The crib mattress market is a confusing place, so let me cut through the nonsense for you.
Organic means non-toxic and non-toxic is a very good thing for sleep. It is extremely important that your baby's mattress be free from harmful chemicals, because s/he will be spending a lot of time sleeping on it over the next few years. Organic mattresses are made from materials that do not emit harmful chemicals now or ever, which is why they are the best choice. (If budget is an issue, it's likely better to find a used organic mattress than to buy a new synthetic one.)
Comfort isn't a thing. As far as comfort goes, many of the subtleties that exist in the adult mattress market—especially relating to varying degrees of firmness—are nearly irrelevant when it comes to baby mattresses. It’s simple: The safest crib mattresses are firm ones, especially for babies one year old and younger, and the vast majority of the mattresses on the market today are of similarly firm construction.
Beyond this, you have only a few decision to make relating to weight, breathability, and price point. I've waded through dozens of mattresses and am only sharing those that make the cut. These are the best crib mattresses on the market today.
- The Best Crib Mattress for Most – Naturepedic Organic Cotton Classic Lightweight 2-Stage Mattress ($289)
- The Best Crib Mattress for Hot Climates – Naturepedic Organic Breathable Lightweight 2-Stage Mattress ($349)
- The Best Crib Mattress for Worriers – Naturepedic Organic Breathable Lightweight 2-Stage Mattress ($349)
- The Best Luxury Crib Mattress – Avocado Luxury Organic Crib Mattress ($1249)
- The Best Inexpensive Crib Mattress – A secondhand Naturepedic, Nook, or Avocado mattress. (Sorry it's the truth.)
This is the best crib mattress for most and checks all the boxes. It's organic, lightweight (~10lbs), GREENGUARD certified, two-stage (featuring a firmer infant side and a softer toddler side), completely free of chemical fire retardants, nonetheless naturally fire retardant, waterproof, and durable enough to use for many years and many babies.
Naturepedic Organic Breathable Lightweight 2-Stage Mattress ($349)
This is the best crib mattress for hot climates. This mattress has all the same features as the Naturepedic Organic Cotton Classic (organic, lightweight, GREENGUARD certified, two-stage, free of chemical fire retardants, nonetheless fire retardant, waterproof, and durable) but it's also breathable. This allows air to flow under the baby, which dissipates heat more efficiently and helps regulate baby's body temperature for fewer sweaty sleeps.
This is the best crib mattress for those concerned about SIDS. In an independent test designed to measure suffocation risk, Naturepedic achieved the lowest risk category, allowing a simulated baby to breathe directly through the breathable surface of the mattress indefinitely. If SIDS is something that keeps you up at night, this mattress might help assuage your fears.
This is the absolute best crib mattress available on the market today. It is the height of luxury, GOTS-certified organic, GREENGUARD Gold Certified, , two-stage (featuring a firmer infant side and a softer toddler side), completely free of chemical fire retardants, nonetheless naturally fire retardant, waterproof, and durable enough to use for many years and many babies. It is also ludicrously expensive and super heavy (36lbs). If it were me, I'd get a Naturepedic for now and upgrade to an Avocado mattress when it's time to spring (ha) for a twin mattress in a few years.
This is the best budget(ish) mattress. I know you wanted me to tell you of a mattress you could buy new that was inexpensive and non-toxic, but that's not really a thing. Fortunately, baby mattresses only get used for a very short period of time and are often in very good condition when sold secondhand. You can score great deals on a gently used Naturepedic, Nook, or Avocado mattress.
There are obviously many other crib mattresses out there. These are some of the mattresses you might be considering, and why I don’t recommend them as my first or favorite choice.
- Naturepedic Organic Cotton Classic Innerspring 2-Stage Mattress ($299) – If you prefer an innerspring mattress, this is your best bet. However, it's a hefty ~20lbs, which will make changing the sheets a little tougher on your back.
- Naturepedic Organic Cotton Classic Lightweight 1-Stage Mattress ($259) – This mattress lacks a softer second side. And yes, that second softer side really is nice for larger kids. I'd say it's worth it to pay the extra $30 for some added cush.
- Naturepedic Organic Cotton Classic Innerspring 1-Stage Mattress ($279) – Same issues as both of the above combined.
- Nook Pebble Pure Organic ($419+) – This is a nice mattress by all measures, but it's not better (nor worth $50 more) than the Naturepedic.
- Naturepedic Organic Breathable Innerspring 2-Stage Mattress ($379) – This mattress is similar to the Lightweight version, but heavier and more expensive.
- Naturepedic Organic Breathable Ultra Innerspring 2-Stage Mattress ($399) – Again, this mattress is similar to the Lightweight version, but it's heavier and more expensive. It also has some “luxury” quilting that is not really worth the extra money.
- Newton Wovenaire ($300) – Although this mattress is highly breathable (and less expensive than the Naturepedic), it only has a single firmness and is not organic. It is, however, GREENGUARD certified.
How to Choose the Best Crib Mattress for Your Baby
In case you're wondering, here's a little more about how to choose the right crib mattress for your baby. In addition to being sufficiently firm for safe sleep, look for a few key qualities when choosing a crib mattress…
- Low Chemical Emissions: Your baby will be spending a lot of time on this mattress, at least half of his life for the first few years. And because he will be breathing mere inches from its surface, it’s important that the mattress doesn’t emit toxic fumes (off-gassing), even at supposedly “safe” levels. When looking for a mattress with low chemical emissions, organic mattresses made with organic cores are your best bet. (Fully organic mattresses are not to be confused with non-organic mattresses wrapped in organic cotton covers, which get marketed as “organic” despite not being organic at all.) If the mattress is not organic, keep an eye out for GREENGUARD certification, which is only given to mattresses that meet low chemical emission standards.
- No Chemical Fire Retardants: This goes along with the point above, but we always look for mattresses that have no chemical fire retardants, which have been shown to be very, very toxic. Organic mattresses like those from Naturepedic are naturally fire retardant, and therefore don't necessitate additional chemicals to meet US safety standards. All the mattresses we recommend are toxic chemical fire retardant-free.
- Weight: Mattresses weigh between 8 to 25 pounds, depending on the composition of their core. Think about how often you’ll be changing the crib sheets. It is much easier to lift a lighter mattress than a heavy one. If you are on the shorter side or have a bad back, consider skipping mattresses with metal coils and opting for a foam core mattress to avoid heavy lifting. This is especially important if one end of your baby’s crib is pushed against a wall, which makes mattress wielding especially difficult.
- Dual-Sided Firmness: Some mattresses have a firm side for young babies and a softer side for toddlers. Assuming you plan to convert your crib into a toddler bed, these dual-sided mattresses will give you the best bang for your buck, and allow your child to use their crib and crib mattress comfortably for longer.
- Breathability: Breathability is an important factor in hot and humid climates. Organic cotton mattresses tend to breathe better than foam mattresses. Regardless of core material, mattresses with waterproof covers don’t breathe particularly well.
- Waterproof Cover: Some mattresses boast waterproof covers, which protect the mattress from stains and smells. Even if you have a waterproof mattress, it’s good to have a waterproof mattress pad too. Without one, you’ll have to wipe down and dry your mattress between messes (which tend to happen in the dead of night) to prevent bacteria build up.
- Price: Baby mattress companies like to take advantage of the fact that you’ll want to buy “the best” for your baby, and upsell accordingly. There’s no use spending more than you need to here.
Note: There is no one universal “best,” especially when it comes to parenting. These are “The Best Crib Mattresses” based on Also Mom's strict criteria, detailed here.