30. 04. 2024


Children's mattresses: considerations six years after the publication of the standard

It was in 2017, and more precisely in May, when the first standard of requirements and methods on children's mattresses was published, a standard different from most others for children's furniture (requirements defined by possible risk assessed). A few years later, in June 2021, it was updated with some clarifications but also with some important changes. At this link you can read again what we shared with our newsletter at the time of the arrival of the document which is currently still in force and which in the meantime has become a harmonized standard.
With its publication, the first samples of mattresses arrived in the laboratory along with the first problems in complying with its requirements, which are normal difficulties given the novelty.
With this short article we want to tell you which were the critical points we found with the introduction of this standard, namely:
  • firmness (how soft is it?)
  • dimensions
  • seams
The first difficulties recorded concern the firmness requirement: up to that point, manufacturers considered a "soft" surface to be the most suitable and the most comfortable for a child to sleep on. So, the first tests immediately highlighted this problem: the sphere simulating the child's head sank until it touched the test plate (negative result). In order to comply with the requirement, the surfaces of the mattresses must become less "soft". You may wonder why it is essential that the surface of the mattress is not too soft. A risk that newborns may face while sleeping is sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The causes of this death are external or due to the position during sleep and obstruction of the airway. With some precautions such as the supine position during sleep, the reduction of the temperature of the room where the child sleeps, the use of mattresses that are not too "soft", the cases of SIDS have been significantly reduced. From these data it was taken the decision to include a method for evaluating this aspect in the standard.

Test failed Test passed

Another problem concerned the dimensional requirement, i.e. the tolerance that the standard gives between the nominal value of a mattress and the real one. In the first edition of the standard this tolerance was defined as ± 10 mm. This meant that a declared mattress 600 x 1200 mm could measure from 590/610 mm for the width and to 1190/1210 mm for the length. Many of the first samples delivered highlighted this non-conformity: they were all usually shorter and less wide than declared. I would like to remind you about the importance of this requirement in order to make the correct match between the mattress and the cot: in fact, a distance greater than 30 mm between the sides of the cot and the sides of the mattress can cause the child to be trapped with the risk of suffocation.
After the first months of use of the standard, further evaluations were carried out during the  standardization meeting and it was decided to make this requirement more severe, to guarantee the safety of the product as much as possible: this requirement was therefore modified and brought to 0 /+25 mm. This means that a mattress with actual measurements smaller than the nominal value will never be safe. In the same document (current standard) a requirement on thickness was also introduced, which was not defined in the first version of the standard: real value ≤ nominal value. With the introduction of these important changes in 2021, there was a slight increase in non-compliance with the dimensional requirements again: manufacturers had to align themselves with the new requirement again.
A further issue often recorded always relates the dimensional requirement, but in detail the shrinkage test: after washing and drying any removable cover twice, the dimensional requirement shall still be respected.
This evaluation involves the composition of the fabric and its ability to shrink when washed.
Another non-conformity often observed concerns the verification of the seams. This requirement checks that the seams and cover are suitable to prevent the child from accessing the filling material of the mattress. To carry out this test, specimens are obtained from the mattress cover(s). These specimens, which are subjected to traction, have a shape that stresses the seams, the zips and the nearest fabric.
Six years after the first publication, it can be said that the standard has been implemented, known and requested by mattress manufacturers. If we think about the safety of our children, with this document an important step forward has been taken: a 360-degree analysis is requested on mattresses (chemical tests, reaction to fire tests, structural tests, dimensional verification,..).
In Italy, a campaign to verify the products placed on the market was also activated by the Chambers of Commerce and the Financial Police. These checks concern some children's products, including mattresses: unfortunately, they have not always given positive results.

As a laboratory and research body, it is our task to inform and train our customers, to ensure that the use of standards increasingly becomes averification tool to which we refer, in order to sell only safe products.

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For info:
Arianna Visintin
+39 0432 747233