Sleep is essential for a child’s health and wellbeing. Several studies have found that adequate sleep impacts memory, immune system responsiveness and even school performance. When shopping for the best mattress for your baby, toddler or child, consider the quality of materials along with the mattress type and level of firmness. Ideally, you’ll want to buy a mattress that your child can grow with for several years. Use our child mattress buyers guide below to help you on your shopping journey.
How to choose a mattress for a child
1. Select the right size
Choosing which size mattress to buy will depend on your child’s age, size and how long you plan on having your child use the mattress.
- Crib mattress measurements: 28” x 52”
- Twin mattress measurements: 38” x 75”
- Twin XL mattress measurements: 38” x 80”
- Full mattress measurements: 54” x 75”
Baby and crib mattresses
If you’re shopping for a mattress for your new baby, you’ll need to have your crib ready. Crib mattresses have a minimum size but may vary slightly, so you’ll want to have the dimensions of your crib handy when you shop for a mattress.
Toddler beds can help your child transition from the crib to a “big kid” mattress. A toddler bed includes a low railing or partial railing to keep your child from rolling out of bed. Toddler beds may help you feel better about your child’s security throughout the night, but they aren’t always necessary. Some parents opt to go straight for a standard twin bed for their toddler.
If you’re shopping for a mattress for a child, you have a few more options. A twin mattress is the most common mattress size for a young child, but some parents may adopt a “room to grow” mindset and purchase a full mattress that the child will be comfortable with into their teen years. Twin XL mattresses are also available and provide extra length.
2. Set a budget
Knowing how much you’re willing and able to spend will help you narrow down your search. A twin mattress can cost anywhere from $100 to $1,000 and above, but most average innerspring mattresses come in between $300–$500, while a memory foam mattress may set you back a bit more.
While it can be tempting to go with the cheapest mattress available, your money will be best spent on purchasing a quality mattress that your child can grow with. A good mattress can last 10 years or more, meaning if you purchase the right bed for a young child, it may last them into their teen years. Paying more money upfront may actually save you money in the long run and save you the headache of having to purchase a new, cheap mattress every few years.
3. Choose the type of mattress
Once you know the size of mattress you’re looking for and how much you’re willing to spend, you’ll want to consider which type of mattress will be best for your child. You have three major options: innerspring, foam and hybrid. Each of these mattresses comes with pros and cons you’ll want to understand before you make the leap.
- Innerspring mattresses: Spring mattresses are a popular choice for every age group. Innerspring mattresses have a longer lifespan than the other types on average, and may be harder for a child to damage by roughhousing. They tend to be more firm, sturdy and supportive for most sleeping styles.
- Foam mattresses: Memory foam is trendy, but it’s not recommended for very young children (infants and toddlers). However, an older child may enjoy the adaptive nature of memory foam, especially if they’re a side sleeper. Be aware that memory foam mattresses are known for off-gassing, which can cause a strong smell for the first several weeks of use. While off-gassing is not harmful, the smell can be disruptive to sleep. A room with good ventilation and airflow will help the smell dissipate more quickly. If you opt for a foam mattress, be sure to look for one that focuses on adequate support and alignment in addition to the pressure relief and comfort the mattresses are known for.
- Hybrid mattresses: A hybrid mattress can be a good choice for a parent looking for the sturdy support of an innerspring mattress with the cushier feel of foam.
- Organic mattresses: Some mattresses, especially foam and hybrid models, may focus on “organic materials.” An organic mattress may be chemical free, hypoallergenic, flame resistant and/or biodegradable. Organic crib mattresses come highly recommended as they are safer for infants. Searching for a mattress the focuses on the integrity of their materials and construction will never be time wasted.
4. Determine the right firmness level
Mattress firmness is an especially important consideration for infants and young children. A firm mattress is recommended for children under 18 months old for safety and proper development. Once your child is a few years old it really becomes a matter of personal preference, just like it is for adults. A firm mattress isn’t the only option for proper support. A good plush mattress will be designed for spinal support and alignment the same as a firm mattress would be. Let your child lay on a few different mattress types in a store or showroom and get an understanding of what they find most comfortable.
5. Make sure it is durable
From jumping on the bed to spilling nighttime snacks, kids are harder on mattresses than adults.
Most mattresses will last about 10 years, including innerspring, foam and hybrid varieties, but the total lifespan of your mattress will depend on the materials used.
Look for high quality thick foam or wrapped steel coils, or consider opting for a latex mattresses, or mattress with latex layers, which are said to last a few years longer than the average mattress. Flipping and rotating the mattress will also help ensure it wears evenly. Investing in a high quality mattress and purchasing a mattress protector (especially if bed wetting is a concern), will go far in extending the life of your child’s mattress.
What to look for in a crib mattress?
New parents looking for a crib mattress need to think about safety and comfort when they’re making their selection. You’ll want to buy your crib before you buy your mattress, and then you’ll know exactly which size you need. It must be a mattress that’s made specifically for infants. The best crib mattress should be firm and fit snugly against the crib. A mattress that’s too soft can cause your child to sink deeper into the mattress, which puts them at risk for suffocation an increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Your baby will need sufficient ventilation in the mattress, so make sure you know what materials are used in the mattress. Organic crib mattresses are an outstanding option because the natural fibers and materials are healthier for newborns. Organic crib mattresses may be a little more expensive, but you will have the peace of mind that your baby isn’t exposed to harmful toxins and chemicals that are sometimes used to manufacture mattresses.
There’s no way around it, babies are expensive, but while it’s a good financial idea to save some money by purchasing used clothes and secondhand toys and books, don’t buy a used mattress. You never really know what kind of mold and bacteria could be growing in a used mattress. Choose a mattress that meets all the latest safety standards and has been independently certified to be safe for infants.
What are the best crib mattresses?
To determine the best crib mattresses, we looked at several factors including materials, support, safety and reviews from real customers. The mattresses we selected for this list are focused on high-quality, hypoallergenic materials, are supportive and easy to clean to make it easier for parents to maintain a safe and healthy environment for their new baby.
Good for the environment
Sealy Soybean foam-core crib mattress
The Sealy Soybean Foam-Core Crib Mattress is the first mattress to be made using natural soybeans as a firm, supportive sleeping surface for newborns and older babies. It’s lightweight, so changing your baby’s bedding is easy, and the mattress is also durable, ensuring you won’t have to buy a new crib mattress before your baby outgrows it. Wrapped in cotton and waterproof, it’s been certified as contributing to a healthy indoor environment.
Good for easy cleaning
Newton Wovenaire baby crib mattress
The Newton Wovenaire baby crib mattress is Greenguard Gold certified and verified to reduce the risk of suffocation. The entire mattress is washable, so rinsing off stains and preventing bacteria is easy. This product is made from 90 percent air and 10 percent food-grade polymer. The mattress is described as being better than organic, and completely recyclable.
Good for hypoallergenic needs
Milliard memory foam crib mattress
The Milliard memory foam crib mattress is durable and comfortable, with 3lb memory foam construction that doesn’t lose shape. Certi-Pur foam is certified hypoallergenic and resistant to mold, bacteria, dust mites and other allergens that may contribute to the development of allergies or asthma. The bamboo cover creates a soft sleeping surface over firm support of the foam base and conveniently strips off the mattress to be washed.
Good for portability
Dream on Me Carina Collection mattress
Metal springs create a solid sleeping surface with the Dream on Me Carina Collection innerspring mattresses, which are designed to be portable for playdates and travel. On top of the coils is a foam bed, which includes antibacterial, waterproof binding and stitching, preventing the growth of mold, mildew and bacteria. It also repels odors. Steel coils in the core of the mattress make it resilient and sturdy. The vinyl cover makes cleaning a breeze. This mattress meets all safety standards and comes with a 10-year limited warranty.
Good for longevity
Colgate Eco Classic III crib mattress
Colgate’s Eco Classica III crib mattress is a value for parents who want to use the same mattress during the baby and toddler years. It can flip from the firm, infant-appropriate side to the softer side that’s more comfortable for toddlers and small children. It’s handcrafted with CertiPUR, plant oil-infused eco-foam. Its lightweight design makes changing your baby’s bedding easy.
What kind of mattress is best for kids?
A “room to grow” approach is ideal when selecting a child’s mattress. Instead of purchasing a new bed every year, find a mattress your child can grow into it and enjoy for years to come. Most parents generally stick to three mattress sizes: twin, twin xl or full. Some mattress companies even offer toddler mattresses, which transition a child out of crib-sleep.
Mattress support is also an important factor. A supportive mattress cradles the body and maintains the back’s natural shape. Innerspring and memory foam mattresses are the most common types of support and rank as the best options for kids. They offer the most choices and the highest overall user satisfaction.
A common concern for parents is mattress firmness. Toddlers transitioning from a crib often enjoy a firmer mattress. This is recommended for children who sleep on their stomach so that they can keep their spine in proper alignment. Plush mattresses offer a pillow-top feel, which is ideal for children who are side-sleepers or like to sleep on their backs.
What are the best mattresses for kids?
To determine the best mattresses for kids we considered quality, support and price among other factors. We included mattresses that would be best for that “room to grow” approach and have the durability to stand up to several years of use, transitioning kids from toddler to teen. We included both innerspring and memory foam mattresses to provide options for back, side and stomach sleepers.
Good for durability
Casper’s Element Mattress
The Element (formerly the Essential) is a foam mattress that is built to last. Its slim design features three foam layers and a dark upholstery-grade zip-off cover made to hide spills. The memory foam layers provide support while relieving pressure points. An affordable price, the Essential is the best for durability if you plan on switching it out during the teen or college years.
Good for the price
Nest Bedding’s BKB mattress is designed specifically for kids. The mattress company recommends it for kids up to 120 pounds, which makes it ideal for younger children. The BKB mattress is best for a budget if you are looking for a simple, well-made design.
Good for longevity
The Saatva is offered in three firmness settings: medium soft, medium firm and firm. The mattress is highly supportive and provides good airflow between coil layers that allow the bed to sleep very cool. The Saatva is ideal for children who are undergoing growth spurts, making it best for the transition into teenhood.
Good for cooling
The Puffy Mattress has a breathable Cooling Gel Cloud Layer that helps keep the mattress cool to the touch — a great feature if your child gets restless in hot weather. The mattress has a hypoallergenic cover that’s also stain resistant, and it comes with a lifetime warranty that lets you feel confident it will last for as long as your child needs it. Puffy also designs its mattresses for all sleep positions.
Good for spinal support
Sealy’s Response Performance
Sealy’s Response Performance mattresses incorporate a pocket coil system to allow more targeted support and reduced motion transfer. The company’s Posturepedic technology delivers reinforced support under the heaviest part of the body for even more support. This mattress is best for spinal alignment.
Good for restless sleepers
Serta’s Perfect Sleeper
The Perfect Sleeper series offers several options, including mattress firmness and bed height. The mattress is engineered to address tossing and turning, lack of support and temperature. The Perfect Sleeper is a bed for comfort and long-lasting quality. It is highly customizable to fit your child’s needs.
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