All parents are familiar with the fact that their babies need plenty of sleep to remain hale and hearty. In the initial weeks of their life after birth, they spend almost 16 to 17 hours sleeping every day while toddlers require almost 10 hours of sleep or thereabouts per night along with a couple of naps per day. On average, a kid tends to sleep for about 9,000 hours until he is two years of age.
Typically, a baby spends most of his time sleeping in his crib in the crib mattress. A large number of families get their cribs converted into a toddler bed by the time their baby is two years of age. Plenty of kids spend another year or two sleeping on their crib mattresses before they transition to a twin or full-sized bed. Parents are always looking to purchase a reliable mattress that is softer for the toddlers as well as solid enough for infants.
If you search with the keyword “crib mattress” on Amazon alone, almost 600 results are displayed. During our tests, we interviewed experts of the mattress industry, received feedback from parents and also utilized our own personal experiences. In addition, we also scoured through Amazon’s best sellers and the mattresses chosen by many of the existing best of lists. We also analyzed mattresses through online research and carried out conversations with manufacturers.
Once the crib mattresses were shortlisted, we discussed with representatives of manufacturers of crib mattresses to get acquainted with the materials used and the features that distinguish them from the competitors. The mattresses that were tested boasted dimensions of 27.25 x 51.62 x 6 inches. The mattresses of these size tend to fit snug in conventional cribs. Safe crib mattresses tend to retain their shape when a properly sized crib sheet is used. These mattresses tend to fill out the gaps between the mattress and the wall of the crib.
Against this aftermath, we believe that an ideal crib mattress should have the following characteristics:
- Firm surface: Generally adults tend to give significant importance to comfort but when it comes to a crib mattress, a firm surface is what is required. We did not test any mattresses that were made using memory foam or any that were reviewed by clients as thin and flimsy.
- A cover that can be cleaned easily: Since spills are a common feature of crib mattresses and kids love to make a mess of things, so we thought that an easy to clean cover would be essential. Mattresses with following covers were tested:
- Cotton cover and leakproof backing
- Removable, washable cover and interior
- A lightweight design: A heavier mattress would make it very difficult for mothers to pull them out of the crib and get the sheets changed. All the mattresses that we tested were between 6 and 20 pounds.
- Durability: A large number of people keep the crib mattress for a minimum of two years and there are many amongst us who like to keep them going for five or six years till the time their kids are ready to make a transition to twin or full sized bed. Families with larger number of children are likely to keep using crib mattresses for even a greater duration of time. We took into account the durability of the stuffing and the odds that it would be able to retain its original shape and the durability of the cover and the probability that it will remain formidable.
- A noiseless cover: There are some mattress covers that come with a texture that tends to make a lot of noise when a kid tumbles over it. We preferred a cover that was noise-free.
- Comfort: It goes without saying that a firm mattress is more suitable for infants in contrast to a comfortable one. However, there are certain firm mattresses that are more comfortable in comparison with others. We prioritized mattresses with dual-design and boasting a firmer infant side and a softer toddler side that can be used once your little baby grows up to the age of about 10 months.
- No bounce: We observed that a lot parents preferred not to purchase a crib mattress that would entice the kids into jumping up and down on it rather than sleeping on it. This feature was tested rigorously by our participant kids for about four weeks or so.
- Reasonable price: The crib mattresses that were tested lied in a wide price range. The cheap mattresses that we discovered, had lots of bad reviews regarding fluids and urine being able to get leaked through the mattress cover, the sagging mattress and the quick wear and tear associated with it. There is a wide array of mattresses and organic mattresses in particular, that are worth quite a lot. We found out that spending more than this threshold value was absolutely not required. According to some experts, there is no need to spend a huge amount of money on a crib mattress. They believed that such a high price would only make the parents feel satisfied and would do no good to the quality of the mattress and the safety that it promises.
- Warranty and customer service: If there is something wrong with the mattress, then a warranty coverage and good quality customer service could come to your rescue in case of a sagging or torn mattress. We took into account the timings when it was easier to get into contact with a certain company and if there was any contact information available.
- External certification of materials: We tested the crib mattresses for their compliance with:
- Greenguard Gold Certification: This standard is to ensure low emission of volatile organic compounds.
- CertiPUR-US Certification: This standard determines if the polyurethane foam stuffing is free of formaldehyde, lead, ozone depleters, or certain flame retardants or phthalates.
- Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS): All organic mattresses are supposed to conform to this standard.
What is inside a mattress?
This is another thing that we took into account during our tests. We had a look at the core stuffing. A large number of mattresses have a core that is made of foam or metal innersprings enclosed by cotton, polyester or some other material. Certain crib mattresses are stuffed with food-grade polyethylene, organic cotton batting or coconut husks.
Foam crib mattresses typically weigh around 5 to 13 pounds. A vast majority of foam mattresses consist of polyurethane, which is a petroleum based product. There are some types of polyurethane foam that may contain formaldehyde and numerous mattresses claim that they are formaldehyde-free. The foam in the mattresses that claim to be environment-friendly or green, is made of soy or plant based oil which replaces a certain quantity of the petroleum based oil that is generally used in polyurethane foam. There are some foam mattresses that consist of bamboo fiber or latex foam.
Innerspring mattresses tend to be bulkier weighing around 15 to 30 pounds. The number of coils used and their thickness are a couple of things that you should take into account when purchasing an innerspring mattress. A firmer mattress will have higher number of coils and with greater thickness. According to experts, a mattress boasting 135 to 150 coils and a steel thickness of 15.5 gauge is what you should ideally be looking for. Innerspring mattresses come with border roads that enwrap the perimeter from the top and the bottom to ensure additional firmness and prevent sagging from the sides and edges.
Innerspring mattresses are also fitted with cushioning layers consisting of polyester, cotton and an insulator pad that comprises fiber coil or woven polyester. The contents of these layers and insulator pad determines overall quality of the mattress. Organic and specialty mattresses consist of organic cotton, untreated wool, natural latex and coconut fiber. One specialty mattress, the Newton Baby, consists of woven food grade plastic while another mattress is made of molded waves of polyethylene.
The next aspect that we considered was the external layer. Some crib mattresses are enclosed with cotton brushed with food-grade plastic while others are enwrapped in waterproof vinyl cover. Some vinyl such as Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) contain phthalates to render them softer but are believed to cause hormonal disruptions in lab animals. Stringent regulations have been formulated in this regard and that is exactly why numerous mattresses claim to be phthalate or PVC-free.
In addition, the build of the mattresses was also taken into account as some mattresses are seamless while others come with a zipper or seams around the cover. Some mattresses that boasted seams appeared to be long lasting or snugly sewn together. It goes without saying that better the construction, irrespective of the fact that the mattress is seamless one or sports zipper or snugly sewn seams, the higher is the probability that the mattress will serve you for a longer duration of time.
Most of the experts who were consulted during the course of our research were unanimous about the fact that the price of a mattress correlated directly to the quality of contents used in its construction. This was also observed in our tests when we ranked our mattresses in accordance with their price tag. The innerspring mattress with no border wire and a single layer vinyl cover and another one with polyester stuffing were placed at the lower end of the price spectrum. A large majority of moderately priced mattresses incorporated polyurethane foam or more innersprings with a border wire enwrapped with a multilayer polyester cover. Most of the high priced mattresses boasted a dual-sided design with a harder side fit for infants while a softer and more comfortable side suitable for toddlers. Their covers consisted of better quality materials such as organic cotton with waterproof backing; organic cotton with a layer of food-grade polyethylene plastic; or a medical-grade, water and odor proof resistant knitted fabric.
Compliance with Certification
Experts are not sure about the adverse effects of volatile organic compounds on the health of little ones. However, we deemed it fitting to take into account the contents that had been certified by relevant regulatory authorities. The mattresses that we tested were Greenguard Gold certified and CertiPUR-US certified for low volatile organic compounds emission. Let’s take a look at what these certifications actually stand for:
- Greenguard Gold Certification is typical certification that is related to all the products that are used around kids or adults. It ensures that a product is in strict adherence to the limits imposed on volatile organic compounds for products designed for indoor use.
- CertiPUR-US certification promises that the polyurethane foam has been tested independently and verified that it meets the requisite standards for content, volatile organic compounds emissions and reliability.
- GOTS certification is important if you are interested in purchasing a recyclable or organic mattress which implies that there is no polyurethane foam, flame retardant, formaldehyde, pesticides or other content used in the organic products.
These certifications tend to provide the parents some peace of mind, however, there are some mattresses which comply with the above mentioned standards but still have PVC vinyl cover on top. Moreover, every mattress in the US should conform to the standards formulated by CPSC regarding mattress inflammability. Some manufacturers meet this standard by brushing the foam with a flame retardant material while others use natural wool, latex or baking soda.
Is off-gassing and breathability a cause for concern?
There is no substantial research to corroborate the fact that SIDS is related to toxic gases being emitted from the mattress. Experts actually believe that crib mattresses come with a ton of chemical substances including volatile and non-volatile organic compounds. It has been found that newer mattresses tend to give off about four times more volatile organic compounds in comparison with the older ones. The knowledge about crib mattresses emitting volatile organic compounds does not essentially assist people in deciding that product that they should prefer. Experts are yet to determine the optimum level of volatile organic compounds emission that is safe for kids.
Parents generally feel satisfied by using all-organic mattresses for the bundles of joy but there is no data to substantiate the fact that the use of an organic mattress in contrast to a non-organic one has adverse health impacts. So, we do not believe that organic mattresses are superior to the non-organic ones. Another thing of importance is that volatile organic compounds may be emitted by a number of things in a nursery, such as pressed wood in cribs, dress drawers and plastic toys, along with your crib mattress.
Similarly, when it comes to breathability, there is no research to corroborate the fact that breathable crib mattresses that promise to rebreathe carbon dioxide when an infant is sleeping face-down, are really able to live up to their claims or reduce the probability of SIDS.
How we tested?
We tested about 12 crib mattresses with the help of three kids for about a month. Once we got a mattress, we unboxed it and reviewed all the appended tags while observing the relevant information pertaining to the materials used inside and covering the mattress. Each mattress was fit in a conventional IKEA crib to ensure that it fit snug. Sheets were subsequently changed twice per mattress and the average time was noted down for changing the sheets. In addition, it was also observed if one or both the sheets were tight or could not fit snug on the mattress.
Mattress was then placed on the floor and its firmness was tested by putting a 6-pound hand weight at its center. Majority of the mattresses were able to retain their shape with this low weight but the cheapest one portrayed an evident sag. The outside edges and corners of each mattress were pressed to determine if the firmness spanned the entire mattress. Kids were then made to lie down on the mattresses, tumble on them and jump up and down them. The innerspring mattresses displayed lots of bounce naturally while the foam mattresses were quite solid. Moreover, the kids were also asked their opinion about their feel for each of the mattress.
A number of spill tests with fluids were conducted. About a quarter of a cup of fluid was spilled on the mattress and after about a minute or so, it was cleaned up. The waterproof mattresses were easy to clean while the cotton covered mattresses remained soaked. We also tested by spilling apple sauce on seam-free mattresses and it was really easy to clean. Cotton-clad mattresses were of course not subjected to such tests as we were already aware of the probable outcome.
The seams and edges of mattress covered were tugged at to test their durability. It was found that the mattresses enwrapped in a single layer of vinyl were easy to rip off when even a little pressure was applied at the seams. The other mattresses with the three-ply vinyl covers were able to pass this test with flying colors.
Finally, the price, materials and the warranty were also noted to see the best amongst them.
The Best: Moonlight Slumber Little Dreamer
The Moonlight slumber Little Dreamer crib mattress presents a fabulous blend of adaptability, practicality, intuitiveness and affordability. It was able to garner the top marks against all the parameters. It boasts a dual-sided design; thereby offering firm support for infants which can be flipped around after ten months or so to a softer and more comfortable side for toddlers. The fabric used for the mattress is medical grade and performance-knit one in addition to being stain, water and odor resistant. This allows parents to easily clean it with the help of a sponge and water or light detergent as and when required.
It weighs around 10.5 pounds and is the lightest on the market. It comes with square corners and edges that makes it easy to change sheets. The mattress is made of polyurethane foam, enclosed in a material that is flame-resistant and resembles a gauze. It is further wrapped in a supple, medical-grade ticking. The mattress is free of PVC, vinyl, phthalates, chlorine and holds certification from CertiPUR-US and Greenguard Gold for low volatile organic compounds emissions. Made in the United States, the Moonlight Slumber Little Dreamer is covered by lifetime warranty that generally extends up to eight months. In addition, the company also offers state-of-the-art customer service.
The foam stuffing ensures minimum bounce and the mattress has received positive reviews from the clients. According to the reviews and feedback given by the customers, the Moonlight Slumber Little Dreamer is durable and reliable and will definitely serve you well over a period of time. The Moonlight Slumber brand was introduced way back in 2004 and now manufactures 12 crib mattresses. The brand also produces twin and full-sized mattresses that provide an experience equivalent to that for the toddler side of the Little Dreamer.
The only gripe that we had about this mattress is its price. The Moonlight Slumber Little Dreamer is slightly too expensive especially when you have to consider the fact that you have to purchase a crib and other expensive items simultaneously. You can also take a look at our budget pick for a compatible alternative.
It is also important that you take into account how you plan to use the mattress. If you are planning to use your crib mattress for four years and also plan to have a second child, you would want a crib mattress that will last longer without sagging or getting torn. But if you plan to buy a secondary mattress for travels, an affordable mattress would be the prudent choice.
Another Great Choice: Naturepedic Organic Cotton Lightweight Classic
If you are intent on purchasing an organic crib mattress for your baby, the Naturepedic Organic Cotton Lightweight Classic is an ideal choice for parents that is compliant with the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). The Naturepedic Organic Cotton Lightweight Classic does not boast a dual-sided design but it is quite firm and provides an ideal blend of comfort and value of all the organic mattresses that fall in the higher price range. Naturepedic has come up with nine crib mattresses all of which are organic but this one is the best of them all when it comes to a lightweight structure, easy to clean cover and minimum bounce.
The mattress consists of a polyethylene core enwrapped in certified organic cotton batting. Underneath the first layer, lies another organic-cotton fabric layer that is coated with a food-grade waterproof plastic layer. Employing the wave-support technology, the mattress consists of a polyethylene plastic that is molded into a wavelike shape and wrapped by cotton stuffing. It is not incorporated with fire-resistant materials but still is able to comply with all the federal standards related to flammability. It is also Greenguard Gold certified.
The Naturepedic Organic Cotton Lightweight Classic is worth a bit more than our top pick. Weighing about 12 pounds, the mattress is lighter in weight in contrast to other organic mattresses consisting of innerspring coils that make it easier to change sheets. It is waterproof and covered with lifetime warranty. The company also offers a dual-sided design for parents who are more concerned about comfort for their kids. The Naturepedic Organic Cotton Lightweight Classic is available at both online and brick-and-mortar stores.
The mattress boasts a coating that is waterproof and comes with a seam-free design on the sides which makes it easier to clean up messes. Moreover, with the help of a cover your babies can roll all over the mattress and it won’t make any noise and the bounce is minimum owing to the foam stuffing. The crib mattress has received nice feedback from a number of satisfied customers on the manufacturer’s website. The model has been included in the best baby crib mattresses for 2017. However, reviews on Amazon also include complaints regarding extra firmness and high price. There have also been reports that the mattress tends to sink in the middle after some use. However, the company has promised to get the faulty mattresses replaced.
Budget Pick: Sealy Soybean Foam-core Crib Mattress
In comparison to the top-ranked crib mattress on our list, the Sealy Soybean Foam-core Crib Mattress boasts almost half its price and is the best option for parents who want firm, easy to maintain, lightweight and reliable mattress. The mattress is stuffed with polyurethane foam and is CertiPUR-US and Greenguard Gold certified for low volatile compounds emission. Having said that, it does not boast a dual-sided design so it is more suitable for babies as compared with toddlers. We found the mattress to be slightly more comfortable in contrast to our most expensive organic pick.
The Sealy Soybean Foam-core Crib Mattress is one of the lightest mattresses that we tested as it weighs around 8 pounds which makes it a great pick for changing sheets. It is waterproof and is coated with a vinyl cover that is easy to clean. However, its seams and constituent materials are not as reliable as our top ranked mattress. Owing to the low quality on the whole and the absence of a dual-sided design, we believe that it is not as durable as our other picks. The Sealy Soybean Foam-core Crib Mattress is covered by only a year’s warranty but the customer service offered by the company is impeccable.
The mattress is advertised by the manufacturer as part of their series of natural mattresses. However, practically, soybean oil does not make much of a difference since it substitutes only a minimal amount of petroleum based oil used in the foam. Reviews by customers are quite good and Amazon ratings are also quite decent.
The 12 mattresses that we tested were categorized into two main types: premium crib mattresses and ones using high quality materials such as organic cotton, food-grade plastic and medical grade plastic cover.
Out of the six premium mattresses that were tested, number of them despite being comfortable were eliminated from the top draw since they were not easy to clean. Newton Baby Woveaire Crib Mattress is the first one that is included in this category. It was the most expensive mattress that was tested and comes with an interior made of wovernaire that comprises 10 percent woven food-grade polymer and 90 percent air and fully recyclable.
The material is wrapped by a detachable, machine washable fabric that is soft and comfortable. It is not waterproof rather it is water-repellent. It requires strenuous effort to clean it up since you require to unzip and remove the entire cover and then wash and air-dry the mattress before it is ready for your baby to use.
The Colgate Eco Classica III is another comfortable premium mattress that comes with a Greenguard Gold and CertiPUR-US certified stuffing and plant-infused polyurethane foam. The mattress boasts a dual sided design but the certified organic cotton cover with waterproof backing is disappointing. As soon as little fluid was poured over the mattress, it soaked right in and the waterproof backing was not able to help out a lot in cleaning the top layer. The product also offers lifetime warranty but you have to get an extra protective cover for the mattress. However, for that price, we would have expected the protective cover to be part of the package.
The 2-in-1 Hybrid Innerspring Plus Foam Crib Mattress with a weight of 65 pounds, it is the heaviest among our list of premium mattresses. Such a bulky mattress makes it difficult to change sheets. We preferred the feel of numerous other mattresses and found the three-ply vinyl cover similar to the Soybean foam core mattress at a far lower price.
The Lullaby Earth Super Lightweight Crib mattress comes with waterproof food-grade polyethylene coated cover. Its stuffing consists of polyester fiber and food-grade polyethylene foam and the mattress does not include any flame retardants or chemical substances that can be hazardous for kids such as PVC, phthalates, formaldehydes, glues or any other adhesive materials. This is probably going to lure parents who are in search for an organic mattress but also want to save some money up their sleeves. The mattress weighs less than 7 pounds and is very easy to clean. Nonetheless, the mattress is a little too firm for a toddler’s liking to be honest.
Serta Tranquility Eco Firm Crib & Toddler Mattress was among the low priced ones that we tested. It is a dual sided crib mattress for babies that consists of innerspring coils with a border wire and polyurethane foam and a blended fiber batting and cotton felt fill. The mattress comes with a long lasting vinyl cover that is easy to clean and feels lighter than its actual 15 pounds when it comes to changing sheets around. But we were more impressed with the quality and price of the Sealy Soybean crib mattress more in contrast to this. Moreover, when it comes to the dual-sided design, there was not much of a difference between the two sides.
The Sealy Baby Firm Mattress, was also tested. It comes with innersprings and a thinner vinyl cover which was rather easy to puncture or rip off owing to low quality seams. Moreover, the cover made quite some noise as the kids tumbled all over it and was quite evidently a less long lasting mattress in contrast to the Sealy Soybean crib mattress.
The Safety 1st Heavenly Dreams mattress, in spite of having the owners of being the most reviewed mattress on Amazon and garnering a user rating of 4.2 stars out of five, we found it to be very uncomfortable and less durable than the company’s claims. The mattress boasts a polyester fiber pad stuffing and a vinyl cover. If you are looking for a reliable secondary mattress, then our budget pick would be prudent choice for you.
The Kolcraft Pure Sleep Therpeutic 50 was the final mattress that we tested. It is an innerspring mattress that comes with 150 coils and no border wires. This accounts for the lack of edge support and if a little pressure is applied, the wires inside can be felt which in case of a toddler can be quite uncomfortable. Moreover, the mattress sunk in more in contrast to its competitors when the 6 pound hand weight was placed on it. The vinyl cover apparently looked reliable but could be easily punctured.
The quality of a mattress is crucial when it comes to your baby’s comfort and the mattress being able to serve you well for a longer duration of time. However, there are certain mandatory precautions that you need to take in order to ensure appropriate maintenance of a crib mattress:
- Keep in mind to place your baby in the crib on his back without putting any other bedding in the crib such as blankets, pillows, toys or bumpers. The CPSC and AAP have formulated guidelines for a safe sleep experience for kids. These guidelines emphasize that the infants should be placed on a firm mattress with a fitted sheet in order to reduce the probability of entrapment, suffocation of strangulation. Moreover, the parents are also advised not to engage in bed-sharing with their infant and refrains them from placing their baby on an adult-sized bed.
- The crib mattress with a fitted sheet should be placed in the crib in such a way that there is not more space than two fingers between the crib mattress and the sides of the crib.
- If you are using a mattress boasting a dual-sided design, then you should flip the infant side to the toddler side as soon as your baby develops neck control and mobility. This generally happens when a kid is between 9 and 12 months of age. You may consult for pediatrician for advice in this regard.
- If your crib mattress does not come with a waterproof vinyl cover, it is prudent to place and crib mattress pad underneath the sheet to prevent any fluids or diaper leaks from soaking past the ticking.
- Follow the instructions that are included with your crib mattress. Moreover, make sure that you wipe it with a damp sponge in case of a spill and also use mild detergent as and when required. Ensure that the mattress is clean and dry when a new sheet is put on it to prevent growth of bacteria and molds. If you have a crib mattress that does not come with a waterproof cover or has a cotton cover, then the instructions will vary. So, remember to go through the user-manual so that you are familiar with the materials used in your mattress.
- Over a period of time, mattresses are likely to lose their rigidity. It is highly recommended not to use a mattress with an indentation of a pocket in it since it can facilitate suffocation or rebreathing in case the infant gets into a face-down position or tumbles over onto one.
- Store your crib mattress in a cool, dry place if you are planning to use it for your future kid. You do not want your infant to be using a mattress infested with bacteria and molds.