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Healthy sleep is integral to growing children. The right mattress will provide a comfortable, supportive sleep surface for boys and girls throughout their childhood, and may even be able to accommodate them after they experience major growth spurts. The wrong mattress can negatively affect sleep quality, which has far-reaching repercussions concerning a child’s health, growth, and development.
This guide will look at mattress options for children who are old enough to sleep in their own bed, as well as some shopping tips for parents and our picks for the best kids’ mattresses that are currently available. Please note that this page will focus on mattresses that may be used by adults or children, not mattresses that are specifically designed for kids’ beds.
All children require mattresses that are supportive and comfortable to them. Otherwise, their sleep quality may decrease, leading to emotional and/or behavioral issues. These include:
Support is arguably the most important factor to consider when shopping for a child’s mattress. In the mattress industry, ‘support’ refers to how well a mattress maintains a flat, even sleep surface and promotes spinal alignment. Growing children need optimal support, particularly around their spine, and parents are strongly urged to select models that will provide adequate support.
Mattresses that are too firm or too soft are generally considered unsupportive for most sleepers. Additionally, some mattresses may begin to sag in the middle after as little as one to two years of use; this causes children to sleep in positions that do not align the spine.
Here are a few more important factors to consider when shopping for a child’s mattress:
Mattress size: When choosing a mattress for your child, it’s important to keep in mind that they will probably grow by a significant margin before the mattress needs to be replaced. As a result, parents may want to consider larger sizes to ensure their boy or girl won’t outgrow their bed.
Most mattresses sold today come in six standard sizes.
|Size||Dimensions (width/length)||Suitable for kids?|
|Twin||38W” x 75L”||Yes. Although this is the smallest mattress size available, these sizes measure more than six feet in length, making them suitable for most children. This is also usually the cheapest size.|
|Twin Extra Long (XL)||38W” x 80L”||Yes. The extra five inches of length over a standard Twin may be helpful for teenagers that are somewhat tall and expected to grow more.|
|Full or Double||54W” x 75L”||Yes. Full/Double mattresses are often ideal for children because they are wide enough to accommodate restless sleepers and long enough for any child who is less than six feet tall. Many children are able to sleep on their Full/Double mattress until they reach adulthood.|
|Queen||60W” x 80L”||No. Queen-size mattresses measure six feet wide and nearly eight feet long, making them excessively large for most children. Parents can usually save some money by opting for a Full/Double instead, which offers adequate room at a lower price-point.|
|King||76W” x 80L”||No. A King-size mattress is simply too large for most children and will be an expensive investment for parents.|
|California King||72W” x 84L”||No. Like King-size mattresses, the California King is too large and expensive to be suitable for a child’s bed.|
Mattress thickness: Thickness preferences will depend on the child, but smaller children typically prefer mattresses that are 12 inches or shorter in height. These models are usually easier for smaller bodies to get on and off of, compared to higher-profile beds.
Mattress materials: Mattress type is an important consideration, since each different design carries unique pros, cons, and precautions for parents. The table below features more details.
|Mattress Type||Construction||Benefits for Kids and Parents||Disadvantages for Kids and Parents||Precautions for Parents|
|Innerspring||Foam-based comfort layer|
Steel spring support core
Good option for growing children
Too firm for some children
Coils may protrude from side walls (defective models only)
|Polyfoam/Memory Foam||Memory foam and/or polyfoam comfort layer|
Polyfoam support core
Good motion isolation for kids who share a bed
|Certified foams produce less odor and sleep cooler|
|Latex||Latex comfort layer|
Latex or polyfoam support core
Good motion isolation for kids who share a bed
Allergy potential in organic latex beds
|Synthetic or blended latex carries lower allergy risk|
|Hybrid||At least 2″ of memory foam or latex in the comfort layer|
Pocketed coil support core
Coils may protrude from side walls (defective models only)
|Airbed||Foam-based comfort layer or no comfort layer|
Customizable air chamber support core
Controls may be difficult for kids to operate
|Electrical components carry high safety risk|
Durability: Durability is key for selecting a child’s mattress because there is a strong chance he or she will grow significantly during the bed’s lifespan. As such, parents may not want to invest in a long-lasting, potentially more expensive mattress (such as a latex or airbed model), and may opt for a cheaper, less durable model instead (such as an innerspring or memory foam mattress). However, models that are prone to early sagging may not be a good choice, since sagging can impact the supportiveness of a mattress.
Firmness: Mattresses sold today are available in a wide range of firmness options, from very soft to very firm and everything in between. Although a ‘Medium Firm’ design is generally considered the most popular, every child will have different firmness preferences. It’s important to note that children who weigh less than 130 pounds tend to feel most comfortable on mattresses that are soft to medium, while heavier children typically prefer mattresses that are medium to firm.
Parents should have their child test out different mattress firmness options in order to determine the best comfort level for them.
Temperature neutrality: Sleeping hot is most commonly associated with memory foam and polyfoam beds, although hybrids and innersprings with thick foam layers may also feet warm. Temperature neutrality is important for all sleepers including children, particularly those who tend to sleep hot regardless of the mattress they use.
Odor potential: Off-gassing odor is to be expected from most mattresses when they are new, but foam-based models (as well as some latex and hybrid designs) may produce smells for days or weeks afterward; some smell indefinitely. This may be a problem for children who are sensitive to smell.
Motion isolation: Some mattresses are designed to absorb and minimize motion transfer, which occurs when someone shifts positions or gets in and out of bed. These models can be helpful for beds that accommodate more than one child.
Noise: Innersprings and hybrids may produce squeaking sounds due to their metal components, and airbeds feature electrical systems that may be somewhat loud. If a child is sensitive to noise, then a foam or latex model may be best.
Price: Most mattresses represent a significant investment for shoppers. However, certain types (such as innersprings and memory foam mattresses) have much lower average price-points than others.
Next let’s discuss some tips for researching children’s mattresses and comparing different models and brands.
Lastly, let’s look at two other important aspects of buying a new mattress: the sleep trial and warranty coverage.
Sleep trial: 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.
Warranty: 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.
Now that we have covered some important considerations for children’s mattress shoppers, let’s look at some of the top-rated mattress brands and models for children’s beds.
The following mattress brands and models have earned the highest ratings from those who use them with children’s beds. You can use this comparison table to determine which (if any) of these mattresses is suitable for your child based on the price, thickness, firmness options, performance ratings, and other criteria. To learn more about the brands, please click the links in the top row of the table.
|Brand||Amerisleep||Loom & Leaf||Nest Bedding||Tuft & Needle||Zenhaven|
|Model||AS3||Loom & Leaf by Saatva||Love & Sleep||T&N Mattress||Zenhaven Latex Mattress by Saatva|
|Mattress Type||Memory foam||Memory foam||Memory foam||Polyfoam||Latex|
|Comfort Layer||3″ memory foam||2 1/2″ gel memory foam|
2″ memory foam
|2″ to 3″ memory foam|
1″ polyfoam (Medium firmness only)
|3″ polyfoam||Flippable comfort layers|
1 1/2″ Talalay latex (both sides)
|Support Core||2″ polyfoam|
7″ HD polyfoam
5 1/2″ HD polyfoam
|6″ to 8″ HD polyfoam||7″ HD polyfoam||6″ Talalay latex|
$1,149 (Twin XL)
$799 (Twin XL)
$429 (Twin XL)
$375 (Twin XL)
$1,349 (Twin XL)
|Support Rating||Good||Very Good||Good||Very Good||Very Good|
|Medium firm||Medium soft|
|Temperature Neutrality Rating||Fair||Fair||Fair||Good||Good|
|Odor Potential Rating||Good||Fair||Fair||Good||Good|
|Motion Isolation Rating||Very Good||Excellent||Very Good||Very Good||Very Good|
|Sleep Trial||100 nights||120 nights||Lifetime comfort guarantee||100 nights||120 nights|
|Tuck Customer Satisfaction Rating||82% (4,055 customer reviews)||72% (113 customer reviews)||76% (320 customer reviews)||80% (2,587 customer reviews)||80% (924 customer reviews)|
In addition to mattresses, 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: 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, it’s important to keep the following factors in mind:
The table below breaks pillows down by three loft categories:
|Loft||Thickness||Optimal Head Size||Optimal Weight||Optimal Shoulder Width||Optimal Mattress Firmness|
|Low||Less than 3″||Small||More than 200 lbs.||Narrow||Soft to Medium Soft|
|Medium||3″ to 5″||Average||100 to 200 lbs.||Average||Medium|
|High||More than 5″||Large||Less than 100 lbs.||Broad||Medium Firm to Firm|
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.
Toppers: 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.
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.
Bunk Beds: 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.
For more information on sleep patterns and issues related to children, please check out the following Tuck pages: