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What Should I Consider When Buying a Baby Crib?

By J.Gunsch
Updated Feb 07, 2024
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Buying a baby crib can be very exciting, but there are a few things to consider before making a purchase. New models have a variety of different features, and many people love the idea of antique or heirloom baby cribs. Whether old or new, double check the crib to make sure it is safe for your baby.

Any baby cribs made after 1985 are required by law to meet specific safety standards. In older baby cribs, make sure that the slats or bars of the crib are spaced no more than 2 3/8 inches (6 cm) apart. Anything larger poses the risk of the baby's head becoming trapped.

You should also check the baby crib thoroughly for any defects or designs that may cause entrapment of the head. Older cribs may have been painted with lead paint, which if ingested can cause serious illness. If you choose an heirloom piece, it is a good idea to have it refinished before the baby uses it.

When you purchase a baby crib, you will also have to choose a mattress. For safety reasons, it is important to make sure that the mattress fits snugly in the crib and that it is firm. There should be no space between the baby crib and the mattress. A good rule of thumb is that if you can fit two or more fingers between the crib and the mattress, the mattress is too small. A mattress that is too small or soft increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), entrapment or suffocation.

When choosing a baby crib, make sure that it is sturdy. Check the wood to make sure it isn't likely to splinter or crack. Lower and raise the rail a number of times to ensure that it moves easily and quietly. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to lower a stubborn or noisy rail with a sleeping child in your arms. A sturdy baby crib will also ensure your child's safety by helping to prevent falls when he or she learns to climb.

The last thing to consider, and arguably the most fun, is the style of your baby crib. Some cribs are designed to last a lifetime. Many models easily convert from a baby crib to a toddler bed, a full size head and foot board and a stylish love seat. These convertible baby cribs are great if you want something that you or your child can have as a keepsake. If you like to update your furniture periodically, a less expensive traditional baby crib that is equally attractive may be more ideal.

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Discussion Comments
By Kat919 — On Apr 08, 2012

Something else I considered when I was crib shopping is what it's made out of and finished with. Babies spend a lot of time chewing on their cribs, so I wanted one with a nontoxic finish. I also wanted one of all hardwood, as particle board is made with formaldehyde and can release toxic gasses.

You can spend several hundred dollars for a crib made of sustainable hardwood. I didn't have the luxury of a big enough budget to spring for sustainable, but I looked and looked until I found something that was at least hardwood and with a nontoxic finish.

I was lucky enough to find a nice modern baby crib for a good price at Walmart, of all places. So far it is holding up well!

By MissDaphne — On Apr 08, 2012

The article refers to raising and lowering the rail of the crib, but it's important to note that drop-side cribs have actually been taken off the market in the US. If you have a drop-side crib, contact the manufacturer; there may be a kit available to convert it to a fixed-side model that will be safer for your baby.

Something to consider when you're deciding what kind of baby furniture and cribs to buy is how many kids you plan to have, and how close together. If you are planning to have another baby within two years, what's the point of having a convertible crib? You will need to buy a new bed for your older child anyway when the little one arrives and needs the crib!

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