Are memory foam mattresses safe for children?

Written by cynthia measom
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Are memory foam mattresses safe for children?
The safety of memory foam depends on the age of your child. (Grueppchen image by Sven Hoffmann from Fotolia.com)

Memory foam--a dense product used for mattresses, toppers and pillows that moulds to the shape of your body--is often selected by people who wish to alleviate aches and pains that develop from pressure points while sleeping. Known as a soft sleeping surface, parents may choose a memory foam pillow, mattress or topper for their child. Before you put your child to sleep on a memory foam mattress, however, make sure it's safe.

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What Is Memory Foam?

Memory foam, primarily composed of polyurethane, becomes more flexible and viscous when a person is lying on it. The foam compresses and moulds to weight-bearing body parts. Once the person gets up, the impressions remain in place for a period of time until the memory foam regains its original shape.

Safety

Memory foam mattresses, as well as toppers and pillows, are acceptable for children over one year of age. Infants under one year can position their face on the soft material so that their airway passages are blocked and they suffocate. Even if their airway passages are not blocked in such a position, an infant can intake his own exhaled carbon dioxide, increasing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, according to WebMD.com.

Other Information

Children under one year of age should sleep on a firm mattress without soft, fluffy bedding, which can be a hazard. If the parent and infant sleep together, choose a sleeping surface other than memory foam mattress or topper. Sleeping wedges, especially those made of memory foam, are dangerous to children under 12 months.

Alternatives

If you want to provide a softer sleeping surface for your child and avoid memory foam at the same time, you have options. There are a number of mattress pads on the market that you can place on top of your child's bed. These include quilted or egg-crate foam mattresses. It's important not to place any kind of bedding in an infant child's bed that might pose a risk to her safety.

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