Everything you ever wanted to know about crib bedding

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I never knew how much I’d obsess over every detail and item that went into my first baby’s nursery. I googled organic sheets, mattress options, and don’t get me started on trying to figure out bumpers (spoiler – they’re a bad idea). This article breaks down everything you’ll need for baby’s crib bedding, from mattresses and mattress pads to sheets, bed skirts, blankets, and if you must, breathable bumpers.

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There are so many components to a baby's crib. Since they spend a lot of time there, you're probably worried about getting the right stuff. Check out everything you ever wanted to know about infant crib bedding from crib mattresses, to crib mattress pads, sheets, breathable crib bumpers, to toddler pillows and blankets. Deck out your nursery in style, and feel good about what you're getting.

The Mattress

Let’s start with the basics because while you can skimp on the bedding or other extras, the mattress is where your baby and toddler will spend a LOT of time. This is not somewhere I’d pick the cheapest option and call it a day. Budget options or “cheaper” products aren’t necessarily worse, or bad. You just want to ensure you know what you’re buying and what it’s made of if your baby will be spending a lot of time there.

We ended up going with a more premium option for our mattress because I felt really good about the credentials of the Naturepedic Company. However, all the options below have really good reviews. The “budget” option is also Greenguard Gold Certified, proving that budget-friendly doesn’t mean bad, just like expensive doesn’t always equal quality. 

What to look for:

  1. Is the mattress firm? If the company is reputable, it is. Plush mattresses and foam are major no-nos for safe sleep.
  2. Does the mattress have a reversible side for newborns and toddlers? Ours has a newborn side that is firmer. The toddler mattress is still much firmer than anything I’d sleep on, but it’s less firm than the infant side of the mattress. This isn’t a requirement, but some mattresses have this option, so if it’s important to you, make sure you buy a dual sided mattress for babies and toddlers.
  3. Is the mattress waterproof? If not, you’ll want to make sure you get a REALLY good mattress pad to protect from the accidents that will inevitably happen. There are a lot of liquids that first year.
  4. Are the materials eco-friendly and made of non-toxic materials? One of the biggest reasons we chose a Naturepedic mattress is that I didn’t want my baby’s face in a mattress that was off-gassing chemicals.

Here are a few options that made our short list when we were searching:

Naturepedic Organic Cotton Lightweight 2 Stage Crib Mattress

*This is the option we ended up going with.

Product Specs from Amazon:

  • Half the weight of standard crib mattresses.
  • Provides the ultimate non-toxic and stain resistant waterproof surface.
  • Organic cotton fabric & filling.
  • Provides a slightly firmer side for infants & a slightly softer side for toddlers.
  • Measures 27.75″ x 52″ x 6″ – also fits toddler beds and made in the USA.

There is more information on the Naturepedic website. 

Moonlight Slumber Little Dreamer:

Product Specs from Amazon: 

  • Two-sided sleep system: Two-stage sleep system for your infant or toddler. Use the extra firm, eco-friendly, plant-based foam layer for your infant, or soft plush side for your toddler.
  • Medical Grade Fabric: The medical grade fabric used is waterproof, durable stretch knit fabric with extra tight sewn seams. It is certified to be free of toxic flame-retardant chemicals and has low impact on indoor air due to low VOC
  • Easy to Clean: The 100% waterproof and hypoallergenic material makes cleaning this dual system sleeping mattress a breeze. With SafeSewn Seams, it is bed bug and dust mite resistant, so you can ensure your baby will have sweet dreams
  • Quality Tested: Moonlight Slumber products go through demanding performance-testing procedures, utilizing a range of methods for evaluating durability, safety, and performance
  • Made in the USA: Moonlight Slumber procures the safest quality materials to build mattresses in America’s heartland. The Little Dreamer is GreenGuard and CertiPUR Certified

Sealy Soybean Foam-Core Infant/Toddler Mattress

**Budget friendly option!

Product Specs from Amazon: 

  • High-density soybean foam core: Uses renewable soybeans to help create a firm foam for infants and toddlers. 
  • Feel good foam: The foam used throughout is CertiPur-US Certified foam made in the USA. It is made without phthalates, lead, mercury, formaldehyde, PBDES, TDCPP or TCEP flame retardants that may be a concern in non-certified foams
  • Waterproof: Reinforced embossed waterproof and stain-resistant cover with lock-stitched binding helps to keep liquids from seeping inside while household allergens like dust and dander will wipe away 
  • Safety and quality tested: Firmness, durability, and crib fit tested, passes American Society for Testing and Materials Crib Mattress Standards; this entire crib mattress is GREENGUARD Gold certified for indoor air quality and tested for chemicals to help create a healthier sleeping environment for your baby. Tested for flame retardant chemicals, and no added flame retardant chemicals.
  • Made in the USA:  Sealy crib mattresses are proudly made in the USA
  • Mattress measures 51.63 x 27.25 x 5 inches and fits both USA standard size cribs and toddler beds
  • Lifetime warranty on workmanship and materials

Mattress Pad

Since we went with a waterproof mattress, I didn’t really need a mattress pad. However, I’m a freak about germs and decided that if she was having accidents or getting sick I’d rather have a mattress pad down than try to clean a mattress in the middle of the night.

What to look for:

  1. A mattress pad that is waterproof or water resistant
  2. Not too plush (again, safe sleep)

We went with the Naturepedic Mattress Pad for the same reasons we chose their mattress. If her face was going to be in the mattress, it would also be in the mattress pad. 

SureGuard Mattress Protectors Crib Size 

Product Specs from Amazon:

  • 100% Waterproof – Top protection against everyday liquids and stains
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Premium Fitted Cotton Terry Cover – Free from Vinyl, PVC, Phthalates, fire retardants and other toxic chemicals
  • 10 Year Warranty
  • Noiseless

Naturepedic Organic Crib Protector Pad (Waterproof Fitted)

Specs from Naturepedic:

  • Made with Soft Organic Cotton Flannel on Top and Organic Cotton Muslin on Bottom
  • Highly Absorptive and Extra Soft
  • Helps Reduce Uneven Temperatures, Sweating, and Clamminess
  • Ultra-Thin Waterproof Barrier In Center
    (Waterproof Version Only)
  • DrySleep™ technology effectively blocks liquids from passing through, while allowing some water vapor to escape to promote a more comfortable sleep.
  • Alternative Design: NO Vinyl / PVC, NO Phthalates, NO Latex (for allergy concerns), NO Flame Retardants

Sheets & Bed Skirt

Sheets and bedding a really a personal preference. We got some organic cotton sheets that are actually pretty ugly. Although they’ve held up for years at daycare, they show marks and stains and are generally unappealing to look at.

While I was happy we had them for peace of mind, I also used our Burt’s Bees and Restoration Hardware sheet in her crib and she’s still alive 🙂  I’ve listed what we bought below.

What to look for:

  1. Whatever you want! Choose something that matches the theme for the room and go from there.
  2. Don’t buy a bedding set with bumpers. They look adorable and virtually every showroom styles cribs with bumpers, but they are a HUGE no-no for safe sleep.

Restoration Hardware Baby Sheet and Bed Skirt 

We got the Washed Satin Skirt and the Elephant Print Fitted Crib Sheet (both in petal) from Restoration Hardware Baby. They’ve both held up really well, but you can find cheaper options that are just as good across the internet.

Our other favorite sheets are Burts Bees, and you can easily get those on Amazon for about half the price.

Burts Bees Sheet:

Bumpers (or NOT)

Again, please don’t buy the big fluffy bumpers. It’s not worth the risk. We did have some trouble for a couple of weeks with our little lady getting her leg stuck in the crib slats, but we just went in and untangled her and she was perfectly fine.

There were no bruises or marks, and I’d much rather a stuck leg than suffocation. If you MUST buy bumpers, get the mesh breathable ones, shown below:

Crib Rail

This is something we didn’t buy when our little one was born but quickly realized why they are necessary. Your babe WILL chew on the crib rails. Once he’s standing up and teething, all bets on what goes in the mouth are off. Whether or not you need the front rail or both the front and side rails will probably depend on how the crib is positioned in the room.

Our little one never went to the side rails because we always picked her up from the front, but if you have a committed teether, you might want to get the side protection too, just in case.

What to look for:

  1. Whether or not you need a regular or wide crib rail cover. Some models of crib have larger rails or ledges that need a wider cover, so be sure you’re buying the right size
  2. Decide if you want just the front cover or side covers as well
  3. You can get economical options on Amazon or at a local baby store, but if you want a truly customized option, there are a lot of Etsy sellers that personalize and make beautiful bedding.

We opted to go with an option from Buy Buy Baby, but I loved the customization options on Carousel Designs and Etsy.

Toddler Pillow & Muslin Blanket

As your baby grows, he’ll eventually need a pillow and blankets. It’s good to just stick a toddler pillow on your registry so you have it. You can easily just keep using all those muslin swaddles as blankets for the warmer days too!

If you want to get a warmer version of the muslin blankets, try the Aden & Anais Dream Blanket, also below. We have and love both options depending on the temperature.

Dreamtown Kids Toddler Pillow With Pillowcase 14×19 White

Aden + anais Classic Swaddle Baby Blanket

100% Cotton Muslin, Large 47 X 47 inch, 4 Pack

Aden + Anais Dream Blanket

100% Cotton Muslin, 4 Layer Lightweight and Breathable, Large 47 X 47 inch

Although it can seem like every single decision on your baby’s registry is monumental, just trust your gut and choose an option you like that’s well rated. As long as the product is certified for children you really can’t go wrong – even if it feels like you can. Your baby’s nursery will be a place you spend some time, so make sure you love it!

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  1. This is very helpful for new moms! We ended up putting a mesh bumper on the crib because my daughter would end up with her legs or the occasional hanging out of the crib sometimes. This kept all of her limbs in the crib. One thing I never got was the crib rail cover. My daughter wasn’t big into gnawing on everything while she was teething, but there are some teeth marks on the rail that I noticed when setting it up for my son. I will be purchasing one the second time around.

  2. This is a super helpful post! I had no idea how to choose a mattress for the crib. Do babies need orthopedic mattresses or memory foam? I had no idea, so we just picked one that was mid-price. I love the idea of having it be reversible for infant and toddler. I didn’t know they made such a thing.

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