We Asked 6 Designer Parents: What Are the Best Mattresses for Kids?
They also shared their favorite styling accessories.
Published Jun 23, 2022 1:00 AM
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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.
When object designer and artist Eric Trine was 10 years old, his parents allowed him to redesign his bedroom. “I think it was my first intro into furniture and interior design thinking,” he recalls. So now that his own daughters are older (Eve is 8 and Ginny is 5), he wanted to offer them the same opportunity. And while they plan to switch things up with a fresh coat of paint and a brand-new rug, the trio also prioritized searching for two new mattresses—being comfortable enough to sleep soundly at night is all about your bed.
“Purchasing the right mattress for anyone is important, but especially young children,” adds designer Andi Morse, a mom of three. “It will impact their sleep patterns and determine their behavior for the day. Have you ever been with kids who don’t get a good night’s sleep?! It’s miserable not only for them but everyone around them.” Luckily, we had designer moms and dads help guide us to the best mattresses for kids (clients’ and their own).
- Best for a first big bed: Saatva Youth Mattress
- Best for tight budgets: IKEA Haugsvar Hybrid Mattress
- Best for longevity: Avocado Green Mattress
- Best for tweens becoming teens: RH Teen Simmons Beautyrest Luxury Plush Mattress
Best for a First Big Bed: Saatva Youth Mattress
Sleep trial: 365 nights | Type: Innerspring hybrid mattress | Age range: 3–12 | Removable cover: No
What we like:
- 2 beds in 1
- Water-resistant cover with a waterproof barrier
- Lifetime warranty
- Compatible with adjustable base
- Return processing fee costs $99
Why we chose it: Make the transition from crib to tween years easy with just a flip.
Made from the same quality materials that we’ve grown to love from Saatva, the Youth version is designed with smaller, growing bodies in mind. It’s engineered to be age specific; on one side, a five-zone support foam layer rests atop a ton of 13.75-gauge steel coils for a firm, supportive foundation geared toward those ages 3 to 7. On the other side, for ages 8 to 12, a high-density comfort foam layer lies right beneath the surface for extra plushness. It’s a favorite of both Morse and Sara Malek Barney of Bandd/Design. “It’s important for children’s bodies to get adequate support,” shares Barney. “You want to factor in growth spurts.” If your child tends to shift around in the middle of the night or sleeps hot (Barney also recommends sticking to cotton sheets), and you want something they’ll be able to have until they’re a teenager, this is the mattress for them.
Best for Tight Budgets: IKEA Haugsvar Hybrid Mattress
Sleep trial: N/A | Type: Hybrid | Age range: All ages | Removable cover: No
What we like:
- Great for all ages
- Roll packed for easy delivery and setup
- Might hold an odor a bit at first
Why we chose it: With a twin for less than $300, you can add on a new bed frame, sheets, and pillows, too.
When Trine and his daughters started their shopping journey, their baseline for comfort was based on a hotel stay in Ojai, California, where both girls expressed it was their favorite bed ever. But he needed to keep the budget for each room to $2,500. “That includes everything from wall covering, rugs, and paint to furniture (that I’ll be making myself), new mattresses, and bedding,” he explains. They ultimately went with IKEA. “There are three densities in the Haugsvar—firm, medium, and plush,” he continues. “It’s a hybrid mattress, with springs and a top layer of foam. It felt like this mattress would be perfect to last them for the next 10 years, easily. At $299, it’s right in our budget, and leaves us a lot of room to spend on other things or come under budget (even better!).”
Best for Longevity: Avocado Green Mattress
Sleep trial: 365 nights | Type: Hybrid | Age range: All ages | Removable cover: No
What we like:
- Certified organic wool, cotton, and latex
- Needle-tufted by hand in the U.S.
- Return process connects you to a local donation service (Landfills? No way)
- It’s a splurge, but it’ll likely last until you’re an empty nester
Why we chose it: An eco-friendly darling built to last (and backed by a 25-year warranty).
Both designer Lisa Furtado’s clients and own family have given glowing reviews of Avocado’s Green Mattress—a repeat winner that makes an appearance on a few of our lists, even the best king mattresses. If you’re worried even slightly about your child’s bedroom being a host to synthetic ingredients, Avocado offers an all-natural, organic option. “Firm mattresses are supposedly best for your body, but I’m more concerned about what they’re made of, which is why Avocado mattresses are so awesome!” notes Shaolin Low of Studio Shaolin. “It really does matter what you sleep on and can make all of the difference, so looking for brands and options like this is crucial.” But what really seals the deal for Furtado? The 365-night free trial. “It makes perfect sense to test-sleep a mattress at home rather than a showroom, where you’re in an artificial setting with salespeople influencing you,” she adds. “Most kids and teens don’t have the vocabulary or experience to be able to articulate the firmness or material they prefer anyway.”
Best for Tweens Becoming Teens: RH Teen Simmons Beautyrest Mattress
Sleep Trial: N/A | Type: Hybrid | Age range: 10-plus | Removable cover: No
What we like:
- Temperature regulating
- Made in the U.S.
- Accident-safe knit cover repels spills
- 10-year warranty
- Final sale
Why we chose it: If you went with something temporary for the younger years, treat your teen to something ultraluxe.
This is a favorite of designer Abby Gruman, mom of two, who always opts for hypoallergenic options. “Hybrid foam and coils [combo] is the best of both worlds!” she shares. “The mattress holds its shape over time and is soft and comfortable, easy to clean, and nontoxic.” Designed with durability in mind, and made formaldehyde- and phthalate-free, this bed can last your kid through college (it even comes in a twin XL size). A luxurious, quilted top offers a bit more cushion on the supportive spring of pocketed coils, and for hot sleepers, the foam promotes airflow and wicks away moisture. It’s definitely a splurge, but its luxurious look and feel are well worth it.
We Also Liked
- Avocado’s Eco Organic Kids Mattress is a new option we have our eye on; multiple designers referred to Avocado as a favorite brand, and the low profile is designed with trundles and bunk beds in mind.
- The Purple Kids Mattress was also a top choice for Trine’s daughters (and even had him contemplating snagging one for himself), but at $1,899 for a twin XL, it is on the pricey side.
- Morse finds the Bundle of Dreams Classic Toddler Mattress pretty similar to Saatva, but for way less. “This is double-sided and made from material that won’t get hot—a bonus since most infants and toddlers are prone to night sweats,” she says.
- Helix Kid’s Mattress is also flippable, with two different firmness levels, so it will grow with your little ones. Available in a twin or full, both for less than $900, it’s a pretty sweet deal, though you’ll only have 100 nights to figure out if it’s the right fit.
Five Designers Weigh In on Kids Bedrooms
- Lisa Furtado: “A good duvet insert with a high-quality down or down-alternative fill is a great investment for kids’ beds. A favorite is the APSmile duvet insert, which is made with organic materials and just the right goose-down fill where you get that fluffy, cozy, quilted look on the bed and no pesky feather quills poking through the fabric.”
- Sara Malek Barney: “Focus on good lighting that’s not too bright. Keep the layout simple and have ample storage so toys are put away at night.”
- Andi Morse: “I recommend creating a room that reflects your child’s personality, but also has a calming effect on them. Having a space that will not overstimulate them will make all the difference between falling asleep easily and not.”
- Shaolin Low: “Be practical; make it easy to clean. Also have a system of cycling things out as they grow out of them and into something else. Kids are constantly evolving and so should their spaces.”
- Abby Gruman: “This is the perfect room to have fun with and use color. We always start with great patterned or textured wallpaper and a durable carpet.”
How We Chose These Products
Shopping for the best kids’ mattresses doesn’t differ too greatly from finding the right fit for adults, but definitely comes with its set of challenges. For one, the decision is often largely left up to the parent—so we asked a range of designer parents (moms and dads!) what they prioritized when searching on behalf of their children. We rounded up their favorites that use organic, sustainable materials (nontoxicity was paramount) and had waterproof or washable covers. But each of these recommendations come with a caveat: Comfort—no matter how old you are—is relative, and bedding is probably one of the most personal purchases. What was cozy for your oldest may not be the best fit for your youngest; that’s why we love to call out sleep trials, because everyone deserves a restful night’s sleep.
Our Shopping Checklist
Design and Materials
While there are so many options to choose from when it comes to mattresses, there are a few general recommendations you should follow based on your child’s age. For instance, you don’t want to place them on something too soft until they’re closer to 2 years old; that’s why some youth-focused mattresses are flippable. Saatva, for example, recommends sticking to the firmer side until they turn 7, then switch to the softer support. As far as the height of a mattress goes, a kid’s version needs to fit on their bed frame; you just want to make sure getting in and out of bed won’t be a struggle for growing legs.
“There are other factors besides comfort that appeal to parents, such as organic, nontoxic, and sustainable materials,” adds Furtado, nodding to wool and cotton. And natural materials also tend to be hypoallergenic.
Age Range and Size
For kids, there are about three general styles of mattresses to choose from, depending on their age and size. For the baby days up until your child turns 3 (or even longer, if they happen to be petite), a crib mattress is necessary. Then there’s a transition phase, which naturally becomes a twin or full mattress, and sometimes a queen.
“Getting the right size mattress for your child’s age is key for their restfulness. Many cribs convert to toddler beds, which are great to help your child adjust to a ‘big kid bed’ before taking the full leap,” offers Morse. “If you don’t have that convenience, I like moving a child from a crib to a twin bed. It’s a larger version of a crib and won’t be so overwhelming to the child. Sometimes a full or queen bed just looks too big to a child’s eye, and therefore it’s scary.”
Generally, though, Furtado notes the size recommendation typically depends on the room. “When space permits, we typically recommend queens even for young children so they don’t have to upgrade to a larger size later,” she argues. The same goes for Gruman’s clients, though she adds more often than not she always sources a full-size. And in a city? Twin-size bunk beds are the supreme space saver.
Just like any of the best places to buy a mattress, sleep trials and easy returns are imperative to sleepers of all ages and sizes. One hundred nights risk-free has become the norm, with some companies going above and beyond. “The best indicator of whether a mattress is a good fit for a child is whether or not they get a good night’s sleep, and that can’t be determined in 20 minutes at a mattress store. A lot of online mattress companies offer mattress trials up to a year,” offers Furtado, including both Saatva and Avocado.
Q: Is a crib mattress the same as a toddler mattress?
While crib and toddler mattresses are often the same size—about 27-by 52-inches—they have different purposes and may offer varying levels of firmness.
Q: What kind of bed frame is the best for kids?
Material-wise, Low believes you can’t go wrong with a wood or performance upholstered frame “since kids are not accident-proof,” she stresses. Gruman, on the other hand, finds platform beds to be the top option.
Q: Can I use any type of mattress on my kid’s bunk bed?
Nope. You’ll likely want a mattress with a low profile to fit this unique frame. These are also tricky to change out sheets, so we’d recommend sticking with something on the lighter side. You also don’t want any unnecessary extra weight on the top bunk.
The Last Word
The best mattresses for kids are often left up to parents, but getting quality, restful z’s is important, which is why you should consider either bringing your child along on the shopping journey in-store or taking advantage of a longer sleep-trial period (not to mention free deliveries and returns). Unsurprisingly, our favorite brands for adults happen to be pretty much the same for youngsters; all that really differs is making sure they provide some extra support.