Best Crib Mattresses – 2018 Reviews and Buyer’s Guide
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Considering how much time babies and toddlers spend asleep, choosing the right crib mattress requires a great deal of research and consideration. Unlike choosing a mattress for an adult, comfort takes a back seat to safety when it comes to top considerations. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that one of the best things parents can do for their babies is to provide a safe sleep environment, which includes choosing a safe, firm mattress that fits snugly in the crib.
While the federal government regulates the size and thickness of crib mattresses, shoppers still have plenty of options when it comes to choosing the right mattress model. Most crib mattresses belong to one of three construction categories: foam, innerspring or organic materials. Mattresses may also be designed specifically for infants or toddlers, though dual-sided mattresses can accommodate both age groups. Shoppers should also compare mattress performance based on factors like support, firmness, breathability and temperature regulation, ease of cleaning and price. Certification of materials is also crucial.
This page will look at the major considerations for crib mattress shoppers, as well as the top-rated models in different categories.
The Newton crib mattress is one of the more innovative crib mattresses on the market. It’s designed with your baby’s safety in mind. This firm mattress is made from fine filaments of food-grade plastic polymer, dubbed “Wovenaire,” that are spun together and encased in a polyester cover. The result is an extremely breathable mattress that is intended to decrease suffocation risk if babies ever roll over to be facedown. It’s also known for its temperature regulation, which is important in helping prevent babies from overheating.
Made with no foam, glue, latex or springs, the Newton is 100 percent recyclable, and it’s GREENGUARD Gold-certified so it won’t release any harmful substances. Not only is the cover machine washable, but the core itself can be washed in a bathtub or shower, which reduces the chance of bacteria buildup. Adding to its longevity is its dual-firmness design, with a firm side for infants and a softer side for toddlers.
Newborns sleep up to 18 hours a day, so you want to feel good about where they’re laying their little heads. The Emily Natural Crib Mattress by My Green Mattress incorporates natural, organic materials so you can sleep soundly knowing your baby is on a healthy sleep surface. This innerspring mattress incorporates GOTS-certified organic cotton in its batting and cover. OEKO-TEX-certified wool is woven into the cover and acts as a natural fire barrier. It’s also naturally resistant to mold, mildew and dust mites.
The mattress is firm on both sides, with durable 13.5-gauge coils. Because it incorporates wool, the mattress sleeps cool in the summer and warm in the winter, which helps with temperature regulation. The cover is not removable, so you’ll likely want to purchase an additional water-resistant, machine-washable cover.
Firm side for infants and softer side for toddlers
Made from plant-based foam
Water resistant, antimicrobial and odor resistant
No chemical fire retardants
Infants and toddlers have different mattress firmness needs, but you likely don’t want to purchase two crib mattresses. The Little Dreamer by Moonlight Slumber is dual-sided, meaning it has a firm side for infants and a more plush side for toddlers. Made from plant-based foam, the mattress also contains a woven fire barrier with no chemicals used. It’s encased in a non-toxic, medical-grade nylon cover that’s water resistant, antimicrobial and odor resistant. Your child will have accidents, so this kind of protection is great.
The Little Dreamer is GREENGUARD Gold-certified, so you can rest assured it doesn’t contain potentially harmful materials. Because it’s made from foam, the mattress is only about 10 pounds, making it much easier to change the sheets.
One of the more affordable crib mattresses on the market
Water resistant cover
Can easily be wiped clean
If you want a quality crib mattress that won’t break the bank, the Heavenly Dreams by Safety 1st is the one for you. The core of this 5” mattress is made from thermo-bonded polyester fibers, making it firm but also very light at only about 7 pounds. The cover is made from vinyl laminated with polypropylene, so it’s very durable and water resistant. It can easily be wiped off and also resists odors.
The Heavenly Dreams is GREENGUARD Gold-certified, meaning it has passed rigorous standards for low emissions of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) indoors. It’s also free of phthalates and lead, so you don’t have to worry about your baby sleeping near any suspicious chemicals. The Heavenly Dreams mattress is built to last and a fraction of the cost of other crib mattresses.
When you consider that your crib mattress needs to last through the toddler years—and probably multiple kids—you’ll want to find one that will stand up to everything your child has to throw at it. The Beautyrest Beginnings Sleepy Whispers by Simmons is constructed with longevity in mind. Its core is composed of pocket coils, which tend to be longer lasting than other coil types. 9-gauge border wire and innofoam corners combine for excellent edge support.
The mattress is dual-sided, so it has extra firm foam on one side for infants and slightly softer foam on the other for toddlers. A cotton fire protection wrap eliminates the need for chemical fire retardants. The woven cover is water and stain resistant, so you won’t have to worry about accidents impacting the foam.
To help you choose the perfect crib mattress for you and your baby, we’ll outline different crib mattress types, shopping considerations and information related to SIDS and mattresses.
|Types of Crib Mattresses|
The vast majority of crib mattresses sold today fall under at least one of the following categories:
These mattresses are usually made from polyurethane foam. They typically weigh less than other crib mattresses and usually measure four to six inches thick.
Firmness: The foam used in standard mattresses may range from very soft to very firm, but most crib mattresses are rated as “medium firm” or higher. Firm mattresses are considered the safest for infants.
Support: Support in a foam mattress is tied to its density, which indicates the foam’s weight in pounds per cubic foot (or PCF). Foams with higher densities tends to offer better support than lower-density foams.
Foam-based crib mattresses tend to be the least expensive models available.
Compared to innerspring, foam mattresses usually offer less edge support.
Crib mattresses with foam layers produce little to no noise when bearing weight.
Foam is linked to above-average off-gassing, but most crib mattresses made of foam that produces minimal odor.
Innerspring mattresses feature steel coils in the support core. They also feature at least one cushioning layer of foam or cotton, as well as an insulator pad that acts as a buffer between the child’s body and the springs. Innerspring crib mattresses tend to be heavy, typically 15 to 20 pounds, and those made with organic comfort layer materials may weigh even more.
Firmness: Most innerspring crib mattresses are firm enough for newborns and infants, and pose a minimal rollover risk.
Support: Crib mattresses with springs offer targeted support based on how the child’s body weight is distributed. As a result, they tend to offer more support than foam-based mattresses.
Innerspring crib mattresses tend to be on the heavier side, but they also have above-average lifespans.
Innerspring crib mattresses are somewhat expensive compared to foam crib mattresses, particularly those with organic components.
Some parents say their innerspring crib mattress is somewhat noisy due to squeaking coils.
Most innersprings produce little to no off-gassing, though models with foam layers may emit some odor.
The term “organic” refers to any mattress that has been certified through the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). Most organic crib mattresses are considered “foam” models, but some organic innersprings are also available. It’s important to note that organic mattresses are never 100% organic; rather, the GOTS certification is given to materials that are at least 70% organic—such as organic cotton, latex, or wool—and contain polyurethane foam that has been CertiPUR-US certified.
Firmness: Organic crib mattresses may be designed with single- or dual-firmness surfaces. In either case, at least one side should be sufficiently firm for an infant.
Support: The support of an organic mattress will vary from model to model, but—like with foam mattresses—it is tied to foam density, as well as mattress thickness.
Organic mattresses tend to be the most expensive models available. Expect to spend at least $150 to $200.
Organic crib mattresses are fairly common, but not as widely available as standard foam or innerspring models.
Like standard foam mattresses, organic crib mattresses produce minimal noise and offer below-average edge support.
|Shopping Considerations for Crib Mattresses|
When comparing mattress models for a child’s crib, here are a few key factors to consider.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), mattresses used in cribs must be at least 27 1/4 inches wide and 51 1/4 inches long, and must also measure no more than six inches thick. CPSC standards also call for mattresses that snugly fit inside the crib with little to no space on the sides so babies aren’t able to become trapped.
Also known as the ticking, the cover is the outermost layer of material on a mattress. Some crib mattresses feature waterproof covers made from vinyl or polyethylene, either single- or multi-layer, which are ventilated to prevent a buildup of leakage when accidents occur. Other covers are made from cloth fabrics like cotton; these are not usually waterproof, but covers with nylon layers offer more fluid resistance. Be sure to check the cover for certification labels. Some vinyl materials may contain phthalates, or plasticizers, which can be harmful to a child’s health. A high-quality mattress should be phthalate-free.
To reduce the risk of SIDS, babies should sleep on their backs because it’s easiest to breathe in this position. Infants placed to sleep on their stomachs are also at a higher risk of suffocation. A supportive mattress helps babies remain on their backs, while mattresses that lack sufficient support may lead to the child rolling onto his or her stomach.
Firmness is another mattress factor that impacts the risk of SIDS. Firmer mattresses are considered the safest option for infants. Softer mattresses that conform to the baby’s body may lead to them sinking too deeply and/or rolling over and potentially suffocating. Soft mattresses may be more suitable for toddlers who have more control over their movements. Some mattresses sold today offer different firmness levels on each side of the mattress, typically a firmer side for infants and a softer side for toddlers.
Models that are on the heavier side may be more difficult to remove from the crib for cleaning or changing the sheet. Most crib mattresses weigh less than 20 pounds. Foam mattresses tend to be the lightest, followed by innersprings.
Some crib mattresses lack reinforced support along the edges. This can cause the edges to sink when a young child rolls over, which elevates the risk of physical injury, as well as suffocation. It can also be dangerous for little ones who like to stand at the edge of their cribs. For these reasons, shoppers should not only make sure their mattress snugly fits inside the crib, but also that the edges don’t sink too deeply.
Breathability and Temperature Regulation
Overheating is a leading cause of SIDS, so it’s important for parents to look out for mattresses that help control body temperature. Temperature regulation is often tied to how breathable the mattress materials are, particularly in the cover. Cloth covers, for example, retain more heat than vinyl covers. However, cloth tends to be more breathable, though many vinyl covers are perforated or aerated to make them more breathable.
Vinyl covers for crib mattresses may produce squeaking sounds when the child rolls around, which can lead to sleep disruptions. Cloth covers tend to be much quieter. By the same token, foam mattresses are fairly quiet compared to spring-based mattresses.
Ease of Cleaning and Resisting Stains
Because accidents do happen, a mattress with a washable cover and core is generally recommended. Multi-layered vinyl or polyethylene covers can help resist leaks and stains, and removable cloth covers can be washed. A mattress that resists stains and is easy to clean can be helpful for parents and also create a more sanitary sleeping space for the child.
The price-point of a crib mattress may vary by mattress type, but generally speaking these models are priced much lower than standard-sized mattresses. Foam crib mattresses, for example, are often priced lower than $100, while innerspring crib mattresses typically cost between $75 and $150. Crib mattresses made of natural or organic materials are usually more expensive—as much as $300 to $400, in some cases. The cover material may also impact price; vinyl covers are often more expensive since they are considered more breathable and easier to clean than cloth covers.
Most mattresses emit smells known as off-gassing when they are removed from their original packaging. These odors can be unpleasant, but they usually dissipate within a day or two, especially in well-ventilated rooms. Foam mattresses tend to produce more off-gassing than innersprings. However, crib mattresses are designed to emit minimal odor, and they must be certified as such (see next entry).
Certification of Materials
Crib mattresses may be certified in multiple areas. All models should be GREENGUARD Gold-certified for minimal emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs); Greenguard Gold certification applies to VOCs, as well as other chemical components that carry health risks. Additionally, foam mattresses should be CertiPUR-US certified. This designation ensures that the foam doesn’t contain certain materials, such as formaldehyde or lead. Crib mattresses sold as “organic” should be Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified, as well.
|SIDS and Crib Mattress Selection|
SIDS is the unexplained death of an infant, usually during sleep, so it’s a major consideration when shopping for a crib mattress. SIDS claims the lives of nearly 2,000 newborns and infants each year, and is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. for children between the ages of one month and one year. While specific causes are unknown, there are certain factors that put babies at a higher risk.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the following groups are among the most vulnerable:
Babies with brain defects, particularly defects in areas of the brain that regulate breathing and wakefulness.
Babies with low birth weights; in most cases, their brains are not mature enough to regulate healthy breathing and heart rates.
Babies with respiratory infections and other issues that affect breathing.
In addition to health factors, some environmental factors can also make babies more vulnerable to SIDS.
Babies who sleep on their stomachs are at a higher risk of suffocating, and those who sleep on their sides may roll onto their stomachs. Back-sleeping is considered the safest position for babies.
Babies who sleep on soft mattresses. In the event that they roll onto their stomachs, a softer surface makes them more vulnerable to suffocation. This is why firm crib mattresses are universally recommended.
Babies who share a bed with their parents, a sibling or a pet. The risk of SIDS is much lower for babies who sleep in the same room as their parents but in their own cribs.
Babies who become overheated.
The Mayo Clinic lists additional risk factors for SIDS.
Male infants are more likely to die of SIDS than female infants.
Most SIDS cases are for babies between two and four months of age.
Babies are at a higher risk for SIDS if one or more of their siblings or cousins has died of SIDS.
Secondhand smoke puts babies at a higher risk of developing SIDS.
Fortunately, parents can help reduce their baby’s risk of developing SIDS by exercising the following precautionary measures:
Always make sure babies are put to sleep on their backs. After one year, when babies can move around more easily, they may be able to sleep on their stomachs.
A bare, firm mattress is best. Parents should avoid placing their babies on thick, soft blankets or quilts. Also make sure the crib is clear of other objects, such as stuffed animals, that can cause breathing problems if the baby presses his or her face against them.
Proper temperature regulation is critical. Babies need to be warm enough in their cribs, but overheating can also lead to SIDS. If it’s cold, dress your baby in layers so you can always remove one. Use a sleep sack instead of loose blankets, and never cover your baby’s head or face.
Parents should set up their baby’s crib or bassinet in their bedroom for at least six months, if not a year. However, babies should never sleep in their parents’ beds.
Breastfeeding babies for at least six months can reduce their risk of developing SIDS. Additionally, babies who suck on a pacifier are also at lower risk for SIDS, although parents should wait until the baby is at least three weeks old and nursing well.
The Mayo Clinic notes “some evidence” that immunizing babies can reduce their risk for SIDS, and there is no evidence than any immunizations increase their risk of developing SIDS.