When a baby is born, it is perfectly natural for their parents to want to invest in the best products for them.
For example, they might find themselves trying to find out what the best baby toys are or what the best first foods are for when they start eating solids.
After all, many things can be harmful to young babies. Furthermore, some cribs have better features than others, which can make them a lot more helpful, as well as much safer than others are.
Here are the features parents should look for in a crib.
Baby Nursery FAQs
What We Found
- Basic is Best. The safest cribs have simple lines and no scrollwork or finials.
- Buy New. If possible, avoid buying or accepting a used crib.
- Check Construction and Workmanship.
- Buy the Mattress at the Same Time.
- Use the Proper Sheets.
- Arrange for Assembly.
- Adjust the Mattress to the Right Height.
Periodically check the crib to ensure no rough edges or sharp points on the metal parts and no splinters or cracks in the wood. Do not use bumper pads in cribs. There is no evidence that they prevent injuries, and there is a possible risk of suffocation, strangulation, or entrapment.
The idea was that nursing women would share a bed with their newborns but, to avoid rolling over and crushing them, place a half whiskey barrel with three slats over their children, forming a sort of protective shell.
However, if you are not planning to need another crib in the future, and you have other furniture such as a dresser or bookcase that matches the crib (and therefore the bed conversion), it is probably worth buying the convertible crib.
They come with one, two or no drop-sides and parents should decide which model they prefer before narrowing their search. Typical costs: According to Consumer Reports , economy cribs cost $100-$150; mid-priced cribs, $150-$450; and high-end ones, $450+.
The Most Helpful Features To Look For In Baby Cribs
Shopping for a baby crib is a big investment, and parents want to ensure their choice is the safest possible. Follow these rules when crib shopping.
Bars Should Be Close
One of the most helpful things that a crib can have is bars that are not very far apart. According to fatherly.com, the distance between the bars on a baby’s crib should not be more than two and three-eighths of an inch apart from one another. Therefore, parents who are shopping for one need to bring something to help them measure the distance between the bars on the cribs they are considering buying. But if they don’t have anything like that, they can use a soda can since that can be effective. If it fits between the bars, there is way too much space there.
Adjustable Mattresses Are Nice
There are a lot of very helpful features that a crib can have. One of the things that parents should be on the lookout for when looking at cribs for their little one.
Furthermore, they also need to make sure that the top of the rail that is on the crib is 26 inches above the mattress that is in it. Additionally, moms and dads should know that when their child grows, they’ll need to adjust the crib to fit their new size.
This is one thing parents need to do to ensure they have the best crib for their baby.
Bumpers Aren't Needed.
Many people use bumpers in their cribs, but the best thing they should do is make sure the crib they are using does not have one. While many people do not see a problem with using them, they can cause problems for babies who are a bit older.
Older kids tend to get creative and find ways to climb up, and out of the crib they are in, and having a bumper makes that easier for them. A crib with no bumper is the best way to go.
Wheels Should Lock
Some of the cribs parents buy are not mobile, but that is not the case for all of them. Some cribs come with wheels, and parents should look for a special feature when it comes to those.
If parents wish to buy a crib with wheels, they must first make sure that the wheels can lock. This is especially important if the crib is going to be sitting on floors that are made out of wood or tiles. If they do not have this feature, that could put the child in danger.
Get A Solid Headboard
Some cribs come with cutouts in the headboard. They can make the crib look nicer, but that is not safe for the baby. Therefore, parents trying to decide on a crib for their baby should find out that it has a solid headboard.
According to webmd.com, having a cutout in the headboard could result in the baby getting their head stuck, which is never good. This means that one of the features that parents should look for when trying to find the right crib is a solid headboard.
Corner Posts Shouldn't Be Too High.
When shopping for a crib that is both nice and safe enough for their baby, parents need to be prepared to do quite a bit of measuring.
One of the helpful features that they need to look for when searching for a great crib has corner posts that are not that high.
The reason why this is very important is that if a corner post is too high, a child can get their clothing caught on it. Ideally, these things should not be higher than one-sixteenth of an inch high.
In addition, they need to spend a lot of time looking at the cribs that they are considering buying. They should buy one that does not have any broken edges, as that can be very dangerous for babies.
Side Rails Shouldn't Move.
Sometimes when moms and dads are searching for a crib, they might choose to get an old used one that a family member or a friend is offering to them. While the gesture is nice and saving money is always great, this is nothing that they should do.
The reason why this is true is that they should look for a crib that does not have side-rails that can drop, according to kidshealth.org. Side rails should not move at all. New cribs that one might find these days are not likely to have movable side rails, so it is best to buy a new crib.
There are many things to look for when purchasing a crib, and side rails that do not move are one of them.
Choosing a Crib
When choosing a crib for your baby, keep safety in mind. Check that it is up-to-date with safety standards, for example. This is especially important when using previously owned pieces bought or passed on as gifts.
Antique cribs, for example, may look pretty, but the spacing between the slats rarely conforms to the current standard of 2 3/8 inches or less, which is intended to make it impossible for a baby's head to become caught.
In addition, the finish may include old layers of lead‑based paint. You can trust new furniture if it bears the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association safety certification seal.
Some other tips to keep in mind when selecting and setting up your baby's crib:
- The crib's bars should be spaced 2 3/8 inches apart.
- The mattress should be very firm and not sag under your baby's weight. It should fit snugly, with no space between the mattress and the crib walls. (Note: Your baby should never sleep on a water bed, sheepskin, pillow, sofa, armchair, or other soft surfaces.)
- Raised crib sides should be at least 26 inches above the mattress support in its lowest position. Periodically lower the mattress as your child gets taller.
- The headboards and footboards should be solid, with no decorative cutouts. Corner posts that could cause injury or snag clothing should be removed.
- Do not use cribs with drop rails. These are not safe.
- Also, keep in mind that all fabrics in your baby's room (for example, sleepwear, sheets, curtains) should be flame retardant.
- Crib bumpers (or bumper pads) may seem as though they can help protect babies from drafts and bumps, but they should not be used in cribs. There is no evidence that bumper pads can prevent serious injuries, and they pose a risk of suffocation, strangulation, or entrapment. In addition, older babies can use them for climbing out of the crib.
- Keep large toys and stuffed animals out of the crib, as your baby may use them to get a leg up and over the rail. Pillows, bulky comforters, and heavy blankets do not belong in a crib; babies can easily smother under or be pressed against them.
- Babies do not need extra support, such as from rolled blankets or commercial devices, to keep them on their backs. Cumbersome materials like these clutter up the crib and maybe hazardous for a baby.
- Place the crib away from windows, where direct sunlight and drafts can make your baby uncomfortable. A crib can become uncomfortably hot if placed too near a radiator.
- Ensure that there are no strings from blinds or curtains close by that can wrap around the baby's neck.
- Also, keep in mind that all fabrics in your baby's room (sheets, sleepwear, curtains, for example) should be flame retardant.
- Once children are about 3 feet tall, they should start sleeping in a bed. If you are worried about your baby falling out of bed, you may want to start with the mattress on the floor.
Choose a High-Quality Crib for Your Newborn
This is an issue near and dear to my heart as my wife, and we are expecting a baby this summer. We are both beyond excited to be new Moms and want our baby to be safe and secure!
Although it might not seem like it to most new parents facing another mountain of laundry and diapers, newborns spend almost all their time sleeping. A safe and non-toxic crib, bassinet, or co-sleeper is one of the most important items in an eco-friendly nursery.
The sheer number of baby products out there is overwhelming, however, and these seemingly simple decisions can quickly become very emotionally laden. This means that it’s a good idea to learn a little about how cribs are made so that you can more easily spot greenwashing and misleading claims.
That way, you’ll stand a better chance of choosing a crib and other nursery items that are truly healthy and eco-friendly.
In this Leaf Score series, we examine some possible problems with toxic chemicals in cribs and examine key safety regulations and certifications for cribs in the US. I’ll also ask when you’ll need a crib and what kind of crib is right for you.
And finally, I’ll offer my recommendations for the best eco-friendly, practical, and non-toxic cribs around and provide more in-depth reviews of the very best non-toxic and eco-friendly cribs.
Key considerations when buying a crib
Sadly, the phrase ‘non-toxic’ doesn’t mean much when it comes to cribs or any other nursery items for a newborn. Companies can easily throw around this term while still selling products that contain toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and lead.
How do they get away with this? Well, because non-toxic isn’t a regulated term, and the only federal safety standards for cribs focus more on structural safety (plus the presence of lead and phthalates). So, how can you tell if a crib is safe, eco-friendly, and truly non-toxic?
Before buying a crib, you’ll want to consider some key things:
- What is the crib made of, and what stains and finishes are used if any?
- What certifications does the crib carry, and does it meet safety regulations?
- Where was the crib made, and under what conditions?
- Will the crib fit a standard mattress?
Let’s look at each consideration in turn.
#1. Sustainably sourced hardwood cribs are the best
The best cribs are those made with sustainably sourced hardwood that is kiln-dried and either unfinished or finished with linseed oil, beeswax, or other natural vegetable oil.
Unfortunately, meeting all of these conditions can be expensive, and not everyone lives near a company manufacturing such cribs. Shipping a heavy hardwood crib can add considerable expense and detracts from the eco-friendliness of the crib.
#2. Consider crib mobility
A heavy crib may also pose difficulties for some parents, especially if you’ll be moving the crib from room to room regularly. Walnut is a good, if more costly, compromise, as this is a robust hardwood that is a little less weighty than maple, cherry, oak, ash, or mahogany.
Some crib designs also feature wheels, making it a lot easier to move a heavier crib if needed.
#3. Softwood cribs are second best
The second best are cribs made with unfinished softwoods such as pine and poplar. These softwoods are more susceptible to marks and dings, including teeth marks once a baby starts gnawing on their crib (which they do!).
Softwood cribs are much lighter, though, and typically much less expensive. Be careful of softwood cribs sold with a hardwood veneer. Such ‘composite’ woods will almost always contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde, thanks to the glues used to stick the wood products together.
#4. Avoid engineered and composite wood
In general, avoid any cribs that contain engineered or composite wood. This includes particleboard, plywood, fiberboard and medium-density fiberboard, all typically containing formaldehyde.
Many companies advertise their cribs as being made with 100% pine, but when you look a little closer, there are components, such as the mattress supports, made with fiberboard. Be sure you know exactly what is in the crib before buying.
#5. Look for lead and phthalate-free cribs
Again, ideally, a crib should be free from lead and phthalates, not lead safe and phthalate safe, as these terms mean that a crib meets federal safety guidelines for the maximum allowable levels of these problematic chemicals.
If a crib is made exclusively of hardwood or softwood that is either unfinished or finished just with linseed oil, the chances are that this crib is free from lead, phthalates, formaldehyde, and other toxic chemicals.
If a crib is painted or stained or features composite wood, plastic teething guards, or other components, look for an explicit statement that the crib is free (not safe) from lead, phthalates, formaldehyde and VOCs.
#6. Crib safety recalls and regulations
If you’re getting a crib second hand, find out when the crib was made and check all of the components thoroughly before use.
These safety changes included requirements to strengthen crib slats, prevent breaking, and make hardware and mattress support more durable. The major change, however, was to ban drop-side cribs.
These cribs were once popular but have almost entirely been replaced by fixed side cribs for safety reasons. Poor quality hardware and mechanical malfunction led to some instances of a gap opening up between the mattress and the drop-side, which allowed infants to fall into this gap and suffocate.
At a basic level, standard crib mattresses in North America are made to fit 28″x 52″ dimensions. Not all cribs, however, are built to fit these mattresses, which can pose a safety risk. To keep your newborn safe, you’ll want a mattress and crib set-up where the mattress fits snugly inside the crib, without any gaps. Gaps create a risk for an infant falling between the mattress and the crib.
A crib is often the centrepiece of the nursery and is where your newborn will spend much of their time for many months to come.
It makes sense to put a lot of thought into buying a crib that will work well for you and your growing family, that is safe and non-toxic, and that doesn’t, in its manufacture, harm the environment or other people.
You’ll also want to consider whether the crib converts to a toddler bed whether the crib is low profile and has multiple mattress height options.