Best Mattresses for Kids
As parents, it’s natural to want to do everything that you can to help your child grow up healthy and happy. While huge amounts have been written about sleep for children, an often-overlooked factor is their mattress.
Just as for adults, having a mattress that is both comfortable and supportive can play a big role for children in getting the kind of deep, restful sleep that their minds and bodies need.
In this guide, we’ll tell you all about our top picks for the best mattresses for kids, and we’ll also elaborate on why children need sleep, how much they need, and how you can select a mattress that they’ll love.
The Top Mattresses for Kids
How Mattress Choice Affects Your Child’s Sleep
It’s common sense that children need to get good sleep, but many parents want to know more than just this conventional wisdom. In this section, we’ll review some key details about kids and sleep and why a mattress affects that sleep.
Why Sleep Matters for Kids
In many ways, sleep in both children and adults is still a mystery. There’s a great deal that’s still unknown about the biological mechanisms behind sleep, but a preponderance of research tells us that it’s critical for our overall health. For children, whose minds and bodies are changing at such a rapid pace, it can take have an even more significant impact.
A lack of sleep, whether for just one night or over an extended period of time, can take a toll on children of all ages. Some of the impacts are obvious, such as fatigue or excessive daytime sleepiness. Other impacts may not always be quite as apparent off-the-bat, but they can have noticeable effects on your child’s performance in school and development of their social life. For example, some of the benefits of regular quality sleep for children include:
- It facilitates growth and recovery: the body needs time at rest in order to repair itself and to keep its systems in order. While the amount of sleep that children need changes as they age, consistent sleep plays a part in their physical and mental development at every age.
- It helps with focus: just like in adults, sleep plays a vital role in a child’s ability to focus and think clearly. When they are sleep deprived, children are more likely to struggle with learning either in school or at home.
- It improves mood: most parents already know that tantrums are a nearly inevitable outcome if their child doesn’t get enough sleep. Not only can a lack of sleep cause irritability, it can also contribute to issues with attention and hyperactivity.
How Much Sleep do Kids Need
Every child is different and grows at their own pace, but there are some general outlines for how much sleep a child should have depending on their age. While we’ve listed these general guidelines below, you can always check with your child’s pediatrician for any specific recommendations in their case.
From 1-2 years old, most children need between 12-14 hours of sleep in total each day. This total should normally be composed of around 11-12 hours at night and 2-3 hours napping during the day. Getting your young child on a good routine can help to establish good sleep habits going forward. As part of this routine, it can be helpful for parents to try to keep naptime from happening too late in the day so that it doesn’t interfere with nighttime sleep.
From 2-3 years old, most children need 12-14 hours of sleep in total each day. This normally includes 10-12 hours at night and 2-3 hours spent napping. At this age, a child may start to outgrow a crib, which may mean it’s time to upgrade to a bigger bed. Even though at 2-3 years old, your child may start wanting more screen time, it is good to avoid having this screen time take place in bed.
From 3-5 years old, most children need 10-13 hours of sleep in total each day. This normally includes 10-11 hours of sleep at night and 0-1 hours spent napping. Napping at this age can become more “as-needed.” Some children will still sleep in the afternoon, but even if they don’t, make sure to provide down time when they can rest and relax even if they don’t actually fall asleep.
From 5-12 years old, most children need 10-11 hours of sleep in total each day. This is normally made up entirely of time spent sleeping at night. While naps may be necessary on any particular day, they usually stop being part of the regular sleep routine. This is also an important time — as children start going to school — for building good habits and routines with regard to waking up and going to bed.
How Can a Mattress Improve Kids’ Sleep
If your child’s mattress is subpar, it’s going to be hard for them to get the amount of sleep they need or for that sleep to be as recuperative as possible. A high-quality mattress should be comfortable and inviting, making the process of going to sleep something to look forward to rather than dread. A great mattress also provides support, which means that your child’s body gets the kind of cushioning that it needs to keep the spine aligned and their neck protected. If a mattress doesn’t have this kind of comfort and support, there’s a good chance that your child will have issues either with falling asleep or tossing and turning in the night.
Buying Guide – Choosing the Best Mattress for Your Child
Once you’ve realized the importance of finding a good mattress for your child, the next step is to know how to find one. Getting started on this can be intimidating, though, because a quick online search will reveal an abundance of information and a plethora of choices. To navigate this process, it can be vital to know what the most important things to look for are when shopping for a children’s mattress.
Before you dig into all the different brands and mattress types and other considerations, start by deciding what size mattress your child needs. This is influenced significantly by the age of your child. But because children grow so quickly, you’ll need to think into the future as well and consider how long you think you’ll want to keep this mattress. Most parents prefer to purchase a mattress that’s larger than what their child needs so that they have plenty of ability to grow without outgrowing the mattress.
There is no single type of mattress that is best for all children. In fact, several types of mattresses can be excellent choices for the majority of kids. The three most common types of mattresses — and three that can all be extremely effective — for kids include foam, innerspring, and hybrids.
- Foam mattresses are made exclusively of this material, although different forms of foam (such as memory foam, polyfoam, and/or latex foam) may be used in the construction of the mattress. Foam is generally known for its responsiveness, which means that it compresses in proportion to the weight that is applied to it. For growing children, this can be beneficial as the mattress will provide more support as your child gets bigger and weighs more.
- Innerspring and hybrid mattresses are constructed with a core of metal coils or springs. These coils give a foundation of support and bounce that can work well for children of most ages and sizes. Hybrids have a layer of foam or other soft material that is 3” or thicker above these coils. While innersprings also usually have foam serving as a comfort layer, in these mattresses the thickness of that layer is under 3”.
A mattress that lasts is important both for your child’s sleep and for your bottom line. If a mattress begins to break down, it won’t offer the comfort or support that it did when it was first purchased. If this starts affecting your child’s sleep, you’ll have to replace the mattress, requiring you to again invest at least hundreds of dollars in finding a new one.
It can be hard to know which mattresses will be durable. The two best ways to judge this are by looking at customer reviews and at the materials in the mattress. If a mattress is quick to break down, this normally comes out in comments from verified customers or in tests done by independent evaluators. Furthermore, the makeup of a mattress usually gives insight into how likely a mattress is to last. If the foams are thin and low-density, the odds are that they’ll struggle to keep their shape and performance over the long-run.
While most mattresses are produced to high standards, it’s not a guarantee. Some may have issues with the presence of chemicals that could be a problem for children. Look for mattresses that — if they have foam — have certifications from an organization like Certi-PUR, OEKO-TEX, or the Eco-Institut that verifies that no harmful chemicals are present in the materials.
Support is all about how well a mattress contours to the body in order to make sure that the body, specifically the spine, stays aligned. If a mattress can’t provide this kind of support, your child may end up having issues with aches and pains or just general discomfort.
The most supportive mattresses are usually those that are responsive, meaning that they can provide different amounts of cushioning to different parts of the body. After all, your child’s arm probably doesn’t need the same amount of cushioning as their pelvis or shoulder.
A child’s support needs also typically change as they get older. When they’re very young and weigh less, most mattresses are able to offer enough cushioning. But as they get bigger, they typically start needing more contouring and responsiveness.
To help you fall asleep easily, a mattress should be inviting and a place of immediate relaxation. Because comfort is subjective, finding the right level can be a challenge at times. One major issue affecting comfort is firmness. Firmness is normally described on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the absolute softest and 10 being the absolute hardest mattress. It’s extremely rare to find any mattresses at the far end of these ranges. Most children get the best sleep on a medium-firm mattress that falls in the 4-7 range of that firmness scale.
To help get a sense of what your child’s firmness preference may be, you can first see how they like their current mattress. Depending on their age, you can also take them to a brick-and-mortar mattress store to lie down on some mattresses to test them out. Keep in mind, though, that they need to stay on the mattress for 10-15 minutes to get a sense of whether it’s the right firmness. A comfort level that feels good right off the bat may not actually be the best feel for the entire night.
If you’re buying a mattress online, it’s essential that you purchase a mattress that comes with a sleep trial. A sleep trial is a test run that lets your child use the mattress at home for an extended time period, and if your child doesn’t like the mattress, you can return it for a full refund. This gives your child a chance to determine if the mattress is providing the right amount of firmness and support, and it also helps to provide some insurance against spending a lot of money on something that your child hates. Most mattresses online have a sleep trial of around 100 days, but you’ll want to check for the details on the length and any other terms and conditions for the sleep trial for any specific mattress.
If you’re doing the research to find a great mattress for your child, you’ll also want to be sure that you’re getting a good price and value. There’s a wide range of prices for mattresses, and you can opt to spend more for more features and, at least in some cases, better materials. But value can be found at many price points, and our guide, the Best Time to Buy a Mattress, can help you get the best price possible.
Best Kids Mattress Reviews
Each of our top picks for the best mattresses for children have certain characteristics that make them stand out. Read on for more about what makes each of these choices unique.
Best Value: Lucid 10” Bamboo Charcoal and Aloe Vera Hybrid
The Lucid 10” Bamboo Charcoal and Aloe Vera Hybrid mattress wins our top spot for value among the best mattresses for kids. At a price of under $350 for a twin, it nevertheless comes with a robust layer of encased innerspring coils reinforced with extra support around the edges.
Its top layers have two types of foam, including memory foam, which offers the kind of responsiveness that can accommodate your child as he or she gets older. The only real downside for this mattress is a short sleep trial as the return policy only permits returns up to 30 days.
Best Luxury: Avocado Mattress
The Avocado mattress is offered in two versions — standard and pillowtop — each of which is a viable choice. However, for most children, the standard model is the best bet. It includes a latex comfort layer that provides a significant amount of responsiveness but also plenty of bounce and resilience.
High-end latex like that used in this mattress also usually holds up well over time. Under the latex is a support core of innerspring coils that is 8” thick. All of the materials are excellent and certified to meet high standards for safety. This mattress is plenty robust for most adults and is sure to offer a great night’s sleep to children. At $959 for a Twin, it’s pricey, but as a luxury option, it’s our top choice.
Best Budget: Nest Bedding Big Kid’s Bed (BKB)
The Big Kid’s Bed (BKB) from Nest Bedding is built specifically for children with a simple and sleek design and a price tag of just $299 for a Twin.
It has two layers of foam. The top layer is a specialized polyfoam that is built to provide responsiveness without excessive sink. This firm yet contouring surface will work well for children of almost any age. Beneath this comfort layer is a base of foam that provides support for the comfort layer.
Though the mattress is only 7” thick, that’s plenty for the vast majority of children, and it helps to keep the price low on this quality budget mattress.
Most Versatile: Luxi 3-in-1 Mattress
The Luxi 3-in-1 mattress has a unique design concept that gives customers a tremendous amount of flexibility to adjust the firmness and support of the bed.
It starts with a base layer of foam at the bottom, but above this layer are 3 foam layers, each composed differently and with a different firmness feel.
The cover of the mattress can be easily unzipped, so you can rearrange the three layers in different ways to modify the sleeping surface. Because children’s preferences can change, especially as they develop, this helps to ensure that you make your child’s mattress both comfortable and responsive.
Best Organic: Keetsa Plus
The Keetsa Plus mattress is made with 2” of foam and fiber-fill above 7.5” of innerspring coils. This combination works to offer resilience, firmness, and contouring, which is a recipe for great sleep for kids.
An added bonus is that the materials in the Keetsa Plus mattress are produced to an extremely high standard. For example, the top layer of memory foam uses many plant oils instead of chemicals, which comes as a huge relief to parents who are concerned about some of the production methods involved in making foams.
After Your Purchase
If you’ve made your decision and selected a new mattress for your child, there are a few additional steps to think about.
First, consider ways that you can protect the bed.
- Limit jumping and playing on the bed: this can put more wear and tear on the materials and can reduce the useful life of the mattress.
- Keep the bed clean: don’t let your child eat in bed, don’t let pets in their bed, and change sheets regularly to prevent buildup of dust or sweat in the mattress.
- Consider a mattress pad or protector: these products can give an added barrier to keep stains or spills or accidents from causing damage to the cover or inner materials of the mattress.
Second, after two weeks, evaluate how well the mattress is working. Keep evaluating every two weeks up until the end of sleep trial. If your child isn’t satisfied, take advantage of the sleep trial and return the mattress.
Third, keep monitoring your child’s comfort and support over time. Depending on how they grow, you may need to make some changes to their sleeping surface. For example, you can consider getting a mattress topper, which can help adjust the firmness or support level without having to completely replace the mattress.
Buying a new mattress for your child is a big decision, but with the information and recommendations in this guide, you can rest easy knowing that they’ll wind up with a high-quality bed. Investing in a top-notch mattress now can pay off in a big way for your child as they get older. Not only does a great mattress save you money over the long-term through its durability, but more importantly, it can deliver huge benefits by improving your child’s nightly sleep.