Purchasing a mattress for your child is much like purchasing a mattress for yourself. As your children are your most precious asset, you should consider many factors when purchasing a mattress that will enhance comfort and safety. Selecting the right mattress is important for your child and will also keep you from experiencing sleepless nights.
Children's mattresses can be classified into three stages. A crib is an obvious choice for an infant and will usually last until the child is about a year and a half to two years old.
The next stage is a toddler bed. Most cribs will convert to a toddler bed when the time is right, so that is something to keep in mind when you are shopping for your first crib. Toddler mattresses are important because they work with your child's size to provide the comfort and safety that most parents are looking for.
Some parents choose to go straight to a twin mattress and skip the toddler step. This can work and often times saves money. Twin beds, however, aren't recommended for a toddler for safety reasons. If your child is still learning to sleep in a "big kid bed," twins will need to be fortified to help with safety issues. Some twin mattresses may be too high for your child, which would create a safety issue as well.
If you have the space, purchase a full size or a queen size bed. These beds are bigger, but they are wider as well, which will allow a lot of "roll room."
A good rule of thumb for choosing a bed is to use it yourself. As previously stated, buying a mattress based on comfort is much like choosing an adult mattress, so how you feel lying on it is important too. Always bring your child along on these trips so she can lie in the bed and try it herself. Kids don't really know how to equate comfort, so get in the bed, and try it yourself.
A firm mattress is important. Choosing a firm mattress will ensure your child doesn't "sink in," which causes stiffness and discomfort. Firmness is usually measured by the amount of coils and their gauge (thickness). A typical firm twin mattress has around 225 coils and a gauge of 13 while an extra firm mattress has about 350 coils and a gauge of 14. Innerspring mattresses are usually the most common. Choose a foam mattress, the most popular of which is the memory foam. Foam mattresses are known for their cushy comfort rather than firmness.
Selecting Add Ons
Whenever you buy a mattress, it is very important to purchase a pad or cover with it. These are specifically important because if the mattress you buy gets anything on it at all (even a speck), it voids the warranty. No matter how careful you are with it, odds are a child will eventually spill something or even wet the bed. The difference between a mattress pad and a mattress cover is that mattress pads are padded and give an added comfort to the bed.
Pillow toppers are another good add on. They will give two or three inches of foam (or down, depending on the topper you select) to a firm mattress. They often help people (including children) sleep better because they are swaddled. You can find them at any store that sells bedding; they are available in any size.