best in class

The 7 Very Best Baby Mattresses

Photo-Illustration: Courtesy of FOX

In this article

A crib mattress provides a safe sleeping environment for your baby, so it’s a purchase worth getting right. Baby mattresses are often firmer than those for older children, so many of them are dual-stage — this means that they have a softer side for toddlers or are designed to be firm yet comfortable, meaning you won’t need to buy a new mattress when your baby moves onto a toddler bed. According to Dr. Whitney Casares, pediatrician and founder of Modern Mommy Doc, there are two reasons why firm mattresses are recommended for babies. First, “An infant’s nose and mouth can be buried in a soft mattress more easily than in a firm mattress, which can cut off the infant’s oxygen supply.” Second, “A soft mattress makes it more likely that an infant will breathe in its own exhaled air, which increases carbon dioxide levels and decreases oxygen levels in the body.” Dr. Casares goes on to say, “I always remind parents, though, that choosing a quality crib mattress is only one part of reducing the risk of SIDS. Make sure to place your baby on their back and to keep all objects out of the crib other than a tightly fitted sheet over the mattress.”

I spoke to 11 experts — including a pediatrician, a family doctor, a doula, and three sleep consultants — to get their baby-crib mattress recommendations. Then I assigned several real-life testers (including two newish parents) to try out our best-in-class pick. (If you’re dealing with a puke-y baby, I learned that our best-in-class pick takes less than two minutes to unzip, remove, and then put the covers back on). Here are the best baby mattresses, based on these recommendations and our research, including breathable baby mattresses and organic baby mattresses. And if you’re just beginning to set up your nursery, we’ve also found the best cribs, the best glider rockers for nursing, and the best baby monitors to complete the setup.

What we’re looking for

Washability

With diaper leaks, spit-up, and potential bed wetting in the toddler stage, you want a mattress with some degree of washability. Some have covers that are waterproof with a plasticky finish that you can wipe clean. Others have removable, machine-washable covers. And then there are mattresses whose cover and core are washable. I’ve included mattresses with a range of all three washability options.

Dual-stage

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ safe-sleep guidelines, it’s important the crib mattress is appropriately firm to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. However, as children grow, this is no longer necessary. Toddlers may sleep better on slightly softer mattresses, although they should still be supportive. For this reason, dual-stage mattresses are suitable for both babies and toddlers. Some dual-stage mattresses are double sided, with a softer side for toddlers and a firmer one for infants. Others are listed as dual-stage but are single sided. This means they’re likely to feel a little too firm for toddlers and little kids sleeping in toddler beds. I prefer double-sided crib mattresses, but I’ve included some single-sided dual-stage options in which the mattress was recommended by a large number of the experts I spoke to or is notable in another way.

Filling material

There are three main filling materials for crib mattresses: foam, innerspring and polymer. Foam crib mattresses should be made from a firm foam, not memory foam as this is too soft for babies. They’re lighter than innerspring mattresses and cheaper on average but they can wear out more quickly. Innerspring mattresses have springs inside, surrounded by firm layers of padding. They’re durable and long-lasting but they’re heavier than foam mattresses and can be pricier. Then there’s a newer type of crib mattress with food grade polymer cores. These are made of a kind of web of strands of polymer formed into a mattress shape — think block of ramen noodles. Because they’re made of more air than polymer (they’re usually around 90% air by volume), they’re breathable and extremely lightweight. The core can usually be washed in a bath or shower. I’ve included options for each throughout.

Best mattress overall

Washability: Washable cover and core Dual-stage/single-sided filling material: Breathable polymer

The Newton is so popular that eight of the 11 experts I spoke to recommended it. It’s also a Strategist-staff favorite. Its core is made from a material called the Wovenaire, which is made of 90 percent air by volume and Newton claims is completely breathable. Family-medicine physician Dr. Laura Purdy explains that this “reduces the risk of suffocation and of baby overheating.” Former Strategist writer and mom of two Latifah Miles tested the Newton’s breathability claims: “I put my face against the mattress myself to see if I can actually breathe through it, and I can — without hot air kicking back into my face,” she notes. Miles and Strategist senior writer Liza Corsillo (who also tested this mattress) both say that the breathability gave them peace of mind when putting their babies to sleep.

It’s dual stage — suitable for babies and toddlers — but there’s no need to flip it from a baby side to a toddler side. Corsillo transitioned her son to the Newton at around 6 months and says it’s “very cushy and thick” but still as firm and supportive as other mattresses he slept on. The “first time I put him down to nap on the Newton mattress, he slept for an hour and 20 minutes without stirring,” she remarks. “It’s incredibly comfortable but still firm enough to be safe for young babies,” says pediatric sleep consultant Brittany Sheehan.

The cover is removable and machine washable, which is fairly standard for a crib mattress. But what makes it stand out is that the core is also washable. It’s a feature that Ariel Boorstin of parenting platform Cooper particularly appreciates — “I’ve had two very puke-y babies, so this was huge for me,” she says. The covers are easy to remove for washing. During testing, Miles found “it took less than two minutes for me to unzip, remove, and then put the covers back on.” Strategist senior editor Jen Trolio also praises its durability. She explains that she first bought the mattress six years ago for her sister to use with her eldest daughter. Trolio’s sister has since had two more children, and the mattress is still going strong.

Best (less expensive) baby mattress

Washability: Wipe-clean cover Dual-stage/double-sided filling material: Recycled plastic foam

The Newton is a great crib mattress, but it’s pricey. I wanted to recommend an alternative that meets all the basic requirements for under $100 — and that’s where the Perfect Slumber comes in. It’s double-sided, with a firm side that’s safe for babies and a softer side you can switch to in the toddler years. The cover is waterproof, protecting the core of the mattress from diaper leaks and other expulsions. It’s not machine washable, but it’s laminated and easily wipes clean. The core is made from recycled plastic bottles — an eco-friendly choice.

Best innerspring baby mattress

Washability: Washable cover Dual-stage/double-sided filling material: Innerspring

This innerspring mattress is one of the top choices of birth and postpartum doula Shira Sharifi of A Birth Connection. She likes that it’s double-sided with a pressure-relief layer on the toddler side. The cover is made from organic cotton. It’s removable and machine washable to deal with accidents more easily. The Saatva has a sleep-safe edge-support system that keeps the edges of the mattress from compressing when babies lie on them. Since one of the dangers of cribs is babies getting limbs trapped between the crib and the mattress, solid, well-supported edges are a bonus.

Best fully washable baby mattress

Washability: Washable cover and core Dual-stage/double-sided filling material: Breathable polymer

The Dreamweave is a favorite of Dr. Casares. It has a breathable polymer core that lets both heat and moisture escape and helps keep babies from getting too hot when they sleep. Dr. Casares likes that its toddler side is waterproofed and appreciates its washability. “You can clean the cover in the washing machine and rinse the core in the shower,” she notes.

Best waterproof baby mattress

Washability: Wipe-clean cover Dual-stage/single-sided filling material: Soybean foam

This Sealy mattress has a foam core that’s made using soybeans. Founder of Simply Birthed Shandra Scruggs likes that “it’s free from harmful chemicals and durable for long-term use.” It’s sold as a dual-stage infant and toddler mattress, but it’s worth noting that it’s not double-sided. Scruggs notes that “It might feel slightly firmer” than you’d expect for a toddler mattress, “but that’s safer for infants.”

It has squared-off corners to give it a snug fit inside a crib, which is great for any parents who worry about gaps. Scruggs also remarks that the waterproof cover is easy to clean. It isn’t removable or machine washable, but you can wipe it clean if it gets dirty.

Best organic baby mattress

Washability: Washable cover Dual-stage/double-sided filling material: Organic cotton

The Naturepedic has both an organic cotton cover and organic cotton filling. That’s why it’s a favorite of Sarah Hollingsworth — who’s a mom and the CEO and founder of Poppylist. She explains that if parents are looking to splurge on organic products, a mattress is a good place to start because of the sheer amount of time babies spend in their cribs. The filling surrounds a supportive core of either innerspring coils or a food-grade polyethylene Wavesupport system. The innerspring version is more durable, but it’s heavier and costs $40 more.

It’s a double-sided mattress, with a firmer baby side and a softer toddler one. The cover is removable and machine washable. Courtney Zentz of Tiny Transitions Sleep Consulting recommends this mattress to parents in her line of work. “The fact that this mattress is waterproof, breathable, and made of certified organic cotton grown here in the U.S. is a big selling point for many of our clients,” she remarks.

Best breathable baby mattress

Washability: Washable cover Dual-stage/double-sided filling material: Breathable polymer

The Gentle Start is made with a breathable polymer core that increases airflow around your baby. Family medicine physician Dr. Purdy appreciates this feature. It “can help with overheating by improving temperature regulation and reduce the risk of your little one overheating during their sleep,” she explains. Dr. Purdy also mentions the removable, washable cover as a highlight, making it easier to keep the mattress clean. I like that it’s dual-stage and double-sided with an extra-firm infant side and a softer toddler one.

Our experts

Ariel Boorstin, Cooper co-founder
• Dr. Whitney Casares, pediatrician, Modern Mommy Doc founder
Sarah Hollingsworth, Poppylist founder
Jason Morrison, parent and former brand manager
Amy Motroni, child sleep consultant, The Postpartum Party founder
Dr. Laura Purdy, family medicine physician
Karen Reardanz, director of editorial and brand at Babylist
Shandra Scruggs, Simply Birthed founder
Shira Sharifi, birth and postpartum doula, A Birth Connection founder
Brittany Sheehan, baby sleep consultant
Courtney Zentz, pediatric sleep expert, Tiny Transitions founder

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The 7 Very Best Baby Mattresses