Cubby Nursery Awards 2024

We Asked a Mattress Expert to Tell Us Which Crib Mattress Is the Best (and Why), and There Were 2 Top Choices

published Mar 22, 2024
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.

Parenting is hard, but discovering what baby essentials to buy shouldn’t be. If you’re looking for nursery ideas, you may be focused on pinning all the baby boy nursery ideas or baby girl nursery ideas you can find. But we know you’ve also got baby gear on the mind, like a crib mattress for the crib.

You’re probably worried about making sure you get a safe crib mattress (we get it — so were we), so we asked a mattress expert to answer our most pressing questions about crib mattresses and to tell us the best crib mattress to buy in 2024. Two recommendations came out on top, and thankfully fellow parents and Cubby editors were able to confirm those recs with actual, real-life experiences, as many of us had already purchased these mattresses for our own babies.

Why You Should Trust Us

This is a best list that comes with real chops. Cubby is helmed by a small yet vibrant team of design-savvy parents who are unusually invested in finding the best products for life at home with kids, beginning with the nursery. Faith Durand (SVP of Content at Apartment Therapy Media, two kids, pro pinner of all the things), Cambria Bold (Executive Editor of Cubby, two kids, hobby designer, avid product researcher), and Laura Schocker (Chief Content Officer at Apartment Therapy Media, one kid and one on the way, small-space/city-living expert) have 40 years of digital editorial experience between them. They’ve already read about, researched, and purchased many of the baby products that you, as a soon-to-be parent, are wondering about right now. They’ll tell you exactly what you need to know about what to get. 

If they don’t know the answer, they know plenty of people to ask — fellow editors, product experts, designers, and Cubby readers — so you can be sure that these recommendations come from real-life experiences.

Most importantly, we don’t just “office test” these products (read: order a bunch and shake ‘em around in our office “lab” with a fake baby doll) because that is helpful to approximately no one. The products we recommend here are ones we or fellow parents have actually purchased ourselves for our nursery and used for at least a few months (and sometimes way longer). The rave reviews are real.

How We Chose These Products

We asked a mattress expert to give us his take on the best crib mattresses currently on the market. We took his top two recommended crib mattresses, cross-checked those products with the safe sleep recommendations outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), confirmed they both had at least one of the recommended certifications for crib mattresses (like GREENGUARD GOLD or GOTS-certified), and then assessed our own firsthand experiences with the product.

If these criteria lined up — strongly recommended by our expert, containing at least one of the most important certifications, and/or personally used for a significant period of time (with positive results!) by one of our editors — it made it to this list!

Credit: Erin Derby

Crib Mattress FAQ

1. What are the most important features to look for in a crib mattress?

According to mattress expert Ben Trapskin, founder of, the five most important qualities to look for in a crib mattress are safety, size, breathability, materials, and washability. Trapskin ranks safety as the most important factor to consider and advises caregivers to look for a firm mattress to provide support for baby’s back, reducing the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). 

When it comes to the size of the mattress, Trapskin says the mattress should fit snugly inside the crib, with no gaps between the mattress and the crib frame. “You should be able to fit two fingers between the mattress and the crib frame, but no more,” says Trapskin. The standard crib mattress size is 27 1/4 inches by 51 5/8 inches, with a thickness not to exceed 6 inches.

The composition of the mattress is also key. “A breathable mattress will help to keep your baby cool and comfortable,” advises Trapskin, who notes that breathable materials like innerspring or organic cotton are best for this. Further, mattresses made with hypoallergenic materials are ideal for babies’ sensitive skin. This includes innerspring, organic cotton, and soy-based foams. Mattresses with flame retardant chemicals should be avoided. And in a nod to practicality, Trapskin adds that choosing a mattress with a removable, machine-washable cover will make life much easier.

2. What is a reasonable cost for a good crib mattress?

It can be tricky to put a price on a child’s sleep (and, by extension, your own), but as a general rule, Trapskin says to aim for a middle-tier option for a quality crib mattress with proper certifications, priced between $100 and $300.

3. What’s better for a crib mattress — innerspring or foam?

Foam mattresses tend to be more affordable than innerspring mattresses, but they don’t always provide adequate support. Innerspring mattresses are environmentally friendly and contain fewer (if any) chemicals, but they can be more expensive. Trapskin prefers innerspring mattresses for their breathability and lack of off-gassing.

4. Are dual-sided crib mattresses worth it or not?

Dual-sided mattresses can be convenient — especially if you have a crib that transitions to a toddler bed. When you’re ready to make the switch, you can flip your mattress from the baby side to the toddler side. However, if that’s not part of your plan, you may find that a dual-sided mattress comes at a higher cost that doesn’t make sense for your needs. “Dual-sided mattresses are nice in theory,” says Trapskin. “But I don’t know of many parents who actually keep their crib mattresses long enough to use them to the fullest.”

5. What are the most important certifications for a crib mattress?

It’s easy to get lost in the alphabet stew that is crib mattress certification, but there are a few that are worth remembering. If you opt for a foam mattress, Trapskin says to make sure it is CertiPUR-US certified, “Which means the foam is free of harmful substances like formaldehyde, mercury, lead, certain phthalates, and ozone depleters.”

Another certification to look for is GOTS, which stands for Global Organic Textile Standard. This is especially common for mattress covers. According to Trapskin, “It’s essentially a certification for textiles that ensures they meet specific criteria throughout the production process, from the raw materials to the finished product.” Similarly, you may see a GOLS certification, which stands for Global Organic Latex Standard and ensures that the latex used in the mattress construction is organic.

You may also see a Greenguard Gold certification. This verifies that the mattress has low chemical emissions for cleaner air quality, which is important for homes and schools. If you choose a mattress with foam in it, Trapskin says, make sure it is Greenguard Gold certified.

Credit: Newton

The Best Crib Mattress Overall: The Newton Original Crib Mattress

The Newton Original Crib Mattress is founder Ben Trapskin’s top choice for best crib mattress overall. It ticks all of the boxes — especially breathability, safety, materials, and washability. “The entire mattress, cover and core, can be washed for superior hygiene,” Trapskin says. Trapskin also says the unique core, which is 90% air, allows for exceptional airflow, can help reduce the risk of suffocation, and keep baby cool and comfortable during rest times.

What Parents Say About the Newton Crib Mattress

But one expert recommendation isn’t enough for us! We asked Apartment Therapy parents who’d actually bought a Newton crib mattress for their baby (read: they were not gifted a mattress, but purchased one independently!) what they thought about it. Here’s what they said.

“We liked the Newton mattress a lot. To be honest, first-time baby anxiety is really what sold me, but I think knowing how breathable it was gave me peace of mind to get some rest myself, which is worth its weight in gold!”

“We loved our Newton Crib mattress for the breathability features. It gave me peace of mind for those first weeks in her crib! Highly recommend getting two mattress covers so that if there’s any mess, you can quickly replace.”

What Cubby Editors Say About the Newton Crib Mattress

Apartment Therapy’s Chief Content Officer, Laura Schocker, bought a Newton crib mattress for her baby daughter, and here’s what she said about it:

“I was originally drawn to the Newton crib mattress as an anxious first-time mom because of its breathability promise. But actually, its best quality has been how easy it is to clean — through more stomach bugs than I can count (if you know, you know). Three years in, it still looks like new and we are about to transition it to baby number two!”

Credit: Naturepedic

The Best Dual-Sided Crib Mattress: Naturepedic Organic Breathable 2-Stage Crib Mattress

The Naturepedic Organic Breathable 2-Stage Crib Mattress features a firm side for infants and a softer side for toddlers, providing age-appropriate support for each stage of development. “What really sets the Naturepedic apart is its organic breathable design,” says Trapskin. “The mattress has a removable breathable layer on top that allows air to flow while keeping the waterproof core underneath clean and dry. This maximizes breathability for your baby without compromising the hygiene and durability of the mattress.” Trapskin notes that the Naturepedic Organic Breathable 2-Stage Crib Mattress is made with safe materials and features a lightweight design for easy changing. 

What Cubby Editors Say About the Naturepedic Crib Mattress

Cubby’s Executive Editor, Cambria Bold, purchased Naturepedic’s 2-in-1 crib mattress for her second child. Here’s what she said about it:

“I went super affordable for my crib so that I could spend more of my budget on a safe, organic crib mattress. Naturepedic has been around for 20 years. They were one of the first mattress companies to really focus on creating mattresses with natural or organic materials that were not made with fire retardants, PFCs, and phthalates, and the like. So, as a company, they have serious cred and that was important to me.

This mattress had all the safe certifications I could want, but then the dual-function was also really practical. One side is waterproof and firmer for the baby years, and the other is slightly more quilted and comfy for toddlers. Because I knew my second child was my last, I wanted a mattress that would grow with her, as I wouldn’t need to use it again for another baby. This way, when she outgrew the firm side and we moved to her toddler bed, I just flipped it and got many more years out of it. She slept on this mattress from infancy through 4 years old, when we moved her to a twin bed.”

Stay tuned for more Cubby Nursery Award winners!