Why You Should Trust Us
A mattress is a big purchase, which is why we aim to make the process easier for our readers. Our team has years of experience working in the sleep industry, and we base our reviews on extensive research and testing.
We narrow down our final recommendations through a stringent evaluation process that incorporates objective measurements as well as the subjective experiences of our testers. For this article, we focused on metrics that are more applicable to children, bearing in mind their different body types, activity levels, and other needs.
What Do Kids Need for a Good Night’s Sleep?
Choosing a mattress for kids comes with a few different requirements than picking a bed for adults. We’ll look at some useful considerations to keep in mind and then examine each one in depth.
Find the Type of Mattress That Works Best for Your Child
One of the first decisions to make when buying a mattress is whether you prefer a hybrid, innerspring, foam, or latex design. Each has potential advantages and disadvantages for different sleeper types.
Choose the Right Mattress Size and Firmness
When deciding on mattress size and firmness level, parents should consider how the needs of their child may change as they grow. Some mattresses designed for kids feature a flippable construction tailored for multiple age groups.
Price and Lifespan of Your Child’s Mattress
As with any product, you generally pay more for a higher-quality mattress. It might be worthwhile to invest in a higher-end model if you anticipate your child will use the mattress for many years.
Allergies and VOCs
For children who are sensitive to odors or those with allergies to certain materials, it’s important to find a mattress that doesn’t cause discomfort while sleeping. Some models release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) after unboxing in a process known as off-gassing. Though the VOCs don’t carry any known health risks, some children may dislike the chemical-like odor.
Best Mattress Types for Kids
In terms of pressure relief and support, different mattress types vary in their benefits and drawbacks. Some also offer additional perks, like better ease of movement or edge support. Meanwhile, others are more durable or have superior temperature regulation.
Hybrid mattresses combine a comfort system made with foam, latex, or other pressure-relieving materials over a coil support core. The core is typically made with pocketed springs that provide added support and bounce while reinforcing the edges. Hybrid mattresses tend to sleep relatively cool, and may have other cooling features depending on the materials in the comfort system.
Are Innerspring Beds Good for Kids?
Traditional innerspring mattresses may feel too firm for children, who often need a softer surface to prevent pressure points. However, the boundary between innerspring and hybrid mattresses is sometimes blurred.
Regardless of how it is advertised, a mattress is generally considered a hybrid if it has at least a few inches of cushioning materials on top. Although our testing shows that many innerspring mattresses are not as durable, some models advertised as innersprings are closer to hybrids in their construction.
Foam mattresses contain a polyfoam support core and layers of polyfoam, memory foam, latex, or cushioning fibers in the comfort section. The all-foam construction typically provides ample support and pressure relief for sleepers under 130 pounds.
Some foam mattresses limit movement or trap heat, though manufacturers often take steps to reduce these inconveniences, such as infusing the foam with cooling gels. On the other hand, all-foam models tend to be virtually silent in our tests, so kids can play in bed without the squeaks and creaks of an innerspring mattress.
Mattresses made entirely of latex offer a responsive surface. Parents who want to keep chemicals out of their child’s bedroom often prefer natural or organic latex mattresses, which may also include other organic materials, such as cotton and wool. Though expensive, natural latex is highly breathable and tends to be more durable than other mattress types.
Choosing the Right Mattress Size and Firmness for Your Child
Size and firmness play significant roles in the overall feel of a mattress. In addition to a child’s height and weight, it’s important to consider their preferred sleep position.
How Much Space Does Your Child Need to Sleep?
Considerations when choosing a mattress size for your child include their age, weight, and whether they tend to sprawl out or move in their sleep. Most parents choose a twin, twin XL, or full size mattress for their kids. Queen and king sizes come at a higher price-point that may not be a good value for smaller bodies. However, if your kids share a bed or you plan to continue using the mattress for many years to come, larger sizes may be worth considering.
Twin size is the smallest of the standard mattress sizes. Created to fit one sleeper, this size should accommodate the needs of most children. Additionally, many bunk beds and trundle beds are made to fit a twin size mattress.
Twin XL Mattress
A twin XL mattress has the same width as a twin mattress but is 5 inches longer. This provides extra leg room for growing children or teens.
Full Size Mattress
For active sleepers, a full size mattress allows more room to toss and turn. The extra width of a full size mattress can also accommodate two people if you like reading bedtime stories with your child. Similarly, your child may be able to sleep more comfortably with a pet in a full size bed.
How Firm Should Your Child’s Mattress Be?
A good mattress for kids should provide equal parts support and pressure relief to keep the spine aligned without causing pressure points. The right firmness level depends on your child’s preferred sleep position, body type, and personal preference.
Contouring refers to the ability of a mattress to mold to the body. Mattresses with more contouring feel softer and provide more cushioning. Sleepers under 130 pounds tend to find surfaces subjectively firmer, so they may prefer a mattress with greater contouring.
Sleep position determines which body parts take the brunt of the impact against the mattress. Side sleepers put more pressure on the hips and shoulders, so they typically need a softer mattress to cushion these areas. By contrast, stomach sleepers usually require a firmer mattress to support their midsections and relieve pressure in their lower backs. Back sleepers are generally comfortable on a medium firm mattress that balances contouring and support.
Mattress firmness directly influences edge support. A softer mattress usually allows more give around the perimeter, making its edges feel less stable. If your child frequently sits or sleeps near the edge of the bed, we suggest considering a firmer mattress or a model with reinforced edges.
Cost and Average Lifespan of a Kid’s Mattress
A new bed can represent a significant investment, so you may need to weigh several factors when deciding on a mattress budget.
How Much Should You Invest in a Kid’s Mattress?
Because children typically use smaller sizes, the cost of kid’s mattresses can start as low as $200, though some models run as high as $1,000 or more. Most mattresses last at least several years, and spending a little more for a higher-quality mattress may save money in the long run.
Will Your Child’s Mattress Survive Until They Move Out?
On average, we expect most mattresses to last 7 to 10 years. Warranties generally have terms of at least 10 years. If you are buying a mattress for an older child or a teen, you might want to consider purchasing a model that they can continue to use once they move out.
Kids Can Be Messy, So Invest in a Mattress Protector
Mattress protectors are a good idea for any sleeper — and especially for children, who run a higher risk of spills, bedwetting, and other accidents. Most warranties don’t cover mattresses with stains or other physical damage, and trial policies are also often voided should the bed sustain such damage. A mattress protector helps protect your investment and may extend the lifespan of your bed.
Use a Mattress Topper to Adjust the Bed as Your Child Grows
If your child’s firmness preferences change over the years but the mattress itself is still supportive, a mattress topper can be a cost-effective way of adjusting the feel of the bed.
Does Your Child Have Allergies or a Sensitivity to VOCs?
Some mattresses are made with materials that trigger allergies in certain sleepers, which in turn can interfere with sleep. Children may be more likely to have allergies to natural materials, such as down and latex. Mattresses that allow room for dust to collect and attract dust mites are also frequently problematic for allergy sufferers. We recommend talking to your healthcare provider before buying a mattress if your child is sensitive to odors or any of the materials commonly found in mattresses.
Many parents are also justifiably concerned about the chemicals often used in mattress production. Foam-based mattresses typically emit a relatively harmless but unpleasant odor after unboxing, which is caused by the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Mattresses made with synthetic materials, such as polyfoam or memory foam, should be left in a well-ventilated space for a few days to let them off-gas before use.
When buying a mattress for your child, we suggest you look for third-party certifications from organizations like CertiPUR-US or OEKO-TEX. These organizations test mattresses to verify that levels of harmful chemicals are kept at a minimum.
CertiPUR-US is a program specifically designed to test synthetic foam. To gain CertiPUR-US certification, manufacturers must demonstrate that a mattress does not contain ozone depleters, heavy metals, formaldehyde, and certain chemical flame retardants and phthalates. Emission levels of VOCs must also measure less than 0.5 parts per million.
The OEKO-TEX Standard 100 label guarantees that a textile product has been tested and found free of substances considered harmful to human health. Whereas CertiPUR-US tests foams, OEKO-TEX puts greater focus on the cover of a mattress.