10 best cot mattresses 2021
29 December 2020
Any parent who imagines that buying a cot mattress is a straightforward process may be in for a rude awakening - another one, unless you have an unusually perfect baby. With the help of our guide, however, there should be fewer sleepless nights all round.
How to decide between coil or pocket spring, functional or foldaway? It’s a question of priorities when buying a mattress for your baby's cot.
To help you sort through them, we’ve created a guide that taps into the collective wisdom of Mumsnet parents and the latest advice from safe sleep experts.
Here are the best cot mattresses to buy.
1. Best overall cot bed mattress: The Little Green Sheep Natural Twist Cot Bed Mattress
“Babies need a very firm mattress, but as they get older they might want something slightly softer. So we bought a ‘twist’ mattress which is firm on one side and medium on the other. Expensive, but made from natural materials and good quality so we decided it was worth it.”
The ingenious composition of this mattress is its biggest selling point. The core of the mattress is constructed from coconut fibres blended with natural latex that act like ‘thousands of tiny springs.’
The firm side of the mattress supports small babies and the ‘twist’ in the name comes around the 12-month mark when it’s time to flip the mattress to reveal a solution that’s designed specifically for toddler comfort.
In terms of comfort, durability, safety, construction and eco-friendliness, this is consistently name-checked by Mumsnetters. It has all the major questions answered and should put parents’ minds at ease.
- Multi-award-winning and backed by safe sleep experts
- Naturally insulating but breathable
- Built to last as your baby grows through the transition from baby to toddler
- You’ll need to buy an additional mattress protector to guard against spills and accidents
- Materials: Made from 100% natural materials – cotton, coconut, latex and wool
- Size: 140cm x 70cm x 10cm; 120cm x 60cm x 10cm
2. Best natural baby cot mattress: Naturalmat Coco Mat Organic Handmade Hypoallergenic Cot Mattress
“We got a lovely one from Naturalmat – it’s organic wool and handmade in Devon. It was about £125, but is so lovely and DS has slept so much better since he moved next to me into his cot with this. He’s 2.5 and has had it since he was about nine months, and it’s still firm.”
Handmade and eco-friendly, this popular Naturalmat cot mattress is the recipient of a Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development 2020.
Made from a springy coconut fibre coir, these mats are breathable, supportive and very durable, with machine-washable covers. Ideal for newborns and with the firmer support required by older babies, the attention to detail here is excellent, even if it is reflected in a premium price. Chemical- and toxin-free.
- Comfy and washable
- Natural materials
- Made by a small business supporting local farmers in Devon and Somerset
- Nothing obvious, although buying a mattress cover is recommended by the manufacturer
- Materials: Organic coconut fibres, organic lambswool and fire-safe natural fibres. The quilted cover is coated with OEKO-TEX, a certified hypo-allergenic treatment that protects against mites and bed bugs
- Size: 120cm x 60cm x 10cm; 140cm x 70cm x 10cm (for cot bed)
3. Best budget cot mattress: Mother Nurture Classic Spring Cot Bed Mattress
Suitable for newborns up to 48 months, the construction uses high-quality steel springs and nursery-grade foam. It’s a no-frills factory production, but it’s washable, breathable and supportive, passing all the key British Safety Standards.
A waterproof liner prevents liquids (you know the ones) from penetrating the core of the mattress and an edge binding keeps the mattresses’ structure in shape. This is a superb all-rounder at a very good price.
- Easy to clean
- Great price
- No bells and whistles – just a well-built factory mattress
- Materials: 60% polypropylene and 40% polyester
- Size: 140cm x 70cm x 10cm; 120cm x 60cm x 10cm
4. Best easy-clean cot mattress: Jättetrött Pocket Sprung Mattress for Cot
“IKEA does one with a zip-off cover. I bought it for DS2. It wasn't expensive.”
IKEA’s Jättetrött Pocket Sprung Mattress is a bestseller on account of its reliable combination of quality and price.
The outer cover is removable and machine-washable at 60°C – which is a major plus point among parents who’ve learned the hard way for their experience of cleaning up babies’ thrills and spills. The inner liner ensures that, when the external cover is washed, everything can be easily put back together again.
Top-rated by Which? in their latest survey of cot mattresses, this is exactly what you expect from IKEA: a nice, no-fuss product at a fair price. The zip-off cover is a major boon and something you should seek to replicate, whatever type of mattress you buy.
- Robust construction
- Some reviewers clash on the issue of whether or not the Jättetrött mattress could be better ventilated, but this is a minor quibble
- Materials: Pocket spring with polyurethane foam
- Size: 70cm x 140cm x 11cm
Price: £95Buy now from IKEA
5. Best for comfort: Mamas & Papas Essential Pocket Spring Cot Mattress
“You may find people are still offering to buy gifts of toys and clothes. If they mention it, you could ask for some money towards a decent mattress? That's what we did.”
Flat, firm and with a machine-washable cover, this Mamas & Papas mattress offers very high levels of comfort and support for babies and toddlers.
It's been a bestseller in its various versions and comes from a brand that Mumsnetters rate highly for quality, looks and durability.
While it doesn't have a zip-off cover, it does have an adjustable panel designed to head off leaks and spills. You’d probably want to add a mattress protector though, just in case.
Overall, this mattress is well-built, well-upholstered and, at 11cm tall, pleasingly thicker than most. It will do your baby proud right up until they make the move to their very first bed.
- With 190 pocket springs encased in a layer of foam, it’s built for comfort and support
- Not reversible
- Reviewers say that the cover’s zip should be easier to access
- Materials: Individual pocket springs and a fibre core lining
- Size: 140cm x 70cm x 10cm; 140cm x 70cm x 10cm (for cot bed)
6. Best for allergies: Purflo Breathable Cot Mattress
“I bought a Purflo mattress and, although it was pricey, it was one of the best purchases we made. It's like a mesh stretched over a frame so you can adjust the tension and leave it a bit slack to discourage them from rolling onto their front. It's machine-washable so it's also good for avoiding respiratory problems. You can put a bowl of inhalant under it and it flows through, which is great when they've got a snuffle. It isn't like anything else out there.”
This is a hollow mattress designed to be stripped down and cleaned to deny a home to mites and fungi. The Purflo cot mattress is endorsed by Allergy UK because it minimises babies’ exposure to airborne allergens that can trigger asthma and eczema outbreaks.
This mattress has also been likened to a ‘soft, breathable, hammock-like surface’ and there’s a lot to like about the thought that’s gone into the construction, design and materials.
The one thing that appears to let it down is that it can be fiddly to reassemble quickly, so you’ll likely need the additional Purflo SleepSurface to help you out, taking your investment over the £200 mark.
Despite all the good stuff, this mattress clearly isn’t for every pocket or every person, but owners claim that you get what you pay for with Purflo.
- Has excellent anti-allergy credentials
- Some evidence that this product could reduce the risks associated with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Expensive – more than four times the cost of our best budget mattress
- Materials: Fire-retardant fabric, mesh padded coverings, moulded frames and mattress tube
- Size: 140cm x 70cm x 10cm
7. Best foam cot mattress: John Lewis & Partners Basic Foam Cot Mattress
“I went for John Lewis – very happy with it. Lasted DS for 2.5 years and no signs of wear, so will be flipped for the next one.”
Ideal if money is tight or as a stopgap solution at a grandparent's house or within a travel cot, this is a soft, comfortable mattress offering medium-level firmness and support.
It should last significantly longer than typical low-grade foam mattresses and the additional peace of mind of a two-year guarantee is great too.
- As a medium-firm foam mattress, it's not the ideal of ‘flat and firm’ for a good night’s sleep, but it's still very good of its type
- Materials: Foam mattress with a water repellent, polyester wipe-down covering.
- Size: 120cm x 60cm x 10cm
8. Best coil spring cot mattress: Tutti Bambini Sprung Cot Mattress
“I work for a medtech company that does medical mattresses as one product line, so here's my advice: foam mattresses often start sagging in the middle after a while so I would go for a sprung one that offers more support. As you're buying for a cot, a normal coil-sprung mattress will easily last two to three years. Also look out for one that has a type of breathable, temperature-balancing cover that zips on and off for washing. Get a spare cover!”
Based in London, Tutti Bambini are a longstanding family business with a solid reputation for quality products and personable service.
This mid-priced mattress boasts the safety, comfort and performance of a product that is typically found in the £100+ bracket. The fabric is air permeable for optimal ventilation while babies are sleeping.
All the major bases are covered here in terms of comfort, posture, safety and allergy considerations. This is a great all-rounder at a value price, and is especially popular for travel cots.
- Ticks all the boxes you’d expect from a mattress twice the price
- It comes with a washable cover, but owners recommend buying an additional waterproof cover to extend the life of your mattress
- Compliant with British Standards for allergy prevention
- Materials: Superior foam, 100% polyester filling (no PVC) and breathable Just Tec fabric cover (breathable and wipe-clean)
- Size: 60cm x 120cm x 10cm; 70cm x 140cm x 10cm (for cot bed)
9. Best travel cot mattress: Mother Nurture Classic Travel Cot Mattress
“Best if you get one with a waterproof protector under the machine-washable cover and over the foam pad so you still have breathability.”
Amazon’s choice as its best travel cot mattress, this Mother Nurture product has run the gamut of over 2,300 reviews and 63 buyers’ questions, and come out on top.
Suitable for 0 to 48 months and for cots and toddler beds of various sizes, the Mother Nurture Classic Travel Cot Mattress is UK-made by a manufacturer with a 20-year track record.
Mother Nurture prides itself on a commitment to using foam that's free from nasty chemicals – so-called organophosphate flame retardants.
A few reviewers comment that their babies markedly prefer their Mother Nurture travel cot mattress to their other sleeping arrangements at home. The overall impression is of a well-made, sturdy mattress that's firmer than what you’d typically expect within a travel cot.
- Added layer for additional comfort
- Reviewers report that this mattress is best laid flat if stored in the car boot, which could be an issue depending on the size of your car
- There’s a smell from the new mattress, though it quickly dissipates
- Materials: Dent-resistant nursery foam (60% polypropylene, 40% polyester) and washable hypo-allergenic quilted cover
- Size: 95cm x 65cm x 3.5cm; 95cm x 65cm 3.5cm; 119cm x 59cm x 5cm; 140cm x 70cm x 10cm (for cot bed)
10. Best breathable cot bed mattress: Newton Baby and Toddler Breathable Cot Bed Mattress
“I went for a sprung, hypoallergenic (good choice as DS has eczema) one over a foam one as we have a cot bed and I knew it would be used for a good few years.”
Safe, comforting, durable, washable, paediatrician-recommended and multi-award-winning for its green credentials, the Newton is probably best described as the Tesla of baby cot mattresses. And like Elon Musk’s cars, it splits the crowd when it comes to cost.
But if money is no object, and you don’t balk at paying over £200 for a product that’s perfectly serviceable at a sixth of the price, then you can be reassured that this mattress has every base covered.
There's no question that the Newton Baby and Toddler Breathable Cot Bed Mattress does everything it should. But many people will question the perceived value for money in spending hundreds of pounds on an item that rapidly expresses the law of diminishing returns once all the basic needs of comfort, safety and durability have been met.
- Breathable – the core is 90% air by volume, but not completely hollow
- The polymer strands weave together to create the structure that supports a firm, comfortable mattress
- The price
- Not widely available
- Materials: Constructed using the same ‘food-grade materials as a yoghurt cup.’ It contains no foam, latex, springs, glue or allergens and is 100% recyclable
- Size: 140cm x 70cm x 10cm
Price: £269.57Buy now from eBay
What to consider when buying a cot mattress
Safety – what’s the safest cot mattress?
The safest cot mattress is one that’s firm with no sagging and that follows the relevant safety laws. Your chosen mattress should fit the cot snugly with no gaps for stray fingers or tiny toes to get trapped.
Truthfully, the look of a baby cot mattress should always be secondary to safety. There’s no getting around it. You might like ribbons and frou frou around your four-poster bed, but where a child sleeps should be kept simple and unfussy.
According to the National Childbirth Trust, British Safety Standards are your friend and you should specifically look for products conforming to them. Horrible as it is to even think of such a thing, these protocols are in place to reduce the number of accidental infant deaths that occur each year due to strangulation or suffocation.
It’s non-negotiable – whatever you buy, look out for the British Standards’ with the prefix BSI number BSEN716 (the standard for cots, prams and mattresses) on swing tickets and product specifications.
In addition, the NCT recommends that, when the mattress is in position, there’s a minimum 50cm clearance to the height of the cot to prevent a mobile baby from climbing out.
Comfort and safe sleeping
‘Firm and flat’ is your mantra when it comes to cot mattresses. Both the centre and the edges should yield slightly and then spring back into shape when you apply pressure to the surface and then release it.
The general rule of thumb for safe sleeping is to always place your baby to sleep on his or her back – even if you own a breathable crib mattress. Though mattress manufacturers try to consider babies who roll onto their tummies during sleep, virtually all health professionals advise that back sleeping is safest.
Besides suffocation risk, some studies claim that there's an additional danger from babies breathing in more carbon dioxide than oxygen when they are not sleeping on their backs.
New or secondhand?
Secondhand mattresses are best avoided – if only because the links between passed-on mattresses and cot death can neither be confirmed nor refuted. In 2002, a BBC story said that researchers at The Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow claimed to have found a “significant” link between having a secondhand mattress and a risk of cot death. No causation was established, but it’s worth bearing in mind.
The Lullaby Trust charity, set up to provide expert advice on safer baby sleep and to raise awareness of SIDs, also cautions risk. They say: “If you’re using a secondhand mattress, make sure the mattress you choose was previously completely protected by a waterproof cover, with no rips or tears and is in good condition. The mattress should also still be firm and flat to keep your baby sleeping safely.” For little brothers and sisters moving onto an elder sibling’s mattress, make sure that you also do these checks.
Durability and cleaning
Whether you’re buying a cot mattress, a travel cot mattress or a cot bed mattress, you must make sure that, as a minimum, it’s protected by a waterproof cover to help keep the mattress clean and dry.
The overwhelming testimony of Mumsnetters is that removable, washable zip-on covers are a must. Not only do they allow you to change bedding quickly when accidents occur, but they also prolong the life of your mattress.
If you’re fully committed to a green-friendly solution, be careful to read the small print. While producers such as The Little Green Sheep are admirably transparent, the consumer organisation Which? believes that others play fast and loose with terminology. They say: "Manufacturers can use the terms ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ on products without needing any sort of certification. There are legal requirements for the labelling of organic foods, but not these products.”
Their advice, and ours, is to scrutinise the small print of product specs to ensure that materials used are truly what they purport to be.
In a sector where a mattress that broadly fulfils the same function can retail from £20 to over £250, getting what you pay for isn’t necessarily a given.
As a rough guide, foam mattresses are cheap and cheerful and not especially hardwearing, but that might be no bad thing if you’re planning to replace it when those little night accidents stop happening.
Spring-interior mattresses are mini versions of a typical adult mattresses and coir and Purflo mattresses are part of a subset of innovative, premium-priced ‘green’ products.
What’s the best type of cot mattress?
There are five broad types of mattresses you can choose from:
- Foam cot mattress – good value for money, and generally lightweight and easy to clean.
- Coil spring cot mattress – open coil springs surrounded by foam and fillings. Tends to be sturdier than a typical foam mattress.
- Pocket spring mattress – springs that are individually wrapped within a cloth sleeve/ Provides good support, but can be pricey.
- Coir cot mattress – manufactured from coconut, latex and wool. Naturally firm and durable.
- Hollow-frame (Purflo) cot mattress – advertised as fully breathable and fully washable. It’s basically a mesh cover stretched over an open frame. Expensive.
What thickness should a cot mattress be?
For support, your choice of cot mattress should be no thinner than 8cm. However, 10cm is what most experts recommend.
How long does a cot mattress last?
The average lifespan of a cot mattress is anything between 0 to 48 months. After that point, it's time to move into a big kid bed.
How we chose our recommendations
Our recommendations have been compiled with reference to Mumsnet users’ own experiences of using the products themselves, and from consumer review sites and reputable sources such as Which?, the National Childbirth Trust, The Lullaby Trust and The Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow.
Why you should trust us
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