So, you’re shopping for a mattress for your kid (or kids—hey, maybe there are multiple!).
In my family, us kids always got hand-me-downs.
Now, I turned out fine, but I have to wonder what it would’ve been like if I’d grown up sleeping on a carefully chosen mattress.
Really, it’s great that you’re doing research—after all, kids need their sleep at least as much as the rest of us!
In fact, the most recent research indicates that kids—and teens, too!—need far more sleep than adults.
We’re talking a solid 10+ hours a night for anyone under 14, and at least 9 hours per night for older teens!
In case you’re worried about spoiling your kids, trust me: this isn’t just about their comfort.
Getting plenty of sleep helps the physical and neural development of your younglings, which—as I’m sure you know—is tremendously important!
Like adults, kids will get their best, healthiest sleep if they’re journeying to dreamland on a high-quality mattress.
But kids aren’t exactly like adults! So, naturally, their mattresses need to be a little different.
You’re going to want a few changes of perspective and priority if you’re already used to shopping for grown-up mattresses.
So, what are some of those changes?
What Makes Kids’ Mattresses Different?
Kids really are strange.
For one thing, they can grow at unpredictable rates.
Now, of course, you’re not going to watch them doze off as a toddler and wake up as a grumpy teen—though it sure may seem like that!
Even though things aren’t that extreme, kids do change in size and weight at a much higher rate than us adults.
Their bodies are likely to experience some growing pains, which might give them different comfort needs over time.
Even if that isn’t an issue, kids’ preferences can shift pretty rapidly—so the bed they find comfy one year might be unbearable the next!
After all that growing, inevitably, they’re going to grow up.
Whether that means they need a bigger bed, or—a little further down the road—a bed in a place of their own, one thing is for sure.
A kid’s bed isn’t going to be in use as long as an adult’s!
Kids Get Bigger
That’s just one of the universal truths of children.
They might have a growth spurt any dang day, and there’s no way to know what their bodies will look like as they get older.
Regardless of how and when it happens, the fact is, your kids will get bigger over time.
This means a mattress that can handle their body weight at age 6 might not be quite so capable by the time they turn 10.
Thanks to this inconvenient—but inevitable—trait, you’re looking for a mattress that isn’t too specialized.
You’ll want it to respond to the body shape of the sleeper, regardless of what that body shape is.
We all know you’ll love your kids as they grow up, no matter how they change.
You’re looking for a mattress that can do the same thing.
Their Wants and Needs Change
As kids grow up, they’re likely to go through a number of different phases.
Those will be different for every kid, and there’s really no way to predict it!
Now, you know full well that I’m not talking about what band they like or what haircut they want.
No, friends—I’m talking about how they sleep.
Your kid may be a side sleeper now, but in just a few short years, they could start sleeping on their back instead!
They might enjoy a really soft mattress now, but pretty soon, they might come to appreciate a firmer feel.
And next thing you know, they’ll be buying blue jeans and listening to rock and roll! Oh, the horror!
I’m joking, of course!
The point is, a mattress they really adore right now might, in a short period of time, no longer be one that suits them.
It’s almost like you’re buying a mattress for multiple people: the person your child is today, and the different people they’ll become as they get older.
So, just like when you’re shopping for a guest bedroom that might host a bunch of different sleepers over time, you need to find a mattress that nobody will have a bad night’s sleep on.
In mattress terms, that means you’re looking for something called “universal comfort.”
This helps with the body weight stuff, too!
A universal comfort mattress will be always at least decently comfortable to your kid, regardless of how they change over time.
Kids Grow Up
Finally, as I’m sure you’re all too aware, your kids will grow up.
In terms of mattresses, that means they aren’t going to be able to sleep on the same mattress the whole time they’re under your roof.
After all, a younger kid might be perfectly comfy in a modestly-priced twin, but by the time they hit the teenage years, they’ll be close to an adult’s size.
They’ll probably be wanting something a little roomier, like a full (or even a queen).
And don’t forget, they’re only staying in your home for a limited amount of time!
One day, they’ll be all grown up.
When they leave home—especially if they’re going to college—they might not take their mattress with them.
All of that to say: you don’t want to pay top dollar for a mattress that isn’t likely to last its full lifespan.
I’m giving you permission to buy cheap, here!
Just don’t buy poorly, and you’ll be just fine.
This is one of those cases where a foam mattress can be a really great option.
I don’t recommend traditional memory foam, just because it sleeps hotter than your kids might be comfortable in, but there are lots of options right now that mitigate that particular drawback.
And if you don’t want to go with memory foam, there are tons of different polyfoams out there that offer a spectacular night’s sleep.
Latex is probably more expensive than you want here, so I don’t really recommend it.
Innersprings would be good, as long as you can find one that’s appropriately comfortable.
Plus, kids will love bouncing on it (as long as you don’t mind them wearing out the springs)!
For a more detailed list of our top recommended mattresses for kids, check out this article!
Best of luck finding the right bed for your little ones—and, because I’m sure you need it, happy sleeping!