Baby's crib should do two things: fill its function and suit your style!
When you find out you’re expecting, one of the first things you think about is the crib. What kind of crib is special enough for your precious baby to sleep in? It’s the place where your baby will spend most of his time and can be the most expensive piece of nursery decor, so it’s no wonder many people start their decorating plans by choosing the crib first. Whether you decide on a traditional Jenny Lind crib or something a bit flashier, selecting the perfect combination of style and safety has never been easier.
Are all cribs manufactured today safe?
With all cribs, parents need to look for solid wood or metal construction, a non-toxic finish, and the crib should have hidden hardware to prevent injury. Mattress supports should be metal, which is sturdier than wooden supports for active babies and toddlers.
With cribs manufactured in the United States, look for proof that the crib meets or exceeds U.S. safety standards and/or has certification from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). If you aren’t purchasing a new baby crib or are buying one that hasn’t been made in the U.S., here are safety guidelines manufacturers must adhere to today:
Crib side rails should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart—a width that prevents baby from getting her head stuck between them. You can bring a can of soda with you as you shop—if it fits through the slats, they are too far apart.
Corner posts, if included, should be no higher than 1/16 of an inch high, which prevents baby’s clothes from snagging on posts. This could lead to discomfort or even strangulation.
There are additional safety measures that you must look for in a crib with one or two drop sides. A drop side is convenient for parents, but choose a crib with stationary sides if you’re worried about forgetting to put the rail back up in a sleep-deprived stupor. If your crib will be placed against a wall, don’t pay more for a crib with double drop sides that you’ll never use. Lastly, look for a drop side that you can operate with only one hand, which makes it easier when baby is in the other.
When choosing a crib, look for adjustable mattress heights. With an infant who’s not mobile yet, setting the mattress on the highest position makes reaching in much easier. An active toddler needs the lowest mattress setting.
Keep window shade cords, curtains and electrical wires out of baby's reach.
Baby cribs come in a wide range of prices. Steer clear of discount cribs. The price may tempt you, but safety concerns should always be foremost in the minds of parents. Lastly, do your research when it comes to recalls. Some companies, such as Simplicity cribs, have had trouble with recalls, and you may want to steer clear of them.
The Crib Design
Cribs are available in many different styles, designs, finishes and colors. The most common color for cribs today is white. You can also choose a wood look to match your room decor and style.
Most new parents are overwhelmed at all of the decisions that go into purchasing a crib, but they eventually find a style that suits them. If traditional is what you prefer, there are plenty of options. If you want your crib to make a statement, look for products such as a Natart crib. This company offers gorgeous designs and details such as intricate carvings. The Old World crib is a crib that combines the look of a family heirloom with today’s safety features.
A convertible crib offers the convenience of transitioning into a toddler bed, day bed, and/or full-size bed. With a convertible crib, be sure the conversion kits either come with the bed or that you purchase them at the same time as you purchase the crib. If you are planning to have more children, a standard crib will provide you with years of use.
Space Saving Crib
Lots of cribs come with drawers, either multiple drawers on the side or one on the bottom. If you’re purchasing a crib with a bottom drawer, look closely to see what you’re really getting. Some drawers simply sit on the ground, rather than being attached under the crib. This option gives you great storage space without taking up any room in your nursery.
Round cribs are a very popular choice today. Many people believe round baby cribs are actually safer than traditional cribs because there are no corners and your child is in sight at all times. Like four-sided cribs, look for solid wood or metal construction, non-toxic finishes, metal supports, hidden hardware, and locking wheels.
Consider the room size when purchasing a round crib. A large room will enhance the uniqueness of a round crib, which easily takes center stage in the nursery. Round cribs turn any nursery into a masterpiece.
Make sure the canopy crib you choose is designed so that the canopy material stays out of baby’s reach. Also, for additional versatility, look for a crib with canopy hardware that is completely removable. A canopy lends sophistication and elegance to the entire nursery.
Portable cribs are great secondary options at home, for grandma’s house, and during travel. Portable cribs are not subject to the same safety mandates as regular cribs, so it is even more essential to look for a porta crib that meets or exceeds all U.S. safety standards. It should have many of the same features as a traditional crib: locking wheels, hardwood or solid metal construction, multi-position mattress support, and possibly a drop side. Also, make sure the weight limit is at least 40 pounds if you plan to use your portable crib into the toddler years. A Delta portable crib is a popular option that combines all of these amenities.
Many portable cribs offer the convenience of folding for easy transport. Before making a purchase, ensure that it has an easy folding mechanism, preferably one-handed. As with any crib, you can purchase the mattress separately, but it’s easier if your portable baby crib comes with the option of a mattress included.
A port-a-crib is great in the nursery, around the house, travel and more.
The Bottom Line
It’s always good to buy a new crib as safety standards are constantly changing. Check for the JPMA Certified label before considering a crib. Paying more will give you better quality, finish and operating mechanisms. Consider the size of the room… and let your imagination grow!
Our Mom Expert
Caron Webber, 37, is the mother of five children, ages 2 to 12.
“Safety never sleeps! About once a month, I made a point to check the hardware on my kids’ cribs to make sure everything was still tight. My husband did a great job of putting the cribs together, but my kids were all active babies and toddlers, and every once in a while I would have to tighten a screw that had been shaken loose. After five kids, I’ve learned not to take anything for granted safety-wise.”