Understanding Your Options for Babies' Cribs

Your baby's crib is certainly the most central pieces of furniture in your nursery. Babies' cribs come in so many styles, shapes, designs, and colors - it's enough to make indecisive parents head spin. But have no fear, this run-down on the various options for your baby's crib will help you sort through the styles and find the best option for your baby and for the layout of your nursery.

Overview of Options for Your Baby's Crib

There are plenty of design styles available in baby's cribs. Here's a summary of what is available:

  • Standard cribs
  • Convertible cribs
  • Round cribs
  • Sleigh cribs
  • Portable cribs
  • Crib and changer combo sets
  • Complete nursery sets

Differences in Wood Cribs

In the past, cribs were mostly made out of hardwoods. Hardwood seemed to be the preferred choice because they tend to be more durable and easier to stain or paint. These woods include:

  • Maple cribs
  • Oak cribs
  • Cherry cribs
  • Ash cribs
  • Mahogany cribs
  • Birch cribs
  • Beech cribs

Incidentally, there are also is a modern trend of using pine to make baby cribs. Pine is typically a soft wood and can nick easily. If you love the look of pine, just be prepared that after use, it may not look as pretty as it did when you first got it.

Stains, Paints, and Finishes

These days, with the ability to find custom-made cribs, you can quite possibly find cribs in a variety of paint colors and finishes. One thing to be mindful of, when a crib is identified as having a certain finish, say cherry, that doesn't necessarily means it is made from cherry wood. It's quite possible it is simply stained with a cherry-like finish. Don't be deceived!

The Age of the Drop Side Crib Is No More

For many of the past few years, drop-side cribs have been all the rage. Many parents found the ability to lower one set of rails very convenient and much friendlier to the back. However, the convenience simply isn't worth the cost, with several babies having lost their lives or receiving substantial injury from the design of the drop-side railings. In light of that, drop side cribs have been banned since June 2011.

The Standard Crib

standard crib
The Storkcraft Sandra standard crib in black finish.

Generally, your standard crib is the most basic crib option on the market. What that means is it is a crib that fits the industry standard size mattress. More specifically, it often refers to cribs that have no other bells and whistles - it isn't a convertible crib, it doesn't have an attached changing table. Your standard crib is, well, just a crib. That being said, sometimes manufacturers do lump convertible cribs into that mix, but technically those aren't standard cribs.

Cost of Standard Cribs

More than likely, you'll find that your least expensive cribs are usually standard cribs, and you can find them for around $100. 

Now that doesn't mean that all standard cribs are cheap. You certainly can find a broad range of standard cribs for a mid-price budget or even luxury cribs that can cost you more than $1000.

Why a Standard Crib?

Convertible cribs certainly have become popular, but not every parent is wooed by the transforming design that allows you to turn your crib into toddler beds, daybeds, benches, or double beds. Why not, you may ask?

Well, a couple of reasons actually. For one, parents who plan on having a second child may know that they are going to need the crib much sooner. Two, depending on the cost of the crib, the wood can get fairly dinged up from constant use (not to mention bite marks from teething toddlers). And three, some parents like the idea of having nursery furniture that is distinctly "for baby".

The Convertible Crib

Convertible Crib
The Graco Victoria Convertible Crib.

No doubt, you'll likely run into the convertible crib more than any other style. The option has a lot of appeal to parents who are looking for furniture that will last not just for the baby and toddler years, but beyond.

What Do Convertible Cribs "Convert" Into?

Depending on the model, convertible cribs can transform into many other pieces of furniture. Combinations can include any of the following:

  • A crib
  • A toddler bed
  • A daybed: essentially the toddler bed without the toddler rail
  • A bench
  • A single bed
  • A double bed

If you see the distintion 2-in-1, that means that the convertible bed has 2 purposes (generally a crib/toddler bed). Likewise 3-in-1 will offer 3 purposes, and so on. This re-purposing of the crib can be a very economical purchase and save you the hassle of upgrading to toddler beds and full-size beds later on down the road.

The Drawbacks to the Convertible Crib

However, not every parent might be so keen on the convertible crib. While convertible cribs can be a great option for parents looking for frugal baby tips, there are some things to be aware of with this design.

  • Some cribs are made from softer woods, and because of that they can ding up easily as belt buckles and jean buttons bang against the side of the crib as you lift your baby out. Additionally, babies do like to chew as they teeth, so don't be surprised if your crib starts looking rather used very early on.
  • If you don't buy your crib as a complete set with other dressers, it can be difficult to match the wood finish. As your child grows and needs more pieces of furniture, it may not blend in so well.
  • If you have a second child shortly after your first, you'll need to buy a second crib as well.

The Round Crib

Round crib
Angel Line makes round crib products.

More than likely, if you've got your eye on a round crib, it is primarily because you like the look of it. Round cribs are certainly unique and can be designed with anything from a modern to a classical look, complete with posters and canopies. However, these cribs may not be the most practical choice for your nursery.

The Added Expenses of a Round Crib

A round crib requires, obviously, round accessories. You'll need to be on the hunt for a round mattress, round crib bedding, round bumpers (should you choose to use them, Why Shouldn't You Use Crib Bedding?). These supplies typically are more expensive that your basic standard crib bedding and crib sheets.

Round Cribs Take Up Space

Additionally, round cribs are going to waste more floor space in the nursery. If you've got a nice big room, then perhaps that isn't a concern for you. However, if you've got to be mindful about space, stick with a traditional sized crib that can fit more snugly in the room.

Harder to Resell

If you are going to cling to your crib has an heirloom (bearing in mind that using an antique crib is not recommended), then the resell value of your crib isn't going to matter. But, if you have in mind to eventually resell your crib, having a round crib may make it a harder sell. Round cribs don't appeal to a majority of parents. Many prefer the practicality of convertible cribs.

The Sleigh Crib

sleigh crib
The Storkcraft Aspen Sleigh Crib is also a convertible crib.

Sleigh-style bedroom furniture have become increasing popular recently. These bedroom pieces are designed to (obviously) look like a sleigh. As a result, they have a quaint appeal. The sleigh crib is another possibility of various crib styles for your to choose. Like round cribs, the unique style does come with some drawbacks, however.

The Downsides to the Sleigh Crib

It all depends upon what sleigh crib you have your heart set on, but you might find that sleigh cribs are slightly more expensive than other models and styles. The reason? A majority of sleigh cribs are made with solid headboards and footboards, rather than slatted. These solid pieces of wood drive up the cost.

Another problem with the solid head and footboards is that it makes tightly securing crib bumpers to the crib impossible. However, with more and more medical and child's welfare communities noting the dangers of crib bumpers, this may be a moot point for you anyway. Instead, you could opt for alternatives to crib bumpers. Check out Go Mama Go, Designs for Wonder Bumpers that would work with sleigh cribs.

The good news is that you can find sleigh cribs that are convertible cribs. So if you are looking to stretch your dollars, while still acheiving the captivating appeal of a sleigh crib, you can.

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