The Best Crib Mattresses Are Lightweight Enough for Easy Sheet Swaps
Since we all know accidents happen.
Published May 26, 2022 5:14 PM
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Reading up on Domino’s shopping guides is like having your own personal product concierge. We do the tedious part—deep-dive research, hands-on testing, and tapping experts for advice—so all you have to do is hit “add to cart.” That’s why we call them Simply the Best.
Baby sleep isn’t rocket science, even if it sometimes feels like rocket science. First-time parents will learn, and seasoned parents will agree, that sleep becomes an all-consuming topic during the first year of a baby’s life (and beyond, for many). Wake windows, sleepy cues, the five S’s, the popular “eat play sleep” schedule, the infamous four-month sleep regression—parents will be all too familiar with these during their never-ending mission to get their baby to sleep. While you can’t control your baby’s affinity for snoozing (we wish there was a button for that), you can control the environment. Once your baby is ready to transition from their beloved bassinet to a crib, finding the best crib mattress can help set the foundation for that sacred space. (And when they’re ready to upgrade to their very own twin bed, we’ve got you covered there, too.)
Like our heroine Goldilocks in the beloved fairy tale, finding a mattress that’s “just right” can be difficult. Regretfully, babies can’t just test one out and thoughtfully inform us of their pros and cons. Instead, what becomes priority is safety (firmness and fit), convenience (lightweight for easy sheet changes), and material (organic certified textiles reign supreme). Below, we sussed out the best crib mattresses, tested by ourselves and multiple moms, to make sure your baby gets a good night’s rest after a busy day of being adorable.
- Best value: Safety 1st Heavenly Dreams Baby Crib & Toddler Bed Mattress
- Best splurge: Avocado Luxury Organic Crib Mattress
- Best washable: Original Newton Crib Mattress
- Best mattress topper: Newton Waterproof Crib Mattress Pad
- Best pack-and-play: Organic Dream Pack and Play Mattress
- Best eco-friendly: Naturepedic Organic Cotton Classic Seamless Baby Crib Mattress
Best Value: Safety 1st Heavenly Dreams Baby Crib & Toddler Bed Mattress
Size: Standard | Weight: 7.5 pounds | Sleep trial: N/A | Thickness: 5 inches
What we like:
- Should last for years
- Affordable without sacrificing safety
- Waterproof cover included
- Doesn’t have a plush side for toddlers
- No sleep trial but easily returnable
Why we chose it: This budget-friendly mattress still checks off all the necessary boxes.
Mattresses, even ones for little humans, can be expensive—but we don’t want you to lose sleep figuring out how to pay for one. This award-winning option is easy on the wallet but doesn’t sacrifice our must-have priorities, like firmness and longevity. A waterproof, stain-resistant cover comes included (sometimes that’s an extra fee with other brands), so you don’t have to worry about leaky diapers or a bad case of a stomach bug. The extra-firm support and GREENGUARD Gold mark (which certifies low chemical emissions into indoor air) are also important considerations for all our picks, and this mattress has both.
Editor’s note: The Safety 1st mattress has lasted our writer through three and a half years and two babies, and it’s still in tip-top shape. There are no signs of wear and tear, and it feels just as firm as it did when she opened it, which is really saying something—because sometimes she likes to hop in and cuddle her baby before waking him up! It should be noted that this isn’t a two-stage design, meaning there isn’t a firm side for babies and a plush side for toddlers. However, if you plan on having multiple kids, this detail might not matter, because you can designate this firm mattress for your infants and purchase softer options once they become toddlers.
Best Splurge: Avocado Luxury Organic Crib Mattress
Size: Standard | Weight: 36 pounds | Sleep trial: 100 nights | Thickness: 6 inches
What we like:
- GOTS- and GOLS-certified materials
- 2-stage design
- 25-year warranty
- An investment at $1,249
- Organic cotton protector pad is sold separately
Why we chose it: The most luxurious bed fit for the tiny king or queen of the household.
This premium mattress doesn’t guarantee sleep, but it does come pretty close to delivering everything we could possibly want in a mattress made for the most finicky sleepers. The $1,249 price tag is steep but for good reason: Every component of this mattress comes from the highest of standards. Not every brand has its own GOTS-certified organic factory, or makes its own GOLS Dunlop latex (an antimicrobial, adhesive-free material that’s more cooling than memory foam). Most brands also aren’t ethnically raising 150,000 Gaddi sheep to provide organic wool. These eco-friendly materials are naturally antimicrobial, flame retardant, and hypoallergenic—everything you want your skin-sensitive baby to sleep on.
You’re also paying for the top bed-making craftsmanship with this mattress. Stitched, needle tufted, and assembled by hand in the U.S., Avocado’s crib mattress features 170 coils that have been wrapped in organic cotton and stuffed in between with organic wool to prevent noise and increase durability. The mattress is also a two-stage design, so your investment will go much farther into toddlerhood. Details like a coconut fiber perimeter to protect the mattress from giving out when the baby stands on or near the edges and water-resistant GOTS cotton protector pads (available separately) keep this fluffy cloud feeling like new.
Best Washable: Original Newton Crib Mattress
Size: Standard, mini | Weight: 14 pounds | Sleep trial: 100 nights | Thickness: 5.5 inches
What we like:
- 100 percent washable
- 2-stage design
- Lifetime warranty
- 3 different styles: Essential, Original, and Waterproof
Why we chose it: This design prioritizes breathability, which can be a worrisome issue for any parent.
Getting a baby to sleep in their own crib is 92 percent of the battle. The other 8 percent comes from resisting the urge to make sure they’re breathing because they have face-planted directly into the mattress with their butt up in the air. The Newton mattress’s airy structure is why Kelsey Johnston of My Simply Simple chose to use it for her two daughters. “The Newton core is made of 90 percent free air, so baby can literally breathe right through it,” she explains. Johnston, who prefers clean and natural options in every aspect of her life, appreciated that the mattress contains no toxic materials. “No polyurethane foam, no adhesives or glue, and no metal springs. It’s nontoxic, hypoallergenic, recyclable, and GREENGUARD Gold certified,” she says.
The second best feature of the mattress? “EASY TO WASH AND DRY. It’s in all caps because it’s such a luxury,” says Carol Liang, mom to 3-year-old Chloe and author of the blog The CG Edit. Liang would rinse off the Wovenaire core in the shower and dry it outside in the sun while the covers were in the laundry. While this pick isn’t the lightest of our bunch, she notes it’s still lightweight enough so that you won’t throw out your back trying to change the sheets or lift it out of the crib.
Best Mattress Topper: Newton Waterproof Crib Mattress Pad
Size: Fits standard mattresses | Weight: 2.5 pounds | Sleep trial: N/A | Thickness: Fits 6-inch-thick mattresses
What we like:
- Can be used with any standard crib mattress
- Waterproof but breathable cover
- Returns need to be made within 30 days and pad must be unused
Why we chose it: This mattress pad will upgrade a gifted mattress that maybe wasn’t your first choice.
It’s inevitable that your baby will receive gifts from well-meaning friends and family that you maybe wouldn’t have chosen for yourself. It happens. But if you’ve been surprised with a not-so-great crib mattress and want to avoid the awkward ask for the gift receipt, you can always give it an upgrade with this topper. Like Newton’s crib mattress, this mattress pad creates a washable but breathable layer between your baby and the mattress, so you can still set your mind at ease when your baby is doing nighttime yoga in downward-facing dog.
Editor’s note: Our writer bought the twin-size version when her daughter was being potty trained and would sometimes have a nighttime accident. She loves that it’s both washable and breathable, because even when her daughter was 2 1/2 years old, she was still worried about breathing issues. This mattress topper gave her the peace of mind she needed to sleep…well, like a baby!
Best Pack-and-Play: Organic Dream Pack and Play Mattress
Size: Pack-and-play size (38-by-26 inches) | Weight: 6.5 pounds | Sleep trial: 100 nights | Thickness: 3.25-inch and 5-inch options
What we like:
- Most space-saving option
- 2-stage design
- Certified organic washable cover included
- There are 2 thickness sizes available: 3.25 inch and 5 inch
Why we chose it: The small footprint of this mattress makes it ideal for those living in studios or small spaces.
Pack-and-play is a term parents come to learn once they have a baby. It’s used to describe the portable cribs that are perfect for travel or leaving at the grandparents’ house for overnight trips. (Playard is another interchangeable term.) These crib alternatives usually come with their own base, but to call it a mattress is a bit of a stretch; they’re often plasticky and uncomfortably hard. They are, however, great for those with limited space, which is something Alison Mazurek, who used to have a 600-square-foot home and currently lives in a different but still small place, knows a lot about. She had a mini crib and discovered a brilliant hack: “I found that a trick was to find a thicker pack-and-play or travel crib mattress, as it fit the mini crib but tended to be a lower price than those labeled ‘mini crib mattresses.’” If you go this cost-saving route, be sure to double-check the dimensions as well the materials. “I know more now than I did those years ago, and would now ensure I bought a breathable mattress made of natural materials, and not just be satisfied with a nontoxic label,” Mazurek advises.
Best Eco-Friendly: Naturepedic Organic Cotton Classic Seamless Baby Crib Mattress
Size: Standard | Weight: 10 pounds | Sleep trial: 100 nights | Thickness: 6 inches
What we like:
- 100 percent certified organic mattress
- Waterproof surface made from non-GMO sugarcane
- 2-stage design
- The extra-firm support might seem uncomfortable
Why we chose it: Because this mattress is 100 percent certified organic, we feel 100 percent better about our sensitive newborns sleeping on it.
Like Johnston and Mazurek, Kristen Cesiro Goldman, creative director at Duolingo and mom to 2-year-old Nora, also prioritized sustainable and certified materials when it came time to choose her daughter’s crib mattress. “My number-one criteria in searching for a crib mattress was that it had to be nontoxic, and I love that this one is not only nontoxic but uses certified organic components,” she shares. Waterproof materials, while entirely convenient and a must-have for babies and toilet-training toddlers, are usually made with questionable coatings. Naturepedic uses a patented food-grade waterproof surface made from non-GMO sugarcane instead, so for those middle-of-the-night blow-out diapers, you can quickly wipe the surface down, throw on a new crib sheet, and hurry to set your baby down before they lose their drive to get back to sleep.
One thing to note is that the extra-firm support, which is necessary for infants, might seem too firm to adults. You can always opt for one of our other best picks, but for the first year of a baby’s life, err on the side of too firm rather than too plush.
How We Chose These Products
It can be difficult to figure out what’s comfortable for someone who can’t tell us their preferences, which is why the real priority here is safe sleep. These crib mattresses have been personally recommended by seasoned parents and have various certifications for materials to help ease your decision-making. We also know budget and space are deciding factors for families, so we made sure to include wallet- and small-space–friendly picks.
Our Shopping Checklist
Like regular adult mattresses, crib mattresses can vary in size—they even come in a variety of stylish shapes. There’s no global standard, so if you’ve inherited a European heirloom crib, you’ll want to double-check the measurements. To keep it simple, most American cribs can fit either a standard size or a mini version. Some cribs are circular or oval in shape, which is more for aesthetics, so you’ll either have to triple-check measurements or buy the dedicated mattress for that unique crib. There are also playard sizes to fit the standard pack-and-play portable cribs.
While choosing the best baby crib is up to you, the fit of the mattress is crucial. Poor fit can be a dangerous—even fatal—hazard. Dr. Nilong Vyas, a board-certified pediatrician, sleep consultant, and founder of Sleepless in NOLA, advises that the distance between the edge of the mattress and crib should be very minimal; you should only be able to fit a maximum of two fingers. If there is more space than that, you should make sure you have the right size mattress for your crib or reassess the build of the crib. Did you tighten the parts all the way? Is there a missing piece?
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a plush and cushy crib mattress. What feels comfortable for adults can actually be a suffocation risk for infants. This is also why you’ll come across the saying “back is best,” a simple reminder to always put a baby on their back to sleep. Once they start rolling, it’s fine to leave them on their stomach if they’ve rolled onto it. A firm mattress not only supports your baby’s growing spine and bones, but prevents them from sinking into a potentially suffocating position.
Babies can sleep for up to 17 hours per day. That’s a lot of time to spend in a crib (ideally!), so clean, safe materials are an important consideration for many parents. Look for certifications like a GOTS or GOLS stamp, which ensures organic textiles and latex, respectively. The UL Environment also certifies mattresses to be GREENGUARD Gold for low emissions and Formaldehyde Free. Other certifications you might come across include Made Safe, FSC, and Zero Toxics.
Changing a crib sheet is one of the unspoken chores of parenthood. It’s an annoying task because unlike adult beds, you have to lift the entire mattress out of the bed frame in order to do so. A lightweight mattress can help make it easier; you’ll also be more inclined to change the sheets often.
If your mattress has a circular or oval shape, you’ll need to shop around a bit to find the right cover. Otherwise, most covers come in standard, mini, or pack-and-play dimensions. Look for ones that are certified for organic cotton or wool when possible, but be aware that waterproof coatings might not fall under the umbrella of natural materials.
Q: Is a new crib mattress better than a used crib mattress?
There’s no reason you can’t pass down a crib mattress within your family, but if you’re looking to save a few dollars, this might not be the best time to do so. According to Vyas, “a new mattress is always better because you don’t know what condition a used mattress is in, or how it was used in the previous home.” Better to add our budget-friendly pick to your cart!
Q: Do crib mattresses expire like car seats?
Unlike car seats, which typically expire six to seven years after the manufacturing date, crib mattresses don’t expire. But as Vyas advises, they do wear out after a period of time and use. Be sure to reassess your mattress regularly and check for tears, loose springs, or soiled spots.
Q: Can I choose a soft mattress that’s more comfortable for my baby?
“Always firm,” Vyas warns. There’s a saying that if a mattress feels good and cozy to you, it’s probably too soft for your baby. Newborns and babies through 1 year of age need firm mattress support, so opt for one that feels almost uncomfortably hard for you (we know it seems counterintuitive!). It’s not just a matter of comfort either. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that firm mattresses are safer bets “to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death.”
Q: Should I flip a crib mattress from time to time?
It doesn’t hurt, but know that crib mattresses are specifically designed to be firm or even extra-firm to support growing bodies, so they shouldn’t wear out too quickly. You should be able to get multiple years’ worth of use out of them. One thing to note is that if you have a two-stage design, you shouldn’t flip the mattress until your baby is at least a year old to use the more plush side.
Q: Besides a crib sheet, what else can I add to the crib to make my baby more comfortable?
An accessory-filled crib makes for a cute Instagram photo, but when your baby is in their crib, remove any risky hazards by taking out all objects, pillows, and throws. “Nothing should be in the crib except the baby, a fitted sheet, and a pacifier,” shares Vyas. If the room is too cool, opt for a sleep sack to put your little one into instead of a blanket, which can go over their head mid-nap.
Q: My baby’s arms and legs get stuck in between the crib bars. Can I add a bumper or liner?
When they’re still figuring out how to control their limbs, it’s inevitable that they’ll get stuck or even bonk their heads on the sides of the crib. However, not only is it considered unsafe to add bumpers or liners, it’s now actually unlawful to sell them. Vyas explains, “The Safe Sleep Act was recently signed into law; it states that crib bumpers should not be used in the crib. Mesh bumpers are still okay to use, but it is better not to use anything.”
The Last Word
For the first few years, your baby is still learning how to sleep, and it can be really difficult when both of you aren’t getting enough of it. Know that everything is a phase and sleep will eventually come. Choosing the right mattress can help set your baby up for success and help everyone in the house sleep more soundly at night.