The Complete Guide To Buying A Crib Mattress

Everything you could possibly want to know about buying a crib mattress is in THIS POST! Safety, what to look for, tips, and our suggestions for the BEST mattresses in multiple categories


Crib Mattress Buying Guide


Buying a crib mattress is not something that most people look forward to with great excitement. 

Most people don’t realize how important the right crib mattress can be for your baby’s safety and comfort. When you’re shopping, it’s easy to get distracted by all of the other cool stuff at Buy Buy Baby or Amazon.

black and white photo of newborn baby in crib

But if you want to protect your little one from SIDS, suffocation or skin irritation, then a little research on the front end will help tremendously when it comes to making a final decision!

In this post, we’ll discuss some tips on buying a crib mattress so that you know what questions to ask when shopping. It’s also important to take care of the mattress once it comes home — which means you’ll want to follow the manufacturers instructions on how to make sure you get longevity out of your purchase.

You’ll learn about different types of materials used in making these products as well as which ones might pose health risks (or even death!) if they’re used incorrectly. No matter what type of crib mattress you settle on, the good news is most have to pass rigorous testing in order to be compliant which is so helpful for us parents who may be worriers.

Choosing The Best Crib Mattress

First, let’s talk about how a soft crib mattress can increase the risk of SIDS. A soft mattress can trap your baby’s head or face in its form, preventing them from breathing correctly, especially if you’ve got an infant who isn’t quite mobile yet, but is on the edge of being able to toss and turn.

If you’re concerned about your child’s breathing while sleeping, a firm crib mattress is the way to go.

How Big Is A Crib Mattress?

white crib with pink bedding and pink walls

In the United States, because crib mattress have to pass very rigorous testing and standards through the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the standard crib mattress has to be at least 27 1’4″ inches wide and 52 inches long. There is a give and take of around 3/8″ but that’s as far as it can waver to be on the market as a safe crib mattress.

Do all crib mattresses fit all cribs?

If you’re using a full size standard crib, because of the regulations set forth by the CPSC, all standards crib mattresses should fit all standard cribs. This can be great for you because it means that you won’t have to worry about trying to figure out what fits before purchase.

If you’re using a mini crib, they make separate mattresses for that, but the same rule applies – they have to be a specific size which means all mini crib mattresses will fit your mini crib.

What You Need To Look For In A Mattress

While I love a good thrifted find, I absolutely recommend you buying a crib mattress new. I would think the only exception to this is if it’s coming from a trusted family member or close friend, where you know it was very well taken care of.

You need to buy a firm mattress that doesn’t have any rips or tears in it. This will make sure your baby is sleeping in a safe environment.

newborn on tummy in crib with blue onesie

You also want to make sure that your baby’s mattress is waterproof because babies tend to drool, spit up and/or sweat a good amount while they sleep (unless you’re one of those parents who dresses them in a wetsuit to sleep, which we don’t recommend). 

How to Buy a Crib Mattress

Thanks to places like Amazon, mattress shopping can happen right in the comfort of your own home. There are actually some mattresses that you can’t even find in stores (or they’re harder to find in stores) and online may be your best bet.

If you’re old fashioned, you may choose to go in store and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Just be sure to check out online reviews and do some preliminary research into the crib mattress before buying it in store.

Crib Mattress Features To Consider

Dual Sided

Double sided or dual sided crib mattresses can be great if you plan on using the same crib mattress in a toddler bed later down the road. A dual sided crib mattress is just that – a mattress that has dual firmness built in to it.

One side is a softer side for older children and the other is harder and more supportive for infants.


Crib mattresses on the lighter side will typically weigh less than 15 pounds – somewhere in the 8 to 12 range. On the heavier side, though, they can weigh up to 15 to 20 pounds. This will help you know what’s best for your crib (and whether you need to beef up on your upper body strength).

toddler sitting up in bed on white sheet

Any crib you purchase, as long as it’s a full sized crib, should hold the weight of any crib mattress plus the weight of your child with no problem. It’s more so about the overall sturdiness of the particular crib you purchase. There are some cribs that are lighter weight and if that’s the case, you may want to consider getting a lighter weight mattress.

For your infant, you’ll be adding an additional 10 pounds or so with the weight of them being added on top of the crib mattress. This is why having a nice sturdy crib is important – it needs to have enough support for both the mattress and said babe.


When I say size, I’m more so referring to the fact that you want to make sure that you’re not getting a mattress that is designed for a mini crib (unless of course you have a mini crib).

As previously stated, all cribs will be around that 27×52 dimension so there shouldn’t be too much discrepancy there.

little girl with dark hair laying in crib

Mattress Pad

Many mattresses, especially the spring coil ones or ones that are more budget friendly are made with waterproof material. However, most of those won’t have a removable cover which means you’ll still want to invest in a waterproof mattress pad.

I use the term “invest” loosely because most crib mattress covers are not expensive at all and there are a ton of great brands with options available to suit your liking.

Foam vs. Spring Crib Mattress

In terms of price, innerspring crib mattresses are a little less expensive. Because of the inner coils, they typically last a little longer and are slightly more durable.

The down side of having a foam mattress is that they may not be as comfortable as a foam mattress for your little one, but let’s be real here – they’re babies and they won’t know any different. If you’re looking for more of a budget friendly option, a coil spring mattress will do them just fine until they’re in a big kid bed when you can spring for a nicer mattress if that tickles your fancy.

little black girl standing up on side of crib

Memory foam crib mattresses are more expensive, but they’re also the type of solid foam with denser quality. The thing about foam mattresses is that they come in different levels of firmness so it may require more of you going into stores and touching them or really doing your research if you’re buying online.

Either way, you shouldn’t have to worry because again, the standards in order for a crib mattress to be on the market means that whether you end up going with a foam or a spring crib mattress, your baby will be safe!

What type of mattress is best for baby?

The best mattress for your baby is a firm one because it’s the safest option.

As long as you’re buying a crib mattress that is firm, waterproof and fits your standard sized crib perfectly, then you’re doing the best thing for your little babe. You can’t make a “wrong” decision, but if you’re looking for some assistance, here are some of our favorites based on reviews and personal experience:

Best Mini Crib Mattress

serta Sleeptrue 4" Mini Crib Mattress

A mini crib mattress is designed for use in mini cribs or portable cribs. Mini crib mattresses are smaller than standard crib mattresses, allowing you to easily fit a mini crib in any room. In addition to being small, mini crib mattresses are low-profile for safety and better line-of-sight access. You can also use a portable or folding mattress as a travel bassinet or play yard.

Our pick for best mini crib mattress is the Serta Sleeptrue 4″ Mini Crib Mattress. It’s budget friendly and meets all the standards set for crib mattress safety.

Best Eco-Friendly/Natural Crib Mattress

lullaby Earth Healthy Support Crib and Toddler Mattress

When it comes to a crib mattress made with natural materials, there are quite a lot of options out there. However, when you get into the realm of organic and eco friendly, because they’re more expensive to make, they may cost you a bit more out of pocket. But it’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind that you won’t have any harmful chemicals around your newborn.

Our pick for best eco-friendly/natural crib mattress is the Lullaby Earth Healthy Support Crib and Toddler Mattress. This mattress naturally waterproof, hypoallergenic and made 100% from completely non-toxic materials. It is also is 100% recyclable so when you’re done using this for your little ones, it won’t end up in a trash dump somewhere but you can recycle it instead to reduce that carbon footprint.

Best Non-Toxic Crib Mattress

Nook Sleep Pure Pebble

If you’re like me, you may be wondering – Can crib mattresses even be toxic?

To my surprise, the answer is yes! Depending on the material, crib mattresses can emit toxic fumes or fire retardants. No bueno! If you’d like to, you can actually read this study done by University of Texas at Austin regarding the toxicity of crib mattresses.

Because of this, our choice for favorite non-toxic crib mattresses is the Nook Sleep Pure Pebble mattress. The reason we love the Pebble so much is because you technically don’t even need crib sheets for it.

The mattress is completely breathable and comes in some super cute colors and is actually designed to use without crib bedding (but of course it can be added if you so desire!)

Best Organic Crib Mattress

Naturepedic Classic Organic Baby Crib Mattress

When it comes to organic mattresses for your little one, choosing one means you can sleep soundly knowing you’ve selected a top-quality product. Organic mattresses are sure to be made without toxic chemicals and will be formaldehyde free (which is even crazy to think those kinds of chemicals would be in something made for the tiniest of tinies).

Our pick for the best organic crib mattress is the Naturepedic Classic Organic Baby Crib Mattress. We felt this mattress was better than some of its competitors in many areas including durability, safety, cleanliness, and comfort.

This mattress is Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) Certified which means it passed the necessary requirements to be able to have the label of “organic”.

Naturepedic uses only the highest quality materials for their mattresses, including 100% organic cotton fabric and filling, as well as a non-GMO food-grade waterproof surface. This mattress meets all federal flammability standards without any flame retardant chemicals or barriers, so you don’t have to worry about your baby being exposed to anything hazardous. With a firm surface made from certified organic components and an innovative waterproof design that’s also non-toxic and fully organic, we think this mattress provides an unmatched level of safety and comfort.

Best Portable Crib Mattress

hiccapop Tri-Fold Pack 'n Play Dual Sided Mattress

When I think “portable crib” I think something like a play yard or a Pack ‘n Play.

Typically the reason for using a portable crib or a Pack ‘n Play is trying to save space or use when traveling. We have had to use a Pack ‘n Play here for both of those reasons which weighed heavily into our decision for our choice in the best portable crib mattress.

Our pick is the Hiccapop Tri-Fold Pack ‘n Play Dual Sided Mattress. We have had this one for a while now and it also has five stars and over 7000 reviews on Amazon. It’s hard for that many people to agree on anything, but especially when it comes to something that’s for their kids’ best interest.

Bonus: Best Crib Mattress Cover

sealy safetycase protective crib & toddler zippered mattress encasement

The best part about having a removable crib mattress cover is that you can simply throw it in the washer, clean it up and then put it back on. You don’t have to worry about the underneath side of your baby’s mattress being damp or full of stains forever. A waterproof pad will protect both sides of the mattress which means less laundry for you!

Our favorite is the Sealy SafetyCase Protective Crib & Toddler Zippered Mattress Encasement. We love this waterproof cover option because instead of fitting over the mattress like a fitted sheet, it zips all the way around so it slides around less and is easier to stay on. It also is waterproof, tear-resistant and contains no vinyl or PVCs.


infant sitting in crib with blue tank top

A crib mattress is a baby essential really important enough to research – baby’s sleeping place needs to be safe and mom and dad need to feel comfortable with their decision.

The more you know about crib mattresses, the better your decision will be. Whether you’re setting up to welcome your little princess or you’re adding a Storm Trooper to your Star Wars crew, best of luck to you!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top