What You Need to Know About Toddler and Preschooler Mattresses
Your toddler or preschooler may be small, but she needs and deserves a comfortable mattress just like you. Though the amount of sleep children need is greater than adults, the qualities that make a good mattress are the same no matter the size of the sleeper. By taking a look at safety and comfort considerations, we’ll help you find a toddler mattress to ease your child into bedtime.
Toddler mattresses are the same size as a standard crib mattress, which is smaller than a twin. The average toddler mattress measures roughly 51.5 x 27.25 x 5.25 inches, though there may be slight variations by manufacturer.
These mattresses have to pass the same safety requirements and inspections as adult-sized models, and they come in just as many varieties. Innerspring, latex, foam, and hybrid models are available. A comfortable mattress should support your child’s preferred sleep position—stomach sleepers need more support than back or side sleepers—and weight.
Since toddlers are small, the larger issues revolve around the safety of the mattress components, bedframe, and location of the bed. There should be no more than a two finger gap between the mattress and the side of the bed frame to prevent suffocation. There should also be no cords or wires, including cords for blinds and curtains or power cords from baby monitors, near the toddler bed as they pose a potential strangulation hazard.
Other Safety Issues to Consider
While comfort is important, many parents are concerned about exposure to harmful chemicals and components. If you’re concerned about chemicals and off-gassing, look for mattresses with certifications from independent organizations that test for human safety issues.
For example, the GREENGUARD Gold certification assures that the mattress does not reach certain limits for volatile organic compound (VOCs) emissions. The CertiPUR-US certification assures that a mattress’s foam layers have been tested for PBDEs and lead. If you’re looking for organic, look for either the Global Organic Textile (GOTS) certification or Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) for mattresses that have a high percentage of organic components.
These and other certifications will give you a better idea of the processes and materials used to make the mattress. Once you’ve got the mattress, now you get the job of lulling a toddler to sleep.
How to Help Toddlers Sleep Better
With the right mattress, your toddler is set for comfortable sleep. However, that doesn’t mean she’ll close her eyes without a fuss. Here are a few tips to ease any bedtime battles.
Start with a Bedtime Routine: Children learn through repetition, and a routine trains their body how to transition from activity to rest. Start with the most active part of the evening like cleaning up toys and end with the quietest such as reading a book together. Be sure to start the routine at roughly the same time every night and keep the order of events consistent.
Keep a Regular Bedtime: The body of a young child may still be developing reliable circadian rhythms. A regular bedtime helps the brain recognize when to start the release of sleep hormones. The more consistent you are, the faster your child will adapt.
Eliminate Screens: The bright blue light emitted by some of your child’s favourite electronics like the iPad and smartphone can actually suppress sleep hormones. Not to mention the fact that the content on those devices may stimulate your child’s brain, making it difficult to settle down. To counteract their effects, try turning them off two to three hours before bedtime.
Your child’s mattress acts as the literal foundation of her sleep quality. One that meets all safety regulations and has an independent certification or two to back the quality of materials can offer you peace of mind and your child a better night’s rest.
Stacey L. Nash is a Seattle area writer for Tuck.com whose insomnia led her to research all aspects of sleep. With a degree in communications from the University of Puget Sound, she helps put sleep into the forefront of the health and wellness conversation. When not researching and writing about sleep, she spends time with her husband and four children on their heavily-wooded, twelve-acre piece of heaven.