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Have you ever woken your children up in the morning only to find that your little angels have been replaced with sleep-starved zombies? By ensuring that your child gets enough high-quality sleep, you can keep the little zombies at bay and also foster the incredibly important stages of their growth and development.
Depending on the age of your child, the National Bed Federation’s Sleep Council recommends anywhere from 8 to 15 hours of sleep per night. As children get older, they need less sleep, but this is still totally subjective. Just like some adults can function and feel rested on only five hours, some five year olds can spring out of bed at 4 a.m. and wonder why you aren’t as thrilled for play time as they are. Meanwhile your teenager might be happy to snooze past noon if you let them. Growing kids need sleep, that much is certain. Figuring out how much sleep your child needs, and how to ensure that they actually get that sleep, however, can be a major struggle.
There are dozens of factors that might be affecting your child’s shut-eye and each factor should be carefully considered, but perhaps the most pertinent variable for success at bedtime is… their bed.
The mattress that your child is sleeping on can actually have a lot to do with the quality of their sleep at night. There are a few things to be mindful of when determining whether or not your child’s bed is the right fit for them, and if it is time for a replacement.
Pay Attention To What Is Inside Your Child’s Bed
When you purchase a new bed, the construction is important, not just for the feel of the bed, but for health and durability as well. There are several common materials which you will likely encounter when navigating the mattress market, including:
Polyurethane Foam is cheap to produce and comes in several different firmness profiles depending on the foam’s density and makeup. Often referred to as a neutral foam or PU foam, this material has an accommodating neutral feel that is neither too bouncy nor too contouring.
Memory Foam is a really popular sleep surface because of the soft and contouring pressure relief it offers. Memory Foam, or viscoelastic foam, starts as a PU foam, then has certain chemicals added to increase viscosity. It can be found in both budget-friendly options and incredibly high-end beds.
Latex Foam can be made from fully natural ingredients derived from the South East Asian rubber tree, or produced with a synthetic alternative. Either way, latex foam has a responsive and bouncy feel and a porous and airy nature. It is also great for allergy sufferers as latex is naturally antimicrobial.
Pocketed Coils/ Innersprings are found in all “hybrid” beds. The metal spring chassis system works to provide support and durability to your mattress and, more often than not, the coils are individually siloed, hence the name “pocketed” coils.
Proprietary Materials refers to any material that is designed and used specifically by one company. Often these materials are similar to the ones listed above but with some special properties added to make them extra cooling, or bouncy, or firm etc. Some examples include the gel-like hyper-elastic polymer in the Purple Mattress or Leesa Sleep’s special LSA 200 foam.
All beds have to pass certain health and safety standards, but some mattresses are made using synthetic foams or other materials which can off-gas, or release a smelly and unhealthy gas as the materials expand over the course of the mattress’s first few days in your home. The off-gassing process usually doesn’t last long, but it can cause headaches and breathing issues in sensitive individuals, especially children. Fortunately, if your little one is prone to health issues, there are a few things you can look for to ensure their new bed doesn’t cause them any harm.
Always check the certifications that a mattress carries to get a better understanding of what is on the inside. For beds made with synthetic foams, the CertiPUR certification (in both the US and in Europe) ensures that beds are made without harmful substances and meet certain limits.
There are a few other certifications that pertain to natural and organic beds, which are usually made with latex foam. Some of the most notable certifications are Greenguard GOLD, OEKO-TEX Standard 100, and GOLS/ GOTS organic.
It is also worth noting that the cover on a mattress can make a big difference. Organic cotton covers are especially healthy and breathable, ensuring your child never sleeps too hot or too cold. There are also several beds that come with removable and machine-washable covers, which is a huge bonus for a kid’s bed, especially if your little one is potty-training or prone to spilling snacks.
Think About Your Child’s Age
No matter what your kiddo’s bed is made out of, you want to make sure that they are comfortable. Keep in mind that a bed that feels comfortable for you will likely feel too firm for you little one. Weight has a big impact on the way that a bed feels, with lighter individuals putting less pressure on a bed and therefore feeling like the bed is firmer. So with kids, especially those who are far from their teen years, you need to take into account how light they are. Kids should generally have a bed that is somewhere between medium-soft and medium-firm.
Bodyweight also affects the amount of support that an individual needs from their mattress. For example, larger folks are often recommended to sleep on a bed with coils, which support their body weight and provide proper lumbar where it is needed. If you are shopping for your child and they still have quite a bit of growing to do, they will not necessarily need as much support from their bed as would an older teenager or an adult.
That leads to another point of consideration: how long your child will have this bed. On average, a bed should be replaced every seven to ten years. So if this is your child’s first “big kid bed,” they will likely get a new bed by the time they are a teenager, and so don’t yet need a bed that will be incredibly supportive or durable. If your child is on the older side though, and this is likely the same bed that they will sleep on when they return home from University during breaks, it’s probably a good idea to opt for a bed that will suit them into their young adult years.
Set A Budget And Stick To It
Once you’ve figured out the features and feel that you’d like for your child’s bed, the fun (and slightly stressful) part starts: shopping! Your child’s sleep is important, but you likely don’t want to spend as much money on their bed as you would on your own. Fortunately, there are several mattresses on the market that are a great fit for children and are fairly affordable.
You can find a comfortable and high-quality all-foam mattress online for around £350. Popular beds like Tuft & Needle, among others, sell on Amazon and offer generous pricing and company policies. For a twin-sized bed, which is the most popular size for children, setting a budget around half of what you’d expect to spend on your own bed should provide a fair amount of options.
Sleep is crucial for your child’s health and development. If your child is having a hard time sleeping at night, if their bed is old or if it is time for your kid to age up into a big bed, make sure that you involve them in the process of picking out a new bed. Not only will this help with the adjustment process, especially for kiddos graduating from a crib, but is also important to make sure that the bed is comfortable to them. A bed should be soft enough and supportive enough for the person sleeping on it, and all sleepers are different. With this is mind, hopefully, you’ll be able to shop for a bed that suits your little one and your pocketbook.
About the Author
Melissa Bondy is a content writer and bedding buff for The Slumber Yard. She is part of a team dedicated to bringing honest mattress reviews and helpful sleep tips to consumers. In her free time, Melissa enjoys studying poetry, kayaking on Lake Tahoe, drinking coffee, and training her puppy.