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As a parent, it’s a given that you want the best for your child. And given how much infants and young children sleep, it’s natural that you want them to have a mattress that is safe, comfortable, and that offers other features that make your life as a parent easier and more convenient.
In this guide, we’ll help you find the mattress that you’re looking for. We’ll review the key criteria for evaluating crib mattresses and the different types you’ll find for sale. We will also direct you to our top picks for the best crib mattresses available today at various price points and with different design styles.
How to Choose a Crib Mattress
It’s normal to focus on making the most of every important purchase for your child, and certainly the crib where they will sleep every night falls into that category. Finding the right crib can be a tough process, but a useful starting point is to think about the key factors and characteristics to look for when crib shopping.
Firmness and Comfort
Having a firm mattress is essential in a crib mattress. The main reason for this is that a firm mattress helps to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS is the leading cause of death among children from 1-12 months, and a sleeping surface that is too soft can be a risk factor for it. As a result, a mattress that is firm rather than plush is vital.
At the same time, having a firm mattress doesn’t mean that your child needs to sleep on the equivalent of a cinder block. A firm surface can still be comfortable and have a slight amount of give to cushion your child’s body.
Some crib mattresses come with a dual firmness option. This means that each side of the mattress has a different firmness feel. When your child is younger, especially in their first 1-10 months, you can keep them on the firmer side. But as they grow and their risk of SIDS declines, you can switch to the other side of the mattress for a more comfortable feel.
Ease of Cleaning
Let’s face it: you’re going to need to clean a crib mattress on a regular basis, so it makes sense to invest in one that’s easy to clean. When a blowout happens, especially in the middle of the night, you’ll be thankful that you have made that choice. A crib mattress is normally easier to clean if it is waterproof or at a minimum water-resistant, and it can also be helpful if the surface is designed to be more resistant to stains.
Another element that affects how easy a crib mattress is to clean is its weight. When you have to move the mattress to clean it or to change the sheets, having a lighter mattress can make it an easier task.
The Mattress Cover
There are two main types of materials that are used for crib mattress covers.
Cotton is one of these materials, and it is the same kind of cotton that you are familiar with from other household products. While cotton isn’t waterproof or water-resistant, in many crib mattresses it is lined with a waterproof material or plastic.
Vinyl is the other material often used in crib mattress covers. The vinyl in these cases is normally layered to make the cover waterproof. While there are no established health impacts from using vinyl, you may look to avoid vinyl that includes PVC and phthalates just to be on the safe side. Research hasn’t shown these to be dangerous in general, but many parents find that it brings peace of mind to avoid them.
A mattress that retains a lot of heat can disrupt your child’s sleep, and overheating can also be a risk factor for SIDS. Given this, look for crib mattresses that are breathable and that have a reputation for effective temperature control.
Types of Crib Mattresses
Most crib mattresses fall into one of three categories based on their internal construction. Each type has its own characteristics, benefits, and downsides.
Foam crib mattresses may be made with viscoelastic foam (memory foam) or polyurethane foam. Depending on how the foam is produced, it can have different characteristics including its thickness and firmness. As a result, it’s important to check any specific foam mattress to make sure that its firmness level is sufficient for a young child. This can be a problem for some memory foams that have a more plush feeling. Whether made of memory foam or polyurethane foam, these mattresses tend to weigh less, which comes in handy if you need to move the mattress or lift it to clean it or change the sheets.
Innerspring crib mattresses operate on the same design principle as innerspring mattresses for adults meaning that they use metal coils to create a support core. Springs tend to give a firm sleeping surface while also maintaining bounce that can prevent your child from sinking into the mattress.
To enhance comfort, innerspring crib mattresses can have thin layers of slightly softer materials above the coils. Because of the strength of the coils, these layers generally do not compromise the safety of the mattress.
Another feature that is found in many crib mattresses is the use of border rods. These go along the edge of the mattress to reinforce the edge and provide firmness across the entire sleeping surface.
One complaint that some parents have about innerspring crib mattresses, especially those with more robust coils and border rods, is that they can be heavy, especially relative to foam crib mattresses.
If a crib mattress is made with a material other than foam or coils, we refer to it as a specialty mattress. There is a wide range of materials that may be used including cotton, wool, coconut fiber, latex, or polyester blends. Depending on the material, producers of these mattresses will advertise different benefits including that a mattress may be more “natural” or “green” than others.
Often, the price of a specialty crib mattress is considerably higher than foam or innerspring options. At the same time, there may be a lack of verified information about the performance of a specialty material because they are not used as often and tend not to have as much data available from verified customer reviews.
What Are the Best Crib Mattresses?
We know that for all parents, time is extremely valuable. For that reason, we’ve pared the list of crib mattresses down to our top 6, each of which is listed in the table below.
|Brand||Mattress Type||Amazon Rating||Number of Amazon Reviews||Price (estimated)|
In the section below, we’ll provide more detail about each of our top picks and why they made our list.
Naturepedic No-Compromises Organic Crib Mattress
The Naturepedic No-Compromises crib mattress stands out among those that claim to be green or organic. The mattress has certification according to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), which has stringent requirements relating to the production of the raw materials and the finished textile material.
But it’s not just a top pick because of its green footprint. It is made with a base of 150 innerspring coils along with edge support. The standard “Lightweight” model has plenty of firmness but is easy to move. It is also offered in a Dual Firmness model for people who want more flexibility with regard to the feel of the mattress.
It is built to be waterproof including heat-sealed seams, and this separates it from many of the other green crib mattresses on the market. Though it is pricey, these features can justify that cost for many customers. Some customers have reported sagging in the mattress, but this is not widespread. In addition, the mattress comes with a limited lifetime warranty to protect against faulty materials. Given the rarity of many of the features in a green crib mattress, it makes the list as one of our best bets for crib mattresses.
Serta Tranquility Eco Firm
The Serta Tranquility Eco Firm crib mattress is a classic innerspring style that utilizes a support core of 120 coils with support border rods to provide greater edge-to-edge firmness. The mattress is two-sided with one side much firmer for infant use, and the second side has foam and cotton padding to provide softness and comfort as your child grows.
The cover for this mattress is vinyl and is both waterproof and stain-resistant, making it easier to clean in a pinch. The total weight of the mattress is manageable for when you need to move or clean the mattress. It also has air vents to improve breathability and help your child stay cool through the night.
The mattress has certifications from Greenguard and Certi-PUR and has received quality reviews from parents who have used it. It is also produced by Serta, a company with a known track record in making mattresses and bedding products. At its price point, it is neither the cheapest nor most expensive crib mattress, which makes it an intriguing and solid option for parents who want a quality mattress without breaking the bank or cutting corners on quality.
Safety 1st Heavenly Dreams
The Heavenly Dreams mattress from Safety First makes our list of the best crib mattresses as a budget option. Its exact price can vary based on availability but normally hovers around $50 on Amazon. This makes it budget-friendly, and at this price, it still delivers solid features.
Those features include a vinyl cover that is water-resistant and stain-resistant. It is also lighter than most crib mattresses, making it easier to lift for cleaning or changing sheets. Its internal construction is with a specialty material known as a thermo-bonded fiber that is derived from polyester. This material provides the substantial firmness that is needed to improve your child’s ability to sleep soundly and safely. There is only one firmness level, so when your child gets bigger and needs something more comfortable, this mattress may no longer fit the bill.
This crib mattress has over 3,000 reviews on Amazon, the vast majority of which are positive. While it’s certainly not a perfect mattress and won’t be usable as long as some of the dual-sided options on this list, its price and value make it a clear choice for our list of the best crib mattresses.
The Newton Wovenaire crib mattress is the most expensive on our list, but with this price comes a handful of features that have won over a huge number of parents. Its unique, specialty design makes it clearly different from other products on the market, and for many parents, this makes it easily worth the price.
The Newton Wovenaire is made with a food-grade polymer that when formed into a mattress shape is actually composed of 90% air. The nature of this material is such that the mattress is plenty firm for safety while also soft enough to be used after infancy. The fact that there is so much open space keeps the mattress breathable and limits heat retention. It also keeps the mattress light and easy to move. Because of how it is built, the mattress is naturally green and made without some of the chemicals used in creating other mattress materials.
The cover of the Newton Wovenaire is not waterproof, but that’s by design. Instead, you can remove the cover and wash it.
As is clear from this description, the Newton Wovenaire is a totally different approach to a crib mattress. While this isn’t for everyone, especially given its price, its strong reviews and innovative design place it squarely among the contenders for the best crib mattress.
Colgate Eco Classica III
The Colgate Eco Classica III crib mattress is a foam option that can meet the needs of a large number of parents and at a price that falls in the middle ground of all of the crib mattresses on the market. Colgate has decades of experience in this industry and has received excellent scores for customer satisfaction with the Eco Classica III.
This mattress is built using several types of foam. These foams are made largely with plant-based oils to reduce the amount of chemicals involved in its production. On one side of the mattress, the foam is firm and is intended to give the kind of surface appropriate for the safe sleeping of an infant. On the other side, the foam is softer and will be more comfortable for your child as he or she gets older. As this mattress costs over $150, the dual firmness helps extend the useful life and thus the value of the mattress.
The Eco Classica III has a cotton cover with inverted seams and waterproof backing. As a foam mattress, its weight is low enough for easy moving and maneuvering. With its features and track record, this crib mattress from Colgate is worthy of serious consideration by parents who want a mattress that can serve their child for years.
Moonlight Slumber Little Dreamer
At a price of around $200, the Moonlight Slumber Little Dreamer is toward the higher end when it comes to price for a crib mattress. However, both independent reviewers and verified customers have reported great experiences using this mattress.
The Little Dreamer is made with foam, in particular polyurethane foam that has received important certifications (such as those from GreenGuard and Certi-PUR). These foams are built to give the mattress a different comfort level on each side. This includes one side that has significant firmness to work as a safe crib mattress for an infant. Its construction also includes smooth, SafeSewn seams and a cover that is made with a stretch fabric that is water-resistant and stain-resistant. Combined with its relatively light weight, this makes for easy cleaning and sheet changing when there’s a mess to be handled.
Moonlight Slumber has a strong reputation for customer care and service, which gives extra reassurance that the Little Dreamer is a mattress that should deliver excellent performance for years to come. Even without being the lowest-cost mattress, the Little Dreamer brings a solid package of features that make it a top choice for parents looking for a crib mattress.