Choosing a crib is one of the most important decisions new parents make. During their early years, the crib is where your child is going to be spending more than half of their days, so it must be both safe and comfortable. Choosing a new crib today is not rocket science, but you need to be sure that you are comfortable with the crib's safety features, construction quality, and appearance.
Styles of Baby Crib
There are a wide variety of cribs available on the market today. There are even models that will convert in stages from a crib to a toddler bed to a full sized single bed. There are two types of standard cribs:
- Single drop side - one side is fixed, and one side drops down
- Double drop side - both sides can be dropped down.
Double drop side cribs are really convenient when you're making the bed, but are usually more expensive than the single drop side cribs.
Choosing a Baby Crib: What to Watch For
Keep these things in mind when choosing a crib, particularly when purchasing a used one:
- The distance between the crib slats should be no more than 2 3/8 inches
- When the drop sides are lowered, the top rail should still be at least nine inches above the mattress support
- When drop sides are raised, the top rail should be at least 26 inches above the mattress support
- Be sure the drop sides have an easy to use and secure locking mechanism
- The crib mattress should fit snugly and the mattress height should be adjustable so the mattress can be lowered as the child grows
- The mattress supports need to be strong enough to support a jumping child (metal supports are stronger than wooden ones)
- There should be a crack-free teething rail covering the top of the crib railings to prevent the child from chewing on wood
- Lockable rolling casters on the legs are a nice feature to have when cleaning the baby's room or changing the bedding.
The crib mattress is a major part of the crib, so remember:
- The mattress should be no more than six inches thick and should fit snugly in the crib. The space between the mattress and the sides of the crib should not be more than one inch. You can check this by pushing mattress into one corner and putting two fingers into the gap created.
- The mattress should provide a firm surface, since a soft mattress could cause a gap or a hollow where a baby's head could become trapped.
Baby Crib: Safety Tips
Keep in mind:
- A baby should never be tied or harnessed in a crib
- A baby should never be left in a crib with a necklace, a scarf or a pacifier on a long cord
- As soon as the baby is able to stand alone, adjust the mattress to its lowest position
- Don't put the crib near window curtains, blind cords, or an electrical outlet.
Important: After Purchasing a Baby Crib - Keep Informed
If you bought the baby's crib new, be sure to send in the crib's product registration form so you will be notified if there is ever a recall on the crib. If you purchased a used crib, check the Consumer Product Safety Commission web site for crib recalls.