It's a hard question...
March 24, 2009 4:08 PM   Subscribe

So many great pads available to soften hard mattresses, but nothing seems to go the other direction. What are some creative ways to make our cushy pillowtop mattress firm enough for safe cosleeping with a new baby?

The mattress is queen-sized, and while it's not ultra-squishy, it is soft enough that I suspect it wouldn't meet current standards for safe baby bedding. We're planning on using a cosleeper or Amby for most of the night, but I'd like to be able to nurse in bed without stressing over what might happen if I drowse off and let the baby fall asleep next to me. Sadly, a new mattress is not an option. Any ideas for pads or DIY fixes I could use to give this one a firmer surface?
posted by Bardolph to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
Corrugated cardboard with a thin mattress pad on top?
posted by Night_owl at 4:14 PM on March 24, 2009

Is the pillow top only on one side of the mattress? If so, you could try flipping the mattress until the baby's a few months old. It's possible this wouldn't be good for the longevity of the pillow top padding, though.
posted by tomatofruit at 4:25 PM on March 24, 2009

The Consumer Products Safety Comission don't think any bed other than a crib is safe for a baby to sleep in , so there aren't any standards for that. But if you look at their list of how babies die, you can see what scenarios to avoid if you're going to co-sleep.

We coslept with our daughter on a pillow top mattress without problem (other than now having an 8 year who likes to climb into our bed!) We avoided most of the things that kill babies: We put the mattress on the floor so it couldn't slide away from the wall. We also had tight fitting sheets. Our bed was not adjacent to other furniture and we didn't have a headboard or foot board. And we didn't have a bunch of pillows.

The The Mother Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at Notre Dame has more info that may help you make a decision.
posted by vespabelle at 4:33 PM on March 24, 2009

I have a not particularly squishy pillowtop mattress in which I nurse a baby nightly. With this baby and the previous two, I would nurse on my side with the baby on my arm and then fall asleep that way. Their faces never touched the mattress because they were on my arms with their faces facing me. The babies were glued to me. They sometimes slept in the cosleeper. Also, when you are nursing, I find you wake up if the baby moves, breathes, snores, murmers, or when her hair is growing too loudly. With my first baby, I would wake up when (in the other room with a baby moniter) she would scratch her fingernails on her sheets before she started to wake up.

My point is that my babies never actually slept ON the mattress.

posted by artychoke at 5:35 PM on March 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

They used to sell a little three sided box for cosleeping that was to go in between the parents so that no one could roll on the baby and the baby was on a hard surface on top of the mattress. I never had one and can't find one on google - but I don't know if this is because no one sells them anymore or because I don't know what they were called. It looked like one of those shallow boxes for papers that sit on your desk. (An "In" box for your baby?)
posted by artychoke at 5:38 PM on March 24, 2009

There are also those side-car, open-sided cribs that go alongside the bed. Here's an example where a regular cot has been lined up next to the bed, with plywood going between the two in case of shifting. Of course, this relies on both beds being the same height.
posted by slightlybewildered at 5:45 PM on March 24, 2009

Oh, sorry, I didn't pay attention to the rest of your question. Ignore my answer!
posted by slightlybewildered at 5:47 PM on March 24, 2009

You COULD use one of those firm concave neck pillows, but I agree with artychoke's first answer. Our kid has always slept with us and it's never been a problem at all. When she was tiny tiny she always slept on my chest or in my arms, either on the boob or off. I did always put a pillow between my large, heavy-sleeping partner and me when she was tiny, just so partner didn't accidentally crush her. Now she sleeps on her stomach on an insanely soft bed, but she's WAY past the can't-pick-up-her-own-head stage. (She's 24 months now.)
posted by pomegranate at 5:58 PM on March 24, 2009

Aha! The baby In Box, take out tray thing.
posted by artychoke at 6:14 PM on March 24, 2009

I have no idea if the above Snuggle thing is good, I've only seen them on the internet. I've never known anyone who actually had one, but they seem cool.

I will now promise to stop commenting, or at least stop putting each sentence in a different comment...
posted by artychoke at 6:16 PM on March 24, 2009

To address the concern of falling asleep while nursing in your bed, set a digital timer for 15 minutes after you start nursing (or how ever long you nurse on one side). Reset for other side.

I found that I could doze lightly knowing that the timer would ring. I would put the baby back in bedside crib, then really sack out for another 2 hours.
posted by JujuB at 6:36 PM on March 24, 2009

I think it's important to note that while there are government agencies that will warn you of the dangers of cosleeping, there's also thousands if not millions of moms and dads who cosleep. We did so for almost 8 years (with 3 kids total :) and I NEVER had an incident. Healthy, mostly sober adults are sensitive to their babies around them, like artychoke said. I would hazard to guess that you'd find MANY people with the same story.

All that said, I would question if you even need to worry about your kiddo on the regular pillowtop, and certainly shouldn't be concerned about falling asleep with your baby on the bed next to you THATS THE IDEA!

...from the Dad who never had to wake up and warm bottles or sit in a rocking chair at 3:00 in the morning.
posted by johngalt at 7:21 PM on March 24, 2009

Anecdotal, but I'm another one who coslept on a regular pillowtop mattress, and it was just fine. I would argue that the biggest concern in cosleeping like this is not going to be your mattress, but rather your bedding. Limit the number of pillows you use, make sure that there's not a gap between the bed and wall (or bed and other furniture). You'll be okay.
posted by MeghanC at 8:27 PM on March 24, 2009

I'm not sure if this would have a significant effect, but how about putting a piece of plywood between your mattress & boxspring? (my doctor said it would help with back issues due to increased firmness).
posted by hazel at 8:52 PM on March 24, 2009

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