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Babies sleep up to 17 hours a day, so choosing a crib mattress that will keep them safe and comfortable is understandably a top priority for parents. Federal regulations control crib mattress dimensions and other safety considerations, but parents can still choose among a wide range of options. Considering its importance for a baby’s safety and sleep schedule, buying a crib mattress can be one of the most stressful purchases for new parents.
We’ll highlight a few of the best crib mattresses on the market, based on the best-practice recommendations of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), our own in-house testing, and verified reviews from real parents. We’ll also walk you through what you need to know and consider when purchasing a crib mattress.
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The Newton Crib Mattress has a simple construction that offers both impressive performance and family-friendly practicality. Its core is made of a non-toxic, hypoallergenic, food-grade polymer called Wovenaire. This material is engineered to provide firm support without sagging, and it is free from off-gassing. The core is 90% air and 10% percent polymer by volume, which allows for excellent airflow and top-notch temperature regulation.
Surrounding the core is a quilted cover made from 3D spacer fabric, which consists of two layers of fabric connected by pile threads. Spacer fabric is designed to promote airflow, dampen vibrations, and insulate the crib for comfort at all temperatures.
The construction of the Newton Crib Mattress makes it easy to clean and practical for parents. Its cover is water-resistant, allowing most spills and accidents to be easily cleaned by laundering the unzippable cover. In case of a bigger mess, or as part of regular cleaning, the inner core can be washed by spot cleaning and rinsing it in the shower. The polymer dries quickly in an area with good airflow, allowing parents to get their baby back to bed even after an accident. The mattress is dual-stage to grow with your baby into toddlerhood.
The Newton comes with a 100-night sleep trial to ensure it fits your infant’s needs. The trial begins the day you bring your baby home, but parents will need to register the mattress online with the baby’s due date. The mattress has a limited lifetime warranty, which is non-transferable and covers manufacturing or material defects.
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The Nook Organic Pure Crib Mattress is made entirely of natural materials, which may appeal to parents looking for a model that is free from chemicals and synthetics. It has an innovative construction that makes use of coconut coir, the fibrous material found in the outer husk of a coconut. The dual-sided design of the Nook stands out, with a layer of natural latex that offers support and comfort when your infant becomes a toddler.
Instead of using chemical fire retardants, the Nook is covered in a layer of naturally fire-resistant organic wool. Wool is also water-resistant, allowing most accidents to bead on the surface rather than sink into the inner layer. The coconut coir core ensures plenty of airflow and sturdy support.
The Nook’s toddler side has a layer of organic latex to provide pressure-relieving support for growing children. Latex is a popular mattress material due to its durability, responsiveness, and comfort.
The Nook comes with the company’s water-resistant 3D SafeSleep cover, which is made of organic cotton and non-toxic polyester. Multiple style and color options are available.
For models with the SafeSleep cover, Nook offers a 100-night free trial that begins on the date you bring your baby home. Purchasers must register the crib mattress online.
The company also provides a limited lifetime warranty on the mattress core, including any manufacturing flaws but excluding the mattress cover, wool barrier, and latex layer. The SafeSleep cover has a one-year limited warranty. Shoppers have the option to purchase the mattress only, without the 3D SafeSleep cover, but the 100-night sleep trial does not apply. The Nook Organic Pure Crib Mattress with the basic cover includes a 90-day warranty.
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Naturepedic manufactures mattresses for all age groups, but their Organic Breathable Ultra 2-Stage Crib Mattress for infants and toddlers has features that are likely to specifically appeal to parents. While most waterproof crib mattresses use synthetic materials like plastic, this one has a wipe-clean fabric made of non-GMO, food-grade sugarcane.
The mattress is available with a polyethylene foam core, but parents can also opt for the slightly more expensive innerspring model. Both options provide the firm support necessary for an infant or toddler, but the innerspring model is significantly heavier. The mattress has organic cotton padding beneath the waterproof sugarcane-based fabric. While the sugarcane-based fabric is sealed to prevent leaking, the innerspring’s open design allows for better temperature regulation than most waterproof foam mattresses.
The quality of the NaturePedic mattress is emphasized by the cover, which is made from organic cotton and has a three-dimensional design engineered for improved airflow, insulation, and temperature neutrality. The cover is easily washable and will absorb the majority of accidents.
The dual-stage construction of the Naturepedic offers a firm side for infants and a medium firm side for toddlers. A tag on the mattress indicates which side is which.
Naturepedic offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on its crib mattress, which begins on the day of delivery and is significantly shorter than the average mattress trial. The mattress has a partially-prorated lifetime warranty, which is non-transferrable and covers defects in the mattress’ materials or construction.
Before making a purchase, it’s crucial to understand the factors that go into a safe and comfortable crib mattress. Some details, such as size and firmness, are non-negotiable matters of safety, while others are a matter of personal preference. Parents should also be aware of certifications, additional features, and other important data points before making a purchase. We’ll walk you through each of these categories to help you feel confident in your choice.
Buying a crib mattress is significantly different than buying a mattress for yourself, since safety is the primary goal and many details are federally regulated or otherwise pre-determined by experts. That said, crib mattress manufacturers still use many of the sales tactics of standard manufacturers. By focusing on the following critical categories instead, parents can filter out marketing claims in favor of safety benefits and other requirements.
Crib mattress manufacturers must adhere to sizing regulations from the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission. For full-size cribs, these dimensions must be at least 27.25 inches by 51.25 inches, and no more than 6 inches high. Non-full-size cribs are smaller or larger than full-size cribs and include foldable and playpen styles.
Just as with full-size mattresses, crib mattresses are available at a wide range of price-points. The average cost falls between $80 and $200. Depending on features and materials, crib mattresses may cost up to $600 or more, particularly if they are made with organic materials. Price is not always a measure of quality, so parents should weigh what features they desire against what their budget allows.
Regardless of their style, all crib mattresses should use materials that are approved by the federal government as safe for use with babies. However, some mattresses are better made than others, with materials more suitable for standing up to countless washes and regular use. Mattress manufacturers may also offer additional quality considerations, such as organic and food-grade materials.
Firmness Level and Support
The CDC recommends babies sleep on a firm surface, as softer mattresses may make it easier for them to roll onto their stomach — a known SIDS risk — as well as potentially being a suffocation hazard. While crib mattresses may seem uncomfortably hard to parents, they are the safest option for infants. Some crib mattresses are dual-sided, with a firm side for babies and a softer side for toddlers.
Mattress manufacturers take different approaches to the inevitability of a crib mattress getting wet. Some use vinyl or plastic within the cover or the mattress itself, some use other synthetic or natural waterproof materials, and others make their mattresses from washable materials. There are also crib mattresses without any of these qualities, which are intended to be used with a waterproof mattress cover.
Ease of Care
Purchasing a crib mattress that is easy to care for is one way to make your life as a parent easier, as accidents do happen. The first step is ensuring that the mattress is waterproof or has a waterproof cover. You may also want to choose a mattress cover with stain-resistant fabric that can be machine washed.
The ideal crib mattress should be breathable and have good temperature regulation to ensure your baby doesn’t get uncomfortably warm or cold. Some types of mattresses offer better performance than others. Innerspring mattresses often allow more airflow than standard foam mattresses, though some foam materials are engineered to be highly breathable. Certain waterproofing materials, like plastic, can limit airflow considerably.
All crib mattresses must use materials deemed safe for use with babies. However, many mattress manufacturers also have their mattresses certified by various organizations, or use certified materials. Certified mattresses are not the only safe models, but third-party verification may offer parents additional peace of mind.
There are several types of crib mattresses available on the market today. Each mattress type has potential benefits and drawbacks that parents should consider prior to making a purchase.
Innerspring mattresses have a support core of interlocking springs, as well as a comfort layer on top. This traditional mattress style offers many benefits, such as good support and excellent airflow through the steel coils. However, they can be pricier than foam models and tend to be significantly heavier.
Made from polyurethane or polyethylene foam, these recent additions to the crib mattress market tend to be considerably less expensive than other options. Their construction makes them nearly silent, so parents don’t have to worry about waking their baby when they are placed in the crib while already sleeping. That said, the use of synthetic foams may make these mattresses less appealing to parents who prefer organic materials.
There are some crib mattresses made of materials that are not used in full-sized mattresses. These can include synthetic or natural materials, and all have their own benefits and drawbacks. These innovative designs are sometimes among the best on the market, but parents should carefully consider whether these mattresses are right for their needs.
Babies grow up into toddlers all too quickly, and some crib mattresses are dual-sided to grow with your child. The two age groups have different needs, so the toddler side is usually softer. Most parents flip the mattress once their child is 12 to 18 months old, but you should speak to your pediatrician first to ensure it’s safe to do so.
Safety is paramount when buying a crib mattress. While some safety features are federally regulated, other safety concerns require parents to determine what works best with their crib and is safest for their child.
Choosing the right crib mattress is a crucial step in ensuring your baby has a safe place to sleep, but it’s important to follow all safety guidelines when saying goodnight.
On Their Back is Best: Research now shows that the safest position for a sleeping baby is on their back, as back-sleeping babies succumb to SIDS at far lower rates than those who sleep on their stomachs or sides. The position doesn’t increase the risk of choking, as a baby’s anatomy protects their trachea while on their back.
Avoid Soft Objects: While baby blankets may look cozy, they can be dangerous. Federal guidelines encourage parents to avoid all bedding, pillows, plush toys, crib bumpers, and other soft objects in their baby’s crib. These items can pose a suffocation and SIDS risk, and babies in appropriate sleepwear will be warm and comfortable without them.
Check for Dangers Around the Crib: Hanging cords from curtains or baby monitors, cracks or splinters in the crib itself, and objects on a nearby shelf can all pose a danger to your baby. Whenever you lay your baby down to sleep, make sure that there is nothing in reach that they could pull into the crib or otherwise injure themselves with.
The size of crib mattresses is federally regulated. Full-size crib mattresses must adhere to specific dimensions, while mattresses for irregularly sized cribs — such as larger, smaller, or folding models — must follow other guidelines.
Parents should double-check their crib mattress to ensure it is correctly sized. Babies can get stuck in gaps between the mattress and the crib sides, so the mattress should fit snugly. There should also be a minimum of 20 inches between the top of the mattress, which is usually 5 to 6 inches tall, and the top of the lowest side of the crib.
CertiPUR-US: This certification indicates that a foam is made without dangerous chemicals (such as formaldehyde and heavy metals like mercury or lead), is free from phthalates and unsafe flame retardants, and emits low volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) during the off-gassing phase. Eco-conscious parents will likely appreciate that CertiPUR-US certified foam is also made without ozone depleters.
Greenguard Gold: UL is a leader in safety science, and their Greenguard Gold certification is presented to products that meet rigorous chemical emissions standards for use in schools and healthcare facilities. A product’s VOCs and other chemical emissions are measured by third-party testing and must be below UL’s low limits in order to qualify.
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): If you’re interested in an organic crib mattress, GOTS certification offers reassurance that the organic materials are manufactured according to strict environmental and social standards. Certifiers examine each step of the process, ensuring that the end product is organic from the farm to the factory.
Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX: Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX, one of the world’s largest textile certification groups, is a rigorous and well-regarded certification. The label is applied to products which have been proven to contain zero harmful substances. Every component, from thread and buttons to fabric and foam, must undergo third-party testing to ensure OEKO-TEX’s standards are met.
Crib mattresses should be easy to care for and keep clean, but there are different approaches to this ideal. Your choice of mattress will determine the cleaning process, while a crib mattress’ lifespan depends on several additional factors.
Waterproof and water-resistant crib mattresses can usually either be wiped clean, or they have an absorbent pad or cover over a waterproof inner layer. While parents must still wash bedding and clothing, waterproofing makes the mattress easy to care for, while allowing more freedom in bedding choice. However, most waterproof materials have poor temperature neutrality since airflow is restricted by the sealed material. Waterproofed fabric can also have a crinkly texture that makes noise when your baby moves.
Crib mattresses without waterproofing come in two styles: those intended to be used with waterproof bedding, and those that are fully washable. The former type is the most common, meaning that parents are still likely to experience some of the downsides of waterproof materials. However, the low relative cost of bedding compared to a mattress offers the opportunity to try different waterproof options.
Washable mattresses can offer the best of all worlds, since they are breathable and silent but easy to keep clean, but parents may want to invest in two mattresses so that one is available when the other is being cleaned.
How you clean your crib mattress is partially dependent on the style and model you purchase, since a waterproof mattress requires significantly different care than one you can wash. When in doubt, always adhere to manufacturer guidelines.
That said, many crib mattresses can be carefully cleaned in the same way. To begin with, vacuum the sides and edge of the mattress to remove as much dry debris and dust as possible. If there are any stains, you may want to apply baking soda or another non-toxic stain remover at this stage.
Next, fill a bucket with warm water and a baby-friendly detergent, then scrub or spot clean the mattress and rinse with fresh water. A gentle brush or a cloth are both appropriate, but do not pour water or detergent over the mattress. Finally, dry the crib mattress with a soft towel and leave to finish drying in a place with good airflow.
Experts generally advise against reusing crib mattresses. A 2002 study found that used crib mattresses are associated with a higher risk of SIDS, particularly if the used mattress came from another household. The reason for this association is unknown, but it may have to do with the mattress being unsanitary or damaged.
However, reusing your crib mattress when you have another child is still possible. The ideal second-use mattress is one that has not been recalled, is firm to the touch with zero sagging or misshapen areas, has good support at the edges, and generally looks good-as-new. Ensure it is thoroughly cleaned and fitted with a waterproof cover (in case of unseen sanitary issues) before using.
There are a few additional considerations that new parents should keep in mind once they have purchased a crib mattress and brought it home.
Crib mattress recalls are rare, and the vast majority of parents won’t have to deal with this situation. When recalls do occur, they are generally voluntary actions by the manufacturer rather than warnings by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. However, parents can sign up on the CPSC site to be notified by email of all child-related product recalls.
If your crib mattress is recalled, voluntarily or otherwise, different options may be available depending on the cause of the problem. The manufacturer will likely have a press release available to read, and most will encourage parents to contact them for a replacement, refund, or repair kit.
Although some crib mattresses are designed to be flipped over for use by a toddler, most are meant to be set aside once your baby is 12 months old. Unsanitary mattresses should be disposed of, but those that are reasonably clean can generally be recycled. If the mattress is sanitary and in good condition, you may prefer to repurpose it in some way: as a pet bed, for your toddler to sit on when playing, or even as a kneeling pad in the garden.
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