With so many styles and options available on baby cribs today, purchasing the perfect baby crib can be a daunting task. Determine your price range and decide which baby crib features are most important to you. Then let the hunt begin for the best crib begin! Here are some important baby crib features to get you started on your quest.
Baby Crib Safety Standards
Any new baby crib you purchase is supposed to meet minimum government requirements. If you assemble it to the manufacturer’s instructions and use the crib properly, even the least expensive crib should be safe for baby. Occasionally, an unsafe crib slips through, though, so keep an eye on current baby products recalls, just in case. A safe crib should have a firm, tight-fitting mattress, no missing/broken hardware or slats and no cutouts in the head- or foot-boards. Slats should be no more than 2 3/8″ apart (the width of a soda can). Corner posts should not be higher than 1/16″.
Should the Baby Crib Have Drop Sides or Stationary Sides?
Baby cribs come with stationary sides or single-drop or double-drop sides that slide down. Another option is a drop-gate crib with a fold-down side. While drop sides are convenient and popular, new warnings from CPSC indicate that they could present serious safety issues. New crib safety standards are expected soon, and manufacturers may not be allowed to make new drop-side cribs. Until the safety issues are hammered out, stick with a stationary side crib.
How Do the Baby Crib Sides Drop?
If you choose a crib with a drop side, how it moves makes a difference in convenience.
Knee Push – Leaning your knee against the crib side lowers the side. Quiet and simple, this may be the most common type today.
Foot Bar – You balance on one foot and push a lever to drop the crib sides. This type is less common today.
Double Trigger – You use both hands to squeeze triggers that release the crib side. This style provides some security, but two-handed operation isn’t easy while holding baby.
Drop-Gate – Convenient and easy to use. Be sure the fold is high enough to keep baby from climbing out of the crib.
Baby Crib Caster Wheels
Wheels are a very useful feature. Check the casters to make sure they aren’t flimsy, because you’ll be moving the crib to vacuum under it, change sheets or fetch toys. If you aren’t sure if you’ll need them, leave them off the crib but keep them nearby. You’ll probably want them on the crib by the time the baby is 3 or 4 months old. If you fall in love with a crib that doesn’t have wheels already installed, you can buy furniture caster wheels at the hardware store and install them yourself.
Baby Crib Mattress Height and Support
Adjustable mattress height is available on all but the most inexpensive cribs. It allows the mattress to be higher in the crib so you can gently lay down a sleeping newborn, then lowered for babies who can pull up. At least two mattress heights is nice, three is even better. Check out the way the mattress is held up. Some cheaper cribs use vinyl straps that could wear out and break. Baby cribs with metal bars are a better choice. The best choice is a metal spring system to support the mattress.
Convertible Baby Cribs?
Convertible baby cribs are attractive to many buyers, but the added expense may not be worth it to some parents. Some baby cribs are convertible to toddler beds, others to full-size adult beds. Most cribs require an extra kit to be fully convertible; ask about the cost before you make your final decision on a convertible baby crib. Also ask yourself whether you’ll actually convert the crib or whether you’ll reuse the crib for siblings and buy a separate toddler bed. Most toddlers can move right to a twin bed, so you could also skip that step to save money.
Where to Buy a Baby Crib
Baby mega-stores have the largest selection of baby cribs in both price and style. They have a few models in stock, but order others, which can take up to 12 weeks. Order early in case of delays. Many new parents are surprised at how long it takes for their baby’s crib to arrive. Local baby shops usually carry premium crib brands at mid to premium prices. They often don’t keep cribs in stock, so every crib is a special order. Websites have a wide range of crib brands and models, but shipping might be pricey. If there’s a problem, returning the crib also could be difficult. Be clear on return policies before you buy.
Other Baby Crib Buying Choices
Large retailers like Sears have a few crib choices in the middle to low price range. You may have to order your crib. Large discount stores have low prices and baby cribs in stock. Their crib selection is limited, usually to low-end models. Be wary of used cribs. New information on drop-side cribs indicates that re-assembly is often done incorrectly, which can endanger baby. Missing hardware or worn-out pieces are also potential problems. Several crib companies have gone out of business in the past few years, too, meaning you could be stuck with a used, recalled crib and no one that will take it back.