Choose one that’s free of chemicals, made with natural materials or is hypoallergenic
When it comes to a mattress for your child, do not buy on price alone, advises Simon Williams, spokesperson for the National Bed Federation.
“Your child does most of their growing whilst asleep, so it is important that the mattress is of sufficient quality to support them properly.”
“Ensure it is made by a reputable manufacturer and you purchase it from a trusted retailer or website,” he adds. “And check the mattress displays the BS 7177 label for flammability standards.”
If you’re buying for a cabin or bunk bed, stick to under a legally approved weight and thickness. “The key point here is that the top of the mattress should be at least 16cm below the top of the side/end rails to prevent the child rolling out of bed,” says Williams.
Most types of sprung or foam mattresses are suitable for children, although foam ones with removable, washable, or dry cleanable covers are a good practical choice.
If you’re concerned about chemicals used in foam production, then opt for a sprung mattress with layers of natural fillings such as wool and cotton.
“Involve your child in the purchasing decision, getting them to try the mattress first as they will let you know if they find it too firm or too soft,’ suggests Williams.
Above all, remember that your child grows very quickly, and their body shape and weight will change, meaning their mattress requirement will also change. “A mattress that supports a four stone child sufficiently is unlikely to support them if they double their weight in a few years’ time,” he says.
The mattresses in this round-up were tested for comfort, breathability, quality of materials, and value for money. We also took into consideration how long each mattress was likely to last and the science behind its claims to be designed specifically with children in mind.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Stompa s flex airflow mattress: £150, Stompa
Stompa has a very strong reputation in the world of children’s mattresses. Its good-value layered mattresses are tested on children from three-years-up up to teenagers and can be used on any UK or continental-sized bunkbed.
For the top layer, the company uses the same breathable fabrics used on the likes of Simba and Made.com mattresses, with added breathable quilted topping for extra comfort. The next layer is a soft, springy and hypoallergenic foam, shaped in an egg shell profile to provide further airflow channels – handy for kids who are prone to getting hot and clammy at night.
Then there’s the base layer – a supportive foam base, great for growing bones – plus a breathable border. Parents will like the fact that Stompa provides a replacement, zip-off and washable cover – and if they ever become too stained, they have a replacement service.
The Little Green Sheep natural junior mattress: From £299, The Little Green Sheep
Eco parents, rejoice. This brand specialises in natural, handmade mattresses for babies and kids – all organic, top-drawer quality without a toxin or chemical in sight.
In fact, the copmany uses just four ingredients – wool (breathable, hypoallergenic, temperature regulating, anti-dust mite and a natural fire retardant), coconut fibre (supportive, acting like thousands of tiny springs), natural latex (derived from sap from the Hevea tree to provide a comfy, supportive layer) and cotton (for durability, breathability and to hold everything in place).
It’s available from moses basket size up to single (as well as bespoke sizes) and is supportive enough for all aged kids. The junior single is the thinnest we came across at just 13cm, but it is surprisingly snug and cosy, with medium tension, and can be used on a UK bunkbed. We were also impressed with the personalised and efficient customer service.
Stompa s flex airflow pocket spring mattress: £230, Argos
This is Stompa’s top-end mattress and even more super-duper than their regular offering that also appears in this roundup.
You get all the best bits of the cheaper blue-tagged mattress – the breathable top-layer and soft, egg-shell shaped foam layer, supportive base layer and removable cover – but there’s yet another layer incorporating a four-inch encapsulated 1000 count pocket spring unit (not to be confused with micro pocket units, which are more common in children’s mattresses but only an inch thick), giving an even more luxury feel and extra durability. In all honesty, you don’t need a step-up from the blue-tag mattress, but if you can afford it, the extra fifty quid is worth the extra robustness and comfort.
Little Big Dreams dream catcher 20cm deep mattress: £299, Dreams
This is supportive in all the right places and with a good level of squidge that gives it an instant cloud-like quality. Even when you lie right at the edge (as kids so often do), you feel that comfort and support shining through.
The manufacturers put it down to the 20cm depth and 450 individually wrapped pocketed springs that move independently from each other to support contours and pressure points of the body whenever they are on the mattress as the child grows. We’re giving it bonus points for its anti-allergy and heat regulating qualities to help keep all kids – even those with allergies or who are prone to over-heating at night – sound asleep until morning and we’re throwing in a gold star for the top panel which you can take off and wash at 60 degrees, with a waterproof layer underneath so the mattress stays fresh even years later. Part of the Little Big Dreams children’s range, it’s available in single and Euro single (10cm longer than the British version).
Silentnight sprung bunk mattress: £149, Mattress Online
Buying a mattress for a bunk or cabin bed requires a lot more consideration, not least because there are strict laws when it comes to weight and depth. At just 15cm thick and 12.4g, this open coil sprung one happily ticks those legislative boxes, sitting securely within the top bunk rail so kids stay safe. But unlike many other bunk bed mattresses, it doesn’t compromise on comfort or good support for bones as they grow in the night – and that’s despite the filling being made from recycled plastic bottles.
It’s free of chemicals and foam and is hypoallergenic and breathable. One of the most noticeable things about sleeping on a top bunk is how much the bed creaks when you move, but that’s another thing with this mattress – it seems to absorb movement so that happens less.
little home at John Lewis Hampshire Wool Pocket Spring Mattress: £299, John Lewis & Partners
little home, a sub-brand of John Lewis & Partners that specialises in children’s home furnishings, has a few kids’ mattresses in its range, our favourite of which is this pocket sprung mattress. Not only is the Hampshire wool and cashmere blend extremely comfortable, but wool breathes far better than man-made synthetic materials, keeping the airflow high throughout the night.
This means they stay cool in summer and snug in winter. Meanwhile, the cashmere and silk that are blended with the wool help to control moisture. The individual pocket springs support the spine and offer great stability, durability and support for growing children and there’s edge-to-edge comfort too. Suitable for bunkbeds and other high sleepers, the mattress is 15cm thick and has medium tension – firmness for spinal support and comfort layers for softness.
Emma original mattress: From £429, Emma
Another one that’s not designed exclusively for children, but whose features that suit three-year-olds upwards, this 25cm three-layer memory foam mattress sent our young tester off to the land of nod within minutes. It’s not too soft, so small bodies don’t sink it too deeply, but they still get all the support they need, and our testers liked the bounce factor too. The washable cover means the mattress is easy to keep clean and the breathable material keeps things cool even when the weather heats up. It’s also available in other sizes, including small double – a popular choice for tweens and teens. We loved how it arrived in a surprisingly small vacuum packed in a box and there’s a 200-day free trial period in case you don’t like it. There’s a great mattress protector and pillow available too, although these do cost extra.
Jay-Be simply kids waterproof sprung mattress: £150, Argos
Versatility and value for money are the big plusses with this company, which makes four mattress types (pocket sprung, anti-allergy, foam free, and waterproof) in two sizes (single and cot-bed). Kids’ mattresses take a lot of wear and tear and can easily get wet through spills and accidents, making the waterproof one – which also happens to be anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-fungal and hypo-allergenic – a clear winner for us. Medium soft and 18cm thick, it’s easy to wipe clean and doesn’t compromise on comfort, thanks to the sprung layer of 325 springs covered with a cushioned top layer, which also offers great support for kids’ growing bones. The smart fibre is breathable, allowing air to flow freely through the mattress, which was particularly great news for our little tester who is prone to getting sweaty at night but stayed completely dry.
Silentnight imagine traditional sprung: £189, Silentnight
This 22cm thick sprung mattress is part of Silentnight’s healthy growth range, which are all foam and chemical free. These mattresses are in turn part of the brand’s eco mattresses, comprising a special layer of eco comfort fibres made from recycled, crushed, and spun plastic bottles that keep the mattress exceptionally cool and breathable. We’d say it’s on the firmer side of medium, but only just, and moulds well around the body, making it both comfortable and supportive for toddlers right through to teenagers – great longevity, then. The clever zoned support system also helps to develop good posture. Extra thumbs up for it being hypoallergenic and dust-mite resistant too but bear in mind it’s quite springy and heavy. As it’s designed to be slept on one side only, there’s no need to turn it.
Little Folks Furniture high bed pocket sprung mattress: £265, Little Folks Furniture
As the name suggests, this Wiltshire based company makes products exclusively for the kids’ market and of all their mattresses, this is our favourite. It’s medium firm and made up of a core, slimline pocket system with over 600 individual springs sewn into pockets. Padding goes right up to the edges to maintain shape, and the recycled spring insulation and wool mix felt ensured that you couldn’t feel the springs. Other things in its favour are the hand tufting, which keeps all the layers in place over time, and the hypo-allergenic and breathable double layer upholstery that’s finished off with a 100 per cent cotton cover. All this, and yet it’s only 15cm thick and reversible. In other words, super comfy yet thin enough for the top bunk.
Naturalmat the natural teen mattress: From £465, Naturalmat
This chemical-free mattress is made specifically with teenagers in mind. It doesn’t come cheap, but the natural latex has a pleasing springy feel with firm support – instantly comfortable, particularly when combined with the extra-soft quilted cover, and great for bigger but-still-growing bodies.
Breathability is taken care of thanks to the organic coconut fibre, helping to stop sweaty teens waking up drenched. And the cotton mattress cover protects against bed bugs, dust mites, mosquitoes and moths – as well as keeping its promise of being easy to clean up inevitable drink spills and crumbs that come with teens hibernating in their bedrooms for days on end. It’s available in small, regular and long single as well as bespoke sizes.
Button + Sprung Drysdale: £545, Button + Sprung
Although this cloud-like, four-layer pocket sprung mattress isn’t aimed specifically at children, it’s a popular choice for tweens upwards because it’s hard wearing, supportive, and comfortable enough to see them right through to adulthood. It stays in good nick and keeps its shape for many years to come, which helps to justify the higher price tag. Like all mattresses from this brand, it’s completely natural, organic, and healthy – not a synthetic material in sight – with the cotton, wool and flax mix very breathable, as well as anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, which is especially good news for anyone with asthma or allergies. It’s single sided, so no need to turn it (although you will need to spin it around regularly). and if you don’t like it, you can return it after 100 days. Available in medium or firm, with the former preferable for kids. It’s quite thick (25cm) and heavy, so we were grateful the delivery guys put it straight on the bed upstairs – a testament to this brand’s excellent customer service.
Happy Beds clay orthopaedic spring mattress: From £99.99, Happy Beds
This is the cheapest mattress in our round-up, but it gives others in the same price bracket a run for their money especially when it comes to resilience and comfort. Your child’s spine will get good support, whether they are big or small, or sleep on their back or side. And you can count on it for years to come, thanks to it being hand tufted, which makes it a lot tighter in terms of construction. It’s hypo-allergenic, which is good news for kids with allergies or sensitive skin. It’s also versatile when it comes to sizing as it’s available in small single, single, small double and double. A good all-round, budget mattress and it’s made to order too – so no bulk manufacturing. On the firmer side of medium.
The Verdict: Children’s mattresses
The Stompa s flex airflow mattress isn’t the most expensive in our round-up, but it still gets the biggest thumbs up because it’s so well suited to growing kids. We also think the Little Folks Furniture high bed pocket sprung mattress should get a special mention for being so comfy and well made.
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