how to elevate crib mattress

How to Elevate Crib Mattress for Congestion?

Wondering how to elevate a crib mattress to reduce congestion? Here's a detailed guide explaining all the possible ways to elevate a crib mattress and keep your baby's environment fully aerated. 

When your little one suffers from congestion, every cough or sniffle can sound alarm bells. As parents or caregivers, seeing your infant struggle with breathing due to a stuffed nose can be distressing.

One commonly recommended solution is elevating the head end of the crib mattress, which can help to alleviate the symptoms by aiding drainage and making breathing easier.

In this blog, we'll explore why infants face congestion, the benefits of elevating the crib mattress, and safe ways to do this without compromising on safety. We'll also discuss alternatives to mattress elevation, ensuring you have all the information needed to help your congested infant sleep more comfortably.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. Understanding Infant Congestion
  4. Benefits of Elevating the Crib Mattress
  5. Safe Ways to Elevate a Crib Mattress
  6. Appropriate Age and Frequency of Use
  7. Alternatives to Elevating the Crib Mattress
  8. Conclusion
  9. FAQs


Key Takeaways

  • Safety First: Always prioritize safety when elevating a crib mattress. Use specifically designed crib wedges or roll a towel securely under the mattress.
  • Degree of Elevation: Elevate the mattress at a slight angle, between 15 to 30 degrees, to effectively help with nasal drainage without risking safety.
  • No Soft Objects: Avoid using soft objects like pillows or stuffed animals for elevation due to suffocation risks.
  • Monitor Changes: Keep a close watch on infants, especially after making changes to their sleeping environment, to ensure they adapt well and remain safe.
  • Consult Healthcare Providers: Always consult with a pediatrician before making significant changes, especially if symptoms of congestion persist.
  • Alternative Remedies: Consider other methods such as humidifiers, nasal aspirators, and saline drops as effective alternatives to mattress elevation for relieving congestion.
  • Understand the Risks: Be aware of the risks associated with incorrect mattress elevation, such as the baby sliding or potential gaps in the crib.
  • Regular Safety Checks: Regularly check the crib setup to ensure that all components are secure and the baby remains safe throughout the night.


Understanding Infant Congestion

Congestion in infants is not just uncomfortable; it can affect feeding, sleeping, and overall well-being. Common causes include colds, flu, allergies, and environmental factors like dry air or pollutants. In some cases, congestion is due to anatomical variations, like a deviated septum, which can make infants prone to nasal blockages.

Infant congestion differs from adult congestion primarily due to the smaller size of their nasal passages. This makes them more susceptible to blockages from even slight irritations. Infants are obligate nasal breathers (they breathe through their noses exclusively) for the first few months of life, which explains why congestion can significantly impact them.

The signs of congestion to watch for include sniffling, coughing, trouble breathing, and disturbed sleep. While mild cases can be treated at home, severe cases characterized by fever, lethargy, and refusal to eat should prompt a visit to the pediatrician.


Benefits of Elevating the Crib Mattress

Elevating the head of a crib mattress can help alleviate the symptoms of congestion by aiding the natural drainage of nasal passages. This method is often recommended by pediatricians as it can make breathing easier, thus helping the infant to sleep better.

Research suggests that a slight elevation (between 15 to 30 degrees) can help prevent the pooling of nasal fluids, which often causes additional blockages and discomfort. It’s important to note, however, that safety must be a priority, and overly steep elevations can pose risks, such as increasing the likelihood of the infant sliding towards the foot of the crib.

Moreover, this slight inclination not only helps with congestion but also may reduce the occurrence of ear infections. Fluid that might otherwise accumulate in the middle ear can drain more effectively when the head is slightly elevated.




Crib Elevation

Aids natural drainage, simple setup

Safety risks if not done properly


Moistens air, reduces mucus

Maintenance required, risk of mold

Nasal Aspirators

Direct relief, effective

Can irritate baby’s nose

Saline Drops

Safe, non-invasive

Temporary relief, frequent reapplication needed


Safe Ways to Elevate a Crib Mattress

When considering elevating your infant's crib mattress, it is crucial to follow safety guidelines to avoid any potential risks. Here's a step-by-step guide to safely elevating a crib mattress:

  • Use a crib wedge: Crib wedges are designed specifically to fit under the mattress. They provide a stable incline and are made to comply with safety standards to ensure they don’t shift during the night.
  • Roll a towel or a blanket: As an alternative, you can roll a towel or a thin blanket into a tight roll and place it under the mattress. Ensure that it spans the width of the crib to prevent uneven elevation or sliding.
  • Check stability: Whatever method you choose, it’s essential to ensure that the mattress is stable and that there are no gaps between the mattress and the sides of the crib where the baby could potentially get trapped.
  • Monitor your baby: Especially the first few times after you've elevated the mattress, keep a close watch on your baby to ensure they are comfortable and safe.


Appropriate Age and Frequency of Use


Appropriate Age

Frequency of Use

Key Benefits

Crib Elevation

From birth until rolling over

As needed during congestion

Aids nasal drainage, can improve sleep quality


Suitable for all ages

Daily during dry conditions or congestion

Adds moisture to air, helps loosen mucus

Nasal Aspirators

From birth onwards

As needed, typically during feedings or bedtime

Directly removes mucus, provides immediate relief

Saline Drops

Suitable for all ages

Up to 3 times a day as needed

Softens and thins mucus, facilitating easier breathing


Alternatives to Elevating the Crib Mattress

While elevating the crib mattress can be helpful, there are other methods to relieve congestion in infants:

  • Humidifiers: Adding moisture to the air can help loosen mucus and relieve nasal congestion. Ensure to use cold-mist humidifiers to avoid burns.
  • Nasal Aspirators: These devices can be used to gently remove mucus from your baby’s nasal passages.
  • Saline Drops: A few saline drops in each nostril can help thin the mucus, making it easier for the baby to expel or for you to remove using an aspirator.


Managing congestion in infants is crucial for their comfort and health. While elevating the crib mattress is a popular method, it should be done with caution and adherence to safety guidelines. Always consider alternatives like humidifiers or nasal aspirators, and consult with a healthcare provider if you’re unsure about the best way to relieve your infant's symptoms. Remember, every baby is different, and what works for one may not work for another. Prioritize safe practices and stay attuned to your baby’s needs to ensure they have a restful, comfortable sleep.


  • Is elevating the crib mattress a recommended practice for infant congestion?

Yes, elevating the head of the crib mattress is commonly recommended by pediatricians to help alleviate symptoms of congestion. It helps by aiding the drainage of nasal passages, making it easier for the infant to breathe.

  • How much should the crib mattress be elevated to help with congestion?

The mattress should be elevated between 15 to 30 degrees. This provides enough incline to aid in nasal drainage without posing safety risks.

  • What can I use to safely elevate my baby’s crib mattress?

It is safest to use a crib wedge designed specifically for this purpose. Ensure that any wedge or support used fits securely and does not shift under the mattress.

  • Can I use pillows or stuffed animals to elevate the crib mattress?

No, pillows, stuffed animals, or other soft items should not be used for elevating the crib mattress due to the risk of suffocation. Always use firm, stable supports that fit securely under the mattress.

  • How can I tell if the mattress is elevated safely?

A: Ensure that the mattress is flat and stable with no gaps between the mattress and the crib sides. Check that the elevation device, like a wedge, does not move or slide.

  • Are there alternatives to elevating the crib mattress for treating congestion?

Yes, alternatives include using a cold mist humidifier in the room, saline nasal drops to help clear nasal passages, and gentle suction with a nasal aspirator.

  • Could elevating the mattress pose any risks to my baby?

If not done correctly, there are risks such as the baby sliding down or creating gaps where the baby could become trapped. Always follow safe elevation practices and check regularly for safety compliance.

  • How long can I keep the crib mattress elevated?

You can keep the mattress elevated as long as your child is experiencing congestion. However, if congestion persists for an extended period, consult your pediatrician.

  • Should I elevate the mattress if my baby rolls over during sleep?

A: If your baby is able to roll over, you must take extra precautions to ensure the baby’s safety with an elevated mattress. It may be advisable to seek other ways to manage congestion if your baby moves a lot during sleep.

  • Can elevating the crib mattress help with other issues like acid reflux?

Yes, a slight elevation of the crib mattress can also help reduce symptoms of acid reflux in infants by keeping the head higher than the stomach, reducing the chance of acid flowing back up into the esophagus. Always consult with a pediatrician before using elevation for reflux management.