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Sleep is crucial for your newborn (let’s face it: for you, too!). Ensuring your baby’s space is set up with a proper sleep environment is an important part of prepping for your little one to come home — and that includes picking a crib mattress.

When it comes to choosing a mattress for your baby’s crib, we know safety is likely top of mind — and there are lots of options for suitable mattresses. So, we’ve got you covered with some general information about what to consider when choosing a crib mattress and our recommendations for those that stand out above the rest.

Aren’t all crib mattresses the same? Not really. When trying to decide which crib mattress you would like to invest in, there are a variety of different types to sort through:

Double-sided mattresses

These mattresses are designed for both the baby and toddler years. One side will be slightly firmer for when you have a newborn, and the other side will be softer for when your child becomes a toddler.

While this can help you to get a little extra mileage out of your mattress purchase, many toddlers are fine continuing to sleep on a very firm surface, so it may not be necessary.

‘Breathable’ mattresses

While some mattresses advertise that they are made of breathable materials like mesh, this does not mean that you should place your baby face down to sleep in them — babies should always be put to sleep on their backs!

So what is the benefit of these mattresses? Mattress companies will say that they provide extra airflow to regulate baby’s temperature and keep them safe if they happen to roll over onto their stomach in the night.

However, while the materials might make for a breathable surface, there’s no evidence that a “breathable” mattress is better at reducing your infant’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), as the term isn’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

However, if the idea of extra airflow in your infant’s mattress brings you peace of mind, there’s no real harm (except maybe to your wallet).

Certified

If you’re concerned about sustainability, chemical emissions, or indoor air quality, mattresses that are certified by Greenguard Gold or CertiPUR-US may catch your attention.

With a mattress certified by one of these two organizations, you can rest assured that your baby’s bed does not contain certain chemicals, meets emissions standards, and produces only low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are considered better for indoor air quality.

However, you can also rest assured that the manufacture of crib mattresses is regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). So any new mattress you purchase in the United States adheres to CPSC guidelines.

When considering what crib mattress, you’ll want to consider:

  • Quality. Will this mattress stand the test of time? Remember that your little one will (hopefully!) be spending many hours sleeping on it.
  • Price. What does your budget allow? Crib mattresses are small, but they can be rather pricey.
  • Safe size and fit. According to the AAP, you’ll want a firm, if not hard mattress. You’ll also want a mattress that is an exact fit for your crib frame to prevent injury to your baby. If it’s not firm and doesn’t fit the frame, it’s not a safe choice for your baby or your crib.
  • The cover. Crib mattresses typically come with either a fabric or vinyl cover. Fabric covers are more breathable, but vinyl covers are more resistant to punctures, leaks, and stains.
  • Used vs new. With a used mattress, you run the risk of not knowing about bacteria, mold, and stains. It’s better to buy new.

Since safe sleep habits are one of the best ways to lower the risk of SIDS, it’s imperative to always place your baby to sleep on their back in a crib without bumpers, pillows, blankets, or other soft bedding. When it doubt, remember: “Back is best.”

A well-designed crib mattress is a firm mattress (one that won’t mold to the shape of the baby or allow them to sink too deeply) that exactly fits the shape of the crib.

According to the CPSC, gaps between the edge of the mattress and the crib frame should not be bigger than two fingers, as it can be a safety hazard. In other words, your baby’s bed should not be easy to make!

Lastly, you should always check to make sure a mattress has not been recalled before using it.

When considering which crib mattresses should make the cut, we considered quality, price, safety features, and reviews from real parents like you. All measurements below are in inches.

Price guide

  • $ = under $100
  • $$ = $100–$199
  • $$$ = $200–$300
  • $$$$ = over $300

Best breathable crib mattress

Best two-stage mattress

Best organic crib mattress

Best mini crib mattress

Best waterproof crib mattress

Best budget-friendly crib mattress

Graco Premium Foam Crib and Toddler Mattress

Price: $

Measurements: 52 L x 27.6 W x 5 H

Greenguard Gold certified with a machine washable cover, this budget-friendly mattress from Graco comes as a lot of adult mattresses do these days — compressed and rolled to fit in a box.

On the plus side, the reviews are mostly positive. Parents say it’s lightweight, water resistant, and firm for baby.

But, like most mattresses in a box, there’s a funky off-gassing smell when first opened. The manufacturer (and several parents) suggest at least 2 weeks outside the box at room temperature to properly expand and neutralize.

Best lightweight crib mattress

Whatever mattress you choose, focus on making sure it fits properly in your crib, offers a firm surface, and that you’re following other safe sleep practices. Once you’ve done that, a peaceful night’s sleep for the entire household should follow!