How to Choose the Best Baby Crib to Create the Most Comfortable Baby Space

Preparing for a new baby is an exciting time, and picking out a crib is one of the important things to do. Since babies spend a lot of time sleeping and resting in their cribs, it’s crucial to choose one that’s safe and comfortable. There are many different types and styles of cribs available, so it can be overwhelming to choose the perfect one for your baby. Start by figuring out your budget and the features you want in a crib, and then you can begin your search. To make things easier, we’ve created a crib buying guide with all the important information about crib safety features, designs, and styles.

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What To Look For In A Baby Crib?

Here are some important factors to consider when buying a crib for your new baby:

Baby Crib Types

There are several types of baby cribs available in the market. Here are some of the most common types:

  • Standard Crib: This is the most traditional type of baby crib and is the most popular choice for parents. It typically has four sides with vertical slats, a solid back panel, and a fixed-height mattress support. It is suitable for babies and young toddlers up to around 24 months of age.
  • Convertible Crib: A convertible crib can be transformed into a toddler bed, a daybed, or even a full-size bed as your child grows. This is a great option for parents who want a long-term investment in a crib. If you don’t mind a bit of DIY work, they can be an affordable option compared to standard cribs.
  • Portable Crib: A portable crib is lightweight and easy to move around, making it a great choice for parents who need to travel frequently or want to keep their baby close by. Some portable cribs also come with wheels, making them easy to move around the house.
  • Travel Crib: A travel crib is designed specifically for parents who are always on the go. It’s lightweight, soft-sided, easy to pack down and pop up, and compact enough to fit into a suitcase. They are perfect for travel or visiting relatives, but they should not be a baby’s primary crib.
  • Mini Crib: A mini crib is a smaller version of a standard crib and is perfect for parents who have limited space in their home. It’s also a great option for parents who want to keep their baby in their bedroom.
  • Round Crib: A round crib is a unique and stylish option that can add a touch of elegance to your nursery. It’s usually smaller in size and has a circular shape, providing a cozy and secure space for your baby.
  • Canopy Crib: A canopy crib is designed with a canopy that hangs over the top of the crib, giving it a luxurious and regal look. It’s a great choice for parents who want to create a princess or fairy-tale theme in their nursery.

Important note: There is also a type of drop-side cribs, which were deemed unsafe and recalled due to the risk of infant deaths. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has banned the manufacture and sale of drop-side cribs since 2012. The ban was enacted to ensure the safety of infants and to prevent further injuries or fatalities associated with these cribs.

If you come across a used drop-side crib or someone tries to give you one as a hand-me-down, it’s best to decline it and opt for a newer, safer crib that meets current safety standards. Additionally, it’s important to always check for recalls before purchasing a crib or any baby gear and to follow safe sleep guidelines recommended by pediatricians.

When choosing a crib, consider your personal needs and preferences, as well as the safety features and standards of the crib.

Adjustable Mattress Height

Adjustable mattress heights are a common feature in many cribs. Make sure you choose a crib with at least two mattress height settings to ensure your baby’s safety.

The ability to adjust the mattress height is useful as it allows parents to easily reach and pick up their baby when they are young and cannot yet stand. However, once the baby is able to pull themselves up and stand in the crib, the mattress should be lowered to prevent the child from falling out of the crib and injuring themselves.

It’s recommended that parents adjust the mattress to the lowest height setting once their baby reaches around six months of age or as soon as they begin to pull themselves up. It’s important to regularly check the crib to make sure that it is set up correctly and that all parts are secure.

Additionally, parents should ensure that any baby monitors or other electronic devices are kept out of reach of the child and that they do not have any cords or detachable parts that could pose a choking hazard.

Materials

Baby cribs can be made from a variety of materials, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the most common materials used for baby cribs:

  • Wood

Wood is a popular choice for baby cribs because it is durable, sturdy, and has a classic look. And they are tough and easy to paint or stain. However, cribs can be constructed from a wide range of woods, with ash, beech, birch, cherry, mahogany, maple, and oak being the most popular options. Cribs made from solid wood tend to be more expensive, but they are also more durable and long-lasting.

A recent trend in crib construction is to use pine wood. However, it’s essential to note that pine wood is quite soft and prone to scratching. Moreover, cribs are available in various paint colors and finishes. It’s important to remember that the name of the finish does not always indicate the wood type used in its construction.

  • Metal

Metal cribs are lightweight, easy to move, and often less expensive than wood cribs. However, they may not be as sturdy as wood cribs and can sometimes have sharp edges that could be dangerous for curious babies.

  • Plastic

Plastic cribs are lightweight, easy to clean, and often less expensive than wood or metal cribs. However, they may not be as sturdy as other types of cribs and can sometimes have a less attractive appearance.

  • Wicker/Rattan

Wicker or rattan cribs have a unique, natural look and can be lightweight and easy to move. However, they may not be as durable or long-lasting as other types of cribs.

When choosing a crib material, consider factors such as durability, safety, ease of cleaning, and overall aesthetic appeal. Whatever material you choose, make sure the crib meets current safety standards and is free from any potential hazards.

Size And Shape

It is important for a baby crib to be of an appropriate size and shape to ensure the safety and comfort of the baby. A standard crib mattress typically measures 27 1/4 inches wide by 51 5/8 inches long, and the crib should be designed to fit this size of mattress snugly.

The slats should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart to prevent your baby’s head from getting stuck. Make sure the crib has a fixed rail system and no drop-sides, which have been banned by the CPSC.

While there are cribs of non-standard sizes and shapes, such as round or oval cribs, it is recommended to choose a regular, rectangular model to ensure that finding a well-fitting mattress is not a hassle. Rectangular cribs are also typically easier to find bedding and accessories for, which can make the process of setting up the crib and making it comfortable for the baby simpler and more straightforward.

When choosing a crib, it’s important to ensure that it meets all relevant safety standards and that it is constructed from high-quality materials that will stand up to regular use. Additionally, parents should regularly check the crib to ensure that all parts are secure and that there are no hazards that could pose a risk to their child.

Quality

The stability and construction quality of a baby crib is essential factors to consider when choosing a crib for your child. A crib that is poorly constructed or unstable can pose a serious risk to your child’s safety.

It’s important to choose a crib that is made from high-quality materials and has sturdy construction to ensure that it can withstand regular use over the two or more years that your child will be sleeping in it. The crib should also be designed to meet all relevant safety standards to ensure that it is free from hazards and safe for your child to sleep in.

Make sure to carefully inspect it for any signs of damage or wear and tear, and to test it for stability by gently shaking it to ensure that it does not wobble or move excessively. And all parts should be securely attached so that there are no loose or protruding screws or other components that could pose a risk to your child.

By choosing a stable and well-constructed crib, you can ensure that your child will have a safe and comfortable place to sleep throughout their early years.

Teething Rail

As your baby starts teething and learns to pull themselves up, they may end up gnawing and biting on the crib rail. To prevent damage to the crib and any potential harm to your baby, many cribs come with a plastic teething rail securely attached to the top of the crib rail. It’s important to inspect this teething rail regularly to ensure that it’s properly attached and not loose.

Caster Wheels

It’s helpful to have wheels on your baby’s crib, so you can easily move it when needed. It’s important to check that the wheels are sturdy and reliable, so they don’t break or malfunction when you’re moving the crib around. If you’re unsure whether you’ll need wheels, you can leave them off but keep them nearby in case you change your mind later on.

By the time your baby is around 3 or 4 months old, you’ll likely want to have wheels on the crib for easier mobility. If you find a crib you love that doesn’t come with wheels, you can purchase caster wheels from a hardware store and install them yourself.

Remember to always keep the wheels locked when the crib is in use, and only unlock them when you need to move the crib. After you’re done moving it, lock the wheels again to keep the crib stable and secure.

How to Use Baby Cribs Properly and Safely?

Assemble the crib correctly

When you receive and assemble your crib and mattress, it’s important to make sure they fit together properly. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to ensure that the crib is assembled correctly and securely.

If you can fit more than two fingers between the mattress and crib, the mattress is too small and not safe for your baby.

Make sure all screws, bolts, and other components are tightened and secure.

It’s a good idea to have at least two people when putting together a baby crib. It’ll make things easier and ensure that it’s done correctly for your baby’s safety.

Babies can be quite active and shake their cribs, so we suggest checking the hardware regularly to make sure nothing is loose or damaged.

Choose the right location

Place the crib away from windows, drapes, cords, or any other objects that could pose a choking or entanglement hazard to your child. Avoid placing the crib near heaters, lamps, or other sources of heat or light.

Use a well-fitting mattress

Use a mattress that fits snugly inside the crib with no more than two fingers’ width between the mattress and the sides of the crib. Make sure the mattress is firm, flat, and does not sag.

Use appropriate bedding

Use only fitted sheets that are designed for the size of the crib and the mattress. Do not use any loose or soft bedding, such as pillows, comforters, or stuffed animals, as they can pose a suffocation hazard.

Adjust the mattress height

Set the mattress height to the highest setting when your child is an infant and cannot yet sit up or stand. As your child grows and becomes more mobile, adjust the mattress to the lower settings to prevent them from climbing out or falling over the sides.

Check for hazards regularly

Regularly inspect the crib for any signs of damage or wear and tear, and ensure that all parts are securely attached. Check the mattress and bedding regularly to ensure that they are clean, dry, and free from any hazards.

If you choose a painted crib, it’s important to keep an eye on the paint job. Check it periodically to make sure it’s not peeling or chipping, which can be a safety hazard.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your child’s crib is used properly and safely, providing them with a secure and comfortable place to sleep. Additionally, always supervise your child while they are in the crib, and do not leave any toys or other objects inside the crib that could pose a hazard.

Do Baby Cribs Include Mattresses?

It depends on the crib and the manufacturer. Some baby cribs are sold with a mattress included, while others are not. When shopping for a baby crib, be sure to check whether or not a mattress is included in the purchase.

If a mattress is not included, you will need to purchase one separately. It is important to choose a mattress that is the right size and fits snugly inside the crib. A mattress that is too small or too big can pose a safety risk for your baby. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the crib and the mattress to ensure that they are both safe and properly used.

When Is The Best Time To Buy A Baby Crib?

The best time to buy a crib is typical during the second trimester of pregnancy. This is because cribs can take several weeks to be delivered, and it’s better to have everything set up before the baby arrives. Additionally, purchasing a crib earlier in the pregnancy can spread out the costs and make budgeting easier. However, it ultimately depends on personal preference and circumstances.

Can Newborns Sleep in a Baby Crib?

Yes, newborns can sleep in a crib, but there are certain safety considerations to keep in mind. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants sleep in the same room as their parents for at least the first six months of life, and ideally for the first year. However, they should have their own separate sleep surfaces, such as a crib or bassinet, and should always be placed on their back to sleep to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

When using a crib for a newborn, make sure the crib meets current safety standards and that the mattress fits snugly inside the crib. Avoid using soft bedding, such as blankets, pillows, or bumper pads, as these can increase the risk of suffocation. Also, make sure the crib is free from any loose parts or hardware that could pose a hazard. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your newborn sleeps safely and soundly in their crib.

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