Baby Mattress – The Most Comprehensive Buying Guide for Parents

Buying the first baby mattress will require parents to have reliable information in order to choose the right quality. However, with the endless options available in the market today, choosing the right one can be overwhelming. In this article, new parents will have a better guide in their quest to find the right baby mattress. It may not only be for your first child, but for the next ones to come too. 

At a Glance

  • The most common types of baby mattresses include the following: (1) foam mattress, (2) hypoallergenic mattress, (3) dual firmness, (4) natural fiber, (5) spring mattress, and (6) organic mattress.
  • The right baby mattress should meet the safety standards against toxic chemical materials. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are hazardous at high levels and can lead to allergies, lung infections, and the dreaded Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Infants require a firmer mattress where they should not sink more than 2-3cm; toddlers need a softer one.
  • The standard height for a baby mattress is 8-10cm.
  • A mattress cover should fit tight and snug all the time to avoid potential suffocation. Moreover, you should never use harsh chemicals when cleaning a baby mattress.

What is a baby mattress?

A baby mattress makes cribs a comfortable and safe place for babies up to their toddler years. With the amount of time that they spend in it, it is only important that comfort and safety is a priority. This means that its features should address the common concerns of parents, especially safety. Babies also spend most of their days sleeping. For parents, this is a time to make up for missed chores or just to catch up on sleep. With that said, babies should be able to make the most of their mattress until they no longer need it. Equally, price and quality must be considered so it can be worth the cost or more of the parents’ hard-earned cash.

The Many Types of Baby Mattresses

To start, get to know first the most common types of mattresses in the market today and the type of support each type offers through this comprehensive comparison table:

Mattress TypeMaterialsSupport Type
FoamFoam in varying densitySoft to firm support
HypoallergenicWoven casing; inner material may be hypoallergenic foam or cottonFirm support
Dual FirmnessTwo sides of foam with different support typesModerate to firm support
Natural Fiber
Animal or plant fibersFirm support
SpringFoam or cotton with coil springsFirm support
Organic
Organic cotton, wool, and latexFirm support

Foam Mattress

On a budget? Baby mattresses made of foam are generally the cheapest of the bunch. It is also lightweight and can provide just the right support for a child. Firmer foams are a little heavier and denser. However, they are also more resilient, which can be ideal when it comes to providing support for babies. For toddlers, softer foams are ideal.

Hypoallergenic Mattress

A heaven sent for families with a history of allergies or asthma. Hypoallergenic mattresses come with a washable cover. This helps to get rid of dust, dirt, and tiny creatures that may trigger allergies. A mite-proof layer is also a common feature of hypoallergenic mattresses. Some of these may also include an antimicrobial function and are often made from organic materials.

Dual Firmness Mattress

Also known as the patented dual-core design, this mattress is designed to be used from infancy to toddler years. One side is firmer for infant use as a crib mattress for more support. The other side has more cushion for a toddler.

Natural Fiber

With layers made from materials that allow breathability and firmness, natural fiber mattresses are durable enough to last many years. This is a practical choice for couples planning to have more children to avoid having to keep buying new mattresses.

Spring Mattress

The most traditional design, coil springs on layers of foam and/or cotton make mattresses firmer and more durable. The space in its layers also allows better air circulation through the mattress so babies can feel cool and fresh during warm weathers.

Organic Mattress

With the growing awareness about toxic chemicals found in some mattress materials, organic mattresses have become popular. Organic materials are also free from harmful chemicals which makes them safe for babies. Moreover, they are also eco-friendly but can be quite expensive depending on its design.

Health and Safety Concerns

With the thousands of baby products introduced in the market every now and then, consumers have also raised safety concerns. As it turns out, some cheaper products use potentially toxic materials. The good thing, however, is that this has created more reliable standards for consumers. Today, there are stricter product regulations across the world. Consequently, baby mattress manufacturers have started to use materials that are toxic-free and are also hypoallergenic and easy to clean. Product labels have also improved, but for skeptic consumers, researching about the product in question can come a long way.

Toxic substances in baby mattresses

VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds are hazardous at high levels. These chemicals are potential causes of allergies, lung infections, and the dreaded Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). These are commonly present in new mattresses that have been treated with chemicals. Typical examples are synthetic foams or gel mattresses made from polyurethane and polyester. Mattresses made from non-organic cotton grown with harmful pesticides are sources of VOCs as well. Many fire-retardant chemicals also carry toxic chemicals that can make people sick especially babies without parents even knowing it. Heat is also known to activate VOCs. This only means that the baby’s body heat against the mattress while sleeping can also unknowingly trigger its release.

A safe baby sleep

The tiny bodies of babies also mean they are more susceptible to the negative effects of these harmful chemicals. To make sure they are not only sleeping comfortably but safely as well, make sure to read the label first. If there are doubts, always ask manufacturers. When uncertain, it’s always better to move on to other brands that can better guarantee the safety of the product.

Purchase Criteria

The different types of mattresses also come in many designs and quality to suit a wider range of consumer concerns. To make it easier, decide on the material type first to narrow down options until you find the best product. Keep researching until you find what you need. To help you further, here are some important criteria that parents must consider in making that final choice:

  • Cover Material 

Athough typical mattresses come with a fixed cover, more baby mattresses today are designed with a removable cover so the top layer can be washed easily to save parents from the hassle of washing the entire mattress. Make sure the cover fits snugly against the mattress to avoid possible suffocation. For meticulous parents, antimicrobial and hypoalbabylergenic covers are the best choice.

  • Price and Practicality

Most parents tend to keep on a budget especially when there are lots of things to buy for their first baby. While it is true that most high quality mattresses are generally expensive, parents can still invest in a good mattress with a higher price tag especially if they are planning to have another child in the future. Otherwise, they can just choose to resell the mattress if it will not be used anymore as long as it was maintained in a good condition.

  • Quality and Durability (Hardness and Support Type)

These words often come at a cost. However, as mentioned earlier, high product quality can be a good investment since its durability also means it can be used longer, and parents can save from the costs of having to buy a new mattress because their first purchase got worn out easily. Good quality can also put the parents’ mind at ease when it comes to safety and comfort, which is what every parent wants for their child after all.

  • Ease of Maintenance

Raising a child can get physically draining everyday, but with a mattress that can be easily wiped clean and maintained on the go, tedious cleaning tasks can be reduced. This means choosing materials that are stain-resistant and easily washable.

  • Safety and Comfort of Use (Breathability)

Safety should be as important as the baby’s comfort. Make sure to check about the materials used in the mattress before buying to avoid ending up with a product made with materials that can be toxic for the baby and the people at home.

  • Size and Dimensions

Baby mattresses that are bought separate from infant cribs should be measured properly to make sure they will fit just right inside the crib.

Care and Cleaning Tips

Looking after a baby comes with seemingly endless tasks day by day. For parents, any products and ideas to keep these tasks to a minimum are always welcome. However, with the amount of time babies spend in their cribs, having to wash the mattress is inevitable. Most importantly, it is imperative to keep the baby’s environment as clean as possible at all times. Now that options are narrowed down, consider these tips for keeping a baby mattress clean and to lengthen its lifespan:

  • When possible, use a small, clean vacuum to get rid of even the tiniest dirt from the mattress and its corners. This can help to save the mattress from washing as much as possible.
  • During washing, use bleach-free cleaning products and scrub gently while paying attention to stubborn dirt. Do not use any harsh chemicals. Using such chemicals may leave a harmful smell and make the fabric irritating to the skin.
  • For stains, use lemon on the area for safe bleaching.
  • Avoid soaking the mattress as much as possible.
  • Make sure the mattress and cover are completely dry before using it again to avoid mold growth. Leave the bare mattress under direct sunlight if possible for as long as needed to dry all layers. If drying indoors is the only option, use a fan in a room with good air circulation.
  • Change and wash all beddings at least every two weeks and use hot water. When washing, use at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit of heat to effectively kill dust mites.
  • Before purchase, always check for cleaning and maintenance directions. This will let you know if they are doable enough under your available resources and circumstances.

Useful Accessories

To make a baby mattress more comfortable and protected from stains, make sure to also have the following accessories:

Pad

Pads can help to change the support type for the baby as needed throughout the day. It also creates another protective layer for the mattress while in use.

Cover

Keep at least 2-3 covers handy for more frequent changing needs to keep the mattress from being left bare whether in use or not. There are also anti-allergy covers available, which may include mite-proof and antibacterial features.

Protector

Helps to keep fluids from seeping in and avoid stains. Mattress protectors come with waterproof materials like plastic or synthetic fabric. Keep in mind, however, to choose a material that also considers comfort.

Popular Brands

Although there are good brands that are not available in all stores, there are plenty of other reputable ones. Here are more brands that parents can trust to be one of the best:

Sealy Naturepedic Colgate Moonlight Slumber Graco Serta Simmons Kids Dream on Me Babyletto Lullaby Earth

These popular brands come in different types and varieties to meet the changing needs of a growing baby. Choosing the best baby mattresses will always be a matter of preference specific to the child. While it can be really confusing, a good amount of research from reliable resources will always help. Just keep in mind to choose the safest ones. Be guided by standards. With the right guide, you can organize the selection so it is stress-free and done the smart way.

Where to Buy in the U.S.

Online shopping is always convenient, but sometimes, seeing the actual product first can make a difference. In the U.S., here are some popular stores for baby mattress shopping:

  • Amazon – perhaps the most popular online shopping haven, Amazon also provides helpful user reviews, complete product information, recommendations, and pricing options.
  • eBay – a good online source of both new and used products. eBay uses buyer protection program. However,  consumers must pay attention to published product details and communicate with sellers to guarantee expectations.
  • Target – with the convenience of both an online store and physical shops, Target is the answer for consumers that want flexibility. Target’s numerous branches also allow same-day pick-up services for online purchases.
  • Walmart – similar to Target in flexibility, Walmart is another popular option for baby products. (e.g., baby care kits, baby sleeping bags, etc.)
  • Ikea – known for its easy-to-assemble furniture items, Ikea also carries reputable brands of baby mattresses in both online and physical stores.

Common Questions

There are always many questions for first-time parents when it comes to product safety and specifications. That is of course understandable. To further guide consumers in their quest for the right mattress, here are the most common questions and their answers.

How much should a good baby mattress cost?

There are good quality baby mattresses worth under $100, while premium ones can cost as much as $500 or more. For parents that can be patient enough to find cost-efficient mattresses, there are reasonable prices between $80-$200.

For how many years can I use a baby mattress?

With proper maintenance, a good baby mattress can last for up to 2 years or more. Check the manual for the best way to do this..

When should I turn around a baby mattress?

Although this only applies to double-sided mattresses, the truth is there are no definite requirements in place. What is standard depends on the baby. Once they start to spend more time being active and standing up, turning up the toddler side is in order.

Should I buy an organic mattress?

Organic mattresses are more of a preference.  Since organic types have the best reputation when it comes to quality, it has become a popular choice for consumers. However, there are now safety regulations in the manufacturing process of baby mattresses.  This means that consumers can be more confident about the quality of trusted non-organic products. Yes, they can be as good as the organic ones!

How deep should my baby sink into the mattress?

For proper support, a baby should sink not more than 2-3cm deep into the mattress. Mattresses that sink deeper than this can pose a risk of suffocation for the baby. This is why a firmer mattress suits infants. Sinking deeper while they lay on their side or belly may cover their nose.

How high should a baby mattress be?

The younger the baby, the thinner and firmer the support should be. Subsequently, parents should add or use thicker layers as the child grows and gets heavier. However, for safety purposes, 8-10cm is the standard height in general.

Our Top 3 Most Recommended Baby Mattresses

Still undecided? Here are brand-specific mattresses and models that continue to rake in the most positive consumer reviews from the world wide web.

Best Budget Choice: Safety First Heavenly Dreams Mattress

For a tight budget that does not compromise quality. Yes there is such a thing.

Best Overall Choice: My First Premium Memory Foam Mattress.

A quality and price that ticks all the right boxes. Cost-efficient as well.

Best Premium Choice: Newton Wovenaire Breathable and Washable

If budget is not a question, go premium for the best quality. The one that has it all.

Brand and Product NameProsCons
Safety First Heavenly Dreams MattressReasonable price
Non-toxic
Lightweight
Leak-proof
Hypoallergenic
Non-removable cover
May be too short for standard size cribs.
My First Premium Memory Foam MattressHypoallergenic
Antimicrobial
Mite-proof
Affordable
Has a packaging odor that may require a few hours of airing outdoors.
Thinner than most mattresses.
Newton Wovenaire Breathable and Washable100% recyclable
Limited lifetime warranty
Breathable Layers
Washable Cover
Price
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