Baby Crib Mattress Buying Guide

Last Updated on August 11, 2020 by Ines

Crib Mattress Buying Guide | How to pick the best crib mattress for your baby?

Baby crib mattress buying guide for 2020

Young babies, especially newborns, sleep most of the day. Yes, I know, when my daughter was a baby, it doesn’t seem so to me either. But they do, some even up to 18 hours per day. That’s why, is providing a safe sleeping environment, one of the firsts, and most important tasks of young parents. And that doesn’t apply only on choosing a safe crib, but purchasing a safe crib mattress too! To help you pick the right crib mattress for your baby, we’ve put together a crib mattress buying guide below.

Our baby crib buying guide is new and covers everything you need to know before and after buying a crib mattress in 2020. Yes, after too! Just purchasing a crib mattress that meets all required safety standards won’t do the whole job. Only the right use of the crib mattress will provide the safest sleeping environment for your little bundle of joy.

How to pick a crib mattress that is safe for my baby?

Choosing the right crib mattress is equal, if not even more important, then choosing a safe crib. Only the correct combination of both will give you the right result, which will contribute to your baby’s safety.

For instance, you can buy a high rated baby crib mattress, which meets and even exceeds all required safety standards, but if it doesn’t fit snuggly into your crib, it won’t provide the sufficient safeness to your baby!

YOU MIGHT LIKE: The Best crib mattresses in 2020

When buying a baby crib mattress, keep in mind the following things:

  1. What material do you prefer, foam or springs?
  2. If you can, buy a new model, and don’t settle down with low quality!
  3. Do you have a convertible crib? Think about the crib mattress that grows with your child too!
  4. You need a firm baby crib mattress! 
  5. Choose the right sized crib mattress.
  6. Is the crib mattress breathable?
  7. It must be stated if the crib mattress meets all safety standards!
  8. What is the cover of your mattress? Do you need an extra cover?
  9. Inquire about its warranty!
  10. Do you need an organic baby crib mattress?
  11. Is your child allergic? Then choose a hypoallergenic baby crib mattress.

Crib mattress buying guide

For a better understanding, I will break down each of the points above. That’s how you will exactly know what to look for when buying a baby crib mattress

Sleeping baby

1. Foam or innerspring crib mattress

As long as you pick a quality model, both types are great! The quality and structure of foam crib mattresses change a lot in the past years.

A quality foam crib mattress offers the same support as the innerspring model, some even bigger. If properly used, we can’t generalized which one is more durable or better for your baby.

The choice of material, therefore, depends on your personal preference, not because one material would be better than another!

Baby Crib Mattress Buying Guide: foam vs. innerspring

RELATED: Foam vs. Coil/Innersprig Crib mattress

What about a completely unique baby crib mattress?

So, there are foam and innerspring crib mattresses, but there is also one exception! Newton has made a crib mattress from the unique Wovenaire material. Not only that, but more than half of it is actually air! Such a structure makes it the only 100% breathable and 100% washable baby crib mattress.

Because of its unique features, excellent support, high quality, safety, and usability, is Newton Wovenaire one, of the most wanted and best-rated baby crib mattresses on the market.


FOAM CRIB MATTRESS

Foam crib mattresses are made of the polyurethane core, which is surrounded by the fabric or vinyl cover. Their structure is less complex from innerspring mattresses but equally efficient. A quality foam mattress is firm and offers proper support to your baby! 

Foam crib mattresses are available in a mini and standard size. Their thickness varies from 3 to 6 inches, and they are lighter from innerspring models. Most of them weight less than 13 pounds, so changing sheets is much easier and faster too.

Baby Crib Mattress Buying Guide
Milliard dual-sided foam crib mattress

FOAM CORE

High-quality baby crib mattresses, such as Babyletto Pure core baby crib mattress, have a denser foam, resulting in a slightly higher weight. The law does not specify that the density of the foam must be stated on the label, so of course, it is often not. But you can conclude which foam is denser, by comparing the weight of different foam mattresses. Heavier foam crib mattresses have denser foam, resulting in better quality.

FIRE BARRIER

The mattress’s fire barrier must be safe, non-toxic, and free of chemical flame retardants.

COVER

The core of the foam mattress is surrounded by a cover, which can be vinyl, fabric, or the combination of both materials. The combined cover has vinyl on the inside and softer fabric on the surface.

Vinyl cover is usually waterproof, so it better protects the mattress’s core. You can clean it just by wiping it with a damp cloth. However, if a vinyl cover is not quality made, it can leave annoying crackly sounds when your baby moves. Vinyl covers also have worse breathability from those made of fabric.

Whichever you choose, check up its qualities first. Is the cover waterproof or water-resistant, does it have a plastic feel and leave noises, and if it is breathable.

  • A waterproof cover prevents liquids from penetrating the core. 
  • A water-resistant cover keeps the liquids on its surface only for a certain period then they slowly penetrates inside.
  • The vinyl cover shouldn’t have a plastic feel or leave noses.
  • A cover must be breathable. Choose the cover which is waterproof only on the top. As such, it will keep the breathability on the bottom side of the mattress.

The foam crib mattresses I have listed above are not the cheapest choice, so I know for someone, the price can be too high. That’s why we’ve found an affordable alternative, a Graco Premium foam crib and toddler mattress. It’s still not the cheapest one of the market, but very affordable.

For the price you are paying, you get an excellent baby crib mattress, which meets all safety standards, offers sufficient support, and has many other cool features, which you can find in our Graco Premium Review.


INNERSPRING CRIB MATTRESS

The structure of the innerspring crib mattress is a little more complex. The core is made of steel springs. Springs provide excellent support, but they are hard to touch, so they must be surrounded by multiple layers of different cushioning material that give the mattress a needed softness. 

Due to the springs, these mattresses weight between 5 to 30 pounds, which is more than foam mattresses.

Innerspring baby crib mattresses differ in number and hardness of steel coils in the core. Never buy an innerspring mattress, if you don’t know its exact structure! There should be a description of what’s inside on the label or in the manual!

Kolcraft Pure Sleep Therapeutic 150 Toddler and Baby Crib Mattress structure
Kolcraft Pure Sleep Therapeutic 150 toddler and baby crib mattress
  1. cover
  2. lock-stitched binding
  3. cushioning
  4. springs
  5. airflow pockets

SPRINGS

In general, more springs mean better quality. If there are more springs, they are closer together, which results in the firmer structure. But this is not always the case. If the difference in coil count of two mattresses is not too big, the one with fewer coils can offer better support anyway. That is because its steel is thicker and stronger.

You have to find the perfect combination of coil count and steel thickness (steel gauge). Some crib mattresses have more than 200 coils, others less than 80. So how to choose the perfect one? A quality baby crib mattress, such as Kolcraft, is the one with 135 -150 springs. The thickness of coils is measured as a steal gauge and range from 19 to 12.5 gauge, where the lower number means thicker steel. 

INSULATOR PAD

The insulator pad prevents the coils from poking through the mattress’s surface. The best are fiber wrap pads, made from pressed scraps of cloth, and coir fiber pads made of shredded coconut shells. Coconut pads cost more, but either works well in crib mattresses.

Avoid innerspring crib mattresses with woven polyester, hard felt, or plastic-mesh insulator pads. Such mattresses are less durable, tend to form pockets over time, and become concave, which creates a safety hazard for your baby.

CUSHIONING LAYERS

Cushion layers can be made of cotton, foam, or the worse choice, the polyester. Polyester is cheaper, but it’s less durable, and mattresses with polyester cushioning tend to form pockets sooner.

COVER

All layers are surrounded by fabric or vinyl cover, with the same characteristics as those on foam mattresses.


Foam vs. innerspring baby crib mattress
FOAM CRIB MATTRESSINNERSPRING CRIB MATTRESS
lower pricehigher price
lighter
up to 13 pouds
weights more
from 5-30 pounds
less bouncyhigher bounce, so there is more chance your toddler will use it as a handy trampoline
if you don’t pick a quality model, it won’t last as long as the innerspring mattressesthey are generally more durable

2. New vs. used baby crib mattress

If it’s possible, decide for a new baby crib mattress. I always tell parents that a cheap but new crib mattress is often better than a used one, which was expensive. That applies especially on a secondhand crib mattress, whose previous owners you do not know personally.

A used crib mattress is maybe not as firm as it should be anymore. Also, you can’t possibly know what has been going on with the mattress, how many accidents it surviewed, was it properly cleaned and dried out, etc. If not used properly, it can harbor mold, mildew, bacteria, or fungus in its core.

Newer judge the crib mattress by the look of the cover! The cover may look clean, but you can’t be sure what’s going on inside. Well, except in the previously mentioned Newton Wovenaire, where you can see into its core. 


What about quality? 

If you opt for a cheap crib mattress, it does not mean that you have to give up its quality. I’m not claiming that all cheap crib mattresses are good, but we’ve found a few that offer a lot for a very reasonable price.

Delta Children offers a wide selection of popular baby crib mattresses for an affordable price. We’ve already reviewed them, and they possess excellent quality for the price! If you are interested, you can read our Delta Children baby crib mattress review, where you can also find links to their prices. A quality affordable choice, which is also very popular among parents are Graco Premium or Safety 1st Heavenly Dreams baby crib mattress.


3. Convertible, dual-sided baby crib mattress

A dual-sided crib mattress, such as Dourxi crib mattress, is the best choice for convertible cribs. It has two sides of different firmness, a firm side for babies, and a softer side for toddlers.

Baby Crib Mattress Buying Guide: Dual-sided crib mattress
Moonlight Slumber,, one of the best dual-sided crib mattresses

While babies should never sleep on softer mattresses, toddlers can sleep on a firm surface. However, toddlers often want a softer mattress. Since they cuddle with parents on their bed, they know how cozy it can be. And a dual comfort baby crib mattress is a perfect solution.

Start with the firmer side for a newborn and baby, and flip the mattress when your child is old enough. Don’t rush with the flipping. Maybe you can do it at the same time you are converting the crib into a toddler bed. That’s how your little one gets a new bed with a new mattress, without any additional costs for you!


4. How to choose a crib mattress with sufficient firmness?

One of the most important things you should consider when buying a crib mattress is sufficient firmness! A firm crib mattress significantly reduces the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrom).

Your baby’s head won’t sink into a firm mattress! Sometimes babies roll ower, but they are not able to push up and turn yet. In such a case, a firm crib mattress doesn’t contour to the baby’s face and prevents suffocation! At the same time, it offers much better support to make it easier to push up or turn her head on the side.

So, choose a firm crib mattress! Not only that it’s much safer, but it also contributes to proper baby’s bone and muscle development!


How to test the crib’s mattress firmness?

Crib mattress home firmness test

First of all, if it feels too firm for you, then it’s probably firm enough for your baby! Press on the mattress’s surface with your palm. If it offers enough resistance and it spring’s back quickly, it’s firm enough.


5. How to choose a fitting crib mattress?

You have to choose a crib mattress that fits perfectly into your crib. Pick a standard size crib mattress for a full-size crib, a mini mattress for mini cribs, and a suitable model for a Pack ‘N Play or travel crib.


What is the best mattress for a full-size crib?

Given the correct fit, choosing a fitting crib mattress for a full-size crib is the easiest. Inner measurements of full-size cribs and the size of crib mattresses are regulated by the government. That’s how any new standard size crib mattress fit into any new crib!

is a baby crib with the following measurements: 52 3⁄8 ± 5⁄8 inches in length by 28 ± 5⁄8 inches in width

is a baby crib mattress with the following measurements: at least 27 1/4 inches by 51 5/8 inches and no more than 6 inches thick

However, if you are not sure, check it by yourself. Place the mattress into the crib and look for the gaps between the mattress’s edge and crib’s frame. If there is a gap, place your fingers there. The gap shouldn’t be wider than two fingers!

Baby Crib Mattress home fitting t

What is the best mattress for a mini crib?

Choosing the right crib mattress for a mini crib could be a little more complex. It depends on the size of your mini crib. You see, mini crib’s measurements are not defined by the law. So, any crib that its smaller from a full-size crib is a mini crib.

Luckily in most cases, the mini crib’s inner dimensions are around 38 inches by 24 inches, and most mini crib mattresses correspond to those measurements!

When choosing a mini mattress, always carefully check if its size matches the internal dimensions of your mini crib, and make a two-finger home fitting test to be absolutely sure!


What is the best mattress for a Pack ‘N Play or travel crib?

A portable mattress must also fit snuggly into the Pack ‘N Play or travel crib. But this is not the only requirement! In this case, the thickness of the mattress is even more important!

It shouldn’t be too thick! These cribs have soft mesh sides, so the baby could roll down and trap between mattress’s edge and crib’s side.

Most Pack ‘N Plays and travel cribs take the mattresses up to 3 inches thick, but check by the manufacturer first!


6. Do you need a breathable crib mattress?

Yes, you do! Choose a crib mattress with sufficient airflow through its core. 

The benefits of a breathable mattress are:

  • A breathable crib mattress cools down faster and, as such, prevents the baby’s overheating.
  • A breathable crib mattress drys faster and, as such, prevents mold formation in its core.

I have to say, most new baby crib mattresses possess sufficient breathability. We always check the venting and breathability in our baby crib mattress reviews. And I have to say that most of the time we get good results!

There could be issues with vinyl and completely waterproof covers. If the mattress has such cover, check if it has side venting holes, or if it’s waterproof only on the top and sides. If the bottom side is not waterproof, it will provide sufficient airflow anyway. 

Note: If you decide on a dual-sided crib mattress with such cover, don’t forget to turn the cover when flipping the mattress. That’s how you will avoid liquid penetration if the accident occurs.


7. Crib mattress safety standards

Every new crib mattress must meet strict safety standards set by the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) and ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials). Manufacturers are also required to reveal all the materials used for their mattresses. Do not buy a crib mattress if you can’t find these data, or the seller doesn’t want to provide them!

Tests include checking the content of harmful substances, measurements, and checking the mattress’s firmness. Often, the mattress’s descriptions are accompanied by certificates obtained by a particular mattress.

Crib mattress certifications:

Greenguard and CertiPUR crib mattresses certification
  • GREENGUARD Gold certification, which ensures that the crib mattress was independently tested and verified to meet strict emission levels of indoor pollution. Certified crib mattresses are without toxic chemicals, such as volatile organic compounds (VOC), formaldehyde, and phthalates.
  • CertiPUR-US certification, which refers to the mattress’s foam. Certified foam is without ozone depleters, mercury, lead, and other heavy metals. The foam is free from formaldehyde, phthalates, and chlorofluorocarbons. It also guarantees that foam passed all durability and performance tests. 

Organic crib mattresses must have one of the following certifications!

GOTS & GOLS certified organic crib mattresses

1. GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) for fiber-based products. The GOTS certification assures that a product you are buying is certified organic and non-toxic to a strict standard.

2. GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard) for latex-based products. The GOLS certification ensures that the latex in crib mattresses is organic, and meets specific standards in the processing and manufacturing steps.


8. Do you need a crib mattress protector?

Even if you have a waterproof crib mattress, it is advisable to use an additional crib mattress protector too. It will protect the mattress and keep the sleeping environment clean. 

Quality covers also provide absorbency and helps manage moisture. The cover will absorb liquids, but won’t let them penetrate into the mattress’s core. As such, it helps prevent the baby’s skin irritation from moisture exposure.

  • Choose the one that is machine-washable, so you can easily clean it if a bigger accident occurs. 
  • Choose a tightly fitting cover!
  • Always place the cover under the sheet!

9. Do you need a crib mattress with a lifetime guaranty?

Crib mattress warranties vary from one year to a lifetime. And I think you don’t need a lifetime warranty, especially if you are required to pay extra for it.

Paying extra money for a lifetime warranty is more of a marketing strategy than a benefit for you! A quality crib mattress, combined with proper use, lasts a long time, much longer than your child can use it.


10. What is an organic baby crib mattress?

Finding a 100% organic baby crib mattress can be a tough job. I was surprised by the low number of truly organic crib mattresses.

There are eco-friendly, natural, or green mattresses, which are excellent, high quality, and safe models, but they are not 100% organic.

If you want a 100% organic crib mattress, check if it has all the certifications I have described above. But be careful! You have to check if all parts of the crib mattress are certified organic. In most cases, only its individual parts are certified, which is often not accurately stated on the label. You can read more about this in our article about organic crib mattresses.

After our research, I can recommend the following mattresses:

CRIB MATTRESS REVIEWS

Unique crib mattresses:

  1. Newton Wovenaire crib mattress review

Foam crib mattress Reviews:

  1. Babyletto Pure Core crib mattress
  2. NapYou dual comfort crib mattress
  3. Graco Premium foam crib and toddler mattress
  4. Milliard dual comfort crib mattress
  5. Milliard crib mattress and toddler bed mattress
  6. Milliard memory foam crib mattress
  7. Colgate Eco Classica III dual-firmness baby crib mattress
  8. Safety 1st Heavenly Dreams crib mattress
  9. Dourxi crib mattress and toddler bed mattress
  10. Moonlight Slumber Little Dreamer crib mattress
  11. Delta Children Twinkle Stars foam crib mattress

Innerspring crib mattress Reviews:

  1. Delta Children Twinkle Stars innerspring crib mattress
  2. Kolcraft Pure Sleep Therapeutic 150 toddler and baby crib mattress
Baby's Little Place

Hello!
I am the founder of Baby’s Little Place. I’m a mom to the one-year-old daughter and I know how overwhelming could be when you are looking at things and tips for a new baby, especially if you are a first-time parent. That’s why I set up this site…because I want to do something I am passionate about, as well as I want to help new parents and parents to be.


I hope you enjoyed reading my article! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them down below. I will be happy to discuss it with you!

Ines

Founder, Baby’s Little Place



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