Baby Crib Buying Guide: How to Choose the Perfect One

Written by: Melissa Loehle

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Time to read 10 min

Welcoming a new baby into the world comes with many exciting changes. Designing a nursery or your baby’s sleeping environment can also feel overwhelming. That’s why we created this how-to guide for choosing the perfect baby crib.

 

Read on as we break down the types of cribs, and important safety guidelines to help you find a high-quality crib you can feel good about! 

The Crib Buying Guide

When choosing a crib, you should look for one that meets the safety standards of organizations like the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Be sure the crib is durable, made with nontoxic materials, and most of all, safe for your little one


There are many factors to take into consideration when buying a crib. Cribs come with different features and styles, but below are eight of the most important factors to take into consideration when selecting a safe crib for your little one. 

Durability

You want to choose a crib that will last you throughout the baby and toddler years. Make sure it is made from quality materials and built to last. A used crib may have reduced durability, and should always be thoroughly checked for cracks, dents, and outdated safety features. 

 

However, even with a new crib you will need to make sure it is sturdy and built to last. Checking for things like stabilizer bars or making sure the slats or bars do not rotate or wiggle will help you determine the durability of the crib. 

Materials 

Always be sure to choose a crib that has been made with nontoxic materials. JPMA (Juvenile Products Safety Commission) or Greenguard certifications are given to cribs that meet standards for safety. 

 

If you choose a crib like The Nurture& Crib, you can feel comfortable knowing that your baby’s crib is made with sustainably harvested wood and premium materials that are JPMA certified and exceed the safety standards set by the CPSIA (the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of the Consumer Product Safety Commission). 

Versatility

Some crib styles are more versatile than others. The adjustability of a convertible crib from a baby crib to a toddler bed makes it the most versatile option. This adjustability does require additional purchases of parts, like toddler rails. 

 

Another versatile feature to look for in a crib is the adjustability of the mattress height. When your little one is not yet pulling up, a higher mattress height is useful for taking your baby in and out for feedings or comfort. But when your baby gets bigger and begins to pull up or stand, you want to have a crib that allows the mattress height to lower, to keep baby safely inside the crib. 

Corner posts

The corner posts on your baby’s crib should not be over 1/16th of an inch high, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commision, or the CPSC. Anything larger than that poses the risk of catching your baby’s clothing when they stand. Ideally, the corners should sit flush with the side rails. 

Side rail

Side rails should stay in place. Drop-side crib rails are not safety-approved. Retailers no longer carry cribs with drop-side rails since their ban in 2011, but older cribs may, so be aware of this if you are using a used crib. 

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Crib mattress

Your baby’s mattress needs to be fitted to their crib. Most cribs use a standard mattress size, but mini cribs will require a mattress specific to their size. Be sure to pick a mattress that is firm, nontoxic, and water resistant. The Lullaby Earth Breath Safe Two-Stage Crib Mattress is a great choice for a safe and breathable standard-sized crib mattress.

 

Any sheet used on the crib mattress needs to be a fitted crib sheet. Nurture&’s Crib Sheet Set  fits any standard crib mattress and is 100% cotton so it is breathable.

Your little one does not need a soft mattress, in fact, the safest option is for your baby to sleep on a firm surface. This type of mattress support is safest for your little one in terms of development and breathability. A soft mattress can indent and make it harder for your baby’s head to move or for them to push their body up. Soft mattresses also offer less support for your baby’s growing body. 

Slats

Crib slats should be tight and unable to wiggle. They should be less than 6 centimeters, or 2 and 3/8ths inches apart. This is about the same width as a soda can. This is to keep your baby safe and inside the crib. Anything bigger is a potential risk for your baby’s head to become stuck when they begin moving and exploring. 

Cost

When budgeting for a crib, you can expect to pay anywhere between $100 to $1000 depending on the style and features of the crib. Portable cribs with mesh sides can be found on the lower end, while standard sized cribs with durable and sustainable materials will cost more. Many cribs fall somewhere within the middle of this price range. 

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Types of Baby Cribs

There are different types of baby cribs to suit any style, budget, and space. After reviewing the important safety standards and factors to consider when purchasing a baby crib, become familiar with the different types of baby cribs available. 

Standard Crib

A standard crib is a full-size crib with a rectangular shape that fits a standard sized crib mattress. These cribs may have a simple, crib-only design, but they can have attached drawers or changing tables as well. Standard cribs provide a roomy sleeping space for them to use as they grow. The standard crib mattress is actually the same size as the toddler mattress. Read on for the pros and cons of choosing a standard crib.

Pros:

  • Longevity- a standard crib can be used until your baby transitions to a toddler bed, and the standard size crib mattress can be used for the transition.
     
  • Space- standard cribs take up more space than a bassinet or portable crib, making room sharing in a smaller space more tight.

Cons: 

  • Portability- standard cribsare not easy to move so they tend to stay in one room, much like your couch or kitchen table.

Convertible Crib

A convertible crib is an ideal option if you want furniture that will grow with your baby. They are the same size as standard cribs, and have conversion kits that turn them into toddler beds, daybeds, or sometimes foot and headboards for full-sized beds. 


The Crib from Nurture& is a convertible crib with a modern design. The Crib is crafted from sustainable wood and made to grow with your child from birth to five years old. If you are looking for a quality crib with longevity and made from materials you can feel good about, check out Nurture&'s crib here!

Pros:

  • Longevity- convertible cribs surpass standard cribs and all other sleeping options in longevity. They are the best baby cribs if you are looking for something that will last past the baby years. 

Cons:

  • Cost- convertible cribs tend to be the more expensive option. The conversion kits are also an added expense.

Multipurpose Crib

These are cribs that have other features added to them, like drawers or changing tables. These cribs can also be convertible cribs. 

Pros:

  • Functionality and convenience- caving the changing table attached to the crib allows for quick and easy diaper changes.
     
  • Storage- these cribs can come with storage shelves or drawers, so the crib does double duty as a dresser or a place to store all of your baby’s diapering essentials. 

Cons:

  • Space- multipurpose cribs take up more space than any other crib style.
     
  • Cost- multipurpose cribs come with an increased price point. While the extra features may save you from buying other furniture like dressers or changing tables, the storage space they offer is not always enough to fully replace them.

Travel Crib

A travel crib, or a portable crib, offers the convenience of movability. These may have wheels or fold for easier movement and storage

Pros:

  • Portability- these cribs are the easiest to travel with. Some are lighter than traditional pack ‘n plays. A travel crib can be used as a daily crib at home and easily moved around the house.

Cons:

  • Durability- travel cribs are not as sturdy as standard cribs. Their materials will not be as durable as a wooden or metal crib.

Mini Crib

Pros:

  • Size- a mini crib is compact enough for room-sharing or smaller nurseries. They are bigger than a bassinet so they can be used for longer.

Cons:

  • Also Size- a mini crib might be too small for some babies to stay in until they are ready to transition to a toddler bed. Also, since the mattress is smaller than a standard crib, it cannot be used in a toddler bed.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

"Great looking crib!

A lot of the cribs on the market seemed to all look the same and very few had the ability to then be converted with the side rail. We love that this bed will be usable for our babies toddler years until we need to get a big girl bed"


Baby Crib Safety


Safety is the most important factor when choosing your baby’s crib. You want to be able to rest easy knowing your baby is in a crib of the highest standards. Help you and your little one get some much needed rest and relaxation by following these important safety standards

Safe construction

Check that there are no loose screws, cracks, splinters, or peeling paint. All materials, paints, and stains used in the crib’s construction should be nontoxic. Look for safety certifications like JPMA and Greenguard for verification of material safety.

Proper mattress

Be sure that the mattress fits by buying the correct size for the style of crib. Mini cribs, standard cribs, portable cribs, and round cribs all use different mattress sizes. Along with a proper mattress fit, be sure to have the proper crib sheet size to match.

Impeccable condition

Second-hand or used cribs will not be in the same condition as new cribs. This is not to say that all new cribs will be in impeccable condition, however. New cribs should still be tested for durability and to assure they meet or exceed safety standards set by organizations like the AAP JPMA, or the CPSC.     

      

If you do plan on using a second-hand or used crib, give it a shake: this is a simple test to check for loose pieces that may be broken or need to be tightened. Check all of the slats to be sure they are tight and the proper distance apart. If it is made of wood, check that it is not cracked or splintering.

Placement

Your baby’s crib should be placed somewhere that is easy to reach and free of dangerous items. Do not allow wires, window shade cords, or any other loose strings or cords that could cause strangulation within reach of the baby’s crib. 

 

Whether your baby sleeps in a nursery or in your room, make sure their sleeping environment is somewhere that can stay cool and airy. Ceiling fans can help with airflow and some cameras can detect whether temperatures are too hot or cold.

 

Do not place your baby’s crib too close to a radiator or other heating source. Be sure that any sunlight entering the room does not shine directly on the crib, becoming uncomfortable. If you aren’t room sharing, then placing your baby’s sleep space somewhere you can see the entire crib on the camera or baby monitor is great. 

Empty crib

Soft, loose items should never be put in your baby’s sleep space, to reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant earth syndrome). A safe sleep space is free of pillows, crib bumpers, blankets, and plush toys. Your baby only needs a firm mattress and a tightly fitted sheet. If you are worried about your baby being cold, use a sleeper, also known as a wearable blanket or sleep sack. 

No drop-sides

Drop-side cribs have been banned and are no longer sold by reputable retailers, but drop-sides may still be found on second-hand cribs. This type of crib has at least one side rail with the ability to slide all the way down. 

Safely accessorized

Safely accessorized cribs contain no decorative cutout designs in the boards. These have the potential to snag a baby’s clothing. As mentioned previously, do not accessorize with crib bumpers, comforters, pillows, or any toys because these are a suffocation hazard. 



baby and mom crib

When you are shopping for the perfect crib, be sure to choose a high-quality one by following these safety tips. Start by checking out The Crib from Nurture&. The Crib is JPMA certified, and all Nurture& products meet and exceed ASTM Safety Standards. They are made with non-toxic, sustainably-sourced materials and are Prop 65 and TSCA Title VI compliant. 

By following our crib buying guide along with the safety standards discussed, you are sure to find a high quality crib to match your style and budget. Discover the best crib and nursery furniture for your baby on Nurture&. We pride ourselves on creating premium, modern, and non-toxic furniture and baby essentials.

Melissa Loehle

Melissa Loehle

Melissa Loehle is an Educator, Graduate Intern, Writer, and Mother. She has experience teaching children in general education, English as a foreign language, and speech pathology.


She is a former kindergarten teacher and is currently completing her masters in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Baylor University. Melissa has taught English as a volunteer and online. She is a freelance writer and editor who loves to help educate others. 


Her favorite accomplishment is becoming a mother. She is the mother of two boys, ages four years old and five months old, as well as a dog mom to two mixed breed oddballs. She currently resides in Saratoga County, NY.