Mattress topper for child

We recently bought a Naturepedic twin size “no compromise organic cotton ultra” mattress for our (petite) three year old daughter. I have heard that children are better off with firm mattresses, but this mattress is the firmest I’ve ever felt…I don’t see how it could possibly be comfortable for ANYONE. Aside from that, the surface puffs up similar to an air mattress. I assume that’s because it has a polyethylene coating all the way around. So, it is extremely firm with a weird puffiness and no “comfort” layer. My husband and I first thought about buying an organic cotton mattress pad to try to make it a little more comfortable, but this would only add a 1/4" to 1/2" layer of cotton batting. We are also thinking about buying a natural latex topper because it’s too expensive and too much trouble to ship the mattress back. Do you think that would work and if so, should we have a 1", 2" or 3" and should it be soft with a 22-24 ILD or something different? Should it be Natural Dunlop or Natural Talalay? We want to stay away from synthetics although I realize the Natural Talalay still has a very small percentage of synthetics. Ideally, we would like this mattress to last at least 10 years (until at least the beginning of her teen years) so we want a support/comfort level that fits that age range.

We also keep going back and forth about whether or not we really need a topper. I know that I definitely would not like to sleep on the mattress and neither would my husband. I have searched the internet for why children benefit from a firm mattress, but I haven’t really found a convincing reason for it. For adults, I’ve read that a lower weight means a softer mattress is better so why should it be different with children who have an even lower weight? I’ve read that children should not have softer mattresses because their bodies sink down and cause alignment problems, but doesn’t that go against the whole idea that a lighter weight body has LESS sinking. I understand that they tend to have straighter less curvy bodies, but is that making such a big difference?

Also, if we buy a latex topper, are the covers typically treated with a fire retardant or is that only used for the mattresses?

Sorry for all the questions, but we’re really torn about what is healthiest, not to mention, we don’t want to spend a large amount of money unnecessarily.

Hi kll4,

There are several reasons why younger children benefit from a firmer mattress. The first of these is that as you mentioned their bodies are not as curvy and they don’t have the same “gaps” that need to be filled in or the same degree of more “protruding” parts that need to sink deeper into the mattress. Their weight distribution, body shape, and overall body makeup in other words are very different from an adult.

The second and most important reason is that they are more flexible and pliable than adults (their skeletal structure is not as rigid as an adult) which means that they are less susceptible to pressure issues and much more susceptible to misalignment issues which can become more permanent over time as they grow and their spinal structure becomes more “fixed”. Their first priority is alignment to help support the best development and alignment of their spine as they grow. Children … especially younger children … can be much more affected by issues that adults have developed some form of “immunity” against (whether this is chemical or structural). This doesn’t mean of course that all children should be sleeping on the floor … only that they will usually do best with firmer layers that would often be uncomfortable for an adult (even a light adult). I would tend to avoid “soft” and focus more on “medium” or higher with either very thin or no comfort layers (which can be added later when they get older). There is enough softness in these for their pressure relief needs unless there is a specific reason (coming from a medical professional) that there needs are different from the norm.

One final issue (and this applies more to younger infants) is that with too much soft material in a mattress … the risk of suffocation with stomach sleeping increases for infants that are not yet able to change position. This is more of an issue with memory foam than other materials (this of course is in addition to any chemical or offgassing issues from synthetic materials that young children may be more sensitive to than adults). I would avoid memory foam for younger children in particular (see post #2 here)

Naturepedic is a high quality and most importantly “safe” mattress which is made specifically with the needs of young children in mind. Their focus is on “safe” materials and they make one of the only two mattresses that are actually GOTS certified as organic (the other being Organicpedic). This doesn’t mean that they are the only company that are using organic materials in their mattresses … only that they are the only ones who have had the entire mattress and production process certified as a unit.

Yes … as you mentioned this would be because of the waterproof ticking (which is also food grade and safe for infants)

While this would not be an issue for the children … it could easily be an issue for the parents that wanted to lie on the mattress with their children. I would go with medium firmness (not the soft 22-24 ILD that is more suitable for adults but more along the lines of mid-high 20’s or low 30’s). While both blended Talalay and 100% natural Dunlop are “safe” materials and would be suitable, for those who prefer all natural materials I would probably lean towards 100% natural Dunlop both because it is more economical and because it can be a little softer on top but gets firmer faster than Talalay. I wouldn’t use more than 2" (1" can be difficult to find in latex). By the time they are older (pre-teen range) then you could change the topper or add a softer layer if it becomes necessary.

While it’s unlikely that you “need” a topper … it may still be useful as a way that you can also be a little more comfortable on the mattress and it may also alleviate the air puffiness. As I mentioned though … I would avoid going too soft and “translating” the needs of a lighter adult into the needs of a younger child.

While this could vary between manufacturers … typically they wouldn’t. If the cover is organic or uses natural materials and is from a reputable manufacturer (that will tell you what they use) then this wouldn’t be an issue. It is important though to use a good quality cover with a latex topper because it will protect it from oxidation and pre-mature degradation.

Hope this helps and if I’ve missed anything let me know.


Thank you so much for the great information! I’m so glad I found this site. So after reading your points about why a young child needs a firm mattress, we are thinking that we probably don’t need a comfort topper and should wait and buy one when she’s a little older. This brings up another question, though. The Naturepedic mattress is not exactly flat. It’s highest point is the center and then it slants down toward the head and foot of the mattress. Our daughter does not yet sleep with a pillow, therefore, her head slants downward a little which doesn’t seem like a good thing. Do you know if this is normal for Naturepedic mattresses?

Hi kll4,

Now you have me stumped :slight_smile:

It’s not unusual for a mattress to be “crowned” which means that it’s higher in the center than on the sides but it seems strange to me that it is noticeably lower in the head and foot than in the middle (except for near the top and bottom edges where it would slope down a bit where the tape edge was sewn). Quite frankly it doesn’t seem normal no and if it is that noticeable I would call either the retail outlet or Naturepedic and ask them. In my conversations with Naturepedic they have been very open and helpful.

I can’t think of any reason that this would (or should) be happening that was part of the design of the mattress except that the cotton inside was somehow layered unevenly or bunched up. The pictures on their site (4 and 5 are good side views) also don’t seem to have this “feature”. While I was at it I would also ask them about the “air pillow” effect you were mentioning because I haven’t seen any comments like this previously and I would ask if this was “normal” to the degree you are experiencing it. Perhaps the cover is somehow too loose and the cotton inside has somehow shifted or bunched up which could account for both symptoms.

Wish I could be more helpful but I’d be curious what they tell you.


Thanks! I also saw on their website pictures that the mattress seems very flat and even. Ours is convex enough that even with the blankets and decorative pillows on the bed, it was the first thing a family member noticed when they saw it. I also read reviews on Amazon and their classic 150 crib mattress (which we also have) had a couple of reviews that talked about the same issue. Since this mattress is very much like the crib mattress, only larger, it might be a problem that Naturepedic is aware of and will replace. I will call Naturepedic and see what they say.

Hi kll4,

I was also thinking that this could be more of an issue with a crib size mattress because of its shorter length but this shouldn’t be an obvious issue with a twin.

I hope you have a chance to let us know what they say.


So I just called and spoke to someone at Naturepedic. The response that I was given is, “The cotton will settle over time.” I thought that’s a little strange so I asked how much time should it take for the cotton to “settle”. The woman I spoke with said that it depends on the size of the child sleeping on the mattress, but she would guess a few weeks to a few months. I asked if this is normal for their mattresses and she said that it is. So, in the meantime, my daughter should be sleeping with her head a little lower than her feet? Doesn’t sound quite right to me. I’ve never heard of an innerspring mattress needing to settle to become flat, but I’m no expert. Considering my daughter is just turning three, is not even 30lbs and only her feet reach the center of the bed, I don’t see how the cotton should settle anytime soon. Have you ever heard of anything like this?

Hi kll4,

I thought what you were told was a little bit vague and “generic” so I thought I would call and see if I could find out a bit more.

What they told me was that there is more cotton in the middle (because this is where the weight is normally concentrated in a twin mattress and this would be normal) and that flipping the mattress (not just the weight of the child) would even out the surface over the course of a few weeks to months as the cotton compresses. She also said that there were air vents in the sides that should prevent any degree of unusual “ballooning”.

So this would be an issue more about “how much” both these issues are happening because some degree of both (but particularly the extra cotton in the middle) would be normal. the question would be is this in the “normal” range.

She asked that you call her again (and ask for MaryEllen) so they could have a first hand description of “how much” these things were happening and also be able to know when and where the mattress was purchased. She made it clear that they wanted to make sure that their customers didn’t have any concerns with the safety or comfort of their children on their mattresses and this would be either a matter or re-assuring you that this was normal (if it was) or help them identify that what you are describing was outside the norm in which case they could replace the mattress.

Hope this helps


You are fantastic! Thanks so much for your help!

Yeah!!! this forum really useful for me i have a baby and before a couple of week i really frustrated with the bed bug they really painful dream for me. I generally like forum discussion because you can get a answer from more and more different views of person. So i extremely want to say thanks to Mr. Phoenix and i wanna share with you my view also please if you really want to know about useful for the organic mattress.
organic crib mattress

I am currently planning to purchase new latex mattresses for my both kids, age 11 & 4. However, as my 4yro son has an Ikea Kura bunk bed, most standard latex mattress are too thick. This has led me to think about DIY option - 3" latex with a layer of wool batt wrapped in a double knit cotton ticking plus a wool pad. I have approached 3 difeerent companies about this: one says it’s not a good idea as 3" latex does not provide enough support, one suggested medium firm latex, the last thinks I should go for firm (30-35ILD) to extra firm (36-42ILD). Unless there is a company that sells latex mattresses not more than 5 1/8" that I haven’t known, I appreciate some guidence on the appropriate ILD a 40Ibs 4 yro requires and the combination (latex+wool batt + wool pad) meets the Californian fire code.

I’m planning to buy a crib mattress soon (leaning towards the Greenbuds Primrose Purete) and am looking into waterproofing options. After some research, the Naturepedic line looks pretty good to me:

I was hoping, for a sanity check, that someone could 1) confirm that the materials in this mattress protector are safe for infants and 2) offer any experience with its effectiveness in waterproofing. Thanks!

Hi davess,

I split your post into a new topic of it’s own with a more suitable title.

The Greenbuds would certainly make a good choice and has a firmer side (with the coir up) for infants and babies and a slightly softer firm side with an inch of latex for when they are toddlers.

There is also more information in post #2 here about mattresses and children including links to some of the better topics about crib mattresses as well.

[quote]After some research, the Naturepedic line looks pretty good to me:

I was hoping, for a sanity check, that someone could 1) confirm that the materials in this mattress protector are safe for infants and 2) offer any experience with its effectiveness in waterproofing. Thanks! [/quote]

Yes … the protector you linked is organic and completely safe and the membrane is also an effective barrier for liquids as well (and is also “semi breathable”). It would certainly make a suitable choice.


Thanks Phoenix!

Greenbuds also has a Magnolia line. It looks to me like the difference is that the Magnolia has a wool cover, and the Primrose has a cotton cover with non-toxic fire retardant chemicals added. Do you have any idea what chemical is used? Also curious on your views of the pros and cons of the wool vs the cotton.

Once again, your advise and knowledge is invaluable!

(also, just FYI. my Foam Order mattress is getting delivered tomorrow, so I’ll be updating that thread in a couple weeks).

Hi davess,

The primrose would likely have an inherent fire barrier that doesn’t use any added chemicals but they would be the most reliable source of more specific information because there are many variations of inherent fire barriers that are used in the industry. There is also more about fire barriers in post #2 here and the two posts it links to at the end.

The choice between wool and non wool would be more of a preference and budget choice than a “better/worse” choice since both would be fine but I personally like the benefits of wool because not only can it act as a fire barrier but it also is one of the best temperature and humidity regulating materials that can help to maintain a healthier microclimate which can contribute to deeper and more restorative sleep.


Thanks. The difference between their regular and deluxe models seems to be that the regulars have 3" of coconut coir, plus 1" of latex on the “soft” side, whereas the deluxes have 4" of coconut with the same 1" of latex. How much difference in terms of comfort and durability will an extra inch really makes, considering there will only be a fairly light infant and toddler sleeping on it? I’m guessing not very much, but interested in your thoughts.

Hi davess,

“Comfort” isn’t really an issue for a baby that needs a very firm sleeping surface or even for a toddler that sleeps on a firm surface so other than the difference in height I would agree that there would be little difference between them in terms of suitability, durability, or firmness.

Just to update the previous reply about fire retardants … according to their FAQ page here the cotton in the non wool quilted mattress is treated with hydrogen borate (boric acid) and isn’t an inherent fire barrier.
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