How to choose the mattress for toddlers

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Written by: Alex Savy
Read 7 minLast updated April 1, 2021

We want the best for our kids.

And when it comes to sleep, the task of finding the best becomes even more important.

While there are different bed options you can consider, you need to know exactly what to look for. To help you with that, I’ve compiled all the important considerations and expert recommendations you might need to find the best mattress for your toddler. Here you go!

How to Pick the Best Toddler Mattress

Without further ado, let me start with the key criteria that define the best mattress for toddlers:

  • Support. It’s a well-known fact that proper support is crucial when it comes to sleep. And no matter how old your baby is, they definitely need a supportive bed. Stay away from overly plush models that allow too much sinkage and cannot guarantee proper spinal alignment.
  • Materials safety. When looking for a toddler bed, check the safety certifications. CertiPUR-US and Greenguard are the most common third-party certifications that prove the mattress does not contain harmful components.
  • Thickness. Depending on the layers and the construction, mattresses for kids come in different thickness levels. You need to decide which one would be comfortable for your baby to get on and off. Typically, parents prefer mattresses under 12 inches tall for younger children and toddlers.
  • Firmness level. Softer beds, as I have mentioned above, often can’t provide decent support, while firmer mattresses might fail to cradle the pressure points properly, which can lead to extra curves in the spine. So, when it comes to mattresses for kids, the best option is medium-firm. Some models come with different comfort levels on two sides, so you can flip the mattress and test how comfortable each side is for your child.
  • Off-gassing. Common for foam beds, off-gassing is not that dangerous. However, in some models, it may linger for weeks, which can be an issue for smell-sensitive kids. Try to read mattress reviews to see whether the model you are considering comes with a strong odor or not.
  • Durability. This one is quite contradictory. You see, because toddlers grow up fast, many parents prefer buying cheaper mattresses that don’t last that long anyway. But you need to remember one thing: even though your kid will soon grow out of his or her small mattress, they might use it quite actively. I mean jumping on it and moving around a lot. So, you still want a rather durable bed, something that can withstand active children.
  • Temperature regulation. This aspect is important for all sleepers, including kids. Keep in mind that foam mattresses tend to sleep hot the most, while innerspring and latex beds are generally considered temperature-neutral.
  • Anti-bounce. This one is extremely important for toddler mattresses. You see, your kid might jump on the bed while playing. And when the bed has too much bounce, there’s a danger of falling down on the floor and getting hurt. That’s why many parents prefer kid beds that absorb movement nicely, like latex or foam.
  • Allergies or asthma. If your child suffers from any of these conditions, you need to make sure the mattress is odorless and made with safe, non-toxic materials.

A Word on Toddler Mattress Sizes

When trying to pick a good mattress for a child, many parents can’t decide with the size. If you are one of them, let me give you a couple of pointers:

  • Crib. Measuring 28 x 52 inches, crib mattresses work fine for toddlers. However, keep in mind that such mattresses tend to be rather firm and may be uncomfortable for your kid. You can look for a flippable crib mattress, the one where one side is softer than the other.
  • Twin. Twin mattresses measure 38 x 75 inches. They are a popular choice for toddlers since they can be used for most children and don’t cost that much.
  • Twin XL. Being 38 x 80 inches, these mattresses can serve your kid even when he or she grows up. Twin XL models can accommodate even teenagers. This means your kid can use this mattress for years to come.
  • Full (Double). Full mattresses measure 54 x 75 inches. They are ideal for restless sleepers or two kids that share one bed. It’s also a great option for parents who lay down with their children when putting them to sleep. Just like Twin, a Full bed can be used when your toddler grows up.

“If you are considering a non-waterproof toddler mattress, you can buy a mattress protector. Many of them are breathable but keep liquids and dust away from the mattress, prolonging its life.”

How to Choose the Best Materials for Toddler Beds

Looking for the best bed for your toddler means familiarizing yourself with different material options. Let’s look at the most common ones and what you can expect from them.

Memory foam or polyfoam

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Close conforming;
  • Good pressure relief;
  • Bounce-free;
  • Silent.

Cons:

  • Tends to sleep hot;
  • Off-gassing that may linger for weeks.

Important note: If you decide to get a polyfoam or memory foam mattress for your toddler, make sure the materials are CertiPUR-US or Greenguard Gold certified (or both). This will ensure minimal chances of off-gassing and safety of the materials.

Innerspring

Pros:

  • Affordable;
  • Very supportive;
  • Breathable and doesn’t sleep hot;
  • No off-gassing.

Cons:

  • Bouncy;
  • Noise potential;
  • Somewhat limited durability (compared to other types).

Important note: Innerspring mattresses offer bouncy support and may seem too firm for some children. You might want to consider a model that has a good amount of padding on top of the spring core (wool or cotton fiber, for example).

Latex

Pros:

  • Natural;
  • Good pressure relief and support;
  • Doesn’t sleep hot;
  • Adsorbs movement;
  • Silent.

Cons:

  • On the expensive side;
  • Not suitable for people who are allergic to latex;
  • Potential rubbery smell upon arrival.

Important note: Many manufacturers offer 100% organic latex mattresses, which are dangerous for people with latex allergy. But there also are mattresses that feature a blend of natural and synthetic latex. They usually carry low allergy risks.

Hybrid

Pros:

  • Combines optimal support and cradling;
  • Long lifespan;
  • Doesn’t usually sleep hot.

Cons:

  • Noise potential from the coils;
  • Odor potential from the memory foam comfort layers;
  • On the expensive side.

Important note: Some hybrid beds use the combination of latex comfort layers and supportive coil cores. So, if your kid is sensitive to odors, you might want to try this option instead of the one with memory foam comfort layers.

Airbed

Pros:

  • Adjustable firmness (to some extent);
  • Portable;
  • Very cheap;
  • Good pressure relieving properties.

Cons:

  • Noise potential;
  • Can be punctured.

Important note: Kids should not sleep on airbeds on a regular basis. Getting an air mattress for a toddler is recommended only as a temporary solution or as an option for sleeping when away from home.

It’s helpful to consider your child’s sleeping position. Side sleepers need more cushioning, while back and stomach sleepers require firmer mattresses. If your baby is a restless sleeper and tends to change positions during the night, you might want to try hybrid beds that offer the combination of different materials.

Our research

50

Mattresses Considered

125

Hours of Research

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Sleep Experts Consulted

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