Buying a crib and a crib mattress for your baby is a huge investment. With safety standards and several features to keep in mind, you want the best crib to help your bundle of joy get the much-needed rest for healthy growth and development in their first years of life.
One great pleasure of parenting is watching your little one snooze peacefully in their crib. Never mind that you’ll miss your baby almost immediately after. A comfortable crib that helps your child sleep peacefully is a crib that allows you to sleep peacefully.
When do you need a crib?
A crib isn’t a necessity initially, but it can accommodate newborns up to the age of 5. You might prefer letting your newborn baby sleep in a bassinet or co-sleeper. However, your child will probably want something more exclusive around 4-5 months.
Whether you use a crib from the get-go or transition your baby to the crib much later, you’ll be sure to get years of use out of it, much longer if the crib converts to a bigger bed (more on this later). It’s one of those items that your little one uses the most. If you’re not planning to use it right away, you can add it to your registry for your friends and family who may want to pitch in to get it for you.
Babies who have previously bedshared tend to have trouble transitioning and learning to fall asleep by themselves. We co-slept before transitioning my child to his crib at 3 months. However, he didn’t get to spend as much time in his crib as anticipated. It took patience and frustrating nights for him even to like his crib.
Then halfway through transitioning him, we relocated twice, and this doubly affected the process. We moved him to a double bed right then as we had no plans of transitioning him to a toddler bed anyway.
Types of cribs
The right type of crib depends on the size of your space, your budget, and your goals. Nowadays, you get a lot more than just a sleeping place for your baby. You can get both budget-friendly and luxury baby cribs on the market, available in different shapes, sizes, materials, and colors.
These are the standard functional options of the best baby cribs:
- built-in drawers
- a safety rail
- a changer
A classic or regular crib is the standard wooden cradle we all know. It is the traditional first bed for your baby and fits the standard size crib mattress. Most cannot convert into bigger beds; hence your baby can use it until 2-4 years old before moving to a bigger bed. It is comfortable and has 4 fixed slides to provide baby safety. Some cradles have 3 height adjustment levels to adjust the mattress height as your baby grows.
Classic cribs are generally the cheapest in the full-size category. If you’re looking for cribs under 100 dollars, this is your best shot. Some have wheels to allow for movement with no fuss. These come in handy when you’re having those exhausting nursing nights.
You can choose a classic crib if you don’t want to use a toddler bed or day bed and you plan to move your child into a big bed once they outgrow it. For parents who plan on having another baby soon, you can move your older kid to a different bed and pass the crib down. You can position a baby monitor just above the crib to keep an eye on the baby while sleeping.
A convertible crib is designed to grow with your baby. You can convert it from a crib to a toddler bed, daybed, twin, full, and even a standard size bed frame later on.
Convertible cribs are practical cribs that can transform from a traditional crib to a toddler bed, daybed, or even a queen bed. Parents prefer this type because of their versatility. Convertible cribs are solid wood baby cribs that are sturdy and built to last. They can even be the only bed for the majority of your child’s life. However, convertible cribs cost more than classic cribs, are bulkier, and take up more space.
Depending on the crib’s manufacturer, you may have to buy conversion sets to morph into different setups separately at an additional cost. It is advisable to purchase the conversion kits simultaneously (or add to your registry) in case they get discontinued in the market years on.
Convertible cribs have different options:
- 2-in-1 convertible crib allows you to convert an infant’s cot into a toddler bed by removing one side of the crib then placing a guardrail.
- A 3-in-1 convertible crib can convert to a toddler bed and a daybed. The Babyletto 3-in-1 convertible crib is one of the safest baby cribs, Greenguard Gold certified, and free of any chemicals or toxins for your baby’s safety.
- 4-in-1 convertible crib, which is the most popular, can be converted into a toddler bed, and by raising the mattress and removing the safety rail, it becomes a daybed. It becomes a full-size bed by repurposing the panel as a headboard or footboard.
3. Mini cribs
The best baby cribs for small spaces are mini cribs. They are smaller than regular baby cribs, but larger than a bassinet. For limited space in your bedroom or the nursery, a non-full-size option with various styles fits well. Mini cribs are designed for babies from birth to 2 years since babies outgrow them fast.
They also have adjustable mattress levels, some can be folded, and may come with wheels to move the crib without disturbing the little one, which is befitting, since the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents and babies room-share for the first 6 months to 1 year of life.
The Dream On Me 4-in-1 Aden Convertible Mini Crib is beautifully designed and matures with your child from infancy through childhood to adulthood. The adjustable mattress can be set higher for your newborn and dropped once your little one is about ready to stand. The set includes a daybed and twin-size bed conversion.
4. Portable cribs
Portable cribs are lightweight cribs without bars and are easy to set up or break down in any room. The folding mechanism makes it great for tiny spaces and parents on the move. You can adjust the mattress height.
Portable cribs are of 3 different types;
- For some, you can easily fold them and store them away in your house when not in use, freeing up space (folding cribs). Made with reinforced pipes, they can be assembled at any time or dismantled for storage.
- Once folded, you can put them in your car and travel with them (classic travel crib). These have fabric mesh that can fold into a bag or backpack. You can use them when visiting the grandparents.
- Some come with wheels making it easier to move from one room to another (portable cribs on wheels that do not fold).
5. Multifunctional cribs
Multifunctional cribs are also called combo cribs or cribs with a changing table. They almost act like a complete baby station with the added functionality of the incorporated compact pieces of furniture such as a changer (attached to the footboard or headboard), built-in drawers, or dresser.
You don’t have to buy the 2 furniture items separately, plus you save on space. When your little one outgrows the changer, you can continue to use it as storage. Multifunctional cribs are available in mini or full-size. They also have adjustable mattress heights, and most are convertible into a toddler bed, daybed, and twin bed.
6. Shaped cribs
Instead of a mini crib’s traditional regular shape, you can choose something that gives an elegant touch to your baby’s nursery.
Oval or round cribs are unique cribs that can also convert to different beds; hence they grow with your child. Some parents prefer them for their stylish design and safety features (there are no edges to bump into).
Being a centerpiece, it requires a lot of space. Another disadvantage is that you may have difficulties finding the right mattress and sheets for round cribs. And yes, these cribs cost more.
7. Canopy cribs
Canopy cribs are stylish and protect your baby from mosquitoes. Aesthetically, they offer a fairy tale look to your child’s room, but practically you will often have to wash the canopy fabric. Also, keep an eye on your baby to prevent them from using the fabric to stand with.
How to choose a crib
Nothing you purchase for your baby’s room is quite as crucial as their crib. The first thought when decorating that nursery is almost always shopping for a crib. To find the perfect crib can be challenging, especially with the vast array of cribs currently on the market.
A lot of what goes into picking the perfect crib for your baby is style and price, but with lots of new features added to cribs in the past few years, choosing the right one is guaranteed to make your life much more comfortable. Any crib you bring into your home must fit your specific needs.
So how do you choose one?
To help you decide the best cribs available for you and your baby and to make your lives easier, we have some general factors you should keep in mind when picking one out.
1. Available space for your crib
You don’t want a big bulky crib in a tiny room. The market has got comfortable and beautiful mini cribs. If space is not an issue, you can buy a multifunctional crib or a full-size convertible crib, or even an oval crib as your centerpiece.
Most parents now go for convertible cribs since they allow a much wider age range by transforming to suit developmental stages. The adjustable mattress height gradually moves lower the older your baby gets. The height setting is excellent for newborns to allow for easier reach, while the lowest setting ensures your baby cannot climb or fall out. A year later, you can transition to a toddler bed and then a daybed at 4. Decide how many conversions the crib should have.
3. The lifespan of the crib
Some cribs are only intended for newborns until they get to 1 year, yet your toddler will soon climb and stand on the rails. Cribs with a longer lifespan that grow with the baby can still be useful by adjusting the crib lower.
Consider how long you’ll use the crib and pick one that lasts for years if you’re on a tight budget. Avoid classic/standard cribs if the aim is long term use. Convertible cribs, bassinets, and travel cribs work well.
4. Comfort and convenience
The crib should be comfortable and accommodate you as much as it does your baby. The mattress height should be adjustable between 3 levels. You will want to reach your newborn easily at first so make sure it is high enough to avoid bending over a lot.
If you’re short, consider a low-profile crib without tall legs. A tall crib will make it difficult for you to reach in and out.
A convenient crib should be easy to assemble.
5. Price limit
A good quality crib made of solid wood and a durable type such as oak will cost more. Solid woods last for years yet cost more to produce, hence the markup in price, while pinewood is affordable and readily available yet not nearly as sturdy.
It can be tempting to splurge on a luxury baby crib, but you should set your price limit. Remember, you’re only using it for a few years. Buying higher-end styling doesn’t often result in tangible differences in safety or features. You can get a good, sturdy, and safe crib, even at a lower budget. Find a crib that works for both your budget and long-term objectives.
Conforming with current safety standards
The updated crib safety tips and criteria include:
- Do a quick search before purchase for recall history. Cribs made after 2011 should automatically comply with current safety standards unless recalled. Since 2005, 7 million old cribs with drop-down sides have been recalled due to the possible dangers and deaths attributed to drop-side crib designs.
- Slat load strength and distance. The space between each slat in a baby crib should be 2 ⅜ inches (6 centimeters). If the slats are further apart, there’s a higher risk of the baby’s leg or arm getting stuck in between them. The slats must be strong enough and stable.
- Toxin-free materials. The fabrics, materials, and paint used to build the crib must be non-toxic and safety approved. Look for a 100% solid wood baby crib that has a non-toxic finish. The finishing paint used on most cribs has polyurethane toxin, while some manufactured wood may have volatile organic compounds (VOCs) spreading toxic gas. A Greenguard Gold Certified crib has been tested for over 360 VOCs and more than 10,000 toxic chemicals.
- Avoid accessories or loose items in a crib. Pillows, crib bumpers, heavy blankets, toys, and sleep positioners pose a risk of suffocation. A crib with decorative rail posts that stick up on the corners are also a hazard and therefore should be avoided.
- Know how to choose the right mattress. The mattress should be firm, have squared corners, and should never tilt. A mattress should fit snugly into the crib with as little space in between as possible. A large gap of more than 2 fingers poses a safety risk for your baby. Their legs, arms, or head can get stuck in between the unsafe space. A firm mattress is safe for infants as it avoids the risk of suffocation. Test the firmness. If you push it down hard, the mattress should stay firm and spring right back. The right mattress should not have harmful emissions. A breathable mattress such as the Newton baby’s crib mattress allows air to flow freely; hence your infant can breathe straight through the mattress as he/she sleeps.
With so many different types and eye-catching designs of cribs to choose from, a crib’s style and price shouldn’t be the only factors on your mind. Evaluate the points we have raised to find a crib that’s right and safe for your baby. One will guarantee you both receive the best night’s sleep possible.