How do I Choose a Mattress for my Child?

Kid Mattress Buying Guide

As you outfit your child’s room, you are likely to take a lot of time to assess the quality of the bed or crib you’re going to purchase. However, equally important for the child’s growth and development is buying the right child mattress.

Getting enough restful and deep sleep is key to a child’s healthy mental development, physical growth, and overall well-being. Much of children’s growth and development happens while they are sleeping. This is why they grow the fastest during their first two years of life when they sleep over 12 hours daily.

Additionally, restful sleep helps to promote healthy growth, a healthy immune system, cognitive function, brain development, and learning. Sleep experts warn that lack of proper sleep can make children moodier, cause hand-eye coordination issues, and make them less eager to learn.

Generally, a good night’s sleep plays a key role in a child’s overall growth and development. Thus, ensuring their sleep environment supports restful sleep is crucial, and this begins with a comfortable, safe child mattress. So, how do you choose a mattress for your child? This guide covers all the necessary considerations you must make when choosing a mattress for your child.

What to Consider when Choosing a Mattress for Your Child

Your child’s bed is an important place to recharge for the following day and a playground for their imagination. A child’s growing body changes constantly, and as mentioned earlier, quality sleep plays a critical role in that change.

Therefore, understanding the right child's mattress features and factors to consider when looking for a toddler bed or a big kid bed is crucial. Keep in mind that a kid’s bed plays multiple roles. For instance, some kids prefer to relax, eat, or do their homework in bed.

That means toddler mattresses must-have features that allow them to withstand the pressure of constant use without compromising their durability and quality. Here are important questions to ask, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

  • Are the mattress components safe for kids?

  • Are there mattress sections that could loosen, such as buttons, and endanger kids?

  • Is it easy to clean and maintain the mattress?

  • Can children suffocate when sleeping or using it?

A good mattress for your child can last seven to eight years with proper maintenance. Here are other factors to consider.

Child Mattress Size

There are standard child mattress dimensions, often set according to age. The ability to classify a child’s mattress according to their age is an important step in choosing a suitable mattress for their growing bodies.

For example, 28-inch by 52-inch mattresses are ideal for cribs. That means they are suitable for newborns and younger kids (up to three years). Older children that are younger than eight years can use 38-inch by 75-inch mattresses.

Similarly, older children (over eight years but not teens) can use standard twin mattresses. Note that some children may need extra support that twin XL mattresses, measuring 38 inches by 75 inches, can offer.  

Full-size foam mattresses are suitable for teenagers. Most of them measure 53 inches by 75 inches, though sizes might vary depending on manufacturers. Remember, not all mattress sizes are fit for your kid. Therefore, prioritize their comfort needs. Here are standard mattress sizes depending on age.

Mattress Size Depending on Age

  • Crib mattresses – 0-3 years

  • Twin mattresses – 3 years to 8 years

  • Twin XL mattresses – 8 years to 12 years

  • Full-size mattresses – 13 years and older

Mattress Firmness

Whether you need a crib mattress or one for teenagers, there’s no one-size-fits-all mattress firmness for kids. Their age and weight are the top determining factors. Should you choose a soft or firm mattress for your child?

Babies need a firm mattress with a tight-fitting mattress cover because they’re more susceptible to suffocation. Toddlers can sleep on a medium-firm mattress depending on their support needs, particularly neck and spine support. Remember, mattresses that are too soft can be squishy and hinder restful sleep.

So, how do you determine the correct firmness for toddler mattresses? Learning how to match your child’s weight with the Indentation Load Deflection is critical to picking the right mattress firmness. Generally, a medium-firm or a firm hybrid mattress is ideal for children weighing 25 pounds to 31 pounds. A soft mattress is suitable for kids weighing less than 25 pounds, while a firmer mattress is perfect for those weighing more than 31 pounds.

It’s also possible to get a mattress with adjustable firmness that your child can use for many years. Be sure to pay attention to your child’s needs, particularly if they complain about back discomfort or neck pain. An incorrect mattress firmness could be the issue.

Child’s Favorite Sleeping Position and Mattress Firmness

Your child’s favourite sleep position will also determine the correct mattress firmness. Here are the common sleeping positions and the recommended firm mattress.

  • Stomach sleepers – medium firm mattress

  • Back sleepers – Medium to medium firm mattress

  • Side sleepers – soft to medium mattress

  • Combo sleepers – soft to medium-soft mattress

Recommended IDL

The recommended IDL varies depending on a child’s sleeping position. These variations include:

  • Stomach Sleepers – 25 lbs. to 31 lbs.

  • Back Sleepers – 25 lbs. to over 31 lbs.

  • Side Sleepers – less than 25 lbs. to 31 lbs.

  • Combo Sleepers – less than 25 lbs.

Child’s Age

Each child’s developmental stage brings unique requirements that necessitate careful attention when choosing the right mattress for your child. For infants, the focus is on the safety and support that a crib mattress offers. The emphasis lies on a thicker yet firm surface to promote proper spinal alignment, coupled with easy-to-clean materials to address potential messes.

Toddlers (transitioning from a crib mattress) and young children can benefit from similar-sized mattresses but with an added need for moisture-repellent features to manage occasional bed wetting. As children progress into their teenage years, your focus should shift towards full-sized mattresses that accommodate their growth spurts and changing sleep patterns.

Durability is also a key consideration, ensuring longevity throughout their teenage years. Factors like potential bed-sharing with siblings, cuddling habits, and evolving sleeping patterns should also guide your toddler bed mattress choice.

Further, the child's evolving sleep and comfort needs influence your mattress choice over time. Regular growth, potential bed wetting, and varying sleeping patterns all impact the mattress's durability and condition. Therefore, a careful consideration of the child's age and associated factors is crucial when choosing a mattress, ensuring both comfort and durability for restorative sleep.

Allergies and Specific Medical Conditions

The right toddler mattresses and options for bigger kids are natural or organic ones made of cotton, organic wool, bamboo, and other materials that meet the global organic textile standard. This is particularly important for children with allergic conditions or specific medical issues.

Avoid mattresses made with volatile organic compounds, synthetic components, and chemical infusions that can cause or worsen allergic reactions. Choosing a high-quality mattress, especially an organic mattress, is easy because most manufacturers add antimicrobial or allergen-resistant elements to the materials. Therefore, pay attention to elements like silver, copper, titanium, and other additions like essential oils and charcoal.

Medical issues like scoliosis, musculoskeletal diseases, sleep apnea, and asthma can interfere with a child's sleep. Lack of enough and quality sleep heightens or worsens the symptoms of these conditions.

A good mattress will ensure your child gets a restful child sleep. So, consider latex mattresses or waterbeds if your child has sleep apnea. Similarly, a memory foam mattress or one with adjustable firmness can offer the required support and comfort.

Note that the benefits of an organic mattress transcend allergic reactions and medical conditions. They can deter bacterial growth, which makes them safer regardless of whether your kid has a pre-existing medical issue or not. Furthermore, your kids can enjoy a restful sleep without worrying about potential exposure to harmful components.

Mattress’s Support

A supportive kid mattress has many benefits. It distributes body weight evenly, reduces pressure, and ensures correct spinal alignment. The preferred material choice and mattress formation determine the support system level.

To this end, a memory foam mattress is dense and offers more support while ensuring the recommended contouring. These mattresses are better for ensuring proper spinal alignment, especially in growing children. On the other hand, latex mattresses are supportive but denser than memory foam mattresses. They lack innerspring. However, their multiple latex layers can offer enough support regardless of your child’s favourite sleeping position.

Note that mattresses with steel coils offer higher support quality and are recommended for specific purposes. However, they often wear off faster than others. The coil support core ensures mattress longevity even with frequent use.

Mattress Durability

While the typical lifespan of kid’s mattresses mirrors that of adult mattresses at 7 to 8 years, the quality of the mattress’s materials determines its longevity. So, assess the mattress's construction carefully, paying attention to high-quality materials that promise longevity. Check labels for specifics on materials and watch for any inorganic components or synthetic chemicals that might affect sleep quality.

Foam density is a key indicator of quality and anticipated lifespan. Understanding these details helps in estimating when the next purchase might be necessary. After all, you don’t need to get a new mattress annually to ensure a comfortable sleep surface for your child. Here are different mattress types and optimal weights that will maximize longevity.

  • Air beds – No more than 35 lbs.

  • Memory foam – at least five pounds

  • Latex mattresses – go for natural options like Talay or Dunlop

  • Waterbeds – at least 62 pounds

  • Innerspring mattresses – up to 13 gauge

  • Polyfoam – at least two pounds

Common Sleep Complaints

Does your Child Wet Bed Often?

Most young children wet the bed. So, preparing for such frequent occurrences is the right move. That’s why a water-repellent mattress cover is suitable for newborns and young children. Furthermore, it can extend the lifespan of the mattress. Your child will also get uninterrupted sleep and wake up clean, and you can remove the cover for cleaning.

Does your Child Fidget often?

Fidgeting may not be a big deal for parents. However, it can affect a child’s sleep negatively. They can wake up several times a night when they start fidgeting. One way to prevent this is to invest in a high-quality mattress with excellent motion transfer and good weight distribution features.

A pock-sprung mattress with springs ensures independent support and is suitable for kids who fidget every now and then. Memory foam mattresses are also a good option, as they offer support and excellent motion transfer. Their bouncy feel makes them fun for children.

Your Kid overheats while they sleep

Some children often get hot while they sleep due to different factors such as fidgeting, weather, and tossing or turning when dreaming. Such temperature fluctuations make them uncomfortable and affect their sleep negatively.

If your child overheats from time to time, swap the mattress with an option that has temperature-regulating features. Gel-infused memory foam mattresses are a popular option for cooling due to their inner components and unique structure.

Alternatively, you can purchase a natural mattress made of temperature-regulating materials like wool or cotton. Be sure to compare different options and choose one that matches your child’s sleep and comfort needs. 

What’s the Best Child Mattress?

Many parents prefer innerspring mattresses for children. There are other options with benefits that support a kid’s well-being. It’s also important to consider the child’s preferences, such as style, sleeping positions, and sleeping patterns. Don’t ignore possible medical conditions such as respiratory health issues like Asthma.

Other considerations include a mattress’s distinctive features, such as motion transfer, spinal support, off-gassing, excellent pressure relief, and more. Thus, compare the benefits and limitations of different mattress types and pick the best option for your child.

Natural Mattress


  • The materials are sustainably sourced, so they are eco-friendly.

  • Have temperature-regulating and antibacterial properties, making them perfect for kids who overheat at night or have allergic reactions.


  • Natural mattresses are costlier than foam and other mattress types.

Air Beds


  • They are durable

  • Have allergen-resistant properties

  • You can adjust their firmness level


  • Children can’t determine the right mattress firmness on their own

  • Some mattresses become less firm with time

  • These mattresses are costly

Memory Foam


  • They last longer than most mattress types  

  • They offer ‘hug fell’ and enough support

  • They’re more affordable than natural mattresses


  • They often become too warm at night

  • Chest compressions may be common

Latex Mattresses


  • Have allergen-resistant properties

  • Offer enough support while ensuring proper spinal and general body alignment

  • They’re durable


  • Their unique feel may not be suitable for every kid

  • Not suitable for kids allergic to latex

Pocket Spring Mattresses


  • They are a unique structure for specific uses

  • Offer enough support at specific points


  • Lack extra feeling, which means they don’t have that luxurious feel most users seek

Hybrid Mattresses


  • Hybrid mattresses offer steady and enough support

  • They are highly responsive

  • They last long


  • Hybrid mattresses aren’t suitable for infants

  • A hybrid mattress is expensive



  • The most affordable bed option

  • Maintains proper body alignment

  • Don’t cause noise and disruption to sleep

  • Have allergen-resistant features


  • They can become cold at night

  • Can easily leak

  • Requires regular maintenance

  • They can easily develop fungi and odour

Innerspring Mattresses


  • Has a support system that maintains proper spinal alignment

  • Affordable option


  • They are noisy

  • Over time, they can lose sturdiness and sag

  • Without proper maintenance, the coils can become exposed

Gel-Infused Memory Foam Mattresses


  • They’re the best option for those who overheat at night


  • Their cooling effect may wear off over time



What’s off-gassing, and how can I avoid it?

Most non-organic kids' mattresses have synthetic components of chemicals that are emitted when you unbox them. This process is referred to as off-gassing and can easily trigger allergic reactions and worsen respiratory health issues. Choose organic mattresses to avoid the release of these toxic chemicals. The organic options are made using natural materials with no toxic elements.

What’s a sleep trial period? Is it helpful?

A sleep trial period is the duration when you use a mattress to ascertain its sustainability before you purchase it. It varies depending on the brand, and the longer it is, the better the chances of accurately assessing its performance. It’s recommended to use a mattress cover during the trial period. In the end, you will be able to make an informed choice.

When should I change my child’s mattress?

Kid’s mattresses have varying lifespans depending on material choice and construction. For instance, crib mattresses often last longer and can be used until the kid moves to a bigger bed. Smaller crib mattresses rarely sag but can wear off excessively, necessitating a replacement. Note that crib mattresses and other child mattresses don’t last long like those for adults.

Should I consider maintenance requirements when choosing a kid's mattress?

Yes. Kids can be messy sometimes. That’s why it’s crucial to consider the maintenance requirements of a crib mattress or any other type of kid mattress. Consider how often you will need to clean it, and go for options that require minimal maintenance.

What’s the cost of mattresses for children?

The type and size of your preferred mattress are the major cost determinants. Features and quality also contribute to the price differences. Costlier mattresses are sprung and latex mattress options, while memory foam offers better motion isolation and support. Be sure to compare prices before you buy a mattress for your child.

What’s the best mattress type for a child?

Foam mattresses are suitable for kids who fidget at night, while organic or hypoallergenic mattresses are ideal for users with allergic reactions. Growing children approaching teenage years need a firmer mattress that offers enough support without compromising longevity. So it’s recommended to compare different features when choosing a soft to firmer mattress for your kid.

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