10 Tips for Choosing the Right Baby Crib
By Laurie Leahey, CookScrapCraft
There are so many things to prepare for and buy when you’re going to have a baby. What will baby need? Where will baby sleep? Sure, it’s also very important to buy a crib in advance of baby’s birth, but before you do that, you need to know what kind of crib to get.
Aside from color, finish and size, which are all very personal aesthetic and functional decisions, most of what crib buying comes down to is safety. But do you know how to choose a crib that is both functional and safe for baby? I reviewed my own gathered knowledge about crib safety and spoke with Joe Shamie, president of children’s furniture company Delta Children, to compile a list of updated tips for choosing the right baby crib. Let these serve as your crib-buying guide, so you can feel confident and choose a safe crib.
Do not use cribs made prior to 2011. That was the year the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) required all crib manufacturers to meet updated federal requirements for overall crib safety. So, even though your mother-in-law saved your husband’s crib that was made in 1991, you cannot use it. (She should really have gotten rid of that thing years ago.)
This also means that you should be careful when purchasing or using a second-hand crib, especially if it has been disassembled and reassembled. Shamie points out that “…parts and screws might be missing and pose a threat to your baby.” Err on the side of caution and just purchase a new crib that meets current crib safety standards. You can also keep tabs on crib recalls by searching the U.S. CPSC website.
Cribs with a drop-side can no longer be manufactured. This is one of the updated safety regulations from 2011. Even though the intent was that a drop-downside made it easier for parents to lift their baby in and out of the crib, if a drop-side style crib malfunctioned, it poseda strangulation or suffocation hazard. So currently, no drop-sided cribs ought to be used, bought or sold.
The crib bars or slats of the crib should be no more than 2 ⅜ inches wide. This prevents babies from getting stuck or falling through them.
The crib mattress should be the correct size. If you can fit more than two fingers between the edge of the mattress and the side of the crib, you need to get a new mattress. You do not want there to be any space that could pose a suffocation hazard to baby.
The mattress should also be firm. A too-soft mattress raises the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Your crib should have an adjustable mattress support. This allows you to lower the mattress as your child grows. You also want the top of the crib rail to be at least 26 inches from the top of the mattress.
No soft toys and bedding in the crib. What do you need to buy for a crib? Not much, as it turns out. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that the crib mattress be covered only by a fitted sheet. No pillows, blankets, toys or bumper pads for at least the first 12 months. These safe sleeping recommendations help reduce the risk of SIDS. Save all the baby blankets and small toys you received at your baby shower for later.
The crib should have smooth corner posts, headboards and footboards. Corner posts should be flush with the end panels with no decorative or pointy embellishments on which a child’s clothing could get caught. The headboard and footboard should also have no decorative cut-outs because your child’s head or limbs could become trapped in them.
If you use a mobile, safely secure it. A crib mobile gives baby something to look at and listen to as she drifts off to sleep. Make sure your mobile is properly secured to the side rails, wall or ceiling at a height that baby cannot reach. Once your baby can push herself to her hands and knees, usually around five months, it is time to remove the mobile.
Make sure to properly assemble the crib. Reading furniture instructions is not always the easiest task, but when it comes to the crib, you really want to get it right and not settle for “I think this is good enough”. Many manufacturers offer a customer service hotline or online tutorial videos, so take advantage of those resources. And ask for help! Sometimes all it takes is a second or third pair of eyes to help interpret a weird instruction or see where a screw is not tight enough.
Choose a convertible crib. This one is less about safety and more about convenience in the long-run. A crib that transitions into a toddler bed (and, in some cases, into a full-size bed if you purchase additional pieces) saves you from buying a second piece of furniture, “..and means you’ll have a bed that grows with your baby from birth until their teen years,” Joe Shamie says. Not only is that an economical option, but it’s an environmentally friendly one, too.
When my daughter was ready for a toddler bed, all I had to do was remove the side panel and attach the safety railing. The railing and necessary hardware were included with the crib!
There is a lot to take into consideration when looking for the safest cribs on the market. These 10 tips may seem like a lot to keep in mind, but remember, the end goal is all about ensuring babies stay safe while they sleep. Luckily, today’s cribs are manufactured with strict safety guidelines, and there are many things that you as a parent can do to ensure crib safety at home. Sweet dreams!