It’s an eternal truth: If your baby doesn’t sleep well, nobody sleeps well. Getting a great night’s rest isn’t just important for parental sanity — it’s fundamental to healthy infant and toddler development. When you lay your infant down on his or her crib mattress, you want to know they’ll be safe and slumbering for as long and as soundly as they need. Finding the best baby crib mattress for your family really can make all the difference.
Parents are naturally focused on making the most of a baby’s waking hours, homing in on the best developmental toys and games — but the right kind of sleep is just as important developmentally. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), sleep happens to be the primary brain activity during early childhood development. You can see why a crib mattress is a vital investment. Infants need time to develop their sleep-wake cycles, which should be well established by six months (a gift for exhausted parents), and by age two, most kids spend more time asleep than awake. Overall, children will spend 40 percent of their childhood sleeping.
With so many baby crib mattresses on the market, it’s hard to know which are the safest and most comfortable. Fortunately, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers guidelines that help parents narrow down their options. Your baby should sleep on a flat surface, whether in a crib, bassinet, or play yard. Nothing else should be in the sleep space except for the baby — no blankets, no soft toys, no bumpers. In addition to fitting snugly within the crib, a mattress should be firm. In other words, it shouldn’t indent when baby rests on it.
Bedside sleepers that meet Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) safety standards may be an option for some parents, but the AAP points out that there are no published studies that have examined the safety of these products.
- You can choose between innerspring mattresses, or foam mattresses, usually made from polyurethane. With innerspring mattresses, more layers generally equal a better mattress.
- If you’re planning to convert your baby’s crib to a toddler bed, as most parents do, opt for dual-firmness convertible mattresses. The newborn sleeps on the firmer side, while the toddler sleeps on the softer side.
- If you opt for an “organic” mattress, you should know that there’s no concrete industry standard governing exactly what that entails. But it should be GREENGUARD-certified, at the very least, because that’s a group that tests products for harmful emissions.
- Air out a mattress for at least 48 hours before sleeping on it.
The AAP also cautions against being swayed by crib mattress manufacturers that claim their products can reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) as there’s no evidence that this is true. Instead, the AAP recommends using mattresses that meet the CPSC’s safety standards.
The CPSC recommends that a mattress used in a full-size crib be at least 27 1/4 inches by 51 1/4 inches, to prevent the possibility of head entrapment and suffocation between the mattress and crib sides, and the mattress should not be thicker than six inches.
We found the best crib mattresses that not only offer baby a good night’s sleep and provide parents with peace of mind, but will also last long enough that your child can easily use it both as an infant, and during his or her transition to a toddler bed.
Best Crib Mattresses
This stellar baby mattress is made without vinyl/PVC, phthalates, perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), polyurethane foam and flame retardants. The surface is made of breathable organic cotton.
Pros: This crib mattress has a stain-resistant and waterproof surface. And it’s been certified according to the GREENGUARD GOLD program for minimal chemical exposure and uses organic cotton as its filling. It’s two-sided, so can be used for both babies and toddlers. It measures 27 1/4 x 51 5/8 x 6 inches.
Cons: The price. But you get what you pay for.
This mattress is made with innovative breathe-through technology which allows air to flow freely.
Pros: Parents of older babies who roll over and prefer sleeping face down say this mattress has provided them with peace of mind because of its breathability, which many have tested out for themselves. It doesn’t wear or indent over time either, they note. The Newton crib mattress measures 52 x 28 x 5.5 inches and is designed to fit all standard size cribs.
Cons: This mattress is pricey and some say it arrived with a chemical smell that wore off after being aired out.
Made in the U.S. with medical-grade fabric, this mattress is waterproof and odor-resistant. It’s also certified to be free of toxic flame-retardant chemicals and has minimal impact on indoor air due to low volatile organic compounds (VOC). The hypoallergenic cover can be easily cleaned with a damp sponge.
Pros: The Little Dreamer’s dual surface serves as a two-stage sleep system, meaning you can use the extra firm layer for your infant and, then, as baby grows into a toddler, flip it so he or she can enjoy the softer, more plush side. This mattress measures 27.5 x 5 x 52 inches.
Cons: The mattress is a bit of an investment.
Beautyrest has been a trusted name in mattresses for over a century. This crib mattress gets high marks as it features a natural fire protection wrap as well as a waterproof barrier thanks to its superior woven fabric.
Pros: Baby will sleep easy as 231 luxury pocketed coil springs provide an even, firm, and supportive surface. You can flip this mattress and let your toddler enjoy the other side, which includes an extra layer of foam for added cushioning. This mattress measures 52 x 27.5 inches. It’s six inches thick.
Cons: Several parents noted that the seams ripped over time.
Kolcraft's Pure Sleep Therapeutic mattress has 150 steel coils that provides lots of firm support to sleeping babies.
Pros: This mattress is eminently affordable, and its cover is waterproof, stain-resistant, and breathable. Inside, there is hypoallergenic cushioning and an airflow pocket that helps keep the mattress from getting too hot.
Cons: The coils are supportive, but some users with bigger kids said that there were some sagging issues after a few months.
Milliard's dual-sided mattress has firm foam layer for infants one side, and memory foam on the other to support your future toddler's back and neck.
Pros: Parents praise the comfiness of this mattress, and its cotton cover is easy to throw in the washing machine. It’s also designed to help little ones transition from crib to toddler bed with a flip of the mattress.
Cons: Some parents struggled to distinguish between the “firm” and “softer” sides of the mattress.
This mattress is made of breathable memory foam that also has a heat-conducting material that Serta says can get even more heat away from your baby's body.
Pros: Somehow manages to be both lightweight and sturdy, according to reviews, this mattress is also dual-sided. One side is firmer for infants. The other is for toddlers who need something a bit softer.
Cons: The knit fabric cover has a water-resistant backing, but that means that it’s not waterproof and that any liquids that get on your baby’s crib are going to stain the cotton outer anyways.
Colgate, a family-owned and operated business, has expertly engineered this dual-firmness crib mattress and packed it with six inches of eco-friendlier foam made with sustainable plant oils. It’s CertiPUR-US certified to be filled with safe, high quality foam.
Pros: Parents say this mattress holds up well over time and shows no signs of wear even as baby grows. The mattress measures 51.7 x 27.5 x 6 inches. It’s six inches thick, as required by law.
Cons: Some consumers received mattresses with “sloppy stitching.” Others found it almost “too firm.”
This crib mattress is lightweight yet ultra-durable. It features a soybean foam-core that uses a percentage of natural and renewable soybeans grown by American farmers, which offers firmness for infants and and softness for toddlers
Pros: This mattress is easy to clean because of its waterproof and stain-resistant cover. Its lock-stitched binding helps to keep liquids from seeping inside at the same time household allergens like dust and dander can be wiped away instead of sticking to the mattress surface. (Anyone who’s ever had a cat climb into a crib can appreciate this!) Parents say it holds up well after years of use. The mattress measures 51.63 x 27.25 x 5.25 inches and fits both standard-size cribs and toddler beds.
Cons: Because it’s made of foam, it can make baby warm while sleeping.
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