It’s no secret that children need a good night’s sleep more than any other age group. Constantly growing both mentally and physically, a child’s mind and body (including bones, hormones and the physical makeup of the brain) need ample rest to develop. So, it’s no surprise that whether families are traveling or at home, sleep/sleeping arrangements are a top priority for parents (*). It’s not just the “where” that perplexes families; it’s also the how and on what?
We recently transitioned our toddler into his own big boy bed to mark his 4th birthday and we discovered that choosing a great mattress isn’t a quick and easy decision — there are a lot of factors to consider.
Do toddlers need firm support? Softer surfaces? Coil? Memory foam? Higher-priced or lower-priced? Twin or queen sized?
When chatting with other parents and our online community we realized that there seemed to be two trains of thought: (1) Go cheap since it’s just a bed for toddlers — who jump, play, roll around etc. or, (2) Invest in a good quality bed since you’re buying something for those key years of body/mind development.
Here are some factors we considered that might help your family choose the right mattress for that “big kid” milestone and make their transition comfy and cozy:
(1) Consider the size
How long do you plan on having the bed for and what purpose will it serve? In our house, beds are a special place where we primarily read, snuggle and sleep (and sometimes jump around). When choosing our son’s first big boy bed, I knew he’d want his little brother in there for sleepovers (and his mom on those dark, scary nights). We also knew we wanted to get a good mattress for him right out of the gate so we didn’t have to upgrade again in a few years. We opted for a queen size bed after a little debate (between full and queen).
Other families we chatted with chose a twin size so that the child’s bedroom had more space to play, but we reserve toys for the playrooms and books for the bedroom so a queen worked out for us. But, consider how you plan to use the bed (as an alternate guest room for example) as well as the space you want available in the room (play/toys versus sleep)
(2) Type of sleeper
Is your child a light sleeper? Do they wake up if a sibling rolls over on the other side of the bed? Are they stomach or back sleepers?
Our son often shares his bed with either his brother or me (mom) so we needed something to absorb the other person’s body movements. We opted for the Sleepenvie SOFIE mattress because it’s designed for combination sleepers (back, side, stomach) and it’s great for an optional guest bed and for future kids’ sleepovers.
(3) What material is inside the mattress?
There a lot of material options when considering a mattress. You likely already went through all of this when selecting your crib mattress. There’s no right or wrong choice in terms of materials and the purchasing decision often comes down to budget, availability of products and what’s important to your family.
Children with allergies might be sensitive to synthetic mattresses (which can sometimes cause skin irritation, respiratory problems and other health issues) so in this case organic or natural materials (cotton, organic wool, silk, natural latex and even bamboo) might be a good fit. If you are unsure of the composition of a specific mattress, read the manufacturer’s label and ask questions.
On Sleepenvie’s website there’s a little area called “Talk to us” where you can communicate with specialists; I typed in my questions about mattress ingredients and received immediate answers from the source.
- The foam in the mattresses are CertiPUR-US® certified
They’re made without FormaldehydeWhen unboxing your new mattress, the certification means it minimizes off-gasingThe foam is made without ozone depleters, PBDEs, TDCPP or TCEP (“Tris”) flame retardants
Is your child often cold or hot? Is he/she a night sweater? If you’ve investing in a longer term mattress (as we were) it’s important to consider their preferences as they continue to grow. Since we have two toddler boys (boys tend to run warmer than girls) we wanted something with cooling capability. The SOFIE mattress’s key feature is that is has nearly three lbs of cooling gel memory foam and an ice yarn cover, which is designed to help keep you cool while you sleep (optimizing sleep and reducing night wakings due to overheating).
Boys of all ages are more likely to be hot sleepers—when they’re school-aged (and growing all the time) they become like little furnaces overnight. The cooling technology will help prevent overheating during the night and waking up sweaty. Being too hot at night interferes with REM sleep and impacts the quality of rest you are able to get. – Joy, Founder, Sleepenvie.
(5) Cost and Budget
Mattress prices vary from low to very high. It’s tempting, when shopping for kids’ bed products to go lower (because of the risk of potty training accidents, snacks in bed, spills, jumping on the bed etc). We opted to go for our top choice mattress (10 inches of comfort with the cooling technology) and then buy an economical bed frame. For us, it was all about balancing expenses. Both the mattress and bed frame came as recommendations from other families and they’ve worked out perfectly. Our son sleeps extremely well and he loves his big boy bed.
Overall, it’s important that a school-aged child sleeps on a good quality mattress because they spend a lot of time in bed sleeping and developing. That said, a good quality mattress doesn’t have to cost a fortune (the Sleepenvie Sofie starts at $449) and with the right research, it’s a worthwhile investment in a child’s long term development.
*We polled more than 1200 families on our Instagram account to determine the top consideration for traveling families and sleep/sleeping arrangements ranked in at a whopping 74%.