Choosing a Baby Crib

Getting the right baby crib is an important task as this furniture item is essential for at least the first two years of a baby’s life. Begin shopping for a crib at least a few months before the baby is due to arrive, since some cribs can take several weeks to be delivered. Cribs range in price from $100 to $1,000, and there are a variety of models to choose from. The bottom line is that a simple, stable crib that meets safety requirements will be a good choice for the nursery.

Types of  Baby Cribs

A baby can begin sleeping in his or her crib from the time you bring him or her home from the hospital. Some parents prefer a smaller bassinet, cradle, or Moses basket that is more portable and may be on rockers to lull the infant to sleep. After the first one or two months, your baby will outgrow the bassinet and need to be transferred to a crib. A standard crib accommodates a standard crib mattress and is usually made of wood. Some standard baby cribs are designed to convert to a toddler bed, with the side rails replaced with a toddler safety rail. A portable crib is smaller and lighter than a standard crib. It folds up easily and is useful for families who travel frequently.

Safety Standards and Precautions

The most important criteria when looking for a baby crib is to make sure it is safe and structurally sound. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has developed safety standards for cribs that are worth reading. Among these standards, a requirement for crib slats is that they must be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart from each other. Also, the dimensions of the crib should not be too wide or long, such that there is extra space between the side of the mattress and the crib railing. These standards aim to prevent a baby from getting his or her head or other body parts trapped because of the structure of the crib.

Older cribs, especially those manufactured before 1973, may present hazards such as lead-based paint, splinters, and unsafe gaps. Check the baby crib for peeling paint, unstable mechanisms, and sharp edges. Make sure the crib model hasn’t been recalled for safety issues. You may also keep an eye out for cribs that have been certified under the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA).

Useful Crib Features

Cribs that feature adjustable mattress height allow you to lower the supporting frame for the mattress as the child grows taller, so that the crib rails are always at a safe height. It also helps you take the baby in and out of the crib easily, especially at infancy. A drop-rail crib is good for this purpose as well. However, be cautious in selecting a model of drop-side crib, since many have been recalled due to improper construction and assembly of the rail. Finally, some cribs come on casters that are helpful for moving it around the room.

Written by: 
Jessica Ackerman, author and staff designer at, specializes in wall art and decor and fish wall sculpture .

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