Whether you’re bringing home your first baby or the latest addition to a blossoming brood, ordering a crib just might be your second biggest delivery of the year. It’s the centerpiece of the nursery and, truly, where your baby will spend the majority of his or her little life. The number one, number two, and number three things you should be thinking about are safety. Today’s modern cribs are built by trustworthy manufacturers with experience and expertise, but it’s still important to shop knowledgeably. Don’t worry – we’ll fit all this in before nap time.
There are plenty of laws regulating the making and sale of cribs, and you won’t find anything here that fails them. These laws are why experts strongly discourage the use of hand-me-down or secondhand cribs – even if it was made 5 years ago, it may not meet today’s safety standards. These are the big three federal crib safety laws:
- Space between slats must be 2 3/8 inches or less
Proper spacing between slats protects babies from becoming trapped in between.
- Permanent sides
Drop-down sides were once a popular crib feature, but have been found to be quite dangerous. Federal law now prohibits crib manufacturers from making drop-side cribs. Please, if you’ve inherited or still have a drop-side crib, have it dismantled. A problem only becomes more likely as the crib ages.
- Corner posts must be less than 1/16 of an inch high
Raised corner posts can catch babies’ clothing and mean danger as they move around the crib. The law states that crib corner posts must be 1/16 of an inch or shorter. Every crib here meets this requirement.
With basic safety put to bed, it’s easier and more fun to shop for the features that will make babies and parents happy. These are a few that our little ones go ga-ga for.
- Adjustable Mattress Height
It may not seem intuitive right away that a mattress should change height, but think about this – most babies spend time in their cribs until they’re 2 or 3 years old. That means crawling, standing, climbing, walking, hopping, and all sorts of other day- and night-time activity. Adjustable mattresses raise or lower to keep your crib protective of your growing baby.
- Full Size
A full size crib allows you to use a standard size mattress, affording you both flexibility and the ability to replace it. A standard size crib mattress is 51 ¾ inches long and 27 ¾ inches wide. There are coil, foam, waterproof mattresses (whew) and more.
As difficult as it is to imagine, your baby is going to grow, grow, grow. Consider cutting down on future purchases by choosing a crib that grows, too. More on convertible cribs below.
We know this is a big purchase, and so do our favorite crib designers. Our most popular styles are convertible, meaning they’re easy to change and grow just like your family. These are the most common convertible crib types:
The simplest version, a 2-in-1 changes from a traditional crib into an attractive toddler bed usually with a guardrail. It’s not a drop side, but a fully removable piece.
These cool cribs have options – usually, a day bed with an open front and closed sides and a standard toddler bed with the addition of a guardrail.
A 4-in-1 crib is designed to stay with your child from day one and way, way beyond. These most often transform from a four-walled crib into a three-walled toddler bed (with guardrail), a three-walled daybed (no guardrail), and then into a full-sized twin bed (with a new mattress) using the cribs front and back panels as the headboard and footboard. These are by far the most versatile cribs and could last your child through high school!
Whether you’re travelling to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, staying the night in a hotel, or just moving from room to room, a crib that’s mobile is the way to keep Baby both comfy and safe.
Almost all portable cribs are mounted on wheels. Locking casters are best, with the ability to roll smoothly and then stick firmly in place.
The other great thing about many portable cribs is that they’re designed to fold flat and fit in a car trunk, under the bed, or just about anywhere else.
Foldable designs are safe, but they often have lower weight capacities than their stationary counterparts. Always pay close attention to the capabilities of the crib you choose.
Babies sleep a lot, and that’s what the crib is for. But it’s not the only thing your baby will never fail to do. For that … the changing table! You’ll find plenty of matching crib and changing table sets, but some of our favorite new models combine the two in a veritable control center for your young one’s natural functions. The benefits include:
- More space in your room
- Two easy matching pieces
- Storage where you need it
- Convertibility and flexibility
Once you’ve found your dream crib, perfect bedding, baby accessories, and more, please follow these additional crib safety guidelines from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
- Place your baby on his or her back in a crib with a firm, tight-fitting mattress
- Don’t put pillows, quilt, comforters, sheepskins, pillow-like stuffed toys, or bumper pads in the crib with your baby
- Use a sleeper instead of a blanket. If you use a blanket, tuck it around the mattress, covering your baby only as high as his or her chest.
- Use only a fitted bottom sheet specifically designed for crib use.