When it comes to setting up a safe and comfortable nursery for your baby, the crib is the most important element. Once you’ve selected a crib (check out our guide to choosing the right one for you), your next essential purchase is a crib mattress. Since your baby will be spending so much time in direct contact with their crib mattress, selecting one that’s safe, non-toxic, and high-quality is of the utmost importance. Enter Nook Sleep, one of our valued vendors and favorite nursery brands!
Nook Sleep was founded 11 years ago by Helenita Frounfelkner (also the current CMO) and her siblings when they were having kids of their own and were looking for products that were safe, functional and stylish. As parents and parents-to-be themselves, the siblings knew that safety and reducing the risk of SIDS were top concerns for any new parent. Unable to find crib mattresses that fit the bill in terms of safety, but were also crafted with sustainable materials and designed with both style and function in mind, they started Nook Sleep and the rest is history.
We caught up with co-founder Helenita Frounfelkner to get her expert insight on how to set up a chic nursery that also puts safe sleep for baby as the No. 1 priority.
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Tell us about Nook Sleep and how the brand prioritizes great design and safe sleep.
All of our crib mattress options are GREENGUARD Gold certified safe, supremely breathable and non-toxic, so you can’t go wrong. We’ve taken it a step further and designed three different organic, breathable and water-resistant covers. Uniquely designed to help increase airflow around your baby, our Pebble, Dimple, and Jersey Cotton covers not only help reduce the risk of SIDS but are also a stylish addition to any nursery.
The most important way we prioritize safe sleep is by listening to our customers and designing something that meets their needs and wants. Our market research showed that expecting parents are most concerned with two things: safety and waterproof. Unfortunately, the only way to make something completely waterproof is to have a plastic backing, which also means it’s completely NON-breathable, making it less safe for baby. Our covers use a patented nanosphere technology that makes them moisture-wicking to regulate baby’s temperature, keeping them sleeping more safely and comfortably. The key in our safe sleep design is that we’ve figured out a way to keep both baby and your mattress protected while keeping it breathable.
The crib is usually the primary anchor piece of a nursery design. What are some of your top tips for making sure the crib is safe?
Refrain from adding bumpers and stuffed animals or cute blankets. They make for amazing images on Pinterest and Instagram but they’re not safe for baby. We’ve written a few helpful blog posts about how to make your baby’s crib space extra safe with our ABCs of Safe Sleep and 10 Safe Sleep Tips to Reduce the Risk of SIDS. My top tip? A safe crib space should be free and clear of anything other than baby and the crib mattress. This includes loveys and any pacifiers with straps. Pacifiers are great but never put your baby in a crib with a strap attached to the pacifier!
We also don’t recommend the use of crib sheets until baby is over 12 months old and out of the “SIDS danger zone”, so to speak. We intentionally designed our covers to be a super snug fit, ensuring increased airflow in and around the baby and reducing the risk of SIDS.
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What are the top factors that parents should consider when purchasing a crib mattress?
The first thing I tell expecting parents is that this is the most important investment they’ll make for their baby, so don’t skimp on your budget here! Babies spend 16-18 hours/day sleeping in the first year and chances are pretty high they’ll be in that crib or sleeping on that crib mattress for the first 1-3 years (or four if your baby is a tiny pip squeak like my youngest was).
Also, you’re not just investing in the mattress. You’re investing in quality sleep for your baby and for you! Make sure the mattress you buy is breathable (you can literally breathe right through it), non-toxic (no off-gassing chemicals), dual-sided (so it grows with your baby beyond infancy) and comfortable. We put together this handy Crib Mattress Buyer’s Guide as a checklist!
Tell us about how Nook Sleep’s products are made and what features they have that make them great choices for safe sleep?
We take great pride in sourcing high quality, eco-friendly materials whenever possible for all of our products and strive to help parents create eco-friendly rooms for their kids.. While not all of our products are intended for sleep, all of our crib mattresses, big kid mattresses or pillows must pass the safe sleep test, which means they have to meet the following criteria:
- Breathable: Can you breathe through it?
- Non-Toxic: Does it have any off-gassing chemicals? Is it GREENGUARD Gold Certified?
- Functional: Is it easy to use? Does it give time back to our busy parents?
- Comfortable: Is it going to grow with the baby or child? Is it soft? Nobody wants to sleep on crunchy plastic.
- Temperature Regulating: Keeping baby’s temperature regulated is one of the key components of reducing the risk of SIDS. Babies who wake up hot breathe out more CO2, decreasing the oxygen in their sleep space, increasing the risk of SIDS.
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Are there any myths or falsehoods out there about baby sleep and crib safety that parents should be aware of?
Yes! While having a waterproof pad is convenient, we don’t recommend using one on your crib mattress until your baby is about 12 months old and the risk of SIDS decreases significantly. I often tell parents this: you wouldn’t put a plastic bag over your head and expect to be able to breathe, right? So don’t put a plastic waterproof pad around your crib mattress and expect it to stay breathable.
Designing your nursery is super fun and as Kathy Kuo herself said in our recent interview with her, you want to make sure the space is as much for you as it is for your baby. That said, it’s important to note that we’re a social media world now and it’s easy to see something online and think that’s safe. Most of the images we see online are posed and curated. Never put your baby in a crib or bassinet with anything else.
Say no to bumpers! They may look pretty but they aren’t necessary. If you’re worried about your baby’s limbs or head poking through, modern cribs are designed to have the railings close enough together so as to not reduce airflow but also to ensure babies are kept safe. All bumpers do is decrease the airflow to baby, increasing the amount of recycled CO2 your baby is breathing in, thus increasing the risk of SIDS. If you love the look of bumpers, just make sure to remove the bumpers before putting baby down to sleep.
If you’re planning on having a nanny or caretaker, be sure to go over all of your safe sleep requirements with them, too. Don’t assume they know these guidelines.
Finally, we’re parents, too, and we get it! We’re here to help other expecting, new and seasoned parents on this crazy parenting journey. We know how overwhelming it can be to find the right products for your baby and we encourage you to visit our website at nooksleep.com or find us on Instagram @nooksleep.