Which cot mattress should you buy?
What makes a good cot mattress?
You want one that's going to help your baby have a safe night's sleep, keep them comfortable, cope with the inevitable leaks that will happen and last for as long as you need it.
We’ll explain what you need to look out for in the pursuit of buying the best one for your baby.
The best cot mattresses 2021
Our impartial lab tests have uncovered the very best cot mattresses on the market.
Below, we’ve selected our top picks. All of them have performed well in our body support, durability, and safety tests, so you can be sure you are buying the best.
The best cot mattress brands
As well as our tests, we also ask parents how happy they are with their chosen cot mattress brand, so we can give you some insight into the best brands out there along with the ones to avoid.
As you can see, our tests have uncovered a sizeable difference in the best and worst cot mattress brands, and the feedback from parents is varied too.
In February 2021 we asked 1,878 parents to tell us which brand of cot mattress they owned. Below you can see the most popular cot mattress brands by parents.
We then asked how satisfied they are with that brand, and if they would recommend it to a friend. From these responses we’ve compiled an overall customer score.
Have a look at the results for the biggest cot mattress brands below.
Whilst we haven't tested any cot mattresses from Dunelm, Ickle Bubba or My First Mattress, you can see what parents told us about them and how they rank compared to other brands customer score.
|Number of mattresses tested||Customer Score
||Average Which? Test Score|
|East Coast Nursery||1|
|The Little Green Sheep||1|
|Mamas & Papas||4|
|Marks & Spencer||1|
|My First Mattress||-||-|
|Table Notes: Last updated 30 April 2021. Customer score based on a Which? member survey of 1,878 parents conducted in February 2021. Average test score based on reviews available on the Which? website as of April 2021. A dash indicates Which? hasn't tested a cot mattress from this brand.
What to look for when buying a cot mattress
When buying a cot mattress, you want one that's firm and flat with a waterproof cover to help keep it clean and dry.
You can assess the firmness and flatness by pressing your hand firmly on the centre and edges. There should be some resistance and it should bounce back immediately.
Also, make sure it's in good condition and fits the cot or cot bed you're using it with.
We assess the support a cot mattress will provide for your baby. Our experts measure body support before putting it through a durability test that simulates two to three years of regular use.
Cot mattress FAQs
With so many things to consider when purchasing a cot mattress, it can be tricky to know where to start.
We’ve compiled and answered the most common cot mattress queries, so you can feel confident in your search for the best cot mattress.
How much does a good cot mattress cost?
The prices of cot mattresses range anywhere from about £30 to £300, with a premium one setting you back £200 or more.
But price and quality don't necessarily go hand in hand, as our cheapest Best Buy costs less than £50, while our most expensive Don’t Buy is more than £200.
Quality and safety don't always go up with price, either, so it's worth looking at this before the price.
What is the standard cot mattress size in the UK?
140 x 70cm is the standard size of most UK cot beds, so you need to buy a mattress with these dimensions. This will ensure the mattress fits snugly into the frame, leaving no gaps around the edge.
Another typical size is 120 x 60cm. If you buy a cot that is smaller or larger than this, you can get mattresses specially made to fit – although this will cost more.
How should a cot mattress fit?
You need to make sure your cot mattress fits your cot or cot bed frame snugly. A gap bigger than 3cm (1.2 inches) is a potential hazard for your baby as their arms, legs or head could get trapped in the gap.
Not all mattresses come in the same standard size, but your cot or cot bed should specify which size it requires.
How thick should a cot mattress be?
We recommend that your baby's cot mattress is at least 10cm thick. Your baby’s weight will be concentrated on a small area of the mattress, and you don't want their body sagging through and hitting the base underneath.
Which way up does a cot mattress go?
Many cot mattresses (mainly of the spring and pocket-spring varieties) are made to be reversible. Each side of the mattress will be specially designed to accommodate the needs of your rapidly growing baby.
That's because a cot mattress might be used for five or six years, during which time your baby will more than triple in weight. Because of this, manufacturers often design cot mattresses with one side specifically for babies and the other for toddlers or children.
Typically, one side will have springs and foam designed to be sturdy, but gentle for a baby to sleep on for the first 12 months of their life. The reverse side will have sturdier material to cope with a growing toddler.
The mattress should clearly indicate which side is suitable for what age group.
The different types of cot mattress
Foam versus spring? Spring versus pocket spring? Or natural? We discuss the pros and cons below.
Foam cot mattress
Generally speaking, foam cot mattresses are the least expensive type. They're usually just a piece of high-density foam with a wipe-clean, waterproof PVC cover. Some will come with two sides: a cotton side and a wipe-clean side.
Some foam mattresses have ventilation holes, but these aren't necessary, and you might also see hypoallergenic foam mattresses advertised.
You'll see the type and strength of foam referred to in a number of different ways: 'highly resilient', 'dent resistant', 'combustion modified'. You could also see a CMHR (combustion modified high resilient) foam number quoted. In theory, the higher the number, the firmer the mattress support is supposed to be.
- Generally easy to keep clean.
- Good value for money.
- Can provide good support and resistance to denting.
- Foam is usually the lightest of the three main mattress types, so will be easy for you to move or turn over.
- Some parents don't like the idea of the basic, all PVC-covered mattress because of concerns about clamminess.
- Foam mattresses with ventilation holes (designed to help keep your baby cool) can be more effort to keep clean if your baby is a dribbler or is often sick, because residue can gather in the holes and mesh.
- Bear in mind that thin foam, in particular, can lose its shape and dent easily.
Spring or pocket-spring cot mattress
A simple spring mattress is made of springs secured into a rigid frame. These are then surrounded by layers of foam and fabric.
Pocket-spring mattresses are the most expensive type. These are made of coiled springs, each sewn into their own individual pocket.
Unlike a regular spring mattress, each spring in a pocket-spring mattress can move independently of the others, so the mattress is deemed to be more comfortable and give better support. These springs are, like regular spring mattresses, covered by layers of foam and fabric.
Spring cot mattresses often have a cotton cover on one side and wipe-clean material on the other side.
- Many parents like the familiarity of a traditional spring mattress.
- The wipe-clean side is the recommended surface for your baby to sleep on because of the practical advantages, but you can flip it over on to the cotton side if you prefer – eg if it's hot and your baby feels clammy.
- More expensive than foam mattresses. Pocket spring cot mattresses are also more expensive than the spring types.
- The cotton side may be preferred for comfort, but can be more difficult to keep clean (unless you buy a mattress with a removable panel).
Coir or natural fibre cot mattress
These have a core of coconut fibre with other layers of different materials. The fibres are coated in latex for strength and protection, and the natural fibre filling helps air circulate through it. This type is available with a wipe-clean covering.
- One of the firmest types of mattress.
- Tend to last longer because they hold their shape well, so could be a sensible buy if you want to use it for more than one child.
- Less widely available than foam or spring interior.
- Can be more expensive than the alternatives.
Hollow frame (PurFlo) cot mattress
This type of hollow, frame mattress is only made by PurFlo. It's advertised as the only fully breathable, fully washable cot mattress. It's basically a mesh-covered frame.
- The whole mattress is washable.
- Provides good air circulation for your baby as it's hollow.
- More expensive than most other cot mattresses.
- Is 15cm deep, so you'll need to keep your cot or cot bed on its lowest setting to ensure you have a decent enough gap from the mattress to the top of the cot or cot bed's rail.
- Parents were divided on how comfortable their babies find it.
Hypoallergenic cot mattress
These have a quilted top layer that can be easily detached from the body of the mattress, so you can wash it at 60°C to kill any dust mites that may cause allergies.
- Easy to keep clean.
- Can be more expensive than other kinds of mattress.
Should you buy an organic or natural cot mattress?
Maybe you like the idea of putting your baby to sleep on an organic or natural mattress.
Manufacturers claim to use all natural materials with no chemicals or synthetic materials.
Organic is commonly understood to mean that the materials haven't been subjected to chemicals or pesticides in any stage of production.
But 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 types of products.
That said, there are many organisations that offer certification for natural and organic claims. The Little Green Sheep, for example, certifies some of its materials through the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). It's down to the certification body, such as GOTS, to make sure the suppliers of materials comply with its guidelines for organic.
Our advice is to make sure you read the fine print carefully, as the term organic or natural can be used to market a whole product when, in fact, only some of the ingredients or materials have been certified as organic. Or, in many cases, the terms are used without the added security of a certification. In this case, you have to trust that the manufacturer is being honest about its claims.
What about a travel cot mattress?
A travel cot mattress should be no more than 10cm thick and you should expect the mattress in a crib or Moses basket to be no more than 5cm thick. These thicknesses are specified in BS 1877:Part 10:1997, the safety regulations that govern cot mattresses.