Choosing the right mattress for the big bed
Have you been putting off buying a bed and mattress for your little one because you don’t know where to start? Sabrina Rogers-Anderson shares expert advice that will take the guesswork out of it.
Big bed mattresses

Ask any mum of young children (including me) what her main concern is and the answer will almost always be “sleep”. How to get the kids to go to bed earlier, stay in bed once they’re finally in there, stop waking 17 times a night, sleep past 4:47am – and the list goes on. We do apologise for being so obsessed, but attempting to survive on a handful of broken hours of sleep a night will do that to you.

Making the transition from cot to big bed

Given the fragile nature of our children’s sleep, anything that threatens the siesta status quo can send us into a spiral of panic. We think: I’ve finally got Junior sleeping through the night and now I’m supposed to change his whole bed on him? Nunh-unh, he can stay in his cot till he graduates high school.

Fear not, weary mamas. The transition to a big bed can be a positive change for many children. They might love their cool new comforter and comfy mattress so much that they forget all about their cot faster than you can say, “Sweet dreams!”

Picking the right mattress

If you’re confused by all the different types of mattresses out there, your best bet is to take your little one to the mattress store to receive personalised advice and give different models a whirl. “Mattresses are very individual, so the best thing you can do is have your child lie on the mattress for a few minutes to see how it feels,” says paediatric orthopaedic physiotherapist Julianne Pegler, Chair of the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) National Paediatric Group.

“We don’t recommend firm or soft mattresses for toddlers and young children – it just depends on their preference,” she explains.

And while innerspring mattresses are frequently cited as better choices than memory foam or latex for little ones, Julianne says the APA doesn’t recommend one specific type. “As long as it’s supportive, sits well in the bedframe and your child likes it, it’s fine.”

When to change your child’s mattress

“I wouldn’t keep a mattress for more than five years,” says Julianne. “It becomes less supportive as time goes by, so as soon as you see any sags or rips in it, it’s time to replace it. If your child starts to complain of back pain or neck pain, you might want to think about how old their mattress is. But there can be other contributing factors to that pain as well, such as whether they exercise or spend lots of time on the computer or sitting in prolonged postures. When I see an adolescent who experiences back pain when they first wake up in the morning, I ask how long they’ve had their mattress and often find out it’s quite old.”

Extra tips for getting the most out of your mattress

1. Make sure the price is right: “Avoid really inexpensive or really expensive mattresses,” advises Julianne. “Pick one that’s in-between.”

2. Check the store’s refund policy before you buy: “That way, if you decide it isn’t right after a few days, you have the option of returning it,” says Julianne.

3. Rotate your child’s mattress regularly: “If you change your child’s sheets once a week or once a fortnight, rotate the mattress at the same time to extend its lifespan,” suggests Julianne. “You can spin it around and even flip it over if it’s not a pillowtop.”

4. Don’t worry about your child’s sleep position: “Kids aren’t likely to get pain from their sleep positions because they’re so young, light and flexible,” says Julianne. “They’ll adopt a position that’s comfortable to them even if it looks funny to you.”

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This article was written by Sabrina Rogers-Anderson for and has been adapted for

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