What You Need To Know About Cribs:
Regulations & Guidelines
Buying a baby crib is an important step in preparing for your baby. Crib safety standards in the United States are set to keep manufacturers in line and make new cribs safe, but it is not a guarantee.
You may remember drop down sides or movable railings; they were designed to allow easier access to lay down or pick up your baby. Instead of bending over the crib from above, you could just adjust the drop-down side. Unfortunately, this ease of access came at a cost. Between 2001 and 2010 cribs with drop-down sides were linked to over 32 infant deaths.
These dangerous cribs were then banned for sale by the CPSC in 2011. However, recalls were not required since the standards were changed. Check if your drop-down side crib is on the recall list.
In June 2011, a safer generation of cribs came about with 5 New Federal Requirements:
1. Wood slats must be made of stronger woods to prevent breakage.
2. Mattress supports must be more durable.
3. Traditional drop-side cribs cannot be made or sold; immobilizers and repair kits not allowed.
4. Safety testing must be more rigorous.
5. Crib hardware must have anti-loosening devices to keep it from coming loose or falling off.
Therefore, with safety the number one concern, avoid buying an older crib. Cribs with drop down sides often turn up at yard sales or second-hand stores, or even message boards online. While it may seem drop-down sides are a great feature, it is in your baby’s best interests that you walk away.
Safety Concerns & Guidelines
Be aware of the distant between slats and corner posts. There should not be more than 2-3/8 inches between crib slats so your baby’s body cannot fit through the slats. If a soda can fits easily through the slats on a crib, the spaces between the slats are too wide.
Corner posts should be flush with the end panels, or no more than 1/16 inches higher, as they can pose a safety hazard to your baby. Corner posts can easily catch onto your baby’s clothing and can result in choking or injury. Often older cribs manufactured in the 90’s or earlier had those fancy finials or knobs, but better to saw them off and sand down the rough edges if you find them on a used crib. The exception to this rule is if the corners are higher than 16 inches to support a canopy, they won’t be a safety risk.
You also need a firm snug-fitting mattress so a baby cannot get trapped between the mattress and the side of the crib. Make sure the mattress is firm and fits snugly against the inside of the crib. Try the two-finger test… if you can fit more than two fingers between the mattress and the crib, the mattress isn’t a good fit. Basically, the harder it is for you to make the bed, the better for your baby. Also, pull off the plastic if the mattress is new.
Check all hardware. Bolts, screws, and other fittings should be firmly secured, no sharp edges or rough areas and no spots that can pinch or otherwise injure your little one. The crib’s wood should be free of cracks or splits. The entire crib should be very sturdy with tight joints.
Lead paint poses a serious health risk to babies and young children. Even though it was banned in 1978, there are still recalls due to lead paint in children’s toys and jewelry. If you are using an older crib and have any concerns about the paint, it would be best to strip it down and start over using a high-quality, lead-free enamel (check the paint label to make sure your choice is safe as a nursery item). For a natural nursery, stick to non-toxic paint with low or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Any crib that has peeling or cracked paint (even lead-free) should also be refinished.
When babies began to stand and start teething, too, you will notice they are at the right height for chewing on the crib railings. This can mean a toddler with a mouthful of wood, splinters and paint. Crib manufacturers are not required to put teething rails in place, but some do opt to put permanent rails in their cribs. This can extend the life of your crib, a necessity if you want to reuse the crib for subsequent siblings. A curious toddler can remove separate teething rails with ease if you aren’t careful! Look into buying crib rail covers.
Inside the crib, make sure never to put plush toys or soft bedding in the crib with your baby. Even pillows and comforters that comes with the crib bedding set can pose a suffocation hazard.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also strongly advises against using bumper pads or sleep positioners, as they may increase the risk of SIDS and other crib-deaths. While they are no longer manufactured in the USA and they are not recommended, they might still be found for purchase online or at second-hand stores.
For more information on sleep safety, check out the CPSC Crib Information Center.
Buying A New Crib vs. Buying A Used Crib: Buyer Beware!
If you are considering purchasing a used crib online or from a second-hand store, or have inherited an older crib from friends or family, check to see if it was recalled. Aside from eliminating any drop-down side cribs or cribs with too much space between the slats, you can search the CPSC’s crib recall database to make sure this particular crib hasn’t been recalled. If it has been, don’t use it. In fact, if there is no sentimental value in the crib, it would be best to destroy it.
Another warning about used cribs, avoid ones that have been disassembled. Some parts could be missing, or if there are no instructions, there’s a chance it will be reassembled incorrectly or it will not fit back together snugly and securely. If the joints are loose or the crib isn’t sturdy, it may not last much longer. Be safe, if it’s in pieces when you buy it, it’s almost impossible to tell if it’s in good condition or not.
If you have a crib that you know is unsafe for any particular reason, whether it’s an old drop-side crib or it’s just old and missing parts, the responsible thing to do is to destroy it. Don’t give it away to someone or donate to a second-hand store. Throw it in the trash and mark on it somewhere that it’s unsafe to use. By properly disposing of unsafe cribs you may have just saved another baby’s life.
Other Safety Concerns: Crib Location
You can place your baby crib anywhere in your house, but be aware of placing a crib near a window. Consider as your baby grows and starts reaching and grabbing for things, they can be tangled in curtains or blind cords. They can also use these materials to climb out of their crib. Avoid placing any furniture to close to the crib that can also be used to climb out. Curious babies can get themselves into all sorts of situations!
Be aware of air currents, either cool constant breezes from vents or fans that can make your baby cold, or from radiators or heaters that can make your baby too warm. Avoid direct sunlight and drafty windows.
Feel Safe & Secure With The Cribs Listed On Our Site
All of the cribs reviewed by Best Baby Wishes have been approved by the leaders in baby safety standards.
Not just American as the standards they set are widely used around the world in many applications. Nor are they a “society” but actually a committee. They do not perform any testing, either, but rather insure integrity in products manufactured and sold to consumers by setting standards to meet specific safety requirements.
The JPMA Certification Seal signifies a baby product meets minimum government requirements based on safety and use. To become certified, each product is sample-tested at an independent laboratory to verify it meets the highest standards for safety, performance and functionality. While the JPMA Certification is voluntary, it is based on adherence to ASTM standards, federal and state laws and some retail requirements. The program is designed to provide peace of mind to parents that these products have been independently tested to the most stringent standards.
CPSC stands for safety. The CPSC seeks to promote the safety of consumer products by addressing “unreasonable risks” of injury by coordinating recalls, evaluating products that are the subject of consumer complaints or industry reports, etc.. The Commission also develops uniform safety standards and conducts research into product-related illness and injury.
Check for recalls and safety alerts.
Price Considerations For A New Crib
Size matters. Not the size of the crib, but the size of your baby’s bedroom. Full-size cribs are all the same size: about 29” wide and 53” long. That’s the interior dimension of the crib. Cribs with fancy headboards or curved sides can be several inches wider or longer. Note: A crib mattresses is usually sold separately.
If you get a crib that has an unusual shape or different size, it’s imperative that you get a mattress that will fit it. Also, standard cribs sheets won’t work, either, so keep that in mind when you have a strict budget. Accessories will generally cost more than that of a standard crib.
Standard Baby Cribs: Simple, sturdy designs, usually well-constructed and long-lasting, easy to assemble. Not easy to move from room to room, especially if they don’t fit through a regular door-way. If you are going to move it around, consider lockable caster wheels. It also makes it a lot easier to change the sheets. However, make sure that the wheels are able to be locked in place. Otherwise it’s not safe once your baby starts to stand on their own.
As discussed, it is safer to buy a new crib. If your budget is limited, your basic no-frills crib can be found for $80-$175. Yes, a good sturdy crib is affordable for everyone.
Convertible Baby Cribs: Designed to grow with your baby, convertible to toddler beds, daybeds, even twin-size or full-size beds, makes convertible beds the best value for your money. Even with the additional purchase of guard rails or conversion kits, these cribs can provide for your child for years. While sometimes harder to assemble and not as sturdy as standard cribs, they tend to be more stylish.
The best option for cost-conscious consumers would be a convertible crib. Ranging anywhere from $160-$475, they may cost more for the initial investment, but since they can also be converted into a toddler bed or a daybed, they are better in the long run. Skip buying an additional bed as your baby begins to outgrow their crib, but you may need to purchase an optional guardrail (around $40-$50) to convert to a toddler bed or a daybed.
To convert to a twin bed or a full bed, with the crib being used for a headboard and optional footboard, you may need to purchase a conversion kit which is sold separately (usually around $80-$90).
Higher priced cribs are best if you want the fancy woods and finishes, which may last longer, or if you are looking for the fancy designs and unique structures (think round or oval). These cribs can go for $500 or more.
Portable Cribs: If you have smaller spaces, portable cribs are a good choice. If it fits through your doorways, you can move it around with ease and keep on eye on your baby even when you need to be in a different room.
Also known as a folding crib, a portable crib is essentially a crib on wheels (also known as casters). Once you have moved your baby crib in the desired position, you simply use the locks on each wheel to lock it into place. With the locks on, the baby crib will be unable to roll away.
Depending on whether you have to roll it over carpet or the floor, make sure you have the right type of wheels. By choosing the correct wheels to make it easier to push around, you can also avoid floor damage by scratching.
Not ideal for a full-time crib, as they can become unstable, but portable cribs usually fold up easily, making them good for travel, too. Although you may need to store the mattress away when folded up. Note: Some models include the thinner mattress pad.
If you don’t have room at all for a crib, or want your baby to sleep in your room in the beginning, a baby bassinet is a good alternative to use for the first few months.
Travel Cribs: Made of lightweight materials like aluminum and mesh, they are quick to set up or broken down. They usually come with carry bags that makes them easy to transport and easy to carry. If you take your baby on holidays or often move your baby between houses then this is the baby crib for you.
However, the lightweight materials means they are not very sturdy. They are more prone to wear and tear than regular cribs. This makes travel cribs unsuitable to be used in place of a permanent crib.
With 1,000s of cribs on the market, there’s something for everyone. So set your budget and check out our reviews: 10 Best Baby Cribs: Top Rated for 2018.