found a winner! Our hands-down favorite crib mattress comes from a mom-founded company and provides a safe, sumptuous product: Moonlight Slumber.
Moonlight Slumber, based in Chicago, was started by Terri Paul when she was as shocked as the rest of us to discover the shoddy mattress choices previously available. Her company offers two wonderful lines of mattresses: Little Dreamer and Starlight Support.
The most important things to look for in a good crib mattress are fit and firmness. A crib mattress should fit snugly in your crib with no more than 1 finger width of space around any side; and a firm sleeping surface is a safe sleeping surface.
All Moonlight Slumber mattresses meet our first requirements for a good mattress: they are firm, well-crafted and fit our standard crib. But it's the unique, and we feel, amazing extras that go above-and-beyond every other mattress on the market that really sold us.
First impression is everything, and we'll tell you, right out of the wrapping, the sweet scent of the Moonlight Slumber mattresses impressed the heck out of us. The company is proud to be PVC and vinyl free, but we weren't expecting their products to smell faintly like lavender. A nice surprise. We appreciated not to have to air out the crib mattress for a month before laying our baby on it.
The covering of the mattress is also very soft, yet still waterproof. The Little Dreamer, Moonlight Slumber's economical brand, has a nylon cover; the premium Starlight Support has a stretch-knit. The nicer cover is nicer, but since we're putting a sheet over the top, either one is fine. More important to us is that neither line is noisy. There is nothing worse than startling a poor newborn awake when placing them on a crunchy mattress.
Our second favorite, unique feature of the Moonlight Slumber mattresses is the corners. Instead of being rounded (which always struck us as odd, considering all standard cribs are rectangular), the mattresses have squared off corners. The extra inch or two in the corners makes for one of the safest fits we've ever seen and helps a crib sheet from catapulting off.
You can spot a quality mattress by looking to the seams. Cloth binding around the seams is a sign of quality; cheaper mattresses use vinyl. Also note the stitching. Tiny, tight, uniform stitching is best. Missing or torn seams in the store don't bode well for how the mattress will hold up over time and tyrannical toddlers.
We were shocked to discover that Moonlight Slumber mattresses don't have any binding at all. Instead, they are ultrasonically sealed. No binding means dirt and germs can't hide out under the cracks or sneak in through the needle holes. Love it!
Other premium touches we appreciated in the Moonlight Slumber mattresses included the firmer foam internal side rails that discourage babies from sleeping on the edge of the mattress (and near dangerous crib bumpers). We also love that many of their mattresses have dual-level firmness - a harder side for newborns and a softer side for toddlers. Bedtime and all the self-soothing it entails when you have an angry toddler is not helped by an uncomfortable mattress. The best cribs are the ones our kids actually want to stay in, and anything that contributes to that is high on our list of great products.
We're not complete anti-chemical freaks, but we'd sincerely prefer them away from our new babies, especially in a product they sleep on for hours and hours for years and years. Instead of spraying ridiculous amounts of fire retardant all over their mattresses - like many other companies do - to meet the new fire safety regulations, Moonlight Slumber mattresses all feature a natural internal fire barrier. In fact, the Moonlight Slumber mattresses are completely antiallergenic, antimicrobial, hygienically clean and resistant to dust mites. The company claims they are the safest, healthiest mattresses available, and we have to agree.
But the question remains: are they comfortable? Almost every crib mattress we've ever tested has been firm for newborn safety, but so hard as to be uncomfortable. We're proud to say we could nap on the Moonlight Slumbers (in fact, one of us did - don't tell our bosses!).
The company offers foam and innerspring mattresses, custom sizes, cradle mattresses, pillows and even twin and full sizes for big kids. Our baby testers slept on the Moonlight Slumber mattresses for several months like, well, babies. And our mom testers were so impressed, several of them ordered mattresses for older siblings.
The mattresses retail for about double a typical crib mattress: around $200. But considering how long your baby - and their siblings - will sleep on it, we think it's well, well worth the investment.
It can be difficult to justify jumping from a standard to a luxury model when the difference is almost $1000, but when the top-of-the-line, safest, most hypoallergenic and chemical-free mattress is only $100 more, we find a way to afford it.
And then we moms sleep like babies, knowing our precious little ones have the same in-crib perks as the pampered offspring of millionaires like Donald Trump, Heidi Klum and Gwen Stefani. A small price to pay for crib safety and some serious bragging rights!