Everything you need to know before choosing a mattress for your baby’s crib.
Two of the most important items parents buy for a new baby are a crib and mattress. The problem? There are thousands of cribs, and mattresses, to choose from.
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry, we did, too.
In this article, we’ll examine some of the most popular crib and toddler mattresses. We’ll also discuss the most important points parents need to know before purchasing a mattress for their baby.
Here, you’ll find information on foam mattresses vs. innerspring mattresses, what to be aware of when buying an organic mattress, how to find out if the mattress you’re looking at is safe, and more.
Ready? Here are the top eleven crib mattresses, in descending order:
The Emily Crib Mattress is a heavy-duty organic innerspring mattress with a supportive edge, 150 coils, and a gauge of 13.5. Its wool cover is naturally resistant to dust mites, mildew, and mold, and wool’s natural resistance to fire allows the mattress to pass flammability tests without using chemicals. For insulation, the Emily mattress features heavyweight organic cotton batting.
This mattress is certified by GOTS (the Global Organic Textile Standard), as well as by GREENGUARD.As would be expected from an organic mattress, it does not contain any lead or polyurethane foams.
The pros: The Emily Crib Mattress is a firm mattress that’s naturally flame-resistant, and uses organic materials. It also meets the global standards for organic textiles.
The cons: This mattress isn’t cheap, and it’s not completely waterproof. However, both of the mattress’ sides provide equal firmness, allowing parents to alternate sides when necessary.
Is it for you? If you’re looking for a naturally flame-resistant, mold-resistant mattress, and don’t mind paying a bit more or lifting a heavy mattress, the Emily Crib Mattress is the one for you.
Newton’s Wovenaire Crib Mattress is a hypoallergenic foam mattress providing both firm safety and a comfortable night. The Wovenaire mattress is made of air, water, and food-grade polymer, creating a breathable, porous, yet sturdy and recyclable foam. The mattress’ fabric cover is made of two layers of fabric, and unzips to allow for easy washing.
The pros: The best part about the Newton Wovenaire is that its cover is completely removable and washable, and both mattress and cover are lightweight and breathable.
The cons: Like some of the others, Newton’s Wovenaire Crib Mattress isn’t cheap. Also, despite the fact that Amazon claims the mattress is a “two-stage mattress,” customers say both sides are equally firm.
However, the same customers said their toddlers are happy to use the Wovenaire, and that its unique composition makes it unusually comfortable.
Is it for you? If you’re looking for a truly low-ingredient foam mattress with a removable cover, but you aren’t happy with any of the standard foam or spring options, this is the mattress for you.
Like its name suggests, Sealy’s Soybean Foam-core Infant/ Toddler Crib Mattress is made of renewable and hypoallergenic soybean foam, and is certified by both CertiPUR-US and GREENGUARD.
The mattress’ stitching helps prevent liquids from entering the mattress, and its waterproof cover is easy to wipe clean.
The soybean-based foam is firm enough for young babies to sleep on, and comfortable for toddlers, as well. Like the other CertiPUR-US certified mattresses in this article, Sealy’s soybean foam meets flammability and safety standards and is free of phthalates, lead, mercury, formaldehyde, and other chemicals known to harm babies.
The pros: Sealy is known to produce quality mattresses, and their Soybean Foam-core mattress is no exception. The mattress is CertiPUR-US certified, safe, meets the requisite standards, and won’t break the bank.
The cons: While the Sealy Soybean Foam-core Infant/ Toddler Crib Mattress isn’t expensive, it’s still not two digits. Also, even though it’s safe and natural, some parents will prefer to buy a completely organic mattress.
Is it for you? If you’re looking for a safe, hypoallergenic mattress made using natural, recycled materials, but you don’t want to spend too much, this is the mattress for you.
Safety 1st’s Peaceful Lullabies Baby Mattress is a high-density foam mattress with a fiber core containing cotton and wool fibers. The mattress meets flammability standards without the use of harmful chemicals, and is GREENGUARD certified as an ecologically-friendly product.
The Peaceful Lullabies’ rayon cover is water resistant (but not waterproof), can be easily wiped down, and is completely removable and washable.
The pros: Safety 1st’s Peaceful Lullabies Baby Mattress is a safe, mostly natural mattress that meets flammability standards. It’s GREENGUARD certified and the price tag is relatively modest. Also, the mattress’ cover can be easily removed for washing.
The cons: This mattress isn’t completely waterproof, and it’s not completely organic either. That said, it has a soft cover, is easily washable, and fits both cribs and toddler beds.
Is it for you? If you’re looking for a foam mattress with a removable cover, not too expensive but not too cheap, from a well-known company you grew up with, Safety 1st’s Peaceful Lullabies mattress is a good choice.
An organic mattress made of lightweight, non-toxic foam made from plant oils, the Colgate Eco III is certified by both CertiPUR-US and GREENGUARDas ecologically friendly. This mattress has an organic cotton cover with a waterproof backing, ensuring no leaks soak into the mattress itself.
The Colgate Eco III Dual Firmness fits both cribs and toddler beds, and the two different firmness options provide a safe mattress for babies and a more comfortable mattress for toddlers.The mattress also meets standard requirements for both flammability and chemical composition.
The pros: The Colgate Eco III is made of non-toxic foam and has an organic cotton cover with a waterproof backing. Parents can breathe a sigh of relief at the fact that this mattress meets safety and flammability requirements, and is certified as ecologically friendly.
The cons: It’s not clear what the waterproof backing is made of, and the mattress’ price tag is on the higher end.
Is it for you? If you’re looking for a safer mattress that doesn’t compromise on flammability or waterproofing, this is the mattress for you.
Dual-firmness, innerspring, and waterproof
Simmons’ Kids Beautyrest Beginnings Sleepy Whispers mattress is unique in the fact that it is both innerspring and two-stage: most of the dual-firmness mattresses are made of foam.
With 231 coil springs, reinforced border rods, and foam corner protectors, this Simmons mattress provides both firm stability andprotection from the steel springs. With a mattress cover of naturally fire-resistant cotton, the mattress has virtually zero chemicals, easily meeting safety and flammability standards. One of the best parts? The mattress’ cover is waterproof, made with medical-grade materials.
The pros: Simmons’ Kids Beautyrest Beginnings mattress lets babies sleep safely, and offers toddlers an adult-like spring mattress with the extra cushioning adults love.
The cons: This mattress isn’t lightweight, and can’t be flipped before your baby turns one.
Is it for you? If you’re looking for a lightweight mattress, this isn’t going to be it. But if you’re looking for an innerspring mattress with a modest price tag and a softer toddler side, the Simmons Kids Beautyrest Sleepy Whispers is the mattress for you.
Dual-firmness, toxin-free, and affordable
The Safety 1st Transitions Baby and Toddler Mattress is a two-stage mattress offering a firm side for babies and a softer side with additional cushioning for toddlers over the age of one year.
This mattress isn’t organic – it’s made of 100% polyester fiber, but it’s PVC-free, water-resistant, and is easy to wipe clean. Plus, the Safety 1st Transitions mattress meets flammability standards without adding harmful chemicals, and it’s both lightweight and light on your pocket.
The pros: Safety 1st is a well-known company, trusted for several decades. Their Transitions mattress is relatively cheap, and it meets safety and flammability standards. It’s also easy to clean, water-resistant, and free of the most harmful chemicals.
The cons: The Safety 1st Transitions Baby and Toddler Mattress isn’t completely organic.
Is it for you? If you’re looking for a safe, non-organic mattress with 2 different firmness levels and a low price tag, Safety 1st’s Transitions mattress is the one for you.
Waterproof, breathable, and pops into your crib
The Milliard Crib Mattress and Toddler Bed Mattress is hypoallergenic and comes with a waterproof cover. The bottom of the mattress is nonflammable and allows for good ventilation. Milliard’s foam is certified by CertiPUR-US.
One interesting thing about this mattress is that the Milliard Crib Mattress and Toddler Bed Mattress arrives rolled up. When opened, it pops into shape in the crib itself, providing a good fit and a firm mattress. Though this mattress does shape itself to the crib, it is not memory foam.
The pros: The Milliard is a firm, relatively cheap mattress, with a reinforced waterproof cover on the top and sides.
The cons: Some users said the cover is not completely waterproof. Also, the material on the bottom of the mattress is different from that on its top, so the mattress can’t be easily flipped.
Is it for you? If you need a mattress that’s waterproof, flame resistant, breathes, and is relatively cheap, but don’t need a mattress with two identical sides, the Milliard Crib and Toddler Bed Mattress is a good fit.
Innerspring, yet lightweight
An Amazon favorite, the Dream on Me Spring Crib and Toddler Mattress offers two hypoallergenic layers complete with airflow pockets for better ventilation. This mattress has an easy-to-clean vinyl cover and 80 steel coils, along with antibacterial and waterproof locks preventing the inside of the mattress from becoming moldy or odorous.
Even though this Dream on Me is an innerspring mattress, it’s still relatively lightweight, weighing in at just 12 lbs. It also passes flammability, phthalate, lead, and toxicity tests, and can be easily cleaned with mild soap and water.
The pros: The Dream on Me Spring Crib and Toddler Mattress is easy to clean, hypoallergenic, and won’t become moldy. It’s also relatively cheap.
The cons: Antibacterial isn’t necessarily good – there’s concern that products like this may aid the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Also, 80 springs is a relatively low number for an innerspring mattress.
That said, this is one of the most popular crib mattresses on the market, and it does come with a ten-year warranty.
Is it for you? If you’re looking for a sturdy, cheap, hypoallergenic mattress that’s known to be a favorite, the Dream on Me Spring Crib and Toddler Mattress is the one for you.
Dual-firmness with no vinyl cover
A popular pick on Amazon, the Moonlight Slumber Sweet Dreamer Dual Firmness mattress is made of foam certified by the CertiPUR-US, and has a durable cover. True to its name, this mattress has a firmer infant side and a softer toddler side.
Moonlight’s hypoallergenic mattress is also treated with antimicrobial protection, and its waterproof cover washes clean with a damp sponge.
The pros: The Moonlight Slumber Sweet Dreamer’s cover is free of PVC, lead, phthalates, and vinyl, and is non-toxic.
The cons: It doesn’t say what the mattress is made of, and while the price of this mattress isn’t high, it isn’t cheap, either.
Is it for you? If you’re looking for a toxin-free mattress that’s easy to clean but doesn’t have a vinyl cover, this is the mattress for you.
Want a closer look at the technical details of each mattress?
Foam vs. innerspring
Crib mattresses come in two types: foam mattresses, and innerspring mattresses.
One point to keep in mind is that innerspring mattresses are less likely than foam mattresses to retain indentations, but are more likely to provide a fun (but dangerous) jumping ground for active babies and toddlers.
Both innerspring and foam mattresses may (or may not) have an easy-to-clean vinyl cover.
Here’s what you need to know about teach type:
Foam mattresses are lightweight, and vary in both thickness and density. Look for a mattress between 3 and six inches thick. Be sure that the mattress is dense enough that you can’t squeeze it, and that pushing it down is difficult. The denser the mattress, the firmer it will be (and the longer it’ll last).
Most foam mattresses are made from polyurethane, and foam mattresses tend to weigh between 5-13 lbs.
Possibly because of their similarity to adult mattresses, innerspring mattresses are more popular than foam mattresses in the US. These mattresses contain spring coils, providing firmness for several years.
If you choose an innerspring mattress, be sure there is enough insulation on both the top, sides, and corner to protect your baby from the springs. The best insulation contains fiber-wrap or coir-fiber, topped with either foam or cotton.
Innerspring mattresses are usually heavier than foam mattresses, with weights ranging between 15-30 lbs. However, they are also more durable and less likely to contain chemicals.Buying an innerspring mattress doesn’t guarantee firmness, though, so be sure to test the mattress before buying.
Never buy an innerspring mattress without border rods, also called edge support. These rods encircle the mattress’ upper and lower perimeters, ensuring the mattress won’t sag when pressure is placed on its edge.
When buying an innerspring mattress, check both the gauge and coil numbers. Gauge numbers range from 19 to 12.5, with the lower numbers being thicker steel. Coil numbers go in the opposite direction: the less coils, the softer the mattress will be. Look for at least moderately thick steel, with at least 150 coils.
Waterproof and water-resistant mattresses
Vinyl-coated mattresses are usually waterproof and easy to wipe clean. Mattresses covered with cotton, however, may be marketed as “water-resistant” – but may not actually be waterproof.
Though a water-resistant mattress will absorb much of a spill or leak, it will still require cleaning after large spills or leaks. If you do choose a cotton-covered mattress, be sure it (or its cover) can be washed in your washing machine.
If your mattress is not waterproof, it may be worth buying a mattress pad, either with or without a waterproof backing.
Crib mattresses need to fit snugly into the crib, without leaving any empty space. The reason? An ill-fitting crib mattress can cause strangulation or suffocation at worst, and trapped limbs at best.
Crib mattresses should be between 4 and 6 inches in depth, between 27.625″ and 28.625″ in width, and between 51.75″ and 53″ in length.
To test whether a mattress fits properly into your crib, try to insert two fingers into the space between the mattress and the side of the crib. If you can do it, the mattress is too small and you need a different one.
Firmness and breathability
Crib mattresses need to be firm, and should not sink when weight is placed on them. To test a mattress’ firmness, press down hard with your hand. If you see an indentation, it’s not firm enough. If it pops back up, you’re good to go. Also, hold the mattress between your hands and squeeze. If the mattress retains the shape of your hand, don’t buy it.
Remember, you don’t want a mattress that feels good to you. A mattress that feels good to an adult is almost certainly a mattress which is too soft for a baby. Choose one that’s firm – you can always add a soft mattress pad when your baby hits one year.
Also check that foam mattresses are at least somewhat breathable so they don’t overheat. Innerspring mattresses, like adult mattresses, should have a proper vent in the side (or some other solution) to allow air flow.
Cheaper mattresses may have thin coverings which will tear or dry out over the years. Higher quality mattresses will have thicker coverings, either made of thicker vinyl or of good quality cotton. And higher quality innerspring mattresses will have better gauge steel , as well as better insulation and edge support.
It’s important to note that a higher price tag does not necessarily correlate with a higher quality product. Also, when it comes to crib mattresses, look for a warranty of one year – and no more. A good quality crib mattress should last as long as you need it, and the only reason to replace it would be a tear in the cover, or a lack of firmness.
Some crib mattresses have a soft side for toddlers and a firm side for babies. These mattresses can be used either in a crib (most cribs are intended for children up to three years of age) or in a toddler bed (up to age five or six).
It’s important to note that crib mattresses can be used for toddler beds as well, provided your toddler bed has the same dimensions as the crib. The “toddler side” of a two-stage mattress is simply softer and more comfortable than the “crib side.”
However, if your ideal mattress does not offer a toddler option, don’t worry. While a toddler side is a nice addition, it’s not absolutely necessary. If you’d like to make your toddler’s bed more comfortable, simply add a blanket, mattress pad, or mattress topper to his crib mattress.
NOTE: Always use the firm side of a two-stage mattress for babies under 1 year (12 months) of age.
Organic crib mattresses
Most non-organic crib mattresses are covered with vinyl, and contain various chemicals. While these chemicals aren’t dangerous, many parents prefer to avoid them if possible.
If you do choose an organic mattress, make sure it is actually made from natural materials and carries the label CertiPUR-US, or GOTS:Not every mattress which claims to be organic is made of all-natural materials. Since there’s no standard for organic crib mattresses, manufacturers can write whatever they want, and it’s up to the consumer to be aware.
Also be sure that it your chosen mattress is waterproof, or at least water-resistant. Babies will spit up, pee, and poop, on their mattresses, and you need to make sure the mattress remains hygienic until your baby no longer needs it.
Another thing to keep in mind is that many non-organic mattresses are fire-retardant, and all mattresses need to meet flammability standards. If a completely organic mattress is important to you, be sure to choose an organic mattress covered in naturally fire-retardant material, such as wool.
Should you buy a used crib mattress?
No. While you can reuse your first baby’s crib mattress for your second baby, don’t buy a used crib mattress from someone else. Studies show that babies sleeping on a crib mattress used in another home are more likely to die from SIDS.
While it’s not clear why this is so, we do know that smoking is a major cause of SIDS, and that cigarette smoke can be absorbed into fabric and furniture (this is called third-hand smoke).
It’s not clear, but it could well be that a crib mattress from someone else’s home was exposed to chemicals from cigarettes,which could influence your child. This, by the way, seems to be much more plausible an explanation than blaming the chemicals in a mattress’ vinyl cover.
Another issue with used mattresses is that they’re often no longer as firm as they should be, or have tears, mold, or other problems. It’s best to avoid the risk entirely and buy a new mattress for your child’s crib. (You can, however, buy a used crib, as long as it meets current safety standards).
How should you store your crib mattress?
If you bought a crib mattress for your first baby, you’ll probably want to save it for your second to use as well.
Place your crib mattress in an appropriately-sized plastic bag (avoid bags which are too big), and store it in a cool, dry, place. If possible, choose a bag that’s not opaque, since light inhibits the growth of both mold and bacteria.
Proper care and storage will ensure your child’s crib mattress remains usable even after he outgrows it.
Babies sleep over twelve hours each day, so it’s important to make sure their beds are as safe as possible. Both cribs and mattresses play an important role in keeping babies safe, and knowing what to look for is the key to providing a safe sleep environment for your child.
While there’s certainly a crib mattress for everyone, deciding which mattress to buy can be a daunting task.
Here’s a tip: Before you go mattress-hunting, make a list of what’s important to you.
Do you need a double-digit price tag? Are organic baby products built into your soul? Are you okay with a mattress that’s equally firm on both sides, or do you need a mattress that has a soft side and a firm side?
The answers to these questions and others will guide you to the right mattress, and help you decide which criteria to compromise on, and which are non-negotiable.
Make your list, then reread this article and choose the mattress that best suits your needs.
Have any questions or comments? Do you own one of these mattresses? Have a mattress that should be included in this list but wasn’t? Let us know in the comments!
Chana Roberts has spent over 100 hours researching, testing, and writing about products for families. She cares deeply about safety and everything kid. Chana is a freelance writer, editor, and mompreneur, with a passion for helping small businesses succeed.