Buying a mattress for your child is a whole different ball game to buying one for yourself. Not only does the mattress need to support them properly as they grow in size and weight (particularly important if you plan to keep it for many years), but you’ll need to stick to under a legally approved weight and thickness if you’re buying for a cabin or bunk bed.
If you’re buying for a three or four-year-old, you should plan to replace it by the time they are 10 or 11 years old – so don’t simply buy the cheapest option, advises Simon Williams, spokesperson for the National Bed Federation.
Many parents prefer to avoid chemicals and buy a completely natural mattress, he adds, and for parents whose kids have allergies, go for a hypoallergenic bed.
There are added extras you may want to think about too – a removable cover, for example, in case of accidents.
How much you spend on the mattress will to some extent determine the type of fillings, says Williams.
“Open coil sprung mattresses tend to be the cheapest type and often have basic layers of fillings such as polyester fibre and foam, while more expensive pocket sprung mattresses provide better support and often come with natural fillings such as wool, cotton, cashmere, horse hair etc.”
Foam mattresses are also available, he adds. “These range from inexpensive PU foam types through to more expensive ones with layers of memory foam or latex foam which offer good pressure relieving properties.”
The mattresses in this roundup were tested for comfort, breathability, quality of materials and value for money. We also took into consideration how long each mattress was likely to last and the science behind its claims to be designed specifically with children in mind.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Stompa s flex airflow mattress: £150, Stompa
Stompa has a very strong reputation in the world of children’s mattresses. Its good-value layered mattresses are tested on children from three-years-up up to teenagers and can be used on any UK or continental-sized bunkbed.
For the top layer, the company uses the same breathable fabrics used on the likes of Simba and Made.com mattresses, with added breathable quilted topping for extra comfort. The next layer is a soft, springy and hypoallergenic foam, shaped in an egg shell profile to provide further airflow channels – handy for kids who are prone to getting hot and clammy at night.
Then there’s the base layer – a supportive foam base, great for growing bones – plus a breathable border. Parents will like the fact that Stompa provides a replacement, zip-off and washable cover – and if they ever become too stained, they have a replacement service.
Silentnight sprung bunk mattress: £129, Silentnight
Buying a mattress for a bunk or cabin bed requires a lot more consideration, not least because there are strict laws when it comes to weight and depth. At just 15cm thick and 12.4g, this open coil sprung one happily ticks those legislative boxes, sitting securely within the top bunk rail so kids stay safe. But unlike many other bunk bed mattresses, it doesn’t compromise on comfort or good support for bones as they grow in the night – and that’s despite the filling being made from recycled plastic bottles.
It’s free of chemicals and foam and is hypoallergenic and breathable. One of the most noticeable things about sleeping on a top bunk is how much the bed creaks when you move, but that’s another thing with this mattress – it seems to absorb movement so that happens less.
Room to Grow sleep happy deluxe pocket single mattress: £170, Room to Grow
Room to Grow says its worked with one of the UK’s largest mattress manufacturers to create this medium-support mattress specifically for kids, but annoyingly they won’t let on who it is. It has a pocket sprung core, which helps support growing bones, and top layer of foam to help cradle the body comfortably. The soft, dust-mite resistant cover gets brownie points from us, and our testers said it’s as comfy at the edges as in the middle.
At 15cm, it’s on the thin side, but that means it gets the green light legally to go on a top bunk or cabin bed – helped by the fact that at 15kg, it’s one of the lightest pocket mattress available. The 10-year guarantee is as long as it gets in the world of kids’ mattresses and it comes from a really child-focused brand, owned by mother Anne Davies whose concepts come out of really listening to what parents really want. It’s not hypoallergenic, though.
Jay-Be simply kids pocket sprung anti-allergy mattress: £129.99, Made to Last
This company’s four mattress types (pocket sprung, anti-allergy, foam-free and waterproof) are all available in two sizes (single and cot-bed) and have been a big hit on the UK market, with customers attracted to both the versatility and value for money.
This cheery looking yellow and white one is the brand’s bestseller and a great all-rounder, with a pocket sprung interior made up of 775 springs that react well to growing bodies. Also notable was that our little tester was prone to sweating at night yet stayed almost completely dry with this, thanks to the “purotex” which absorbs moisture and also reduces the chance of dust mites. The completely British made mattress arrives within just two days – great if you’re in a hurry – but for longevity you must rotate it every six months.
The Little Green Sheep natural junior mattress: From £299, The Little Green Sheep
Eco parents, rejoice. This brand specialises in natural, handmade mattresses for babies and kids – all organic, top-drawer quality without a toxin or chemical in sight.
In fact, the copmany uses just four ingredients – wool (breathable, hypoallergenic, temperature regulating, anti-dust mite and a natural fire retardant), coconut fibre (supportive, acting like thousands of tiny springs), natural latex (derived from sap from the Hevea tree to provide a comfy, supportive layer) and cotton (for durability, breathability and to hold everything in place).
It’s available from moses basket size up to single (as well as bespoke sizes) and is supportive enough for all aged kids. The junior single is the thinnest we came across at just 13cm, but it is surprisingly snug and cosy, with medium tension, and can be used on a UK bunkbed. We were also impressed with the personalised and efficient customer service.
Little Big Dreams dream catcher 20cm deep mattress: £249, Dreams
This is supportive in all the right places and with a good level of squidge that gives it an instant cloud-like quality. Even when you lie right at the edge (as kids so often do), you feel that comfort and support shining through.
The manufacturers put it down to the 20cm depth and 450 individually wrapped pocketed springs that move independently from each other to support contours and pressure points of the body whenever they are on the mattress as the child grows. We’re giving it bonus points for its anti-allergy and heat regulating qualities to help keep all kids – even those with allergies or who are prone to over-heating at night – sound asleep until morning and we’re throwing in a gold star for the top panel which you can take off and wash at 60 degrees, with a waterproof layer underneath so the mattress stays fresh even years later. Part of the Little Big Dreams children’s range, it’s available in single and Euro single (10cm longer than the British version).
Stompa s flex airflow pocket spring mattress: £199, John Lewis & Partners
This is Stompa’s top-end mattress and even more super-duper than their regular offering that also appears in this roundup.
You get all the best bits of the cheaper blue-tagged mattress – the breathable top-layer and soft, egg-shell shaped foam layer, supportive base layer and removable cover – but there’s yet another layer incorporating a four-inch encapsulated 1000 count pocket spring unit (not to be confused with micro pocket units, which are more common in children’s mattresses but only an inch thick), giving an even more luxury feel and extra durability. In all honesty, you don’t need a step-up from the blue-tag mattress, but if you can afford it, the extra fifty quid is worth the extra robustness and comfort.
Happy Beds Ethan spring mattress: £79.99, Happy Beds
Most kids’ mattresses under a hundred quid aren’t up to much, especially when they’re open coil spring, but this bestselling budget option from Happy Beds is surprisingly comfy and has options for soft, medium or hard – depending on your preference – as well as meeting legal guidelines for bunk and cabin beds. Made from 100 per cent cotton, which is locally sourced, these mattresses are all made to order, so there’s no bulk manufacturing.
Also in its favour is that the coil springs reach right to the edge, so there’s less chance of rolling off. The sleep surface is reasonably breathable, although we wouldn’t recommend it for kids who get really sticky at night, and we’d be lying if we said the comfort levels are out of this world. But for a basic, budget mattress, we give it a big thumbs up.
little home at John Lewis Hampshire Wool Pocket Spring Mattress: £299, John Lewis & Partners
little home, a sub-brand of John Lewis & Partners that specialises in children’s home furnishings, has a few kids’ mattresses in its range, our favourite of which is this pocket sprung mattress. Not only is the Hampshire wool and cashmere blend extremely comfortable, but wool breathes far better than man-made synthetic materials, keeping the airflow high throughout the night.
This means they stay cool in summer and snug in winter. Meanwhile, the cashmere and silk that are blended with the wool help to control moisture. The individual pocket springs support the spine and offer great stability, durability and support for growing children and there’s edge-to-edge comfort too. Suitable for bunkbeds and other high sleepers, the mattress is 15cm thick and has medium tension – firmness for spinal support and comfort layers for softness.
Naturalmat the natural teen mattress: From £465, Naturalmat
This chemical-free mattress is made specifically with teenagers in mind. It doesn’t come cheap, but the natural latex has a pleasing springy feel with firm support – instantly comfortable, particularly when combined with the extra-soft quilted cover, and great for bigger but-still-growing bodies.
Breathability is taken care of thanks to the organic coconut fibre, helping to stop sweaty teens waking up drenched. And the cotton mattress cover protects against bed bugs, dust mites, mosquitoes and moths – as well as keeping its promise of being easy to clean up inevitable drink spills and crumbs that come with teens hibernating in their bedrooms for days on end. It’s available in small, regular and long single as well as bespoke sizes.
Button & Sprung Galway mattress: £645, Button and Sprung
This is the only mattress in our roundup that’s not specifically aimed at children, but it’s frequently sold for children’s use due to its hardwearing qualities, meaning that it will last throughout their childhood and well past their teens.
And like all Button & Sprung mattresses, it’s completely natural – no synthetic materials at all are used in the fillings, making it a healthy, organic option that’s also exceptionally breathable. It’s pocket sprung, keeping its shape better than most, and the wool has anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal qualities which work well for any child with asthma or allergy sufferers.
As for comfort, it’s got good tension with cloud-like softness, sending your child (and adult if ever they need to use the bed) into the land of nod in no time. Still not sure? There’s a no-quibble 100-night guarantee that means you can return it if it’s not comfortable for your child, and there’s a 10 year guarantee if it is.
Silentnight imagine 600 mirapocket: £219, Silentnight
The zoned support system is the USP here, with extra support around the hips and shoulders area. The upshot is healthier spinal alignment and back posture, which is ideal for growing kids. Thumbs up from us for the filling too – the "eco comfort fibres" keep the mattress more cool and breathable than most, not to mention more comfortable in warmer months. And because the filling is cleverly made from recycled plastic bottles which are crushed and spun to a soft but supportive layer, it’s all eco-friendly too.
Available as a single or small double, it’s aimed at tiny tots right up to teens and it’s completely chemical and foam free so no weird smells when you open it, and it’s hypoallergenic and dust-mite resistant. Silentnight counts this as medium when it comes to support, but we’d rate it as medium firm, moulding nicely around the body. At 23.5cm, you won’t be able to put it anywhere a top bunk, but for any low bed, it’s a great all-rounder. The free delivery is a nice touch.
The Verdict: Mattresses for children
The Stompa s flex airflow mattress isn’t the priciest in our roundup, but we think it ticks the most boxes for growing kids and is well suited to children. And for an all-natural option, we give the Little Green Sheep natural junior mattress top marks.