It is exciting preparing to welcome your new baby into your home, but it is also a bit nerve-wracking. Because you want everything to be perfect. Some of your worries will be allayed by knowing all the possible safety hazards and how to avoid them. Some by knowing the many kinds of cribs available. We have gathered together the following information for you and hope that choosing baby’s first bed is a totally joyful experience.
How Can I Tell If a Crib Is Safe?
Fortunately, since June 28, 2011, crib manufacturers must adhere to strict safety standards that also apply to any used or antique crib sold or gifted by a private person. That can alleviate much of the worry when crib shopping, but you still want to assure yourself those standards have been followed.
The date of manufacture (DOM) must appear on the crib itself or on the tracking label and shows that the crib was manufactured after June 28, 2011. The date will appear as 29MAR18_LR (29 March 2018) or 2018 / 03 _FBB (March 2018). (The letters at the end are irrelevant.)
Go to the Keeping Babies Safe website to see if a particular crib has been recalled.
How to Examin the Crib's Safety?
Become your own “quality control expert” and examine the crib thoroughly.
Side bars (slats) should be no more than 2 3/8” (6 cm) apart, so that the baby does not slip through nor get his head caught in between them. If you can put a can of soda through the side bars, they are too far apart.
Corner posts should not have pointy finials nor any finials more than 1/16 of an inch (.16 cm) high. Ideally, the posts are flush with the headboard/footboard or more than 16” (41 cm) high. Anything in between can catch the baby’s clothing and become a strangulation hazard.
- Top of the crib rail should be at least 26” (66 cm) from the top of the mattress so that the baby does not fall over the side once she can sit up or pull herself up. Look for a crib with two mattress-height positions; three or four are even better. By the time the baby is six-to-eight months of age (or able to stand), the mattress will be at its lowest position.
- Drop-down sides are never ever a good idea. They are, in fact, against the law. A number of infants died when their heads or necks were caught in the gap between the drop-side and mattress.
- Headboards and footboards should be solid. Babies can get their heads stuck in those “adorable” decorative cutouts.
- Casters are convenient if you intend to move the crib around, but make sure that you can lock the casters. Otherwise, you may find that the crib has moved when the baby has been especially active. Also, big sister or brother will not be able to take the baby for a joy ride or use the crib as a very big scooter.
Take a few additional precautions with used, hand-me-down or antique beds:
- Keep in mind that any crib made before 2011 is unlikely to meet today’s standards.
- Paint may contain layers of lead-based paint.
- Make sure the hinges are stable and the finish is smooth and free of splinters. Also, check for any glue residue and sharp or protruding pieces, such as nails, screws.
- Check all nuts, bolts and screws and tighten as needed.
- Make sure all side bars are secure.
- Give the crib a shake to make sure it does not wobble.
What types of cribs are there?
A crib is a crib, Right? Wrong! You may be surprised how many different types of cribs there are. It is best to know what your choices will be before you shop. Otherwise, you may just find yourself overwhelmed and wracked with indecision.
Standard cribs are what we think of when we hear the word “crib.” It is rectangular with four closed sides (usually two sides with bars, a headboard and footboard) and measures around 52 inches x 28 inches (132 cm x 71 cm). They are traditional, safe and sturdy and can be as elaborate or as plain as you like. There are many styles and colors that will fit in with any nursery décor.
With drawer(s) that pull out from under the crib, either along the length or the width.
With changing table attached that includes a changing pad and drawers and/or open shelf space for storing baby essentials.
A spindle crib is almost a standard crib, except the side bars (slats) come in decorative designs and give the crib (and nursery) an elegant, sometimes vintage, appearance. The bars are fashioned by hand or with a lathe and may be square, round or rectangular. Often, the design of the spindles is echoed in the crib’s legs, beaded edges, and sculpted top rail.
A convertible crib will convert to a toddler bed when your baby is ready. Some will also convert to a daybed, taking your child right into adolescence. It is thought that the child has an easier time transitioning from one bed to another with a convertible crib.
Typically, convertible cribs have a generic design and “safe” color scheme, so that it does not go out of fashion before the child is done with it. You need to be sure you really love the crib, because you are going to have it in your home for a long time. Also, convertible cribs are more expensive than “ordinary” cribs, but then it is going take the place of three beds.
An oval crib is a very fashionable choice. It combines a vintage design with modern advantages. In general, an oval crib is slightly smaller than a standard crib and takes up less space, but the sleeping space is maximized. Not having corners makes an oval crib more convenient for tending to the baby, and the nursery is enhanced with an oval crib in the center of it. You need to be aware, however, that it is highly unlikely that you will ever find oval sheets on sale at the local big-box retailers! Special order only.
A round crib measures about 46 inches (117 cm) in diameter, so it is a viable choice for a room with limited space, especially if you want to ensure your baby has space to play on the floor. Round cribs are not covered under the above-mentioned safety standards, but one advantage is that you do not have to worry about your baby (or yourself) running into sharp corners. Another advantage is that they are lightweight and easy to move around. And there is the matter of aesthetics. Round is more pleasing to look at than rectangular. But then, like the oval bed, there is the matter of sheets.
A mini crib measures about 38 inches x 24 inches (97 cm x 61 cm), but has most of the features of a standard crib and are subject to current safety standards. The casters make moving it from room to room easy, but do not forget to make sure those casters lock. Some babies outgrow the mini crib before they are ready for a toddler bed, which may leave you needing to buy a larger crib later.
A bassinet is small and offers a solution for apartment dwellers, but it is so nice being able to watch your baby as you lie on your bed. With some bassinets, you can rock your baby to sleep. It is also lightweight and easy-to-move. The downside is that it is only a temporary bed for your baby. By the time he is, say, three to six months old, or when she begins to roll over on her own, you will need to buy another crib.
A travel crib is ideal whether you are going on a lengthy vacation or to Grandmother’s for the weekend. It is soft and lightweight, usually with a mesh and aluminum construction that you can put in the trunk of your car or in the overhead on an airplane. It does not long for you to set it up or pack it up. It is not made to be used as a permanent sleeping solution. Durability is sacrificed for the convenience of transporting it.
- Determine how much space you have for the crib—realistically.
- Determine what you need/want from the crib. For instance, do you need a space saver? A convertible?
- Determine what your budget is. Set the very tip-top amount that you can pay. Set the amount that you prefer to spend. Stick with that range and, somewhere in there, you will find a crib that ticks all your boxes.