Foam has been used for many years in all kinds of products and it is still the number one go to for nursery mattresses used mainly for its comfort but also as it is combustion modified, dent resistant, supportive and hypoallergenic as it is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.
It is a legal requirement that the polyurethane foam produced for use in domestic furniture must comply with Schedule 1, Part 1 of the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire)(Safety) Regulations 1988 (and 1989, 1993) which means that the foam must be combustion modified with high resilience.
The British Standard appropriate for testing nursery mattresses is BS1877-10:2001+A1:2012 (Domestic Bedding Part 10: Specification for mattresses and bumpers for children’s cots, perambulators and similar domestic articles). This standard asks for polyurethane foam cores to conform to BS1425-1 (Cleanliness of fillings and stuffings for bedding, upholstery and other domestic articles) and BS3379:2005 (Combustion modified flexible polyurethane cellular materials for loadbearing applications – specification), which is the standard that specifies the type of foam suitable for babies & toddlers:
The hardness grade of nursery mattress foam should be at least 100 newtons and conform to class A (average service type).
As the standards are so stringent there are very few foams available to the nursery industry. Nursery Connections uses the best option available to us HR28 100, which has a hardness range of 86-110 newtons and class A, an indentation hardness loss of 45-55newtons. 28 Density is within this range. Anything of a higher grade would be too hard for babies.
Memory (viscoselastic) foams are not currently recommended for nursery mattresses as it is marketed for their ability to conform to body contours, with associated claims around pressure relief and therapeutic properties. Such properties are now found advantageous in a range of applications, with both furniture items and adult mattresses increasingly engineered to include viscoelastic foams.
However Flexible Foam Research Ltd (FFR) strongly advises that, in their opinion, the properties of viscoelastic foam may be incompatible with precautions required in the construction of cot mattresses and there may be potential dangers from indentation and consequent restriction of breathing. FFR emphasise that there is no evidence that any problems have been found in the use of viscoelastic foam in this application and that this is a purely precautionary note. However, manufacturers are encouraged not to recommend the use of viscoelastic foam to manufacturers of cot mattresses since the use of this material is unproven in this application and may give rise to product liability issues.
Foam will gradually start to yellow over time due to a photochemical reaction, which means that when foam is in contact with light it will gradually change colour from white to a yellow. It will not affect the performance of the foam and is absolutely safe for a baby.
Statement from Kit for Kids
We recommend that parents buy a new cot mattress for their baby as an old or second hand mattress may be compressed due to the size and weight of the previous baby. It may also contain pathogens harmful to the child.
All cot mattresses supplied by Kit for Kids comply fully with the British standard BS1877, this covers the performance tests required within the UK.
Although often considered the economic choice a Kit for Kids foam core is a comfortable option and provides an adequate level of support. All foam used in Kit for Kids mattresses is orthopaedic, dent resistant foam, providing the correct balance between spinal support and comfort. The general market trend towards more advanced cot mattress cores means that foam mattresses are ‘entry level’. Their covers, and their price reflect this. Foam will degrade in time especially if it is regularly exposed to fluids. Therefore Kit for Kids tend to use water repellent covers to increase the longevity of the mattress and to keep the core as clean as possible.
A spring core however offers excellent support and durability within a cot mattress. Springs are often the preferred choice for a cotbed mattress because they are longer lasting than foam and provide better postural support for the full lifespan of the mattress.