Baby Cribs

Stylish baby cribs that honor safety standards

Recent changes in crib safety standards mean you need to shop very carefully, or if you're already using a crib, inspect the structure thoroughly and often. The crib is an important site in your baby's first years, and you should be confident that it will hold up to curious little hands, rolling bodies and general wear. Older crib designs may look nice, but they typically fall short when it comes to safety; luckily, baby cribs are now manufactured to withstand more activity. Find out what to lookout for in a crib, what to avoid and how to maximize function and space with the perfect crib design.

Crib Safety Comes First

The new crib safety standards introduced on June 28, 2011 have brought some major changes to crib design, with an aim to increase child safety in the nursery. The major change involves the traditional drop side design: until recently, most cribs were designed with single or dual drop sides that could be easily moved up and down for easy access and maneuvering, but experts have agreed that the danger of the design overrides the convenience. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, at least 32 infant deaths and countless avoidable injuries have been traced to drop side rails since the year 2000. In turn, cribs now feature only secure, unmovable sides.

The end of the drop side design isn't the only change in safety standards. New cribs are made with stronger slats, more durable mattress support and stronger hardware, plus they need to go through tougher testing before they hit the market. It's more important than ever to buy a new baby crib set, but if you cannot buy new, be sure to get a drop side immobilizer kit to convert the moveable parts into sturdy, stationary sides. Also, look out for some other important features to ensure the crib will be safe to use:

  • Crib slats or spindles should be spaced no more than 2 3/8" apart, and they should not be loose. Examine the slats frequently to ensure none are broken, cracked or missing.
  • The crib should not have corner posts, unless it features a canopy, in which case the posts should be over 16" high. Clothing and blankets can catch on corner posts, making them strangulation hazards.
  • The crib mattress should fit the crib perfectly, as gaps can trap your baby. Make sure there's no more than two fingers width between the edge of the mattress and the side of the crib.
  • If painted or veneered, the substance must be non-toxic. Older cribs could be decorated with lead-based paint, which could lead to lead poisoning. Stop using the crib if you find cracked or peeling paint.
  • Opt for a solid frame without any cutout areas on the headboard or footboard, as these can trap little heads and limbs.

Finally, remember that proper crib setup is just as crucial as safe design: if the parts are not installed perfectly, you could be endangering your baby. Follow the manufacturer's instructions exactly, and use the proper tools to put the crib together. If you have any worries about your setup, pay the extra fee to have professionals deliver and install the crib so you can sleep soundly knowing that your baby is safe.

A Baby Crib Set for All Styles and Budgets

The crib is one of the biggest baby expenses you'll face, and a luxury model with all the bells and whistles is simply out of the question for many new parents. Fortunately, there are cheap baby cribs available; unfortunately, some may lack in both style and safety. Graco is a good brand for affordable, well-built cribs, while Baby Mod and StorkCraft have a couple of cost-effective models in more of a contemporary style. Whichever crib you choose, check with the retailer to make sure it complies with 16 CFR 1219 or 16 CFR 1220, the new standards for full-size cribs and non-full-size cribs. Even if you're strapped for cash, steer clear of older models and hand-me-downs, if at all possible. When it comes to your child's safety, the expense is worthwhile.

Aside from the cost, you'll need to decide which shape and style will suit you and your baby best. From standard rectangle to round baby cribs, there's a shape and size for just about any room. If you're short on space, consider a corner crib: with three sides instead of four, this design fits neatly against the walls and allows your baby a full view of the room. This may be the best design for multiples as well, since you can arrange each corner segment into a semi circle or a full circle. Of course, you'll have to think about crib accessories and baby bedding when you shop for the crib itself, and round or corner cribs will be tougher to outfit since they require specialized mattress shapes.

When you compare crib candidates, weigh the cost against the use you'll get from it. Convertible cribs are more expensive, but the bonus is you won't have to buy a toddler bed in the near future. Some of the more expensive models can save you money in the long run if you plan on having more children because they'll stand up to more activity, but then again some cheaper cribs are sturdy enough and you won't feel terrible about getting rid of it once your toddler graduates to a bed. If you evaluate your needs before you hit the stores, you're more likely to make the right investment for your space and your lifestyle.