Definitive Guide To Cribs

Definitive Guide To Cribs

Your baby’s crib is one of the most important purchases you’ll have to make early on as a parent, especially because babies can sleep for up to 18 hours a day.

It’s therefore crucial to choose the right crib to ensure your baby’s safety and wellbeing, as well as maintain the crib once it’s been purchased so it will serve you well.

When should you buy a baby crib?

Don’t wait for when your baby arrives.

Ideally, you should start shopping for a baby crib during the second trimester of pregnancy as this gives you ample time to ensure that you find the right crib and set it up before your baby arrives.

Although buying a crib can feel overwhelming, especially for first-time parents, it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Here’s everything you need to know about cribs and finding the best one.

What Are The Different Types Of Cribs?

Although you might think cribs come standard, this is not true!

There are many different types of cribs and they come in various styles. Here are five types you should know about when you’re in the market for one to bring home.

The Classic Cradle

wooden cradle

This is a wooden crib that is known as a classic type of crib for your child.

These tend to be comfortable and safe, and some even have bars that you can later remove if you wish to turn the cradle into a bed for your toddler.

This has the benefit of making your child feel more comfortable as he or she transitions into a different bed. The classic style of crib is a frills-free one, and you can find quality ones for approximately $100. They tend to not be as expensive as other types of cribs.

The Round Crib

round crib in corner of room

Instead of a rectangular or square crib style, there are round cribs on the market.

These can offer you lots of style options for your nursery, but they’re not that practical. Choosing the right mattress can be tricky because it has to be round to fit in the crib.

In addition, round cribs can take up more space in your nursery because of their shape.

The Convertible Crib

You can find convertible cribs that can be converted into other types of furniture, thus increasing the lifespan of your crib because it means it can still be used for years after your baby has outgrown it.

Convertible cribs can be transformed into a toddler bed, full-sized bed, or daybed. The convertible crib is more expensive than a standard crib, but it does last for many more years because of its versatility.

Portable Crib

baby sleeps

This is essentially a crib on wheels, which has some nice advantages for new parents, such as that it enables them to watch over their baby wherever they are in the house.

However, you won’t find as many design options as compared to other crib styles.

In addition, you have to check the portable crib’s brakes, or wheel locks, on a regular basis to ensure that they work to keep the crib secure when not in motion. This is extremely important.

Multipurpose Crib

multipurpose crib

This type of crib basically has a piece of furniture, such as a set of drawers, built into it.

This can be handy, such as if you need extra storage space for your baby’s items.

However, these types of cribs tend to be larger than other types of cribs, making them impractical – and sometimes impossible – for use in small living spaces.

Shopping For Cribs: Check These Safety Features

Style aside, it’s important that you focus on the right safety features when looking at a crib that’s caught your eye.

To ensure your baby’s crib is safe and secure, you should remember these guidelines and tips:

  • The crib’s bars should not be spaced more than 2 3/8 inches apart, as Healthy Children reports. The reason why is because your baby shouldn’t be able to fit their head into the spaces, as that can cause injury.
  • The top rail of the crib must be at least 26 inches away from the top of the mattress. This ensures that when your baby stands up in the crib, he or she won’t be able to fall or climb out of it.
  • You should avoid choosing a baby crib that has corner posts as these can catch onto clothing or even hurt your baby. You should also avoid cribs that have cutouts or knobs that stick out more than 1/16th of an inch, as Child Injury Prevention Alliance reports. Antique cribs are notorious for having such features and should therefore be avoided in favor of newer cribs.
  • Check that all the screws and bolts on the crib are strong. The wood should also be free of any cracks or scuffs.
  • Avoid cribs that have rough or sharp edges as they’re simply not baby-friendly.
  • Never purchase a crib that has drop rails as these are dangerous. These cribs are said to be less stable and less structurally sound when compared to cribs that have fixed sides. They’re also more susceptible to damage, such as when they’re assembled or moved.
  • When buying a crib, avoid a second-hand item as this could have been damaged or even recalled by the manufacturer. If you really have to purchase a second-hand crib, make sure it’s from someone you know and check the crib well before taking it home.

Simple Ways To Secure Your Baby’s Crib

Once you’ve purchased a safe, lovely crib for your baby, it’s important to look after it and keep it as secure as possible. Here are some tips and tricks to follow.

Avoid Adding Baby Bumpers

baby in cradle with bumper

Bumpers are essentially crib liners that cover the inside of the crib so that the baby can’t move their limbs through the slats or hurt themselves, but while they have good intentions bumpers are actually prohibited because they can be dangerous to babies.

According to the Journal of Pediatrics, bumpers contributed to 48 accidental suffocations over a period of seven years.

Avoid Placing Pillows And Blankets In The Crib

These items are not going to help your baby have a good sleep – they could actually suffocate him or her, so they’re best avoided.

To keep your baby warm, it’s best to dress your baby in warmer clothes to prevent injuries.

Another item to avoid: stuffed toys. Although they look super-cute in the crib with your baby, they can also be dangerous.

Don’t Put Cribs Near Windows Or Heat

You should never put the baby’s crib next to windows or a radiator as they could produce hot temperatures.

Another good reason to avoid putting your crib next to the window is because items like blinds and drapes can become a strangulation risk.

Keep Mobiles Out Of The Way

Entertaining and soothing your baby with a fascinating mobile above the crib can be a lovely addition to the nursery, but make sure that it’s not hanging within reach of your baby’s fingers.

When your baby can stand up in the crib, the mobile should be removed or hung higher up away from him or her.

Cover The Mattress

When you put a mattress in your baby’s crib, don’t forget to cover it with a mattress cover. It should be waterproof.

This will ensure that your baby’s crib is as clean as possible, while protecting the mattress from stains, such as urine.

How To Choose The Best Crib Mattress

It’s not just your baby’s crib that’s of the utmost importance but also the mattress that your baby will sleep on.

Here’s what you need to know about mattresses and which ones are the best for your baby.

There Are Two Types Of Baby Mattresses

mom and baby

These are innerspring and foam mattresses.

Both are suitable for baby cribs because they maintain their shape over time and give infants the support they need while sleeping or lying on the mattress.

Foam is lighter than innerspring mattresses, however, so that could be something to consider when it comes to changing the sheets on the mattress because it will make it easier to do.

  • When buying a foam mattress, you should avoid choosing ones that are made with thin vinyl on the edges or coverings as these will become worn over time. You should choose a thicker, puncture-resistant laminate, as Consumer Reports states. The foam mattress should be of higher density as this reveals its quality.

In addition, if you’re buying the mattress in a shop, you should press on it to test its quality.

Press the middle of the mattress as well as its edges. Do they spring back quickly? Or do they mold to your hand shape?

The latter is bad news as you don’t want your baby sleeping on a mattress that will stick to his or her face and create a suffocation risk.

  • When buying an innerspring mattress, make sure that it has good steel quality and better-quality cushioning, as Consumer Reports advises. In addition, the more layers it has, the better the mattress is. The gauge of the wire is important in innerspring mattresses – if they have a lower gauge, that means they have thicker wire and this is important because the mattresses will be stronger and offer more support. A good general rule is to choose a crib mattress that has 135 or more coils and a gauge that’s 15.5 or lower, as Baby Center reports.

What About Organic Mattresses?

You can also find crib mattresses that are made of organic materials.

These include wool, cotton, and plant-based foam, and you can find them in foam or innerspring varieties.

Although you might have to shell out more money for an organic crib mattress, avoiding toxins in your baby’s environment should be high on your priority list.

Top Tips For Buying Crib Mattresses

crib in babys room

Now that you know about the best crib mattress types, let’s look at some tips you should follow when choosing one to buy.

Consider The Cushioning

The cushioning is the layer above the mattress’s coils. It tends to be made of a variety of materials, such as polyester, cotton, and foam. If a mattress has this layer in foam or cotton, then it tends to be of higher quality. It might cost more, though.

Make Sure The Mattress Fits Perfectly

Whichever mattress you choose for your baby’s crib, make sure that it fits and doesn’t create gaps.

If you can fit two fingers into the space between the mattress and crib, then it’s not fitting snugly enough. If it feels difficult to make or change your baby’s bed, then you know that the mattress is a tight fit and that’s a good thing.

Make Sure It Has The Right Measurements

By law, your baby’s full-size crib mattress has to be at least 27 ¼ inches by 51 5/8 inches. In addition, it should not be thicker than six inches, as Consumer Reports states. Make sure you remember these measurements when shopping for a crib mattress.

Check The Ticking

The ticking is otherwise known as the mattress cover. You should look for a water-resistant cover that’s been double or even triple laminated. This makes it much more resistant to damage.

Check For Proper Ventilation

You should ensure that the mattress is properly ventilated. This can be seen by small holes along the mattress sides that allow air to circulate much better, so make sure the mattress you want to buy has those.

How To Clean A Crib Mattress

cradle and a crib

Keeping your baby’s crib mattress clean is important for hygienic reasons, and especially because sometimes stains on the mattress can happen even with preventative measures in place, such as mattress covers.

Here’s how to clean a crib mattress effectively and safely.

  • Remove the mattress from the crib and vacuum it on both sides, being sure that you clean up dirt and dust along seams or buttons.
  • Mix five cups of water with one tablespoon of laundry detergent, then use a clean cloth to apply and blot the solution onto the mattress stains. Never soak the mattress as the water can accumulate and cause problems such as mold.
  • Afterwards, use a clean cloth to dab at the stain until it lifts. Or, if you’re just doing a general cleaning of the mattress, then use the clean cloth to remove the product and water.
  • If there are bad odors in the mattress, such as from stains, sprinkle baking soda onto it and leave it on the mattress for about an hour. Then, vacuum the mattress thoroughly to remove all baking soda.
  • Once you’re satisfied with how you’ve removed the stain and odor, leave the crib mattress outside in the sun to let it dry. This is the best way to dry a mattress. If you can’t put it outside, then keep it in a well-ventilated room to dry. You could also use an electric fan to make the drying process go quicker.
  • Important tip: Never use bleach on a crib mattress as this can be harmful to your baby’s skin. Bleach fumes are dangerous, too, and they can remain long after the mattress has been cleaned.

Related Questions

How long will your baby spend in a crib?

Almost all 18-month-old babies sleep in cribs, but by the time they reach two years old, that number decreases to 80 percent, as Happiest Baby reports.

By the age of three, only 40 percent of children are still in cribs, as most will have transitioned into a different bed, such as a toddler bed.

How much should you pay for a crib mattress?

Aim for between $90 and $200 as this points to good quality.

Both foam mattresses and innerspring mattresses vary in price – you could find ones for under $100 and over $400.

You’ll likely spend more on a crib mattress if it’s made with organic materials, as Consumer Reports states.


Buying a baby crib might have seemed quite overwhelming and stressful, but now that you’ve read this guide it’s clear to see that it doesn’t have to be a difficult process at all. In fact, it’s quite easy to know what to do!

By knowing what to look for in a crib and mattress, as well as how to keep both of them hygienic and safe for your baby, you’ll be able to give your baby a comfortable sanctuary to help them get started in life and enjoy restful sleep so they can grow.