Best Baby & Infant Crib Mattress of 2018 & Buying Guide

When it comes to crib mattresses, appearances can be misleading—as can price tags.  Whether it features a cute print or a plain-Jane fabric, or whether it’s ultra pricey or cheaper than a box of diapers, the best crib mattress is one that’s properly constructed.

Our buyer’s guide will help new parents and parents-to-be learn exactly what to look for when choosing their baby’s bed, and lists some of our favorite models—with a range of prices to suit any budget.

Product

Quality

Our Rating

Price

Little Dreamer

A+

Colgate Classica I

A+

BeautySleep Foam Happy Nights

Sealy Signature Natural Luxury

Big Oshi Baby Sleeptime Orthopedic

A-

Buying Guides

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Babies like soft and cozy things, right?

Yes, but those qualities shouldn’t come from his or her mattress.  Soft mattresses can cause the baby to “sink” into the bed too much, increasing the risk of suffocation if they roll over or turn their head. In addition to safety concerns, firmer surfaces are better for your baby’s muscle development and coordination, so look for models without much give.

How do you know if a mattress is firm enough for your infant?  You should be able to press your hand firmly on the surface and feel the mattress immediately push back.  A good rule of thumb: if it’s comfortable to you, it’s too soft for Junior—and if you think it’s way too firm, it’s probably perfect

How do I know if a mattress will fit the crib I’ve purchased?

All crib mattresses must adhere to strict guidelines; in fact, federal law mandates them, along with the cribs themselves.  A standard crib mattress measures 27¼” x 515/8”, with varying thicknesses no taller than 6” .  Cribs are held to rigid standards as well, but have a little wiggle room (literally), so measure the inside of your crib before purchasing, if possible, to ensure the mattress you buy will fit snugly.  Gaps can pinch tiny fingers and toes—and hide those elusive pacifiers just when you need them most!

Little Dreamer

Little Dreamer

I’ve noticed “SIDS-preventative” mattresses.  Do they work?

Be wary of any company that boasts SIDS prevention features.  The fact is, SIDS is still a mystery to the medical community; while they know what increases and decreases the overall risk, experts aren’t entirely sure what causes it. Some companies feed off parents’ fears by touting “breathable” mattresses, “high ventilation” models, and so forth.  Their alleged scientific research can seem very convincing, but in the end, they just want to sell you their mattress (many of which cost upwards of $300).

Don’t fall for the snake oil sales pitches.  Breathable mattresses are great if you live in a hot climate, or if you notice your baby “runs hot” and sweats frequently, but that alone won’t prevent SIDS.  For more information on the prevention of SIDS, visit healthychildren.org, or speak to your/your child’s doctor.

Our baby’s mattress will transition to their toddler bed later (or be used for a sibling).  How can I be sure the mattress I buy will hold up that long?  Is it safe to reuse it?

A crib mattress should last at least 3 years.  While you can’t predict how rough your little rugrat will be on the bed, you can choose a mattress with very durable construction.  It’s believed that spring models tend to hold up better than foam ones, which will break down and compress over time—although this happens at a much slower rate than it did with early foam models.  What’s more, because babies are so lightweight and will outgrow their mattress quickly, this breakdown rate is slow and negligible.

Colgate Classica I

Colgate Classica I

All in all, the question of durability comes down to quality materials and sound construction.  A vinyl cover is fine, but make sure it’s well-made.  Cheap vinyl will crack or rip at the seams fairly quickly.  You can also buy mattresses with cotton or latex covers, although they’ll cost extra.  Look for the same indications of quality you’d look for in an adult mattress: even stitching, responsive spring back, and plenty of support.

As for the safety of reusing a crib mattress, you should first make sure the model meets current safety standards.  Inspect the mattress to ensure it’s clean, and still has its original resiliency and firmness.

Don’t reuse a mattress if your child’s bodily fluids ever saturated the bed (protective covers or vinyl models can help prevent this).  If the mattress is a hand-me-down from outside your immediate family, skip it.  Even a mattress from close relatives or friends can harbor bacteria; you have no way of knowing its history, so don’t feel bad about saying, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Lastly, when in doubt—throw it out.  It’s worth the extra money to know your child is sleeping on a clean, up-to-code mattress.

I have a mattress that I love, and noticed the same company also makes crib mattresses.  Can’t I just buy one from them?

Adult mattress manufacturers rarely produce their crib mattresses in the same factory, and don’t use the same materials; that big name isn’t always a guarantee of quality.  In most cases, you’re just paying a “known brand” mark-up.

While some adult manufacturers do, in fact, attach their name to quality baby mattresses, don’t let that brand recognition make your decision for you.  The bed should still meet standards of high quality, feel very firm, and come at a price you can afford.


Best Baby/Infant Crib Mattress Reviews

1. Little Dreamer by Moonlight Slumber Review

Little Dreamer

The Little Dreamer model by Moonlight Slumber has a unique feature, and one frugal parent might enjoy: a dual foam design for both infant and toddler use.  When your baby transitions out of their crib, the mattress can move with them—simply flip it over.

Pros

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     Dual foam design to extend use; denser on infant’s side (for high firmness), and less dense on toddler side.
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     Each side is labeled to indicate infant or toddler use, although most people can feel the difference in density between the two.
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    Waterproof, so nighttime leaks won’t seep to center of the mattress and encourage mildew or bacteria growth.
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    Easy to clean.

Cons

  • Pricier than some budgets will allow, but still reasonable.  Dual design for use in toddler bed might make the extra cost worth it over time.

Parents looking to use their baby’s mattress as long as possible will enjoy this design.  The lack of springs discourages toddler jumping (but let’s be honest: they’ll jump on anything).  While it will feel too firm to most adults, this is an indication of adequate firmness for infants, and will help in the prevention of SIDS and suffocation.  It is on the pricier side, but can last children from infancy through toddlerhood, which justifies the price for some parents.

2. BeautySleep Foam Happy Nights by Simmons Kids Review

BeautySleep Foam Happy Nights by Simmons Kids

Simmons, a popular manufacturer of adult mattresses, offers this crib mattress through its children’s line.  Remember: a well-known brand doesn’t automatically translate to quality—but it seems Simmons Kids has just as high standards as its parent company, and doesn’t take advantage of its brand recognition via extreme mark-ups.

Pros

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    Memory foam, high-density.  Meets current recommendations for SIDS and suffocation prevention.
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    Lack of innerspring should discourage tossing and turning, and promote longer stretches of sleep at an earlier age.
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    Offers a limited 15-year warranty, which will definitely cover the lifespan of the mattress and then some.
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    Waterproof, easy to clean; vinyl cover.
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    Very affordable.

Cons

  • Very firm, which is great for infant use, but might cause discomfort if used in a toddler bed later on.

For parents-to-be on a budget, the BeautySleep Foam Happy Nights is a good contender.  While toddlers might need something softer later on, its firmness is ideal for infants.  Parents also get the peace of mind of a long warranty, and responsive customer service from a well-known, large brand.

3. Sealy Signature Natural Luxury Review

Sealy Signature Natural Luxury

As another grown-up brand in the baby mattress game, Sealy comes with high expectations, but, fortunately, not a high price.  For those budgets a little bigger than shoestring, this model might be the best thing parents will bring home (besides baby, of course).  Bonus: it features a firm side for infants, and a softer one for toddlers.

Pros

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    Innerspring provides ventilation for babies or children who “run hot” and sweat frequently.
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    “Flip it over” design: firm side for infants, softer side for toddlers.
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    Soft, breathable cotton cover.
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    Reinforced at edges and corners with inner pillars, so mattress won’t sink if baby rolls or scoots to the edge.

Cons

  • Cotton cover is not waterproof; leaks and diaper blowouts can seep into mattress if a waterproof cover isn’t added.
  • Springs do make some noise, especially as mattress ages/gets more use.

For little snoozers who sweat and overheat more easily than their playmates, this design will help.  Its innerspring system allows for greater nighttime ventilation than solid foam options.  The dual baby-toddler design is a great feature, as well, and can make the already affordable price even more attractive to frugal moms and dads.

4. Big Oshi Baby Sleeptime Orthopedic Review

Big Oshi Baby Sleeptime Orthopedic

Another innerspring model, the Baby Sleeptime Orthopedic from Big Oshi is perfect for babies born into hot-blooded families (or just hot climates).  Its price is very low, which will appeal to parents looking for an inexpensive, quality crib mattress.

Pros

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    Steel springs for solid construction; could increase durability to make mattress last longer than other models.
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    Very affordable.
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    Made in America.

Cons

  • The cover is synthetic, which might bother some parents; not waterproof.
  • As with any innerspring model, coils might become noisy over time or encourage more tossing and turning than foam construction.

If you want good quality at a very low price, Big Oshi’s Baby Sleeptime Orthopedic delivers.  Its innerspring design is sturdy, provides a firm sleeping surface with high support, and allows for optimal ventilation and a cooler touch.  Its parent company, Baby Time International, has a fast response time on its customer support phone line (although email response was not achieved).

5. Colgate Classica I Review

Colgate Classica I

At 5”, this foam mattress offers a thinness and density that’s perfect for infants.  It’s about half the weight of traditional crib mattresses, which makes it easy to change bedding or remove for cleaning.

Pros

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    Thin, dense, and lightweight for portability, without sacrificing firmness babies require.
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    The company has manufactured crib mattresses since 1955, adjusting to new standards as soon as they arise.
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    Waterproof cover.
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    Made in America.

Cons

  • Foam is not memory foam, which allows for higher breathability and a firmer feel, but might make this uncomfortable when child becomes a toddler.

To be honest, there’s very little—if anything—we can find wrong with the Colgate Classic I.  Its thin design is ideal for sheet changes and transport, and the dense foam is perfect for babies.  The price is comfortable, and the company meets and exceeds all current industry standards.  While it’s unlikely a toddler or small child will enjoy such a firm surface, this model is definitely designed with babies in mind.

To Conclude

A crib mattress should, first and foremost, be suitable for your infant.  While there’s nothing wrong with extending its use to a toddler bed, don’t buy a soft mattress just because your future toddler might not like a firm one (you can always add a topper down the line, anyway).   A firm mattress is crucial to a baby’s safety and muscle development, so be very discerning when testing this element.

Price isn’t something to ignore, either; don’t feel bad if you can’t drop hundreds on a baby bed.  Decide beforehand what you can afford to spend, and then look for the highest quality model within that bracket.  With a reasonable price tag and high industry standards, the mattress you choose should leave your baby—and you—sleeping soundly.

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