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How Firm Should Your Child's Mattress Be?

June 07, 2024 7 min read

How Firm Should Your Child's Mattress Be?

Choosing the right mattress firmness for a child is crucial for their sleep quality, development, and overall well-being. As children grow, their sleep needs evolve, making it essential to select a mattress that provides the appropriate support and comfort throughout their developmental stages. A mattress that is too soft can lead to poor spinal alignment and discomfort, while one that is too firm may not offer sufficient cushioning, potentially causing pressure points and restlessness.

In this guide, we will explore the key factors to consider when selecting a mattress firmness for children of different ages. From infants to teens, understanding the specific requirements for each age group can help ensure that your child enjoys restful and restorative sleep. We will also delve into the different types of mattresses available, their benefits, and additional features that can enhance your child's sleep experience. By making an informed decision, you can support your child's growth and development with a mattress that meets their unique needs. By the end of this guide you will be ready to select the best mattress for kids

Age-Specific Firmness Recommendations

Selecting the right mattress firmness for children at different developmental stages is essential for their comfort, spinal alignment, and overall health. Here are the recommended mattress firmness levels for various age groups:


  • Firmness: Extra-firm
  • Reason: Safety is the top priority for infants. An extra-firm mattress provides the necessary support to prevent the risk of suffocation and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by maintaining a firm, flat surface. View our best crib mattress guide to learn more about mattresses for infants. 
  • Features: Lightweight for easy changing, hypoallergenic, and breathable to promote healthy sleep and prevent moisture buildup.
  • Examples: Look for mattresses specifically designed for infants with certifications such as GREENGUARD Gold, ensuring they meet stringent safety and environmental standards.


  • Firmness: Medium-firm
  • Reason: Toddlers need a balance of comfort and support to accommodate their growing bodies. A medium-firm mattress helps maintain proper spinal alignment and prevents poor posture during this critical growth period.
  • Features: Durable materials, breathable foams, supportive coils, and an easy-to-clean or moisture-resistant surface.
  • Examples: Mattresses labeled as “medium-firm” that offer high-quality construction and materials, such as breathable foams and supportive coil systems.

Children (3-12 years)

  • Firmness: Medium to medium-firm
  • Reason: At this stage, children require a mattress that offers sufficient support without being too hard. This firmness level helps support their growing bodies and maintains proper spinal alignment, promoting healthy sleep posture. 
  • Features: Dual-sided mattresses can be beneficial, with one side firmer for younger children and the other side softer for older children. Look for durable and comfortable materials that can withstand active use.
  • Examples: Hybrid mattresses with a combination of supportive coils and cushioning foam layers, or memory foam mattresses that provide good pressure relief and support.


  • Firmness: Medium-firm
  • Reason: Teenagers need a mattress that provides the right balance of comfort and support to accommodate their rapidly changing bodies. A medium-firm mattress helps maintain spinal alignment and supports a range of sleeping positions.
  • Features: Supportive core with comfort layers, cooling materials to regulate temperature, and appropriate size (twin or full) to accommodate their growth.
  • Examples: Mattresses designed for all sleepers, with supportive cores and comfort layers that offer pressure relief and support.

Choosing the right mattress firmness for a child involves considering their age, weight, and developmental needs. An extra-firm mattress is essential for infants, while toddlers and children benefit from medium-firm options that balance comfort and support. For teenagers, a medium-firm mattress provides the necessary support for their growing bodies. By selecting the appropriate firmness level and features for each age group, you can ensure that your child enjoys a restful and healthy sleep, supporting their overall development and well-being.

Mattress Types and Their Benefits

Choosing the right type of mattress for a child involves understanding the various options available and their specific benefits. Here are the main types of mattresses and what they offer:

Innerspring Mattresses

  • Description: Traditional mattresses with a support system made of steel coils.
  • Benefits:
    • Support: Provide excellent support due to their coil system, which helps maintain proper spinal alignment.
    • Durability: Known for their long-lasting support and resilience.
    • Air Circulation: Offer good airflow, helping to regulate temperature and keep the mattress cool.
  • Considerations: Often too firm for younger children unless customized with softer top layers. They can also be noisy and less effective in isolating motion.

Memory Foam Mattresses

  • Description: Made from viscoelastic foam that contours to the body.
  • Benefits:
    • Pressure Relief: Excellent at relieving pressure points, which can be beneficial for children who need more cushioning.
    • Motion Isolation: Great at minimizing movement transfer, making them ideal for restless sleepers.
    • Hypoallergenic: Generally resistant to dust mites and allergens, which is beneficial for children with allergies.
  • Considerations: Memory foam mattresses can retain heat, so look for models with cooling features if overheating is a concern.

Hybrid Mattresses

  • Description: Combine innerspring coils with foam layers (either memory foam, latex, or other types of foam).
  • Benefits:
    • Balanced Comfort and Support: Offer the support of coils and the comfort of foam, making them versatile for different sleeping positions and needs.
    • Temperature Regulation: Often designed with features to enhance breathability and cooling.
    • Durability: The combination of materials often results in a longer lifespan.
  • Considerations: Can be more expensive than other types due to the combination of high-quality materials.

Latex Mattresses

  • Description: Made from natural or synthetic latex.
  • Benefits:
    • Durability: Extremely durable and can last many years.
    • Support: Provide a responsive and supportive sleep surface, which helps with spinal alignment.
    • Hypoallergenic: Natural latex is resistant to dust mites and mold, making it a good choice for children with allergies.
    • Breathability: Often more breathable than memory foam, helping to regulate temperature.
  • Considerations: Can be more expensive and heavier, which might make them harder to move or adjust.

Additional Features to Consider

  • Edge Support: Essential for preventing falls and ensuring the entire mattress surface is usable.
  • Certifications: Look for GREENGUARD Gold and CertiPUR-US certifications to ensure the mattress is free from harmful chemicals.
  • Size and Growth: Choose a size that can accommodate your child as they grow (twin or full).
  • Trial Periods and Warranties: Opt for mattresses with generous trial periods and warranties for peace of mind.

Understanding the different types of mattresses and their benefits can help you make an informed decision when selecting a mattress for your child. Consider the specific needs of your child, such as their age, sleeping position, and any health concerns, to choose a mattress that will provide the right balance of support, comfort, and durability. This ensures your child gets the restful and healthy sleep they need for their growth and development.

Additional Considerations

When selecting a mattress for your child, there are several additional factors to consider beyond firmness and mattress type. These features can significantly enhance the comfort, safety, and longevity of the mattress, ensuring your child gets the best sleep possible.

Edge Support

  • Importance: Good edge support is crucial for preventing falls and ensuring the entire mattress surface is usable. It provides stability, especially for active sleepers who might roll towards the edge of the bed.
  • Considerations: Look for mattresses with reinforced edges or specific edge support systems, commonly found in innerspring and hybrid mattresses. This feature can also make it easier for children to get in and out of bed safely.

Temperature Regulation

  • Importance: Children can often sleep hot, and a mattress with good temperature regulation can help prevent overheating, ensuring a comfortable sleep environment.
  • Considerations: Look for mattresses with breathable materials such as gel-infused memory foam, open-cell foam, or latex. Hybrid mattresses with coil systems also tend to have better airflow, helping to dissipate heat more effectively.

Hypoallergenic Materials

  • Importance: Hypoallergenic mattresses can help reduce exposure to allergens such as dust mites, mold, and pet dander, which is particularly important for children with allergies or asthma.
  • Considerations: Natural latex mattresses are a great option as they are inherently hypoallergenic. Additionally, look for mattresses with removable and washable covers to keep the sleeping environment clean and free from allergens.


  • Importance: Certifications provide assurance that the mattress is made from safe, non-toxic materials, free from harmful chemicals that can affect your child’s health.
  • Considerations: Look for certifications such as GREENGUARD Gold, CertiPUR-US, and OEKO-TEX Standard 100. These certifications indicate that the mattress has been tested and verified to meet strict safety and environmental standards.

Size and Growth

  • Importance: Children grow quickly, so choosing the right mattress size can save you money and hassle in the long run.
  • Considerations: While a twin size is often sufficient for younger children, a full size might be a better investment as it can accommodate growth spurts and provide more space for a comfortable sleep.

Trial Periods and Warranties

  • Importance: A trial period allows you to test the mattress at home and ensure it meets your child’s needs before making a final decision. Warranties protect your investment by covering defects and issues that may arise over time.
  • Considerations: Opt for mattresses with generous trial periods (at least 90 nights) and comprehensive warranties (10 years or more). This gives you peace of mind and ensures you’re making a sound investment in your child’s sleep health.

Ease of Cleaning

  • Importance: Children can be messy, and accidents are inevitable. A mattress that is easy to clean can help maintain hygiene and extend the mattress's lifespan.
  • Considerations: Look for mattresses with water-resistant or washable covers. Some mattresses also feature antimicrobial treatments to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold.


  • Importance: As children grow, their sleep needs can change. An adjustable mattress or one with dual-sided firmness can adapt to these changes, providing ongoing comfort and support.
  • Considerations: Mattresses like the Helix Kids, which have dual-sided designs, offer different firmness levels on each side, allowing you to flip the mattress as your child grows.

When selecting a mattress for your child, it’s essential to consider additional features that can enhance their sleep experience. Edge support, temperature regulation, hypoallergenic materials, and ease of cleaning are just a few factors that can make a significant difference. Additionally, ensuring the mattress has the necessary certifications and offers a generous trial period and warranty can provide peace of mind. By taking these considerations into account, you can choose a mattress that not only supports your child’s growth and development but also ensures they get a restful and healthy sleep.


Choosing the right mattress firmness for a child involves balancing support and comfort to ensure proper development and restful sleep. By considering age-specific needs, mattress types, and additional features, you can find the perfect mattress to support your child's health and well-being as they grow.

For more detailed reviews and recommendations, you can refer to the resources from our website.