How to Buy a Bunk Bed Mattress for Your Kids

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How to Buy a Bunk Bed Mattress for Your Kids

One third of a person’s life is spent sleeping, so the choice of the right mattress matters. Few people realise that the mattress is the most used piece of furniture they will ever own. It’s important for kids to enjoy a deep sleep at night on a comfortable mattress that provides proper support. Correct alignment of the body during sleep is essential for their normal growth and good posture.

Measure to Match the Bunk Bed

Measure to be sure that the bunk bed’s guardrails and the mattress are a perfect fit. For safety reasons, the mattress should fit in snugly into the frame of the bed, with no gaping spaces on all sides. It’s common for children to toss, turn and kick around while asleep. If a mattress is smaller than the bed frame, a child’s head, leg, or arm can get wedged in the space between, posing a serious safety hazard. Follow the bunk bed manufacturer’s instructions on the right dimensions of the mattress that goes with the frame. Bunk beds typically come in twin or full size pairs, or twin on the top and full on the bottom. Children can roll out of bed in their sleep, so the depth of the mattress, plus the bunk board, if used to support the mattress, should be at least 13 cm below the top of the guardrails. The top bunk mattress must be only 15 to 18 cm thick to prevent the sleeping child from toppling down to the floor below.

Types of Mattress

The three basic types of mattresses are spring, foam, and latex. Memory foam or latex mattresses are recommended for slat bases because they offer better support and less shifting. Mattress manufacturers also produce coiled spring mattresses with the proper depth for bunk beds, and these may be used on a slat or bunk board foundation. Cheaper mattresses are made of high-density foam, or polyester and cotton fill with quilted topping. Spring mattresses are sold in firm, medium or soft varieties. Heavier coils make firmer mattresses, while lighter-gauge coils give a springier feel. Just like adults, growing kids also need a balance between adequate support and comfort padding to cradle the body in the right alignment. Memory foam has gained popularity, and it comes in a broad range of price points. With many options available, it’s important to consider quality, comfort and support, particularly if the mattress is intended for longer use. Memory foam “remembers” to spring back to its original form when the weight is lifted off it. Memory foam of high quality conforms to a body’s contours, relieves pressure points and provides proper spinal alignment. Synthetic memory foam is made of polyurethane. A more expensive type isnatural latex, derived from the sap of the rubber tree. There’s a distinction between a 100 per cent latex mattress and those with only some latex in it. Check the latex content in the product tag. Genuine latex is hypoallergenic because it doesn’t harbour dust mites and is bacteria-resistant, making it an excellent choice for allergy-prone kids. Latex is also long-lasting and breathable. For better air flow and mildew prevention, put a latex mattress on slats. If the bed has a bunk board base, use an allergy barrier protective cover for the mattress. Here’s a summary to help with the choice of mattress type.

Mattress Type




Great support. Individuals can choose their comfort level – firm, plush or pillow top.

Pressure points. A hard mattress does not provide even support to the whole body. An extra soft mattress makes the body sink and restricts movement.

Polyurethane memory foam

Yields to the contours of the body. Relieves pressure points.

Chemical smell. May take getting used to its feel.

Natural latex

Yields to the contours of the body. Relieves pressure points. Hypoallergenic, sanitary, durable, eco-friendly.

Costly, heavy.

Test the Mattress

Conducting a test rest is the best method to check if the mattress feels just right. If a child is too young to know the difference, older siblings or parents should do the test themselves. A mattress tester should lie on the mattress in the child’s natural sleeping position for five minutes. Try it on all positions: back, side, or stomach. If the child uses a favourite pillow, bring it to the store to test if the mattress and pillow make good bed mates. Wear loose garments because tight clothes interfere with how a person feels lying down. The following table provides the steps to test a mattress properly. A suitable mattress should pass both the experience and observation tests.


Test Procedure

Correct Results

Unsuitable Mattress


Lie on your back. To show right alignment, the observer must be able to draw a fairly straight imaginative line from the neck to the hip of the back sleeper.

Shoulders rest flush with the mattress. Hips slightly sink in. Mattress supports and fills the hollow of the lower back. Mattress supports the spine in its natural curve.

Mattress is too soft if shoulders are hunched in.


Turn to your side. Side sleepers put more weight on hip and shoulder areas.

Shoulders and hips are aligned in the correct position.

Mattress is too firm if there’s pressure or discomfort in shoulder and hip areas.

Comfort and Conformance

Repeat the alignment and pressure tests in your normal sleeping position. Get a feel of the comfort level the mattress provides.

The whole body feels relaxed, with no support issues.

Mattress is too hard if it is unyielding and the body feels pressure points. Mattress is too soft if the body or spine feels or looks bowed down.

Buying Tips

Before shopping online, test an identical mattress first at a bricks and mortar store. Consumer reviews may be helpful, but be wary of paid glowing comments. The more credible reviews realistically point out a product’s advantages and disadvantages. Keep an eye on similar complaints from various consumers who experience common issues with a particular mattress. Some retailers offer a comfort guarantee, giving the buyer a limited period to try out the mattress. However, the guarantee may come at a price, so be sure to check with the salesperson about return or exchange policies and fees. Warranty extends to material and workmanship defects, and coverage periods differ among manufacturers. Keep the receipt and leave the “Do not remove” tag on the mattress.

Brand Name or Generic

Top-brand mattresses come with higher price tags. Major manufacturers invest considerable sums in research and development for improvement and innovation. Warranties and their established reputations back up their products. If the mattress is intended for a decade’s use, then a well-known brand is worth the investment. It will withstand years of abuse from a child’s rough-and-tumble horseplay. A lower-priced brand may be good enough for a transitional mattress of a few years’ use. However, comfort and support should always be non-negotiable priorities for growing kids.

Brand New or Used

Due to health and safety issues, a brand new mattress is best. Mattresses are repositories of body fluids, bacteria, and mildew. Buyers should beware of unscrupulous merchants who put a new topping on a returned mattress and pass if off as new. It’s safer to buy from a trusted seller. Ensure that the mattress tag says “all new materials”. As an extra precaution, request the seller to state “brand new” on the receipt to hold him accountable if the mattress is discovered to be second-hand after all. Upon delivery, inspect the mattress carefully for damages and tell-tale stains. An unsatisfied buyer should return it immediately for replacement.


Take time to compare mattresses based on important features such as support, comfort and alignment. Older children are able to express their individual preferences in terms of firmness and comfort level. Safety is top priority, so a snug fit into the bed frame is a must. The mattress must pass the Goldilocks test, “just right” in every way for a child’s restful and safe sleep.

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