How to Pick the Best Mattress for Kids in 2021, With 16 Options

by Hilary Braaksma

How to Pick the Best Mattress for Kids in 2021, With 16 Options
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Before you head to Helix, Casper, Amazon, Target, or other sites, here’s what to consider.


We are constantly learning new things about how important sleep is to our kids’ health and development. And the more we know, the more we want to do everything we can to improve that sleep, which means buying them a comfortable, supportive mattress. Here are some general guidelines for picking the best mattress for kids in 2021, whether you’re looking for a standard twin or crib mattress or want to get fancy with other types of mattresses, like green tea-infused, organic, memory foam, or innerspring.


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“As a sleep physician, [I think] executing a smooth transition to a big kid bed is an opportunity and a milestone for a child,” Dr. Meredith Broderick, a board-certified specialist in neurology and sleep medicine, said in an email endorsing Helix's new mattress designed for kids. “Creating an optimal sleep environment is a key component of that transition.”


We want kids’ mattresses to be optimal for their bodies, but their bodies are constantly changing. With that in mind, we either need a mattress that can change with them (as the Helix and Saatva Youth mattresses do, flipping over to switch between firm and medium soft), or one that’s not so expensive that we’ll mind buying a new one in a few years.


Best Mattress Types for Kids


Firm: Firm mattresses, like those with an innerspring design, are best for babies because they prevent the risk of SIDS and keep small children safe and supported. Older kids can help choose the firmness of their mattress based on preference.


Soft: Soft mattresses with gel inserts or pillow top designs can help keep older kids comfy. Soft mattresses for children over 18 months are a matter of preference, and can still offer plenty of support for great sleep.


Spring: Spring mattresses are the traditional mattress design and can offer supportive sleep for babies, toddlers and big kids alike.


Memory foam: Memory foam mattresses are becoming more common and are available for cribs and standard bed sizes. Memory foam is often more affordable and can offer more support.


How To Choose a Mattress for Your Kids


Choose your child’s mattress based on size and material preference. Babies and toddlers typically require a crib mattress (see below), while older kids usually require a twin, full-size or larger mattress if you prefer. Older kids can use both spring and memory foam mattresses and can choose the firmness of mattress based on personal preference. Special features like organic materials, waterproof design, pillow top, and more should be decided upon in regards to personal taste and special circumstances, like bed wetting, allergies, or support needs.


How To Choose a Crib Mattress


Babies under 18 months old should always use a firm mattress to prevent the risk of SIDS and keep your child breathing safely and comfortably through the night. Cribs often transition into toddler beds, so crib mattresses that are used after 18 months can be made with softer material. Many dual-sided crib mattresses are available with a firm side for babies and a softer side for toddlers.


Shop some of the top-rated mattress brands of 2021 below.



1 of 16 Image Credits: Helix

Best Twin

Helix Kids


When developing its new kids' mattress, Helix didn't just make a cheaper, smaller version of its popular grown-up direct-to-consumer mattress. The features make specific sense for kids: One side is firmer for younger kids who need the extra support; while the other side is softer for big kids who tend to like it that way. The core is made of individually wrapped steel coils and the outer layer is hypoallergenic Tencel, made from wood fibers. The cover is also antimicrobial and water-repellent, which is a definite bonus where kids are involved.

2 of 16 Image Credits: Casper

Runner-Up Twin

Casper Original Mattress


With more than 20,000 five-star ratings, the Casper original has a lot of fans, who rave about the zoned-support of the foam mattress, as well as the cooling effect of the perforated top layer. Many kids we know sleep hotter than adults, so that second part is key. The price range of the Original, which starts at $695 for an all-foam twin (though there are frequent sales), is higher than a typical twin mattress, but acceptable if you plan on keeping it as they grow into adulthood.

3 of 16 Image Credits: Amazon

Best Full-Size Mattress

Tuft & Needle Full Mattress


Tuft & Needle’s full-size mattress has a 100 Night Sleep Trial and a 10 year warranty, so you can trust that your kiddo gets the night of rest he or she deserves. The supportive foam creates a comfortable sleep surface and the cooling gel design helps regulate temperature.

4 of 16 Image Credits: Bed Bath & Beyond

Best Organic Mattress

Naturepedic Verse Kids Organic Cotton Mattress


This mattress has an organic cotton quilted cover and organic cotton filling to keep your child comfortable all night long. The cotton material also creates a breathable design that helps regulate temperature while your kiddo snoozes. The mattress provides firm support and has a no-flip, one-side design.

5 of 16 Image Credits: Amazon

Best Waterproof Mattress

AC Pacific Foam Waterproof Mattress


Spills, accidents, sickness and potty-training are all part of raising kids—prepare for the worst with a waterproof mattress. The fabric upholstery on this foam mattress is moisture-repelling but breathable for maximum comfort.

6 of 16 Image Credits: Newton Baby

Best Crib Mattress

Newton Baby Wovenaire Crib Mattress


This crib mattress for babies offers a firm, supportive sleep surface to keep your little one safe and comfortable. The mattress has a machine-washable woven cover, a breathable design and a lightweight build to make changing sheets a breeze.

7 of 16 Image Credits: Amazon

Best Organic Crib Mattress

Naturepedic Organic Crib Mattress


Rest easy knowing your baby is sleeping safely on this certified organic crib mattress from Naturepedic. The 3D mesh surface allows tiny sleepers to breathe when face down, and the waterproof cover is removable for easy washing. When your little one graduates to toddler status, just flip the mattress over to the medium-firm size for an easy transition.

8 of 16 Image Credits: Amazon

Best Mini Crib Mattress

Babyletto Pure Core Non-Toxic Mini Crib Mattress


Mini cribs are space-saving baby bed options with a smaller size than standard cribs. This mini crib mattress is designed to fit the smaller crib size and is made of non-toxic material. Babyletto’s mini crib mattress also has a waterproof, removable, and machine-washable cover.

9 of 16 Image Credits: Target

Best Memory Foam Mattress

Zinus Twin 12


This memory foam mattress has a soft jacquard cover and is infused with green tea and natural plant oil to keep the mattress fresh and free of odors and bacteria. The knitted cover also meets OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certification standards, so it's free of harmful substances.

10 of 16 Image Credits: Amazon

Best Toddler Mattress

Dourxi Crib Mattress and Toddler Bed Mattress


Invest in a dual-sided sleep system like this mattress, and make it easy to transition your baby’s crib mattress into a toddler mattress after the 18-month mark. The firm side is ideal for baby cribs, while the soft, plush side keeps toddlers comfortable and still fits easily into standard toddler-size beds or cribs that convert into small toddler beds.

11 of 16 Image Credits: Bed Bath & Beyond

Best Foam Crib Mattress

Graco Premium Foam Crib and Toddler Mattress


This memory foam crib mattress has a water-resistant, removable, washable cover so you can keep all of your baby’s messes at bay. The mattress is made of high-quality, breathable foam and has a firm design to keep young babies safe and supported.

12 of 16 Image Credits: Newton Baby

Best Waterproof Crib Mattress

Newton Baby Waterproof Crib Mattress


This firm, supportive crib mattress for babies and toddlers has a removable, breathable and waterproof cover included. The waterproof material is designed to be breathable, so you can trust your little one is cool, comfortable, and breathing easy all through the night.

13 of 16 Image Credits: Saatva

Best Firm Mattress

Saatva Youth Mattress


This inner-spring mattress is great for kids who prefer a little extra support, and the unique dual-sided design means it will support your growing child for many years. All you have to do is flip the kids mattress from the 3+ side to the 8+ side when your little one is ready. On top of that convenience, the mattress has water-resistant finish and internal waterproof barrier to protect against spills and accidents.

14 of 16 Image Credits: Houzz

Best Pillow Top Mattress

Modway Jenna Quilted Innerspring Mattress with Pillow Top


The pillow top on this spring mattress provides ample plush comfort for kids who prefer a soft sleeping space. The mattress has two layers of foam over individually wrapped spring coils and a 2-inch pillow top to provide maximum comfort.

15 of 16 Image Credits: Amazon

Best Cooling Mattress

Classic Brands Cool Gel Ventilated Memory Foam Mattress


Have a kiddo who always wakes up sweaty after a night of sleep? Help keep your little one cool with this temperature-regulating memory foam mattress. A ventilated cool gel foam layer provides a cooling surface, while breathable foam layers underneath help air circulate so your child can sleep better.

16 of 16 Image Credits: Target

Best Spring Mattress

Linenspa 6


This spring mattress has a quilted cover and a plush layer of foam to help your child get a restful night of sleep. The low-profile on this 6-inch mattress makes it ideal for bunk beds, toddler beds, trundle beds and other popular sleeping options for children.