Once you have decided where your baby will sleep, whether it’s a bedside crib, cot or cotbed, you must make the next big decision – which mattress to buy. You need to put every bit as much consideration into this as you would when buying a mattress for your own bed – perhaps more, as it’s important for your baby’s safety that their mattress is firm, fits snugly, is breathable and yet has a waterproof cover.
What should I consider when buying a baby mattresses?
There is a lot to consider when buying a mattress for your baby. Firstly, you should bear in mind it is not recommended that you buy or accept a second hand mattress. Ideally, buy a new mattress for each child if the cot is being slept in frequently.
Your mattress should perfectly fit your chosen bed, whether that’s a crib, cot or cotbed. It should fit snugly inside the frame of the bed, with no gaps. In addition to cot and cot bed mattresses, there are smaller mattresses for bedside cribs, Moses baskets, carrycots, baby nests and products to make travel cots more comfortable.
Best baby mattresses at a glance
- Best mattress for lasting power: The Little Green Sheep Twist Natural Mattress, £199-£219
- Best chemical free mattress: Obaby Natural Coir/Wool Mattress, £136.99
- Best mattress for reliability: Silentnight Safe Nights Airflow Cot Mattress, £109
- Best mattress for superior support: Naturalmat Quilted Spring Mattress, £270-£280
- Best value for money mattress: Ikea Jättetrött, £95
- Best premium mattress: Silver Cross Superior Cot Bed Mattress, £149
- Best good quality at a good price mattress: John Lewis Premium Fibre Cot & Cotbed Mattress, £60-£65
- Best mattress for softness and breathability: Panda Kids Bamboo Cot Mattress, £99-£129
- Best mattress for babies with flat head syndrome: Clevamama ClevaFoam Pocket Sprung Mattress, £179.99
- Best mattress for travelling: Baby Elegance Eco Fibre Travel Cot Mattress, £22.50
What materials are baby mattresses made from?
When selecting the right mattress for your little one, you are likely to be choosing from the following options:
- Foam: This is a high-density piece of foam, normally covered in a wipe-clean waterproof cover, such as PVC. The higher the density of the foam, the firmer (and so safer) it should be. It’s affordable, lightweight and easy to clean, but offers less support and can sometimes lose its shape
- Spring: Standard spring mattresses are made of open coil springs surrounded by foam or other materials. A sprung mattress is more durable and supportive than foam, but are usually more expensive
- Pocket spring: In a pocket spring mattress, each spring is individually wrapped in a cloth pocket. This means each coil can move independently, giving excellent support and comfort. This does come at a price, though.
- Natural materials/fibre: There are now several mattress brands filled with natural eco-friendly materials such as wool, coconut coir, natural latex, bamboo and eco fibre. These chemical free, tend to be very firm, and are sustainable. However, they are expensive.
How do I know if a baby mattress is safe?
Baby mattresses on sale in the UK should meet two different British Standards for safety. Look out for these numbers (you should be able to find them on the mattress label or on its packaging or on accompanying leaflets/instructions):
- BS 1877-10:2011 + A1:2012 – covering the materials, construction and dimensions
- BS 7177:2008 + A1:2011 – which means it has passed fire safety and flammability tests
Also, look out for BS EN 16890:2017 – this is a more recent safety standard specifically for cot mattresses, which was brought in during 2017 but is currently voluntary. It sets several additional safety requirements including mattress firmness, risk of choking hazard (such as a zip pull that could detach) and shrinkage of the mattress cover after washing (which could create a bigger gap between the mattress and the sides).
How do I test a baby mattress is firm enough?
The firmness of baby mattresses is different to those we might want to sleep on as adults. The risk of a soft mattress is that your baby could roll their face into the mattress and sink into it, reducing air flow. So baby mattresses need to be firm – and you can do a simple test to check this.
How to do the baby mattress firmness test
- Press your hand on the centre and the sides of the mattress
- A firm mattress shouldn’t mould to the shape of your hand and you’ll feel resistance – it will obviously move beneath the pressure but your hand shouldn’t sink in
- When you remove your hand, the mattress should snap back and regain its shape
What size is a baby mattress?
Sizes vary depending on the product and though there are several ‘standard’ mattress sizes (50cm x 80cm for cribs, 60cm x 120cm for cots, 70cm x 140cm for cot beds), you will ned to make sure you buy a mattress to fit your specific cot.
It’s recommended that cot and cot bed mattresses are 10cm thick to avoid sagging where your baby sleeps. Travel cot mattresses are usually thinner – your baby isn’t expected to sleep on these every night.
How do I know the mattress fits safely?
It should be a snug fit: the gap between the mattress and the cot/crib side MUST be no more than 3cm. This is because your baby’s arm, leg or head might get trapped in the space between the mattress and the furniture. Always make sure your mattress is the right size for the cot or cot bed you are using.
Do I need to flip my baby’s mattress?
With adult mattresses, the advice used to be to flip them regularly although this has become less common as the popularity of one-sided mattresses has grown. When it comes to baby mattresses, it may not be necessary to turn them over, but watch out for any sagging or indentations. The best advice is to check the manufacturer’s instructions to see whether they recommend it is turned or rotated after a certain period of time, as the advice will vary from product to product.
Some mattresses are marketed as dual-sided products with one firmer side intended for use when your little one is a baby and a softer side to keep him comfortable through the toddler stage. With these two-stage mattresses, you should wait until after your child’s 1st birthday to switch to the softer side.
Can I use a second-hand mattress?
If you’re buying a new cot or cot bed, you may find a mattress comes included with your purchase. However, if you are given a cot by someone else or you buy second-hand, you will need to buy a new mattress even if the existing one appears to be in perfect condition.
And if you already have a mattress in your home which was used by an older child, it is still a good idea to replace it. The reason why second-hand mattresses are seen as a no-no is because they have been linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which is sometimes referred to as cot death.
There is also the risk a used mattress might be harbouring bacteria or dust mites, which could aggravate any allergies. It is also worth bearing in mind that mattresses do lose their shape over time and a second-hand item is likely to be less comfortable and supportive.
When should I replace my baby’s mattress?
Most cot and cot bed mattresses are designed to last until your child has outgrown his sleeping space and moved into a bed. With this in mind, you shouldn’t need to replace the mattress until you move your toddler into a bed designed for older children.
To reduce the risk of having to pay for another mattress while your child is still small, look for brands which offer guarantees on their products. Some mattresses will come with a five-year guarantee, while others may have a warranty for three years.
Do I need a mattress protector?
It is always a good idea to have a removable cover on your child’s mattress which can be easily removed and washed. Some mattresses include these covers but if you choose one which doesn’t, they can be bought separately.
Mattresses with waterproof covers or coatings are also a good idea to avoid moisture seeping into the material inside which can cause bacteria and mould to grow.
What bedding should I use on a baby mattress?
Sheets should be the right size for the mattress and either fitted or firmly tucked in so there is no risk that your baby will become caught up in them.
Baby sleeping bags are a great idea but make sure you choose one which is suitable for your baby’s size and weight and is the right tog rating for the time of year. Otherwise, you can use sheets and blankets but make sure they are clear of your baby’s head and firmly tucked in below shoulder height. Always put your little one into the cot in a feet-to-foot position so there is no way he can wriggle underneath the bedding.
It’s also important to make sure your baby doesn’t overheat while sleeping so keep his room cool – between 16 and 20°C is best – and remove bedding if you are worried he might be too hot.
Do not use any pillows, quilts or duvets until your child is at least 12 months old as they have been associated with an increased risk of SIDS. It is also recommended not to use cot bumpers as there have been cases where infants have been injured by them.
How we chose and tested these mattresses
Our 10 of the Best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. They rely on a number of sources, including our independent reviews, testing undertaken during the MadeForMums Awards, and feedback from our home testing panel and Top Testers Club. Each year thousands of products are put through their paces by hundreds of parents across the country on behalf of MadeForMums, to ensure we’re bringing you honest and true reviews and recommendations.
When testing mattresses we take into account comfort, safety, value for money, fabrics and materials, longevity, breathability and any extra or additional features.
Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-10, instead it is a carefully selected group of tried-and-tested products, each of which we believe is best for a different situation or requirement. We don’t just tell you what is best, we help you discover what is best for your family.
Here’s our selection of 10 of the best baby mattresses
1. The Little Green Sheep Twist Natural Mattress, £199-219
Best for lasting power
Suitable from: birth | Type: cot/cot bed mattress | Interior: Organic coconut coir, latex, cotton and wool | Meets BS EN 16890:2017: Yes
Sizes: 70cm x140cm (cot bed), 60cm x 120cm (cot), 68cm x122cm (Stokke Sleepi), 77cm x 132cm, 70cm x 132cm, 69cm x 139cm (Mamas and Papas)
Made using natural, organic materials, this mattress comes with a twist – it’s really two products in one. One side of The Little Green Sheep Twist mattress is designed to provide firm support, which is recommended by safe sleep experts for babies under 12 months. Once your baby becomes a toddler, you can flip the mattress and use the other side, which is softer and more flexible to make sure your tot has a comfortable night’s sleep.
One of the big advantages with this mattress is it comes in a variety of sizes to fit different makes of cots and cot beds. Another selling point is that the materials used are breathable, hypoallergenic and free from chemicals and toxins. The mattress also comes with a five-year guarantee so should easily last until your child outgrows it.
However, the mattress does not come with a removable cover and is sponge clean only, which can be awkward when dealing with leaking nappies or posseting babies. The Little Green Sheep recommends using its waterproof mattress protector so you will need to factor in this additional cost, which makes the Twist more expensive than some of the alternatives. But MFM tester Alexis feels the mattress is worth the higher price tag: “Absolutely love this mattress! It’s comfortable and very well made. My daughter sleeps great. Great quality.”
Pros: Double sided with two firmness options, organic materials
Cons: Sponge clean only with no removable cover
2. Obaby Natural Coir/Wool Mattress, £136.99
Best for a chemical free choice
Suitable from: birth | Type: cot bed mattress | Interior: Coconut coir, lambswool and latex | Size: 70cm x 140cm | Meets BS EN 16890:2017: Yes
This cot-bed mattress from Obaby sells itself on its natural, chemical-free materials, which protect against dust mites and help regulate your baby’s temperature. The interior is made from a mix of coconut coir – a natural fibre taken from the husk of a coconut – and wool. The coconut coir is bonded with latex and is designed to feel like springs, while the lambswool is breathable to prevent moisture building up. These materials are a good choice for babies and toddlers with allergies and, when the time comes to get rid of the mattress, you can do so with a clear conscience as it is biodegradable.
Each mattress comes with a removable cover, made from organic bamboo, which can be unzipped and washed to keep your baby’s sleeping space clean and hygienic. This makes the Obaby mattress a great choice if you have a baby who often brings up feeds and it will safely last you into potty training and beyond.
The bamboo cover is described as “soft-touch” and has natural antibacterial properties. And you don’t have to factor in the additional cost of a mattress cover.
However, it only comes in one size so is only suitable if you have a cot bed with the right dimensions, which includes those in the Obaby range. You also don’t get the benefits of having two different sides as you’ll find with some mattresses, so make sure you’re happy with the firmness before you use it.
Pros: Organic bamboo removable cover, good value for money
Cons: Only 1 option when it comes to size and firmness
3. Silentnight Safe Nights Airflow Cot Mattress, £109
Best for reliability
Suitable from: birth | Type: Cot mattress (cot bed size also available) | Interior: Polyester | Size: 60cm x 120cm (cot) or 70cm x 140cm (cotbed) | Meets BS EN 16890:2017: Yes
Coming in at just above £100, the Safe Nights Airflow mattress offers great value from money, especially as Silentnight is a trusted household name. The core is foam free, which means it will remain firm and cool – important considerations when it comes to creating a safe sleeping environment for your baby.
One great feature with this mattress is that it is easy to clean after an accident. As well as having a removable cover that can go in your washing machine, the core can be rinsed in the shower. The 3D mesh cover aims to promote free airflow and the fabric has been coated with Purotex – microcapsules filled with probiotics that absorb moisture and repel allergens like dust mites.
Although it isn’t made from completely natural materials like some on our list, it is free from chemical treatments and is fully recyclable. Unlike some mattresses which come with a five-year guarantee, the manufacturer’s guarantee is three years but it should safely last you until your baby outgrows their cot.
Pros: Well-priced, easy to clean with washable core
Cons: Only 2 standard sizes available
4. Naturalmat Quilted Spring Mattress, £270-280
Best for superior support
Suitable from: birth | Type: crib, carrycot, cot and cot bed mattress | Interior: coir, latex and lambswool | Size: 60cm x 120cm (cot), 70cm x 140cm (cot bed) plus bespoke sizes Meets BS EN 16890:2017: Yes
All Naturalmat mattresses are made from chemical-free, natural substances and all materials used will biodegrade or be re-used at the end of their lives. There are no fire-retardant chemicals, yet the mattresses meet fire safety standards thanks to naturally fire-retardant materials and all fibres have been locally sourced by the company in Devon, making them truly sustainable.
The breathable and hypoallergenic Quilted Spring Mat can be made to measure in 10 days and the company offers sizes to fit not just cots and cotbeds but also the carrycots of many popular pushchairs and for cribs and bedside cots too. If you love them, they make single bed mattresses right up to Emperor size, so you may well end up using them throughout your bedrooms.
The mattress is made from coir, cotton, natural latex and organic lambswool. It has a firm side for babies under one year and a softer side for toddlers and the hand nested pocket springs will support your baby’s growing body as thy sleep. The comfortable quilted cover has an OEKO-TEX® certified hypoallergenic treatment that protects it from moths, bed bugs, dust mites and mosquitos and it is removable and washable at 600C. The mattress comes with a five-year guarantee.
Pros: all natural and chemical free; can be made to any size
Cons: a bit pricey
Available from: Naturalmat
5. Ikea Jättetrött, £95
Best for great value for money
Suitable from: birth | Type: cot bed mattress | Interior: pocket springs, polyurethane foam and polyester wadding | Size: 70cm x 140cm
Swedish furniture retailer Ikea specialises in simple and affordable products and its cot mattress is no different. Priced at a budget-friendly £95, it is significantly cheaper than some of the other options on the market. But don’t be fooled into thinking that the low price tag means it is a basic product.
The Jättetrött is a pocket spring mattress, meaning that each spring is sewn into a pocket of fabric. This allows more air to circulate than a foam mattress and helps your baby stay cool while sleeping. The springs in pocket spring mattresses also work independently from each other, meaning they provide plenty of support where it is needed.
Other useful features include a removable cover which can be washed at 60°C with a small pocket to keep the zip hidden away from curious little hands. The core of the mattress has a fixed wipe-clean inner cover, which not only improves its fire safety credentials but makes it easier to slip the outer cover back on after washing.
Pros: Great value, wipe-clean inner cover
Cons: 1 size only
Available from: Ikea
6. Silver Cross Superior Cot Bed Mattress, £149
Best for a premium product
Suitable from: birth | Type: cot bed mattress | Interior: foam, pocket springs, polyester pad, natural rubberised coir pad | Size: 70cm x 140cm
When you hear the name Silver Cross, it is probably prams and pushchairs which come to mind rather than mattresses. However, this superior cot bed mattress matches the brand’s reputation for luxury and quality and it comes with a three-year warranty. The product is double-sided, offering different levels of support for your baby, depending on their age. There is a firmer side intended for babies up to 18 months and then a softer side for toddlers.
The pocket spring mattress includes 190 baby springs so it can offer targeted ergonomic support to your child as they grow. Another feature that makes this mattress stand out from the crowd is its True Fit borders and square corners, designed to make sure there are no little gaps between the mattress and the cot bed where little limbs could get trapped, posing a safety risk.
The materials used are hypo-allergenic, making it a good choice for babies with allergies. There is also a waterproof layer to protect the interior from getting damp. The outer cover is made using Tencel, a soft, breathable fabric made from recycled eucalyptus that absorbs moisture and helps regulate temperature, and it can be removed and washed at 60°C.
The appearance of this mattress is also a plus point, with charcoal grey piping around the edges and a quilted finish. The Superior mattress is Silver Cross’s mid-range option and it is more expensive than many other options on the market, but many parents will feel the added features are worth the premium price point.
Pros: Double-sided, True Fit borders
Cons: Premium price tag, 1 size only
7. John Lewis Premium Fibre Cot & Cotbed Mattress – £50/£65
Best for good quality at a good price
Suitable from: birth | Type: cot and cot bed mattress | Interior: Springs | Size: 60cm x 120cm (cot) or 70cm x 140cm (cotbed)
If spring mattresses are too pricey, this premium fibre option from John Lewis could be a great alternative. The quilted micro-fibre mattress cover is removable for washing and helps control the temperature and comfort of your baby. Inside is a wipe-clean inner cover that helps keep the mattress clean and hygienic.
The cover can be removed and washed at 40°C so you don’t have to worry about the mattress becoming dirty and soiled.
And with a one-year guarantee, this John Lewis own-brand mattress should stay in good shape until your child is ready to move into a full-size bed.
Pros: well padded, affordable
Cons: Only two sizes available
9. Panda Kids Bamboo Cot Mattress, £99-£129
Best for softness and breathability
Suitable from: birth | Type: cot and cot bed mattress | Interior: Airflow foam, hydro foam and breathable mesh | Size: 60cm x 120cm (cot) and 70cm x 140cm (cot bed)
Bamboo is known for its sustainability, softness and breathability, making it the ideal choice for baby bedding. This Panda Kids mattress comes with a removable bamboo outer cover, which is simple to wash at 30°C and is naturally thermo regulating. However, while the outer materials may be eco-friendly, the interior of the mattress is manmade and consists of two different types of foam.
The top layer is made from Hydro foam, which is described as a third-generation memory foam infused with minute gel capsules, while the lower layer of airflow foam acts as a support base to keep the mattress from moving around in the cot.
Experts warn against letting babies sleep on standard memory foam mattresses as they simply don’t give the level of firm support needed for those under 12 months. However, the Panda Kids Bamboo mattress has been specifically designed to be safe for use from birth. The mattress has a unique six-layer construction which includes a breathable mesh, a waterproof coating and an anti-slip layer featuring micro-silicone grips.
One big advantage is that Panda Kids offers a free trial period, so you see how you get on with it before investing. You can try this product out for 30 nights before deciding whether to keep it or return, making it a risk-free purchase. And if you do choose to stick with it, there is a five-year guarantee, so you won’t need to worry about paying for a replacement before your child starts school.
Pros: Bamboo cover, 30-day trial period
Cons: The memory foam has a strong smell at first
9. ClevaMama ClevaFoam Pocket Sprung Mattress, £179.99
Best for babies with flat head syndrome
Suitable from: birth | Type: Cot or cot bed mattress | Interior: Clevafoam | Size: 60cm x 120cm (cot) or 70cm x 140 cm (cot bed) | Awards: Gold – Baby and child mattress, MadeForMums Awards 2021
With safe sleep advice to always lay your baby on their back to sleep, there have been more concerns from parents about Flat Head Syndrome or plagiocephaly. The ClevaMama ClevaFoam pocket sprung mattress aims to protect the natural round shape of your little one’s head, helping the correct development of babies’ skulls.
This hybrid mattress combines up to 362 adaptive pocket springs with Clevafoam, which was developed with researchers at Trinity College at the University of Dublin and claims to reduce pressure on the back of an infant’s head by 50 per cent. It’s not memory foam (which is not recommended for babies) although it has some similar features.
The key difference is that it’s developed to have an open cell structure, making it lighter and cooler than traditional foam mattresses and 100% breathable, according to ClevaMama, to reduce the risk of your baby overheating. Memory foam is usually a closed cell structure which makes it heavy, dense and with reduced airflow causing it to retain heat.
Home tester Gina, mum of 3, commented: “I like that it supports their whole body and will regulate their temperature to prevent overheating. I also feel that the price is fair considering the comfort and the 3 year guarantee it comes with.” Laura, mum of a 9 month old, said, “This mattress has definitely improved the quality of my baby’s sleep, she now sleeps through without crying out. Baby mattresses are often very hard and uncomfortable, but I would happily sleep on this if it were big enough!”
The mattress comes with a three-year guarantee and is vacuum-packed at the point of manufacturing, so it is hygienic and compact to store if you buy it before you need to use it. However, remember it will take a little time for it to expand to its proper shape when you get it out of its packaging.
Pros: Vacuum-packed for convenience and hygiene, aims to prevent flat head syndrome
Cons: May take a while to regain proper shape when unpacked
10. Baby Elegance Eco Fibre Travel Cot Mattress, £22.50
Best for travelling with baby
Suitable from: birth | Type: Travel cot mattress | Interior: Fibre | Size: 70cm x 100cm (other sizes are available)
Getting your baby or toddler to sleep well while you’re away from home can be a challenge. And it is even more difficult if their travel cot is hard and uncomfortable. This travel cot mattress from Baby Elegance is an affordable price and fits a range of travel cots, including those from different brands.
Made using an anti-allergy fibre, the mattress has a breathable core that allows air to pass through and helps regulate your sleeping baby’s temperature, so they don’t overheat. It also has a cover which can be taken off and washed, perfect if your child becomes poorly or has an accident during your trip.
According to Baby Elegance, the fibre used in the mattress is strong and environmentally friendly. With a thickness of only 5cm, it isn’t as comfortable as a standard cot mattress and is intended for holidays and short periods so don’t be tempted to buy the mattress for everyday use.
However, it is thicker and softer than the pads which are included with most travel cots and many parents buy this to combat that specific issue.
Pros: Affordable and anti-allergy with a washable cover
Cons: Only suitable for short periods such as holidays
About the author
Catherine Ball is a freelance journalist who specialises in writing about parenting and health. As the mum of 4 daughters aged between 4 and 12 years, she has plenty of experience of choosing cots, cotbeds and mattresses to suit all kinds of sleepers.