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How to choose the perfect crib for your baby

Choosing a crib for your little one can be nerve-wracking, especially when you consider the fact that this big-ticket item will become the focal point of the nursery. Furthermore, your baby will spend a significant portion of his/her time in the crib, so you want to go for one that will not only be comfortable but also adhere to safety guidelines. Read on to find out how to choose the perfect crib for your baby.

Crib basics

How long will my baby use his/her crib?

On average, most babies sleep in a crib for the first 24 months of their lives. That said, the stage at which a child transitions to a toddler or twin varies greatly. The most reliable way to determine that your little one is ready to move to a “big kid” bed is when they become noticeably too big for their crib.

When should I buy a crib?

Many parents buy a crib while still anticipating the arrival of their bundle of joy. Some may make this big-ticket purchase quite early in the pregnancy, while others may wait until they find out the gender so that they choose a certain color scheme or design.

Safety guidelines


  • Certification

All cribs that are sold in the USA should comply with the regulations laid out by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and some will also further comply with the standards laid out by the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association (JPMA), as well as the American Society for Testing and Materials.

  • Installation

Make sure you carefully follow the instructions on the manual when installing a crib. If you find that it’s unstable or you have some leftover pieces that you aren’t too sure about, consider seeking the help of a professional to help you out with assemblage.

  • Height

Your crib needs to be low enough to the ground so that you can easily reach into it and grab your little one without too much trouble. The exact height that's most suitable will depend on how tall you are.

  • Lowering feature

Consider looking for a crib that comes with an adjustment feature that lets you lower the mattress as the baby grows, so that you don't have to worry about their safety while saving you from having to reach down farther than necessary to pick him/her up.

  • Corner posts

The height of a crib’s corner posts should not go any higher than 1/16 of an inch. This is to reduce the risk of your baby’s clothing getting caught on them.

  • Slats

Slats, otherwise known as sidebars, should be no more than 2-3/8 inches apart (this is about the width of a soda can). This is to keep the baby’s body from accidentally sliding out and getting stuck. You also want to stay away from cribs that feature cutouts in the footboard or headboard for the same reason.

  • Convertible options

Some cribs can be transformed into toddler or even full-size beds as the baby grows. This a great option if you want to save on buying a whole other bed once your baby outgrows his/her crib.

  • Bedding

The only bedding that your baby will need is a waterproof pad and a tightly fitted bottom sheet (flannel, knit cotton, and high-count woven cotton are the best options for fabric.)

  • Mattress fit

The mattress must fit in the crib tightly so that your child doesn't end up accidentally caught between the two.

  • Bumpers

Bumpers should never be kept in the crib because they are safety hazards. According to the guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2011, crib bumpers are not effective at protecting babies against injuries and pose a risk of strangulation, entrapment, and strangulation.

  • Sleep positioners

You do not need those triangular-shaped devices in your baby’s crib. According to the FDA and CPSC, sleep positioners pose a risk of suffocation.

  • Entertainment devices

Entertainment devices such as mobiles provide great entertainment for young babies. They are fine to hang above the crib, as long as they are well out of the baby’s reach.

  • Secondhand cribs

If your crib is secondhand, make sure it meets the current safety standards. Check for steady hinges, and keep an eye out for any sharp parts, splinters, or cracked/peeling paint.

General bedtime safety

  • Room arrangement

The baby’s crib should be set up away from blinds and drapery, which pose risk as strangulation hazards. You should also position the crib away from radiators to reduce the risk of overheating and SIDS.

  • Mattress

While a soft, quilted mattress that your baby can sink into might sound ideal, it poses a suffocation risk. Instead, go for a firm mattress, which will also offer better back support.

Types of cribs

1. Standard cribs

Standard cribs are what you would normally see in most nurseries. They are sturdy with simple construction – four fixed sides that feature slats.

2. Bassinets

Bassinets are ideal for your little one’s first few months. They are smaller in size than standard cribs. This means that they don’t take up as much space and you can easily move them from one room to another. Some varieties can even rock back and forth, making naptimes just a little easier.

3. Travel cribs

If you’re constantly traveling, consider investing in a travel crib. These crib types are soft and lightweight, often featuring mesh and/or aluminum construction, which makes them easy to pack up and take on a plane or car. Most of them also come with a storage bag where you can keep them when not in use.

4. Convertible cribs

Convertible cribs grow with your child. Some varieties transition to a toddler bed, while others add a third step, transitioning to a full bed. This type of crib is a great option for parents looking for a long-term furniture solution.

Final thoughts

Choosing the ideal crib for your little one is a big deal – in addition to being the foundation of the nursery, a crib also keeps your baby safe as they drift off into slumberland. A cot will probably serve as your baby's bed until he/she is around 2-3 years, so make sure you go for the best!

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