How to Review Sleep Trial & Warranty Periods
Lastly, let’s look at two other important aspects of buying a new mattress: the sleep trial and warranty coverage.
For parents who are unsure which mattress will work best for their children, a sleep trial can make a huge difference. Most mattress brands and retailers offer sleep trials that allow customers to test out the mattress for a certain length of time (anywhere from 90 to 365 nights), and then return it for a full or partial refund if they are dissatisfied.
All of the mattresses we’ve reviewed above have sleep trials lasting 100 nights or more, with the Nectar offering a full 365 nights.
Make sure you understand the terms of the sleep trial. Some brands will require you to test the mattress for a “break-in” period (usually 30 to 60 nights) before you can return it for a refund.
Children can be hard on a mattress for a number of reasons, and some wear and tear is expected. The mattress warranty will not usually cover defects that stem from normal wear and tear, but they will cover certain defects, such as significant sagging or indentations in the sleep surface that affect support or manufacturing flaws in the mattress or mattress cover.
The warranty coverage periods are key. Some mattress warranties are entirely nonprorated, which means the company will repair or replace defective mattresses at no extra expense to the owner (except for shipping and handling fees in some instances). Other warranties are partially prorated, which means owners must pay a certain percentage of the original mattress price in order to have it repaired or replaced. This can add up to major expenses. As a general rule, parents should not select a mattress that offers less than two years of nonprorated coverage.
Pay particular attention to what the warranty says about the bed’s foundation. You can void a mattress warranty if you don’t use the proper foundation for the bed, whether that’s a solid foundation, the floor, or a bed frame. If your child sleeps on a bunk bed or uses a less-common foundation, make sure it’s covered under the warranty.
Pillows & Sleep Accessories for Kids
In addition to their mattress, parents should carefully choose other components of their child’s sleeping area to ensure they get high-quality rest night after night. Let’s look at some strategies for selecting pillows, mattress toppers, and bunk beds for kids.
Pillows for Kids
Pillows, like mattresses, are designed to support sleepers by providing an even surface — in this case, for the head, neck, and shoulders. The most important consideration when shopping for pillows is ‘loft,’ or thickness. Pillows that are too thin or too thick provide do not properly align the spine, which can lead to discomfort and pressure.
When determining the proper loft for your child’s pillow, it’s important to keep the following factors in mind:
- Head size: Children with larger-than-average heads typically feel most comfortable on high-loft pillows that provide sufficient support, while those with smaller-than-average heads tend to feel comfortable on low-loft pillows.
- Body weight: Children who weigh more require less loft, and will usually feel most comfortable on thinner pillows, while those who weigh less may require extra loft in order to feel supported and comfortable.
- Shoulder width: As a general rule, children with broad shoulders usually prefer high-loft pillows and children with narrower shoulders usually prefer low-loft pillows.
- Mattress firmness preference: Low-loft pillows tend to be better for those who prefer softer mattresses; this is because the pillow provides less of a barrier between the sleeper’s body and the mattress surface. In contrast, high-loft pillows may be better for those who prefer a firmer mattress surface because the sleeper does not need to sink as deeply.
The table below breaks pillows down by three loft categories:
Pillow composition is another key factor. Some pillow materials are associated with high levels of support, including buckwheat, latex, and memory foam. Latex and buckwheat pillows are also considered more durable than other pillow types. However, these two pillow types tend to be somewhat expensive. In contrast, cheaper pillow types — such as down alternative and polyester models — do not provide the same levels of support, and tend to wear out much more quickly.
For more information, please check out our Best Pillows — Buying Guide and Information page.
Mattress Toppers for Kids
The term ‘mattress topper’ refers to an individual cushioning layer that is placed on the top surface of a mattress to adjust the firmness and comfort levels, and also provide better support in some cases. Mattress toppers may rest freely on the mattress, or may feature elasticized corners that can be tucked over the mattress like a fitted sheet.
In most cases, the topper is designed to make the sleep surface less firm; however, some toppers can increase the firmness when used on exceptionally soft mattresses. Either way, a mattress topper can be used to help a child sleep better on their current mattress’s firmness, if buying a new mattress is not financially feasible.
Toppers made of latex, memory foam, and wool are generally considered the best choice for kids. These models are fairly durable, less lumpy, and produce little to no noise. They are also among the most expensive topper options. More affordable toppers, such as those made from feathers and polyester fibers, are more affordable, but they also wear out more quickly, develop lumps and can be somewhat loud.
For more information about mattress toppers, please visit our Best Mattress Toppers guide.
Mattress Protectors for Kids
Moisture can seriously diminish the lifespan of a mattress, and introduce mold and bacteria into your child’s bedroom environment if not taken care of. Although some mattresses come with a removable, machine-washable cover, most mattresses are spot-clean only. So, if your child is prone to bedwetting, you may want to invest in some additional protection for your mattress.
Fortunately, it’s easy enough to protect your mattress investment and keep it clean with waterproof mattress protectors. Waterproof mattress protectors come in a few different styles. For children, fitted sheets, fitted pads, or six-sided protectors are all good options. These completely cover the top and sides of the bed and fit snugly, so the bed won’t look noticeably different or cause your child to feel embarrassed.
For more information, take a look at our reviews of the Best Mattress Protectors for Bedwetting.
Bunk beds is a catch-all term for any stackable bed that accommodates two or more sleep surfaces. They are typically made from wood or metal, and come equipped with ladders or stairs that can be used to access the top bunk(s). Some models also feature storage drawers in the base. The most common sizes for bunk bed mattresses are Twin and Full.
Bunk beds do carry a risk of injury. Sturdy construction is essential, and most models feature bars or other types of barriers to prevent sleepers from rolling off the top bunk(s). Parents should carefully research the product history and manufacturer warnings for different bunk bed models.
Additionally, purchasers should measure the height of their children’s bedroom before investing in a bunk bed; otherwise they may face space issues. In terms of price, metal bunk beds tend to be less expensive than wood models.
For more information, please check out our Best Bunk Beds guide.