Before You Buy a Crib

Safety Advice for the New Parent

Couple assembling baby's crib in nursery
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When we think of babies, most of us imagine a beautiful crib and baby layette. Nowadays there are so many options for baby bedding and more designs than we can shake a stick at, including alternatives to cribs. The problem is that we need to keep safety in mind when we're choosing a bed for our newborn. Here is my advice as the mother of eight children...

The Hand Me Down

Hand me down cribs are fine.

However, you need to be sure that cribs manufactured prior to 1974 meet today's safety standards. If not, gently, but firmly decline the use of the crib. If it is a new crib, you may want to also check the mattress for signs of wear and tear. Even if the frame is good, you may need to replace the mattress.


The slats on your baby's bed should be no further apart than 2 3/8 inches apart. This is to prevent your baby's head from becoming trapped between the slats. Most newer cribs meet these standards, if your crib is older or is a hand me down, check this requirement for yourself if need be.


Be sure that any paint used on your crib is not made with lead paint. This is not usually a problem with newer crib models that you buy in stores. But you will want to check out and older cribs or cribs that have been painted by previous owners.


Watch out for the decorative cutouts on the headboard and footboard of the crib.

It can actually trap your baby's head. It is best to avoid these. The same can be said of stickers or other decals on the crib. While they may look nice and secure, you never know what will happen when your baby is a bit older and left alone with the crib. Kids have an amazing way of making things dangerous.

Convertible Cribs

Some cribs currently on the market go from being cribs to toddler bed. These can be very handy but may require certain tools or extra kits. Be sure to ask when buying a convertible crib. This is great if you buy a whole nursery worth of furniture, it gives you a lot more use with a room that still looks like it goes together.

  • Convertible Cribs

Portable Cribs

Portable cribs are great for families with not a lot of space or for a temporary place for baby to sleep whether that be at grandma's house or on vacation. They sure beat baby beds in hotels!

  • Portable Cribs


Maybe baby will sleep best in your bed? Try the co-sleeper! It's been very handy as a crib alternative. It's a great happy medium to have baby very close by for night time feedings and yet not right in our bed. These come in a wooden variety that later makes a desk or bench or a fabric/plastic variety.

  • Co-Sleeper

More on Safety

The top rails of the sides of the crib, when raised, should be at least 26 inches above the top of the mattress in the lowest position. When your child can pull up to a standing position drop the mattress to its lowest position. Once your child is more than a a few inches taller than the crib or can easily climb out of the crib, it's time to move to a toddler bed.

Drop side cribs, those who have sides that lower, have been made illegal due to several infant deaths. Some cities are also outlawing crib bumpers.

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