The Best Crib Mattresses for Infants and Toddlers
For new or seasoned parents, learn what you should look for in a crib mattress so your baby can sleep safe and sound
Jun 9th, 2022 •
During the first few months of life, babies spend the majority of the time sleeping—up to 18 hours per day. These hours of rest are critical for your child’s growth and development, so it’s important to find a crib mattress that offers the support and safety your baby needs. Once you have your crib and/or bassinet chosen, it’s time to start thinking about which type of mattress will be best for your baby.
In general, infants need firmer support in a mattress than adults do to promote healthy growth of their bones. If you’re not sure where to start, there’s no need to stress. We’re going to walk you through the process of choosing the best crib mattress for your newborn.
What Should You Look For in a Crib Mattress?
When shopping for a crib mattress, you’ll want to be particular about three things:
Search for a brand that offers high-quality materials that are safe and free from health threats to your baby. First and foremost, look for a with non-toxic materials. The last thing you want to do is expose your infant to harmful chemicals during this critical stage of growth. To make sure your mattress is free from these toxins, look at beds with CertiPUR foams and bed with a GREENGUARD Gold Certification. You should also look at hypoallergenic and organic materials like wool, latex, and organic cotton.
You should also consider purchasing a waterproof crib mattress that’s made with a polyethylene or vinyl surface so if there’s ever an accident, it will be easy to clean. Another option is to purchase a waterproof cover for your crib mattress. Bottom line, you’ll want to prevent moisture build-up that may promote mold or bacteria growth on the inside.
There is an impression that soft means safe and cushion prevents injury. That is not the case with crib mattresses. In fact, research shows soft mattresses actually increase the risk of infant death.
The best mattresses designed for infant use have a firm enough sleep surface to remain flat while a baby moves around. A firm surface promotes safety by reducing the risk of suffocation that soft materials propose. Firmness becomes even more important when your infant starts to become active. A solid, firm surface provides resistance when they begin to push up, turn, and eventually stand. This resistance also strengthens muscles.
In addition to keeping an eye out for the best materials and safety standards in crib mattresses, it’s important to ensure that the model you choose is the ideal size for your crib or bassinet. Most mattresses will come in a standard size to fit a majority of baby cribs, but it’s never a bad idea to take measurements ahead of time to avoid a mattress being too large or small. You will want a firm mattress that fits tightly and securely into the baby crib, with no more than two fingers between the mattress and crib for optimal safety.
A word on hand-me-down mattresses
Obtaining a used mattress may seem like a practical option since your child is going to grow out of it, but this is risky as there’s a high likelihood for mold and bacteria inside of used mattresses.
It’s time to dive into the different types of crib mattresses on the market. When it comes to the types of crib mattresses available, there are three choice:
- Foam Crib Mattresses
- Innerspring Crib Mattresses
- Double-Sided, or Dual-Sided, Crib Mattresses
This type of crib mattress is made up of springs, or steel coils, to support the core. The springs are then covered with layers of cushioning which may include cotton, foam, and polyester. These types of mattresses are rated in terms of support by their coil count. The higher the coil count, the more supportive it will be. The steel gauge of the coils also reflects the support level—the lower the steel gauge, the thicker the coils.
An innerspring mattress may also be built with metal border rods to give the edges more support and structure. These types of mattresses tend to be on the heavier side and may cost more than other options, but offer great support.
Crib mattresses made of foam are typically made from a polyurethane foam resin. These mattresses tend to be lighter in weight than innerspring mattresses and are more cost effective. The most important factor when looking for a foam crib mattress is to choose one that is dense for greater support. The heavier a memory foam mattress is, the denser it will be. You can also test the support by pressing on the surface to see how long it takes for the mattress to regain its shape. The faster it regains shape, the more supportive it will be. Pressing on the sides of the mattress will also allow you to tell how firm it is, as the denser mattresses will not allow you to press very hard into them. When searching for a foam mattress, look for the CertiPUR Certified label to ensure it has been inspected for foam safety to ensure it is toxin-free.
These mattresses are great for both infants and toddlers because they are double sided—offering dual firmness levels—the firmer side for infants and a softer side for their toddler years. These mattresses can be more expensive than your average crib beds, but you will save money in long-term as your child grows. The most important thing to remember with dual-sided crib mattresses is to keep the right side up after changing the crib sheets, especially when your child is an infant.
The Best Crib Mattresses of 2020
Now that you know the different types of crib mattresses available on the market today, it’s time to go through our top picks for the best crib mattresses in terms of quality, firmness, and safety.
Newton Wovenaire — $299
- Type: Air fiber
- Size: 28” x 52” x 5.5”
- Weight: 11 lbs.
GREENGUARD Gold Certified, this lightweight mattress is unique in that it’s made of 90 percent air. This allows for a bacteria and mold-free mattress environment.
Many mattresses have toxic, non-organic ingredients included in them (even if the majority of materials used are organic). But even if the mattress is sealed in an airtight waterproof cover, non-organic materials create breeding zones for bacteria and mold. The Newton Wovenaire largely eliminates such threats.
Made from a breathable Wovenaire material, and 10% food-grade polymer, this mattress doesn’t contain any latex, foam, springs, or glue as most organic mattresses do. It doesn’t have any off-gassing from toxins, fire retardants, or allergens. When you’re finished using the mattress it’s recyclable so it will not harm the environment. Since this mattress is breathable, it reduces the risk of suffocation, the leading cause of death for infants. It also helps prevent the mattress from overheating.
- Type: Foam
- Size: 28″ x 53″ x 4″
- Weight: 7 lbs.
Nook Sleep’s Pebble Air crib mattress is a great dual-sided mattress option that’s super lightweight and made without the need for a mattress cover or even crib sheets!
The highlight of this crib mattress is its organic cover that’s resistant to stains, water, and flames, while also being toxin-free. If you do need to throw it in the wash, all you have to do is zip the cover off.
Made with CertiPUR-US certified foam and organic cotton, rest assured knowing your baby is sleeping safe, healthy and sound. (P.S. the Pebble air is available in three pastel colors to choose from. The perfect accent to any nursery!)
- Type: Foam
- Size: 27.5″ x 52″ x 5″
- Weight: 8 lbs.
The Moonlight Slumber Little Dreamer crib mattress offers safe and firm support for both infants and toddlers.
Made from an eco-friendly foam that’s infused plant oils and wrapped in a medical grade waterproof fabric, the Little Dreamer was a finalist for the 2017 Cribsie Awards “Healthiest Crib Mattress.” It’s no wonder the Little Dreamer is Moonlight Slumber’s best-seller.
Not only is the Little Dreamer made with safe materials for your infant, it’s also hypoallergenic and GREENGUARD Gold certified, meaning its free from toxins and fire retardants. Offered at $196, the Little Dreamer is an affordable option that will stick with your child through their infant and toddler years.
- Type: Cotton
- Size: 27.25″ x 51″ x 6”
- Weight: 12 lbs.
The Ultra-Breathable 2-Stage Organic crib mattress by nature is the cream of the crop when it comes to infant and toddler mattresses.
Designed with Naturepedic’s patented wavesupport™ technology for superior durability and filled with organic cotton, your baby will sleep safe and supported on this premium crib mattress,
This mattress also comes with a built-in, breathable mattress pad that’s wrapped in an organic, waterproof, machine-washable cotton fabric (that happens to be patented, by the way) to keep your child cool and dry while they sleep. Made without latex or soy, this mattress is hypoallergenic, GOTS, and GREENGUARD certified.
Did we mention it’s dual-sided? Well, it sure is! With a firm side for your child’s infant years and a more cushioned firmness for the toddler years, this mattress transitions with your child as they grow.
- Type: Innerspring
- Size: 27.5″ x 52″ x 6”
- Weight: 26 lbs.
From the esteemed mattress brand, Simmons, comes their innerspring crib mattress for infants and toddlers. Made with 231 pocket coils for supreme support and reinforced border protection, this crib mattress is sure to withstand the test of time.
Also a dual-sided mattress, the Beautyrest Beginnings crib mattress will transition from infant to toddler years with ease and durability. Flame-retardant and water-resistant, this crib mattress is both GREENGUARD GOLD and CertiPUR-US certified.
This mattress typically retails for ~$174, but you can get it on Amazon for $130.
- Type: Innerspring
- Size: 28″ x 52″ x 6.5”
- Weight: 32 lbs.
One-hundred percent organic, the Sol Organics crib mattress is an excellent option for parents looking for an organic innerspring crib mattress.
Made with GOTS certified, 100 percent natural wool, all-natural coconut coir, and wrapped in a GOTS certified organic cotton cover, it doesn’t get much cleaner than that.
Naturally moisture wicking and breathable, your baby will sleep cool and dry on the Sol Organics crib mattress. Since it’s made with wool, this mattress is naturally mold, mildew, and dust mite resistant. Constructed with a dual-sided firmness, this crib mattress will easily transition into your child’s toddler years.
- Type: Memory Foam
- Size: 28″ x 52″ x 6.5”
- Weight: 32 lbs.
GREENGUARD GOLD certified, the Heavenly Dreams crib mattress by Safety 1st is a great budget option for parents looking for an affordable bed for baby.
Made with a high-density fibre core for premium support and a stain-resistant outer cover, this crib mattress sleeps safe and clean.
The best way to clean your baby crib mattress will greatly depend on the type of mattress you purchase. Some mattresses are easy to wipe down, others have a zip-off cover that is machine washable, and others can be washed fully, like the Wovenaire. Be sure to check the cleaning instructions for the mattress you choose to ensure you are using the best cleaning practices for maintaining its integrity.
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