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Mattress Pads for Babies and Toddlers

Mattress Pads for Babies and Toodlers - Definitions and Differences Guide

For the next several years, your life is going to get a whole lot messier. All kinds of fluids from your baby will end up in places you never imagined, and at some point it will all make contact with their mattress.

After spending so much time choosing a crib mattress (not to mention the money!), you definitely don’t want it to get ruined. Mattress pads—especially waterproof ones—protect the crib mattress so you can use it through toddlerhood and for subsequent children, too. Even if you bought a waterproof mattress for the crib, a pad is a safe way to make your baby’s bed cushy and comfortable without using pillows, bumpers and blankets (keeping these out of baby’s crib can help decrease the risks of sleep-related deaths).

There are Mattress Pads for Cradles, Cribs, Mini Cribs, Playards, Pack N' Plays, and also for Toddlers, and we are going to explain to you the main differences, definitions, and some other important questions in order to you will be ready to choose what kind of mattress pad you need and then you will be able to read about our mattress pads picks and its reviews in our other posts. So let's start.

What Is The Main Difference Between A Crib vs. A Playard?

The main difference between a crib and a playard is portability and durability. Playards are made of lightweight materials, such as plastic and mesh, built on a foldable metal frame. On the other hand, a crib is usually made of wood, and once it's set up in a room, you can take it out the door frame without disassembling the whole bed.

The modern playard you can find at the store is really similar to a standard crib. Therefore, many parents are wondering if the playard is an acceptable sleeping option for their baby.

The short answer is yes, a playard can be used for sleeping, but it's not as comfortable as a crib.

Cribs usually required a mattress, which is 5 times thicker than a playard mattress. As your child grows, the thin mattress of the playard may become insufficient, and you'll need an upgrade.

Besides sleeping, both cribs and playards can be used as a safe place for your baby to play. While Pack 'n Play is a famous brand of modern playards.

In my experience, having both is ideal, but if you must choose between a crib and a playard consider the following:

  • Both can be used to play and sleep (night or naps)
  • Playard take less space in the room
  • Playard can be easily folded and store away to free up space
  • Playard might require an extra mattress to be more comfortable
  • Cribs are more durable because they stay in the room
  • Cribs are usually more stylish than playard

What is a Cradle?

Cradles are the oldest of all baby bed options. While the exact time period when they first came into use is unknown, there is evidence of cradles being used in ancient times.

One of the cradle’s biggest advantages is the gentle rocking motion it provides. Classic designs sit low to the ground on rounded bottom rockers, while many newer cradle designs feature a suspended bed that is similar to a hammock.

Today’s cradles offer the options of a traditional or modern look. Traditional styles are typically made from wood and can have either clean lines or ornate carving. Modern cradles often have mesh or padded sides and feature soft, contemporary colors.

While some cradles may come with a hood or canopy, most have a simple open top. Bedding is usually not included with a cradle.

Like a bassinet, cradles are designed to be used for very young infants. Once your baby can roll over, you will need to move them to a crib.

What Is A Mini Crib?

A mini crib is precisely what you think it is; a smaller version of a regular crib! It's not foldable or portable (like a portable crib or playard), even if it might come with wheels (like a standard crib).

The mattress of a regular crib is mainly 28 by 52 in. and a mini crib mattress is 24 by 38 in. This is the ideal solution when you don't have enough floor space available for a standard crib.

The only downside of a mini crib is the limited time your kid will be able to use it. You'll need to switch to a toddler bed sooner if you opt for a mini crib.

Moving Your Baby Out of the Crib and Into a Toddler Bed

Saying good-bye to your child’s crib is a big milestone, but a bittersweet one. There is no specific recommended age for transitioning to a toddler bed. Some parents do it as early as 15 months and others not until after 3 years.

Timing often depends on your child's physical skills—you'll want to make the transition to a bed beforeyour intrepid tot masters the art of crib escape.

When to Transition to a Toddler Bed

Over 90% of 18-month-olds sleep in a crib, but that gradually drops to about 80% at 2 years and 40% by 3 years of age.

After the first birthday, it’s wise to put the mattress all the way down and make sureyourtot doesn’t have toys or bumpers to climb on. The top of the crib rail should be above his collarbones. And always have a soft rug or carpeting on the floor of the room (with a nonslip undermat), because falls from that height can result in serious injuries.

Generally speaking, if your toddler seems like she's plotting her first crib escape, or you've caught her vaulting commando-style over the railing, it's probably time for her to moveher to a bed.

If you’re pregnant, it’s usually best to move your toddler out of the crib a few months before the new baby arrives (assuming your first child is old enough to be out of the crib). If it is already after the birth, you might keep your tot in the crib a while longer. But beware: if you move your toddler to a bed and the next week move the baby into her old crib, your tot may feel jealous—like you gave her beloved possession to the new intruder!

How to Transition to Toddler Bed

When you’re ready to make the switch, remember that tired, cranky toddlers are especially rigid and hate change. So, get your child used to the new bed by making it a routine place for quiet play or massage and napping during the day, times when she’ll be more flexible.

Your tot will have an easier time with the transition when you continue other familiar sleep cues.

To boost her enthusiasm about the switch:

  • Make up little stories or read books about sleeping in bed.
  • Gossip during the day about what a good job she’s doing.
  • Take her shopping to pick out special sheets.
  • Make a special Beddy-Bye book that you can peruse together every day with pictures of family members (and your dog!) asleep in their beds.

The Big Challenge: Getting Your Toddler to Stay in Bed

Once in a bed, your toddler can pop out anytime she wants. So, you need to (1) childproof the room really well (including electric outlets, curtain cords and sharp corners), and (2) keep her from roaming outside the room at night.

Use a gate to keep her in her room. If she climbs over it, you may need to spend a little time training her to stay in the room or even close the door. Say something like, “Honey, this is Mr. Gate! Mr. Gate will help you stay in the room…so at bedtime, after we sing and read and say night-night…then we’ll close Mr. Gate…and he will help you stay safe and happy in your room all night.”

If your little gymnast climbs over the gate, you may need to close the door and put a doorknob cover on the inside of the door to her room.

Creating a bedtime routine can help your toddler wind down and learn they are expected to stay in bed.

Safe Places for a Baby to Sleep

Room Sharing

Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada recommend room sharing for the first six months of your baby's life. Room sharing is when you place your baby to sleep in a crib, cradle or bassinet that is within arm's reach of where you sleep. Research has shown that it is good for babies to share a room with one or more caregivers, and that it may reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Remember that room sharing is not sufficient to ensure a safe sleep for your baby. You should follow all applicable safety tips, including the general sleep safety tips provided in the previous section. In particular:

  • Place your baby on his or her back to sleep, both at naptime and at bedtime.
  • Avoid using bedside sleeping products with the sides lowered.
  • Cords on window blinds, shades and curtains are a strangulation hazard. Tie the cords high and out of your child's reach or install a tension device for looped cords. Whether the blind is up or down, make sure your child cannot reach the cords.
  • Place your baby's sleeping area so that hazards like windows, patio doors, lamps, candles, electrical plugs, corded baby monitors, extension cords and small objects are out of your child's reach.

Cradles

A cradle that meets today's Canadian safety regulations is an appropriate place for your baby to sleep until he or she reaches the maximum weight recommended by the manufacturer OR until your baby can push up on his or her hands and knees, whichever comes first. When your baby reaches this milestone, you should put him or her to sleep in a crib.

  • Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for setting up and using the cradle. Only use parts provided by the manufacturer. Your baby's cradle should not be modified in any way.
  • Check often to make sure that the cradle's hardware is securely fastened and not damaged.
  • Do not use cradles with decorative cut-outs, corner posts that are more than 3 mm (1/8 in) in height or large spaces between the bars (spacing should be no more than 6 cm [2 3/8 in]).
  • Check that there are no small parts on the cradle that could be a choking hazard. Make sure there are no sharp points on the cradle.
  • Check that the mattress is firm. Mattresses that are too soft or worn down in any area could create a gap where a baby's face could become stuck, causing them to suffocate. The cradle mattress must not be thicker than 3.8 cm (1 1/2 in). There must not be a gap of more than 3 cm (1 3/16 in) between the mattress and any part of the cradle's sides. Push the mattress firmly against the sides of the cradle to test this.
  • Avoid the use of loose bedding or soft objects in your baby's cradle. Things like comforters, quilts, heavy blankets, infant pillows, adult pillows, foam padding, stuffed toys and sleep positioners should not be in your baby's sleeping area.
  • Use a fitted bottom sheet made specifically for a cradle mattress of the same size.
  • Place your baby's cradle so that hazards like windows, patio doors, lamps, candles, electrical plugs, corded baby monitors, extension cords and small objects are out of your child's reach.

Cribs

The safest place for a baby to sleep is alone in a crib that meets current Canadian safety regulations. A crib should not be used if the child is taller than 90 cm or if he or she is able to climb out of it, whichever comes first. When your baby reaches this milestone, you should put him or her to sleep in a toddler or standard bed.

  • Do not use a crib made before September 1986 as it does not meet current safety regulations. Also, cribs older than ten years are more likely to have broken, worn, loose or missing parts, and to be missing warnings or instructions.
  • As of December 29, 2016, the sale, importation, manufacture or advertisement of traditional drop-side cribs is prohibited.
  • While traditional drop-side cribs are mostly unavailable in the Canadian marketplace, they may still be found as remaining inventory in some new and second hand stores, and at garage sales.
  • Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for putting together and using the crib. Only use parts provided by the manufacturer. Your baby's crib should not be modified in any way.
  • Check often to make sure that the crib's hardware is securely fastened and not damaged.
  • Make sure the crib, cradle or bassinet posts are no more than than 1.5 mm (1/16 in) high.
  • Make sure the crib, cradle or bassinet bars are no more than 6 cm (2 3/8 in) apart.
  • Check that the mattress is firm. Mattresses that are too soft or worn down in any area could create a gap where a baby's face could become stuck, causing them to suffocate.
  • The crib mattress must not be thicker than 15 cm (6 in).
  • There must not be a gap of more than 3 cm (1 3/16 in) between the mattress and any part of the crib's sides. Push the mattress firmly against the sides of the crib to test this.
  • Check often that the crib's mattress support system is secure. Shake the crib from side to side, thump the mattress from the top and push up hard on the mattress support from underneath the crib. The mattress support system should hold the mattress firmly in place.
  • Avoid the use of loose bedding or soft objects in your baby's crib. Things like comforters, quilts, blankets, infant pillows, adult pillows, foam padding, stuffed toys, bumper pads and sleep positioners should not be in your baby's sleeping area.
  • Use a fitted bottom sheet made specifically for a crib mattress of the same size.
  • Remove mobiles and toy bars as soon as your baby begins to push up on his or her hands and knees.
  • Place the mattress support in its lowest position as soon as your baby can push up on his or her hands and knees.
Are Mattress Pads Safe for Cribs

Never harness or tie your baby in a crib. Your baby should not be left in a crib with a necklace, elastic band, scarf or pacifier on a long cord. These items could cause strangulation.