A crib mattress should give your baby a comfy place to sleep all night, as well as ensuring safety and promoting healthy growth. During their first 5 years, children spend over 50 percent of their time sleeping or in some kind of bed. Newborns generally sleep about 16 hours every day, while 3 to 5-year-olds sleep between 11 and 13 hours. Clearly it’s important to give them the best possible environment and bed to do all of this sleeping in.
The market is full of different products and brands, but it can be difficult to choose the best one for your child. For this reason, we’ve chosen a shortlist of some of the best ones for you. Below is a buying guide with the most important information you need, as well as our top five chosen reviews and our own top pick of the best mattress for your baby’s crib.
What to Consider When Shopping
When buying a mattress for adults, we usually look for support, comfort and sometimes pain relief. Safety isn’t usually the biggest priority on our minds. But when we buy for a baby, we really need to pay attention to safety. Weighing the options and choosing a crib mattress is likely the most important decision you need to make in the nursery to ensure your baby’s well-being and safety. Here are the most important factors to take into account if you are making this important purchase:
It’s very important to get the right size, which is why the US government regulates the sizes of both mattresses and cribs to put parents’ minds at ease and to keep babies safe.
You need to buy a mattress whose dimensions fit the dimensions of the interior of your crib. The US Consumer Products Safety Commission or CPSC, the dimensions of a crib interior must be 28 inches (plus or minus 5/8″) wide by 52 3/8 inches (plus or minus 5/8″) long. The actual mattress needs to be at minimum 27 1/4 inches wide by 51 1/4 long. If the crib you have is very old, measure its interior dimensions carefully – it was likely made before the current regulations were in effect and it might pose a hazard to your baby.
A gap between crib sides and the mattress may create a serious suffocation risk; the gap must be no greater than 1 ¼ inches for this reason. You might have read guidelines such as “no bigger than 2 fingers” but it’s better to be accurate and measure to make sure the gap is 1 ¼ inches or less. To comply with US standards, a crib mattress must be no thicker than 6 inches when you lay it out flat.
A flat, firm mattress surface is recommended by CPSC to lower the chances of SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. An overly soft mattress can form depressions that increase the suffocation risk. According to Consumer Reports, this is the best way to test the mattress for firmness: Press your hand into the center of the mattress and along the edges. The surface should readily snap back into place, and it shouldn’t conform to your hand’s shape.
Standards and Certification
Crib mattresses have to comply to sixteen CFR 1632 and 1633 federal standards for flammability. Any foam used in crib mattresses should be certified CertiPUR-US, to ensure that the polyurethane foam complies with standards for emissions, content and durability, and has passed analysis by accredited independent testing labs. It’s also worthwhile to look for GREENGUARD certification as it is advertised by many products. This certification assures that products meant to be used indoors meet strict limits for chemical emissions, contributing to a healthier indoor environment. If you are thinking of purchasing an organic product, check to see if it has GOTS certification to ensure that it really is organic. In the US the biggest GOTS certifier is OTCO, although many other approved certifiers exist all over the world.
Prices vary according to the mattress type and quality that you choose. The thinner, lower priced foam mattresses generally start at around 50 dollars. The denser and higher quality ones often go up to 200 dollars. Innerspring mattresses are most popular with buyers and they cost between 100 and 250 dollars for the most part. An organic mattress will cost you more, with good reason. These can cost anywhere from 150 dollars up to 500 dollars or more.
Crib Mattress Types
Crib mattresses come in three main categories that you should understand: Innerspring, Foam and Organic.
Polyurethane foam is used to make these crib mattresses. This is a less expensive option than the other two, and is a popular choice with buyers. Foam mattresses come in a range of different thicknesses, usually ranging from 3 to 6 inches. They are lighter in weight that the other options, making it easier to change sheets and clean up after baby messes. These mattresses typically weigh between 7 and 11 pounds, which is a major selling point, because you will be cleaning up a lot of baby messes!
These generally cost more than foam, but they remain the most popular choice with consumers. The structure of the springs or coils provides safety and high quality orthopedic support, but perhaps the real reason for the popularity of innerspring crib mattresses is that parents are more familiar with them. After all, most adult mattresses are innerspring. The number of springs in the mattress is one factor determining the support and comfort. Most mattresses contain 50 to 200 coils, with higher coil counts costing more. Firmness is also determined by the thickness or gauge of the wire used in making the springs. Lower-gauge wires are thicker and stronger, and yield a firmer mattress. If you’re buying an innerspring crib mattress, try to find one with a gauge of no more than 15.5 and at least 150 coils.
An organic crib mattress will usually cost you more than the other two types, but there are good reasons for this. Organic mattresses use only 100 percent organic materials (typically cotton) eliminating allergens and chemicals that may harm your baby. This makes them the healthiest option available. Foam mattresses use several different ingredients, some of which may harm your baby’s health, particularly if they’re allergy-prone. When you think about how much time your child spends in contact with the mattress, you can see that using a healthy organic crib mattress has a big advantage over a potentially dangerous polyurethane model.
Top 5 Comparison Table
|Brand & Model||Type||Size (inches)||Weight||Rating|
|Moonlight Slumber – Little Dreamer||Foam||52 x 27.5 x 5||10.5 lbs||5 / 5|
|Naturepedic – Organic Cotton Classic||Organic||52 x 27.8 x 6||16 lbs||5 / 5|
|Colgate – Eco Classica iii||Foam (Plant Based)||51.7 x 27.2 x 6||9.4 lbs||4.9/ 5|
|Sealy – Soybean Foam-Core||Foam (Plant Based)||51.6 x 27.2 x 5||8.3 lbs||4.9/ 5|
|Simmons – Beautyrest Beginnings||Innerspring||52 x 27.5 x 6||25.6 lbs||4.8/ 5|
Reviews of Crib Mattresses
At 5 inches thick, this mattress from Moonlight Slumber is among the top rated in our choice of five reviews.
This certified CertiPUR-US mattress contains no polyethylene, vinyl, phthalates, PVC or lead. This double-sided model is extra firm on one side for infants and less firm on the other side for toddlers, so you will be able to use it from the newborn stage into the toddler years. It features side-stitched dropped seams, it’s waterproof and hypoallergenic, and at 10 ½ pounds it’s lightweight too. Verified owners who have used this mattress with Babyletto Hudson and Westwood Stratton Convertible cribs say that the squared edges and corners make this mattress an exceptionally snug fit against the sides and corners of the crib, eliminating concerns about dangerous gaps. This mattress is not one of the cheaper ones, but you get what you pay for in terms of safety and price with this model.
Naturepedic is one of the top organic mattress manufacturers, and this model is a good example of their high quality products. This company is certified by GOTS and complies with GREENGUARD’s strictest standards for the elimination of chemical emissions. This particular mattress has received several awards for ensuring a healthy, comfortable and natural environment for sleeping. This mattress is another double sided model with a firmer side for infants and a softer side for toddlers. The edges are waterproof, seamless and supported, the core contains 150 coils, and the mattress uses only 100 percent organic cotton. The surface is waterproof, non-toxic and easy to wipe clean. This is another mattress that costs more, but it sets a high standard for organic options.
Based in Atlanta, Colgate has taken a special interest in manufacturing baby mattresses for more than 50 years, so it comes as no surprise that one of their mattresses shows up on our top-five list. The Eco Classica III is certified by GREENGUARD, and is a double sided orthopedic style mattress. One side is very firm to support infants while the other side is softer (but still firm) for toddlers. The core is CertiPUR-US certified and made of plant-based materials – it uses the healthier option of plant oils instead of petroleum oils to eliminate unpleasant off-gassing smells and harmful emissions. At 9.3 pounds this lightweight mattress is covered with certified 100 percent organic cotton backed with waterproofing. This arrangement means the healthier cotton is closest to your baby, but the waterproofing keeps the interior of the mattress clean. If you put a high priority on a natural sleeping environment for your baby, this model is one the healthiest options all-round.
You’re probably familiar with Sealy; their pads and mattresses were recently chosen America’s Best for Baby, as well as taking the Women’s Choice Award both in 2013 and in 2014. The Soybean mattress is another award-winning model in their portfolio. This one isn’t double sided as some of others on our list are, but it has a comfortably firm surface that works both for babies and for toddlers. It achieves this balance with a core that is high density, topped with a comfort layer of cotton cushioning. The 100 percent waterproof cover is pearl embossed and stain-resistant. The CertiPUR-US certified core is hypoallergenic, being made of healthier soybean oil rather than petroleum-based oils. The square corners ensure a snug fit for safety; it’s Gold certified by GREENGUARD and complies with ASTM standards. We highly recommend this Sealy Soybean mattress for anyone who puts a high priority on quality.
This is another of the biggest American brands that continues to produce top-quality crib mattresses year after year. This model is continues the winning streak. It is a double sided innerspring mattress with a generous 231 pocketed springs for the best infant or toddler support. One side is firmer for newborns, while the other includes a convoluted foam comfort layer that is ideal for toddlers. It is certified both by GREENGUARD Gold and CertiPUR-US, guaranteeing that it is a safe and healthy product for an indoor environment. The mattress is non-toxic, hypoallergenic, water-resistant, and features a chemical-free fire protection natural cotton wrap. This mattress has all the features you want and is easy on the budget too.
Yet again we had a tough choice to make at this point in the process. Our analysis of the recent reviews of mattresses led us to choose a top two instead of a single winner.
The two top choices represent different types: one is the Moonlight Slumber Little Dreamer, a traditional polyurethane foam; the other is Naturepedic’s Organic Cotton Classic, an organic mattress. Both these mattresses are double sided so you can use them after infancy, adding to their value and longevity. They both meet the most stringent certification requirements, and they cost a similar amount of money. The biggest distinction is that one is an organic product while the other is not.
If we were forced to choose between these two, we would go with the Naturepedic in order to maximize the well-being and healthiness of the sleep environment. It uses 100 percent US grown cotton, a non toxic, healthy and natural product, to create the best possible environment and reduce exposure to all kinds of allergens and harmful chemicals.
Having said that, we’re not in any way opposed to foam. This material has been used in crib mattresses for many years, providing supreme comfort and orthopedic support, and it’s available in a range of different prices. For these reasons the Little Dreamer also tied for first place.
You have to weigh all of your options carefully and take many factors into consideration when you are choosing the best crib mattress for your baby. Some things may be a priority for you but not for other parents. We hope that these reviews and this guide will help you make a more informed and confident decision for your own baby.