Bed and Mattress Advice for Children
What age should a child move from a cot to a bed?
The age at which a child is ready to move out of a cot into a bed varies, but is generally between 18 months and three years. A cot bed or smaller-scale starter bed may help initially to make the transition to a single bed.
Make sure your bunk bed is safe – there are safety standards in place which manufacturers and retailers should comply with. Check the bunk is thoroughly stable; that there are two guard rails on the upper bunk (*even if it’s going to be against a wall); any ladder must be firmly secured; and that catches and fixings are not accessible or prominent enough for small fingers to fiddle with. Children under six years are not advised to use the top bunk.
How often should I change a child’s mattress?
Parents should aim to change the child’s bed and/or mattress at significant growth periods. This may require several bed changes – for example a teenager who’s suddenly shot up to 6ft plus needs a bed that will enable his feet to stay on the mattress and not hang over the end! The right mattress is vital as it must provide the correct support for growing bones and muscles. That means sufficient support to hold the spine in correct alignment and sufficient comfort layers to cradle the body’s contours.
What sort of mattress should I buy for my child?
The mattress construction can be either foam or sprung. A mattress and bedding with hypo-allergenic fillings (i.e. avoiding known irritants such as feathers or hair) may be required for a child with asthma, eczema or rhinitis.
Mattresses containing memory foam are generally not recommended for young children. If your mattress is going to be used on a bedstead or base bought separately, always check your choice is suitable for use with the type of bed base you have (slatted, mesh etc).
Don’t buy second-hand or use hand-me-down mattresses! It won’t provide the support and comfort needed for growing children and could be a health or safety hazard. As well as obvious wear and tear from body weight, it is estimated that we lose around 280 ml (half a pint) of body moisture every night and shed around 0.45 kilos (1lb) of skin particles in a year. Apart from being a pretty unpleasant thought, this creates the perfect habitat for dust mites – which can aggravate both breathing and skin problems such as asthma and eczema.