Choosing a mattress for yourself can be difficult, but finding the right one for your baby or a toddler can turn out to be an even bigger challenge. Due to their unique sleep cycle, babies and toddlers spend more time sleeping than adults, so their mattresses are going to get a lot of use. Newborn babies sleep from 10 to 18 hours per day, and overall, children will sleep over around 40 percent of their childhood, so having a quality sleep routine is essential for their growth and early development.
When shopping for a baby bed mattress, different factors need to be taken into consideration; comfort is not anymore on top of the priority list, now safety comes first. Nowadays crib mattresses must meet certain safety standards; the federal government determined their thickness and size. That means that you can buy a crib from one brand, and the mattress from another one because most brands follow the minimal and maximum sizes that are prescribed.
Construction-wise, most of the crib mattresses can be split into three main categories: innerspring, foam and organic materials. They can be designed particularly for toddlers or infants, but there are also models that are flippable, so that both sides can be used during different stages in children’s life.
Since babies can not talk, they can not advise you or help you with the final decision, that is why we have prepared reviews of our top picks and a buyer’s guide that summarizes everything you should pay attention to when choosing a bed for your newborn baby or a toddler.
Newton Crib Mattress
- Dual firmness
- 100 % washable
- Greenguard Gold certification
The Newton Crib is a first mattress that is completely washable and breathable, its Wovenair core is 90 percent air and 10 percent food-grade polymer, wrapped up in a 3D cover that is also highly breathable. That means that, if your baby rolls over onto her stomach during the night she can breathe right through it, which lowers the risk of suffocation more than with any other mattress. For many parents that it the key feature that could seal the deal.
Another great feature is that this mattress is double-sided, one side is more firm and designed for infants, while the other one is softer to suit better toddlers needs. This way you are saving your money, and getting a 2 in 1 mattress, now that is a real long-term investment.
The Newton Wovenair crib mattress is hypoallergenic, non-toxic, does not contain metal springs, glue or polyurethane foam, it is 100 % recyclable, and it does not release harmful substances, which got him the Greenguard Gold certification. Also, it provides a high level of temperature regulation, so no overheating can occur. Both cover and core of the mattress are washable, the cover is machine washable, but the base core should be washed only manually in a bathtub. Avoid washing both components with hot water, because it can shrink them a bit, also do not use heat to dry them out; the best way is to let them air-dry. The Newton mattress weights 11 pounds, and its dimensions are 52 x 28 x 5.5 inches.
Moonlight Slumber Little Dreamer
- Lifetime warranty
- Dual Firmness
- Greenguard Gold certification
- Antimicrobial and water resistant
Another excellent double-sided mattress is the Moonlight Slumber Little Dreamer, providing two different levels of firmness for different needs of infants and toddlers. Extra firm side for babies to prevent SIDS and support the muscular development, and a softer one for toddlers. After the first year and a half, you can turn it around on a more softer surface that will suit toddler’s support needs. Mattresses for toddler beds need to have a milder level of firmness, but the soft side of this mattress is not the softest one out there. So if you are buying this mattress for a kid that is already a toddler, keep in mind that it might feel a little too firm at first.
This eco-friendly crib mattress is made from plant-based foam infused with oils, which is wrapped up with a layer of woven fire barrier, and then covered with a medical grade knit fabric that is hypoallergenic and water resistant. The cover is not removable but is easy to clean up with a damp cloth or a sponge. SafeSewn seams are on the sides to ease the change of the sheet, and to provide bed bug and dust mite resistance. The heat regulation is not provided with any special feature.
This mattress comes with a simple design, solid construction, affordable price, and a lifetime warranty. It weighs only 10 pounds, and its dimensions are 52 x 27.5 x 5 inches.
My Green Mattress Emily Natural Crib Mattress
- Made from organic materials
- Greenguard Gold certification
- Sleep trial period – 100 nights
The Emily Natural Crib Mattress is another flippable mattress, but its both sides have the same level of firmness and composition. The bed is firm enough so that it can hardly develop any indentations, keeping the surface even and firm so that the baby can easily roll over. This innerspring mattress contains natural materials only; it’s made from organic cotton, organic latex, and eco-wool quilted cover. Synthetic materials could affect and aggravate children’s allergies or eczema, so this company takes care not just about comfort but about your children’s health as well.
Many companies use chemicals to develop flame barrier covers for mattresses, but those ingredients and their off-gassing are dangerous and should be avoided. That is why My Green Mattress has a completely natural solution that is safe and also feels good. Their eco-wool from flocks in California and Southern Oregon is woven into the cotton cover to provide a flame barrier and a wall for all kinds of dust mites, mold, etc. The wool is flame resistant, but it still can be inflamed and start to smolder, there are no chances that it will burst to fire because the fire cannot spread over the wool, that is why this material is used as natural flame resistance. The wool also helps with heat regulation, keeping the mattress cold during the summer, and warm during the winter.
It is recommended to flip and rotate the mattress every few months to keep it comfortable and to maintain it by spot cleaning all the messes. This mattress comes with a warranty period of 10 years, and a 100 nights sleep trial period. It weighs a bit more due to the innerspring core, a total of 24.1 pounds, and its dimensions are 52 x 27.2 x 6 inches.
Beautyrest Beginnings Sleepy Whispers
- Dual firmness
- Greenguard Gold certification
- Stain and water resistant
As one of the most durable crib mattresses, we represent you double-sided Beautyrest Beginnings Sleepy Whispers. The core of this mattress consists of 231 luxury pocketed coil springs and a 9 gauge border wire to reinforce the edges and secure that they will stay firm and supportive. Toddlers side has a layer of convoluted foam, while on the side for newborns is a layer of supportive comfort foam, firm enough to reduce the risk of SIDS significantly. Both layers are wrapped with a 100% natural cotton fire protection and encased into a superior woven cover that is hypoallergenic, stain and water resistant so that it keeps the foam clean no matter what happens. Temperature regulation is provided with small metal rings on sides, and those are actually air holes that are replacing warm air with the cooler one.
If you are looking for a mattress that will grow with your child, with features of an organic mattress and by much more affordable price, then Sleepy Whispers could be your ideal choice. This crib mattress comes with a limited lifetime manufacturer warranty, it weighs 21.6 pounds, so it is among heavier crib mattresses, but that is only because of his innerspring core that secures even and firm base. Its dimensions are 52 x 27.5 x 6 inches.
Safety 1st Heavenly Dreams
- Water resistant
- Greenguard Gold certification
Although this model is not designed with two sides of different firmness level, do not write it off so quickly. The brand Safety 1st gained parents trust and their affection around 30 years ago when they created the famous „Baby On Board“ sign, since then, their products became an inevitable part of each household with children due to their high reputation among manufacturers of safety products for babies. This brand is not just a mattress-only brand, they are really dedicated to the development of high-quality baby products, and know the needs of their target group very well.
This crib mattress is lightweight, with a core that is made from dense thermobonded polyester fibers and built to last, firm enough to support newborns and toddlers, without too much bounce or sinkage. The core is covered with a vinyl material that is hypoallergenic, water, stain and tear-resistant, and also very easy to clean-up. The edges are solid, providing excellent support without sinkage, so the chances of entrapment or injuries are as low as they can be. Toddlers especially move a lot, exploring the inner space of the crib, so it is essential that their surroundings are entirely safe. One potential „flaw“ is the absence of any heat regulation features, so this mattress is not the most breathable one on the market.
The Heavenly Dreams weighs only 7.5 pounds, which makes him super lightweight crib mattress. With that in mind, changing the sheets and flipping the mattress will probably never be easier and faster. Its dimensions are 52.5 x 27.5 x 5.5 inches, and it comes with an average retail price below 100$, which makes him a great and cheap crib mattress.
Different Categories of Crib Mattresses
After we have represented you our best choices, now it is time to dig deeper into details and introduce you to the features of three main types of crib mattresses based on their construction and composition.
- Foam – most common material that is used is a polyurethane foam, and that is why these crib mattresses weigh less than any other. Usually, they are from 4” to 6” thick. When it comes to standard beds, foam firmness can vary from very soft to very firm, but most of the crib mattresses are at least medium firm or higher. For newborn babies, firmness of the bed is the main feature that should be considered, the firmer, the better. Optimal support is provided with high-density foam, but usually, the edges are not as supportive as the ones of an innerspring mattress. Foam layers produce almost no noise while bearing weight and are extra comfortable, but the foam material itself is attached to above average off-gassing. On the market, foam crib mattresses are the least expensive ones.
- Innerspring – this type has a core that consists of a steel coil support system that makes the mattress sturdy, the bigger number of coils, the more supportive mattress it is. Above it, different layers of foam, polyester or cotton can be found. These mattresses are heavy due to their coil core, and if the organic comfort layer is also added, the weight goes up even more, above 20 pounds, that feature will not ease the often sheet changes. Coils also affect the noise level, so these mattresses cannot be as quiet as foam beds. When it comes to firmness, all innerspring mattresses provide a proper level of firmness for infants, decreasing the SIDS risk. Mattresses with springs also offer better support for baby’s body than the foam-based crib mattresses. Innerspring mattresses are on the pricier side, especially if they contain organic materials, but they also have above average lifespan and produce little or no off-gassing.
- Organic – crib mattresses from natural and organic materials are popular among parents, most of the organic beds are foam models, but there are some innerspring organic available as well. The title „organic“ refers to all types of mattresses that have the GOTS certification (Global Organic Textile Standard) which can be given to materials that are at least 70% organic, some of them are latex, wool, organic cotton, and in addition they contain CertiPUR-US certified, polyurethane foam. So, not all organic mattresses have to be 100% organic, and usually, they are not. Like regular foam beds, organic mattress produces almost no noise and the edge support is not his strongest feature. The organic mattress can be created with single or dual firmness sides, but the support level varies and depends on foam density. These mattresses are the most expensive ones, with a starting price point from 150-200$.
Buyer’s Guide for Crib Mattress Shopping
When expecting a baby, one of the most exciting things that you could do is furnishing baby’s nursery room. Parents are a huge target group of shoppers, and they, of course, want only the best for their child, so they can easily get carried away and get lost among colorful patterns and cute cozy stuff. Shopping for your baby can be an exciting and challenging experience. You want your baby to be safe and comfortable, but you can not try out the mattress instead of her, and obviously baby cannot tell you her opinion because she does not speak. Sometimes, it is so easy to start overthinking and complicating, but for babies, safety comes first, so let’s just take a minute and forget about clouds, birdies and all those oh-so-cute pattern designs, and go through the basic and most important factors that you should keep in mind.
- Dimensions – optimal measures have been prescribed by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, dimensions of baby bed mattress need to be 51 ¼ inches long, at least 27 ¼ inches wide, and thick up to 6 inches. The mattress should fit snugly into the crib, with almost no space between them, so that the baby does not get trapped. Here you should rely on to so-called „two-finger test.“ If you can put more than two fingers, the middle and pointer, to fit in between crib rails and the mattress, that means that your mattress is too small and creates unsafe surroundings for your child. Those small gaps are potential traps, so always make sure that it is not too big by performing this simple test. If you are looking for a round crib, you need to search for specially odd-shaped mattresses, but they are usually sold in sets. Their eye-catching design really gets a lot of compliments, but they may not be the most practical models and to equip the round crib is usually more expensive.
- Cover – the two main functions of a cover should be breathability and water resistance. In most cases, covers are stain and water resistant, made out of materials such as polyethylene or vinyl which are easy to clean and maintain. Some covers are made from cotton, those provide a more comfortable feel, but sadly they are not water resistant, they can be spot cleaned, but that can easily turn into a mess. It is important to check out certification labels on the cover because some vinyl materials can contain phthalates which are not good for children’s health. Usually, the high-quality mattresses are phthalate-free.
- Support – a key factor for infants and SIDS prevention. It is recommended that babies sleep on their back because in that position it is easiest for them to breathe. Supportive and firm crib mattress keeps the baby on her back, while softer ones can induce her to roll over easier and risk suffocation.
- Firmness – another important factor that links to SIDS. For infant’s mattress choose the firmest one that you can find because they are the safest for that age group. On softer mattress babies can easily sink in, or roll over on their stomach and risk the SIDS. Softer beds are more convenient for toddlers because they are somewhat aware of their movements and can control them better.
- 2-Stage mattress – a lot of mattresses today are built, so that are dual-sided, with one side being firm for newborns, and the other one softer for toddlers, so that you do not have to purchase a new mattress so quickly, it saves your money, mattress, and time. Consult your pediatrician before flipping the mattress to make sure that your child is ready for a new, softer sleeping surface.
- Weight – most mattresses are lighter than 20 pounds, foam ones are the lightest. Heavier models are more difficult to remove from the crib, and they are going to give you a proper arm workout, considering how much often you are going to have to change the sheets and clean it.
- Edge support – foam mattresses usually lack edge support, that can cause edges to sink in too much if the baby rolls over. Toddlers who are already standing can hurt themselves if they stand on the edges that tend to sink, their leg can slip or get stuck in between.
- Temperature regulation and breathability – another SIDS cause is overheating, so parents should pay attention if the mattress has any heat regulation features that can control body temperature. Cover and its breathability are important for this, cloth covers are more breathable, but they tend to retain more heat. On the other hand, most vinyl covers are aerated or perforated to help with the airflow.
- Noise – when it comes to mattresses, innerspring type produces more noise than the foam. Cloth covers are quite quiet, while the vinyl covers can produce some sounds while the baby is moving or rolling, which may cause sleep disruption.
- Cleaning – a lot of accidents can happen, so the easiest and the best solution that can save parents time and money would be the mattress with washable core and cover, also polyethylene or vinyl covers that are water resistant are a solid option as well. Some covers are removable and can be washed, but the most important thing is that the mattress stays dry, clean and safe for children’s health.
- Price – crib mattresses are cheaper than regular bedroom mattresses; sometimes the cover can have an impact on the price, for example, vinyl covers are usually more expensive because they are more breathable and easier to clean than the cloth covers. The most affordable are foam crib mattresses, with the average retail price point below 100$. Innerspring crib mattresses can cost from 75$ to 150$, while the most expensive ones are mattresses with natural and organic components, and they can cost 300$ or 400$.
- Odor – a new mattress can often emit off-gassing when it is just opened and removed from the box, but that smell goes away within a day. Usually, foam mattresses produce more off-gassing than the innersprings, but when it comes to crib mattresses, they emit minimal odor and even have a certification that states the fact.
- New mattress – if possible, try to avoid using second-hand crib mattresses, even if they are borrowed from some friends or family members. Worn foam mattresses can become a playground for different kinds of bacteria, and they are probably no longer as firm as they used to be, which can be dangerous for the child’s health.
- Certifications – for crib mattresses, the rules are more strict and created with children’s needs and health in mind. It is recommended that all models have Greenguard gold certificate for minimal emissions of VOC (volatile organic compounds). Foam mattresses need CertiPUR-US certificate which guarantees that the foam does not contain formaldehyde or lead. „Organic“ crib mattresses need to have GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certification.
Crib Mattresses and SIDS
SIDS stands for sudden infant death syndrome, an unexplained death that usually occurs during sleep. That is why the right choice of crib mattress is essential for children’s sake. According to American SIDS Institute, although the SIDS is at an all-time low, around 4,000 newborns and infants die each year in the US, due to SIDS. That is the primary death cause among children who are between one month and one year old. The exact reasons are unknown, but some of the most common symptoms that are connected to SIDS, affect these most vulnerable groups of children:
- Babies with respiratory infections, or any other breathing problems
- Babies with brain defects in areas that regulate wakefulness and breathing
- Babies with low weight, with brains that are not mature enough to control heart rates and breathing
Besides these health problems, some environmental features and factors can lead babies to get more susceptible to SIDS:
- Babies who sleep in the same bed with their parent, pet or a sibling. Babies should sleep in their own crib, in the same room with their parents, to lower the risk of SIDS.
- Babies sleeping on their stomach have a more significant risk of suffocation, and those sleeping on their side can easily roll onto their stomach. The safest sleep position for babies is back-sleeping.
- Babies who get overheated.
- Babies sleeping on a soft mattress, if they roll over onto their stomach, soft surface raises the risk of suffocation. That is why firm mattresses are a must.
- Babies exposed to secondhand smoke are at higher risk of SIDS
There are some measures of precautions that parents need to follow to reduce the risk of SIDS:
- During the first year of the babies life, always put them to sleep on their back. When they are older than one year, babies will be able to move more naturally, and then they can rest on their stomach.
- Use only bare, firm mattress, avoid putting a baby on a thick blanket or plushy material. The crib should be as empty as possible, all the stuffed animals, pillows, bumper pads, toys, are unnecessary there and potentially dangerous for baby’s breathing, remove everything that could get in touch with baby’s face.
- Heat regulation is essential, cause overheating leads to SIDS. On colder days, dress up your baby in layers, so that you can easily remove some if necessary. Avoid loose blankets and never cover baby’s head or face, use a sleep sack instead.
- Baby’s crib should stay in parent bedroom for the first sixth months up to one year, but the baby should never sleep in parents bed.
We hope our reviews and buyer’s guide were helpful, as you know, shopping for a crib mattress is nothing like shopping for a standard mattress. Crib mattresses for babies have a much more significant role in their lives, and they could actually save them, so bear that in mind when buying a crib mattress.
Co-founder of Counting Sheep and Sleepaholic