We put a lot of thought into almost every aspect of our children’s lives. We agonise long and hard over what foods to feed them, which television shows and movies we allow them to watch and – the big one – what time bedtime is. However, despite knowing just how important sleep is for every aspect of our little ones’ lives, few of us think long and hard about choosing the mattress that’ll maximise our children’s sleep comfort.
But does the mattress you choose for your child’s bedroom really matter? Which mattress is best for their growing body? And does your child need a new mattress for each and every growth spurt they go through? Read on for more about children and their sleep, why the mattress you choose matters and how to choose the best kids’ mattresses for your clan. From babies to toddlers to tweens and teens, we’ll cover exactly what you should be looking for, how often you’ll need to invest in a new mattress and how to find a bed that suits your own child’s very specific needs.
Why Your Kid’s Mattress Matters
We know sleep is vital for growing kids, but why? And what difference does choosing ‘the right’ mattress really make to your child’s comfort, sleep and development?
Sleep is important for all kinds of development
A lack of sleep won’t just make your child a bit of a nightmare to deal with. Research has shown that a decent night of rest supports both physical and mental health as well as behaviour(i). Poor sleep, according to scientists, is related to the development of conditions such as diabetes (ii), and can also contribute to anxiety and depression in kids (iii).
Teachers know too that a child getting a regular good night’s sleep will perform better in class. Not only is behaviour impacted by a lack of sleep but so is the ability to concentrate and retain information. Researchers have even found that students who sleep well tend to do better in exams (iv).
Kids need a lot of sleep
While a quality mattress can’t persuade your child to get into bed, it might make it easier for them to get the prerequisite amount of interruption-free sleep once they’re there. And children, especially older kids and teens, may need even more sleep than most parents realise. Experts advise the following amount per night (including naps up to five years of age):
Babies 0 – 3 months: 15 to 17 hours
Babies 4 – 12 months: 12 to 16 hours
Toddlers 1 – 2 years: 11 to 14 hours
Pre-schoolers 3 - 5 years: 10 to 13 hours
Children 6 – 13 years: 9 to 12 hours
Teenagers 14 – 18 years: 8 to 10 hours
Growing bodies need good support
As parents, we’ve all seen the sudden and dramatic changes that our kids’ bodies go through as they grow up. Those overnight growth spurts can take their toll, so it’s vital that they get the support they need. Good food is important, but so is a mattress that ensures not just comfort but also physical support for strong, well-developed bones and joints. Not only can a mattress that holds the body in all the right places help to ease the discomfort of growing pains, it may also help with spinal alignment for improved posture (your adult child will thank you one day).
Allergies can be a problem
Scientists say that the number of children diagnosed with allergic rhinitis, with its hay fever-like symptoms, and eczema has trebled in the last 30 years (v), making allergies a real problem for kids and their parents. Around a third of allergy sufferers, experts think, could reduce their symptoms with relatively simple lifestyle changes, such as choosing a hypoallergenic mattress or mattress protector (vi).
If your child sniffles, sneezes and wheezes or suffers with sore skin rashes and irritating itchiness, something as simple as a change of mattress could help to make their lives a little more comfortable. And reducing symptoms could mean improved sleep too, with no stuffy noses or scratching to keep them awake.
A Kids’ Mattress For Every Age
Slumberland 2-in-1 Flip Mattress
Kids change an awful lot as they get older. And just as they’ll need new clothing as they grow so they’ll need new beds and mattresses too. Our short guide makes it easy to pick the right mattress for every stage of their development.
Mattresses for babies
The Lullaby Trust – a charity committed to raising awareness of SIDS – advises that a baby’s mattress should be:
“ ...A firm and flat mattress that is protected by a waterproof cover. This will help keep the mattress clean and dry, as the cover can be wiped down.”
The Trust also states that the mattress should be in good condition and must fit the cot or crib correctly.
As a guide, your baby’s mattress should by 8 to 10cm in thickness and ought to comply with BS16890. You can check the packaging to ensure your chosen mattress meets this standard.
Mattresses for toddlers
Once your little one reaches the age of about 18 months, it’ll be time to transition from a first cot mattress to something that will give them more support. Again, this needs to fit snugly, but the bed you choose should also give them room to move about – toddlers are notorious nocturnal fidgets after all. For this reason, many people choose a cot that is able to convert into a small bed when its time for those bars to come off.
Toddlers require a mattress that provides good, firm support with comfortable cushioning for fuss-free napping. Breathable fabrics and waterproof layers are recommended along with good ventilation for young children who tend to run hot.
Mattresses for school-age kids
When it’s time to transition from that small toddler bed to a larger child’s bed, you’ll be mattress shopping again. Though you might be tempted to opt for any old single, we recommend choosing a children’s single mattress, designed specifically for the needs of a youngster.
By this age, most children will be able to tell you what they do and don’t like in terms of comfort, which will guide your choice. As a rule, a medium firmness tends to be best. Too soft and your child won’t receive enough support, too firm and they may be too uncomfortable to sleep.
Mattresses for teenagers
Sleep is especially important for teens, and so getting the right mattress at this stage is a must. By the time your child reaches their teenage years, they’ll be choosing a mattress much as an adult would. That means they’ll not only have strong opinions on firmness (again, try to avoid a too-soft mattress which likely won’t provide enough support) but they’ll also have a preferred sleeping position, which should inform the mattress you choose too.
A teen’s body weight and musculoskeletal complaints may also lead your purchase. For example, a heavier kid may need a firmer mattress for better support while a sportsperson prone to sore hips or knees might prefer a mattress with improved pressure relief.
What To Look For In A Children’s Mattress
Slumberland Flip Double-Sided Mattress
Now you have an idea about what kind of mattress your child will need at different stages of their development, let’s look more closely at the specifics when it comes to choosing a mattress for kids or teens.
The right mattress firmness for kids
As with adults, the right mattress level differs from child to child. Generally speaking, the lighter a child is the less they’ll sink into a mattress, meaning that a mattress will feel firmer to them than it might to us heftier grown ups. Like adults too, sleeping position may impact the mattress your child is most comfortable on. A side sleeper might prefer a softer mattress to support their hips and shoulders while a front or back sleeper will need a firmer bed for good spinal support.
As they get older, a child will be able to tell you what feels right to them. A visit to your local Bensons for Beds is a good opportunity to try out different comfort ratings.
The right mattress material for kids
All of a sudden there seems to be many more mattress types than ever before. It can be hard to decide which is best but this quick guide might help you choose:
- Springs: modern innerspring mattresses often contain pocket springs, usually distributed to provide support where it’s most needed. Though sometimes costly, pocket sprung mattresses are also highly durable
- Memory foam: made of material that responds to the body, foam mattresses are supportive and comfortable and could help to alleviate growing pains. However, foam can also be hot and could be uncomfortable for younger children who tend to get warm at night
- Latex: like foam, latex mattresses are good for support and comfort, however they tend to be more responsive, making moving around easier. They aren’t, of course, suitable for those with a latex allergy but are otherwise a good choice for allergy sufferers, resisting mould and mites
- Hybrid: many mattresses now combine a sprung base with a comfort layer of foam, latex or other materials. This can be a great compromise, giving you all the benefits of both mattress types.
Those little mattress extras
There are some things you’ll want to consider as ‘extras’ when buying a mattress for your child. Allergies, asthma and skin complaints, in particular, should be kept in mind. As these can develop at any time, a hypoallergenic mattress – increasingly a standard feature - is a safe and sensible choice for kids of all ages.
Additionally, you’ll want a mattress that’s easy to clean. Especially if your little one is prone to spillages or late night accidents. If this sounds like a problem you expect to face regularly, opt for a waterproof mattress protector for peace of mind.
And if your child tends to get too hot at night, as so many do, you needn’t despair. Mattresses are increasingly designed with cooling in mind. Some might feature a cool gel layer while others have built-in ventilation for good airflow as your small one sleeps.
The Best Mattress For Kids
So which is the very best mattress for your child? Here are some of our top picks:
Best cot mattress
Start your baby off right with the Silentnight Safe Nights Luxury Mattress. Designed with pocket springs and a foam-free core, this mattress is highly supportive and features a waterproof layer for easy cleaning in case of accidents. Allergy UK approved, this mattress is designed for safer sleeping while a 3D mesh cover keeps baby cool all night.
Best mattress for teens
Taking them from tween to adult, the Slumberland Flip Mattress is an innovative design conceived to make growing up simple. This clever adaptable mattress changes with your child, giving them the support they need at each stage of their development. The softer side of the Flip is ideal for younger kids of 11 to 14 who need less support, while a simple turn gives your suddenly monstrous teen the extra support they need, with a firmer base recommended from around age 15.
Temperature+ treated for cooler sleeping and Pro-bio treated to help reduce allergens, this smart mattress also has reinforced edges. This gives consistent support and reduces damage around the edge of the bed where kids will often sit, causing sagging in the long term.
Best mattress for bunk beds
Designed especially for top bunks, cabin beds and mid to high sleepers, the Silentnight Healthy Growth Single Bunk Bed Mattress helps your child’s bunk bed to meet safety standards. Available in two sizes to suit full size single and smaller bunks, this mattress doesn’t need to be turned, making it easier to deal with.
Mattresses in the Healthy Growth range are made with a breathable Eco Comfort Fibre layer for a cooler, more comfortable night’s sleep.
Best mattress for allergy sufferers
Not only does the Jay-Be Dual Support Natural E-Pocket Mattress provide unbeatable support through its innovative dual technology, it also does away with worry with its eco-friendly, allergy minimising design. Made using natural materials like wool and bamboo, this easy care mattress has a softly woven fabric outer cover that’s kinder to skin and an open cell structure for cool breathability.
A Bensons For Beds exclusive, this mattress is completely without foam, made with smart springs that individually respond to your child’s movements for a disturbance-free night.
Best mattress for single beds
Looking for a simple single mattress that does it all? Suitable for your resident young person as well as a visiting Nana or Grandad, the Slumberland Eco Solutions 1400 Mattress will suit most sleepers. Not only is it a sustainable choice made with recycled materials, this clever mattress is simply turned twice a year to suit the changing climate (or to adapt to a house guest). So while one side of the mattress is beautifully cool thanks to its cool-touch SensICE fabric, the other is snuggly warm thanks to its cosy wool layer.
Choosing A Children’s Mattress at Bensons For Beds
Whatever the age of your child, you want them to have the very best when it comes to every part of their lives, and that includes sleep. At Bensons For Beds, we’re here to help you ensure your kids get the very best rest with a bed that suits them perfectly. In addition to a wide variety of stylish kid’s beds – ranging from fun and funky toddler beds to too cool for school teen beds – we also offer a variety of kids mattresses. These are designed to meet the specific needs of your growing child, from safe and supportive cot mattresses to the grown up single mattress they’ll need when they graduate from child to fully fledged adult.
Whether buying for yourself or for a child, take a trip into your local Bensons For Beds showroom before you take the plunge. At every store there’s a team who knows just about everything there is to know about beds and mattresses waiting to help you choose. In addition to showroom beds to try out one by one, we’ll use our high tech sleeppro®system to find your child’s perfect comfort level, making finding your ideal mattress even easier. And once you’ve found the mattress for a guaranteed dreamy night’s sleep? Check out our range of beds and bedroom furnishings to complete that bedroom scene.
Helping to make buying a mattress for your child all the easier, the team at Bensons for Beds is able to arrange recycling of your old mattress while also organising direct-to-your-bedroom delivery at the time that best suits you.
Ready to place an order? Have a question or two before you buy? Shop online or call our friendly and helpful telephone team on 0808 144 6160.