Let Baby Rest Safely With The Best Cribs (2018 Guide)

Let Baby Rest Safely With The Best Cribs (2018 Guide)

There's no way around it: a crib is one of the top two or three items that you will buy for your baby.

A crib is your baby’s home and provides them with comfort and safety as they sleep and play. 

For a tiny newborn, a crib may seem like a big, scary place.

But, with some training (and luck), your baby will love being placed in it for each nap and overnight.

There are many crib models and some are much better (and safer) than others, and because the right crib is vital to your child’s comfort, it’s smart to shop around for “the one.”

Read on to learn about the best baby cribs, things to consider before buying one, and safety tips for having your baby sleep in a crib.

Why You Need a Crib

You need a crib for your baby to sleep in when they outgrow their bassinet

Cribs are used for naps, overnight, and as a safe space for your baby to rest and sometimes play.

Your baby is able to sleep in a bassinet until they are about two months of age, so a crib isn’t needed right away, unless you’ve decided to place your newborn in one from the get go.

However, many parents prefer to have their child close to them for the first few weeks before transitioning into their own nursery into something bigger. 

When Do You Need a Crib?

If you plan on placing your child is a crib right away, you obviously need one set up before your baby is born.

The general rule of thumb is that it’s smart to have one set up by the end of your third trimester. 

Even parents who choose to go the bassinet route have a crib ready and waiting to be used.

A baby can bring quite a bit of chaos into your home environment, and the last thing tired parents want to do is fiddle around with a crib. 

Different Types of Cribs

There are a few different kinds of cribs to consider.

When I was registering for one, I had no idea that there were so many different kinds.

Weighing out each’s pros and cons helped me make my selection. The different types of cribs include:

Standard


A standard crib is your “traditional” baby crib.

It's designed solely for a baby and has adjustable levels (generally 2 or 3) and can be used on a newborn all the way up to two years or so (depending on how low the lowest setting goes).

Sale
Delta Children Emery 4-in-1 Convertible Baby Crib, White
  • CONVERTIBLE CRIB: Converts from a crib to a toddler bed, daybed and full size bed with headboard (Daybed Rail included; Toddler Guardrail #0080 and Full Size Metal Bed Frame #0040 sold separately)
  • GROWS WITH BABY: The 3 position mattress height adjustment on this crib allows you to lower the mattress as your baby begins to sit or stand

Pros

  • Affordable.Because it only has one use, standard cribs aren’t overly expensive.
  • Size-friendly. They don’t take up a lot of room compared to some other styles of cribs.
  • Adjustable. You can adjust the mattress level to your child’s needs.
  • Sturdy. Since hardware is used for installation, you can bet on a stable and sturdy standing item.

Cons

  • Single use.Once your baby is just under two, you need to purchase a separate toddler bed.
  • Mattress. The mattress is meant to fit a crib, not so much a toddler bed, so it’s smaller and may not be able to be used again (depending on the toddler bed you select).

Convertible


Convertible cribs are a popular choice and allow for one stop shopping.

They combine a crib, toddler, and day bed all in one. 

Sale
Babyletto Hudson 3-in-1 Convertible Crib with Toddler Bed Conversion Kit, White
  • Rounded spindle mid-century modern design, versatile style for any nursery
  • GREENGUARD Gold Certified - screened for 360 VOCs and over 10,000 chemicals

Pros

  • Multiple uses. As stated above, you can get years of use out of it.
  • Ornate. Many convertible cribs have a more decorative, ornate design to complement your nursery’s design scheme.
  • Strong and sturdy. Because hardware is involved in the setup, you can ensure the crib will stand strongly on its own and it’s equipped to handle an antsy toddler and preschooler. 
  • One mattress. There's no need to buy separate mattresses as the mattress that your child begins with fits perfectly in the toddler bed and day bed later on.

Cons

  • Big and bulky. This crib can be a bit chunky and heavy, making it difficult to move.
  • Difficult to assemble. Because the crib turns into a bed, there are a lot more parts and odds and ends to keep up with/replace.

Portable


Portable cribs are lighter in weight, have legs that fold up and down, and they mimic a bassinet, but are larger to accommodate a bigger baby. 

Pros

  • Light and easy to use. There’s nothing to really assemble!
  • Ideal for small spaces. You don’t have to worry about not being able to fit a crib in your apartment because a portable crib is always an option.
  • Can be kept next to your bed. For those who wish to co-sleep for a longer amount of time, but who don’t want to physically put the baby in their bed for safety reasons.
  • Can be used elsewhere. Take a portable crib outdoors or to friends and family members’ homes while visiting, without sacrificing nap time.

Cons

  • Not super sturdy. Your baby should be tended to right away when they wake, since the crib can tip.
  • Lack of airflow. Your baby isn’t in something that has standard slats, so they get less air flow through the crib.
  • Outgrown sooner. You may need to purchase a toddler bed sooner than you’d like since the crib is smaller and can accommodate a baby of a certain size. So, you won’t be able to use it into your child’s toddler years.

Travel


A travel crib is able to totally fold up and then re-setup. It can serve as a changing station, playpen, and crib all in one! It’s easy to pack and travel with because they usually come complete with a strapped carrying case. 

Sale
Lotus Travel Crib - Backpack Portable, Lightweight, Easy to Pack Play-Yard with Comfortable Mattress - Certified Baby Safe
  • WORRY-FREE AIRPORT TRAVEL - Designed to be easy to fly with the compact, light backpack carrying case. Set up is simple in 15 seconds and only weighs 13 lbs packed.
  • CERTIFIED SAFE & NON-TOXIC - The only playard with GreenGuard Gold non-toxic certification (low voc & no lead, phthalates, pvc, heavy metals, etc). Full-height mesh guarantees best, breathable airflow.

Pros

  • 3-items-in-1. This is a life saver when it comes to what you need to pack.
  • Sturdy. A travel crib isn’t easy to tip over once it’s set up properly.
  • No hardware. This crib is a pop up style, so you don’t need any major hardware to piece it all together.

Cons

  • Time consuming. Because it doesn’t require hardware, you have to memorize how to fold it up and pop it out. Until you get the hang of it, it can be slightly difficult to position properly.
  • Large. A travel crib has multiple uses, so it does take up more space than a basic portable crib.

When to Transition to a Toddler Bed

I decided to purchase a convertible crib because I loved the fact that I only had to make one major bedding purpose until my son hit nursery school!

So, I adhered to safety standards when it came to adjusting his crib based on his height and activity level during his baby years.

But, right around the 18 month mark, I knew my son was ready to venture into a toddler bed. 

For my son, that transition worked out very well.

But, for some of my friends, it did not. Their children needed more time in a crib, so they kept them in well after their second birthday.

For others, their kiddos were ready just after their first birthday. There isn’t a right or wrong time to do the swap! 

But, there can be some signs of readiness.

I noticed that my son was getting to a point where he was trying to climb out of his crib (little bugger), and despite how low my crib was set, it was becoming a safety issue to let him in a crib with his climbing ambitions.

He was much happier in a little bed and I slept much better knowing that I didn’t have to be glued to my monitor. 

My son just turned 3 and he’s still happily in his toddler bed.

I’m getting ready to remove the side rails because he’s not much of a roller and start the transition into a regular bed.

Once he masters sleeping without rails, I’m going to splurge and move on to a regular, full sized bed!

While this is my plan of action, every child is different in regard to readiness.

Watch for cues, and even initial discussions to excite your toddler to want to get out of a crib and into a “big kid bed.”

Shopping Tips

  • Assembly. Some cribs offer complimentary assembly. Some offer assembly for a charge. If you’re handy, putting a crib should be no problem. But, if you’re not, you might want to shop for a crib that boasts these services.
  • Store shake test. I’m not sure why, but cribs in stores aren’t always set up to be the sturdiest. So, if you go to shake a crib, keep in mind that some employees just throw the crib together quickly so parents can see how it looks. But, they often don’t go the extra step to tighten it. This has always baffled me. So, take what’s in the store with a grain of salt. I’ve had a few friends select a crib that had great reviews, but failed the “shake” test in stores. Once they got it home, it was super sturdy and steady.
  • Budget. You have to select a crib that complements your budget. While many moms choose to register for a crib, others don’t feel comfortable asking for this “expense.” Keep in mind that there is a great crib at every price point. You just have to do some research and searching.
  • Buy your mattress and crib together. You may be able to save on this bundled deal. Plus, you’ll be sure that the provided/suggested mattress fits like a charm!
  • Warranty. I always checked to make sure any crib I considered had a great warranty. This way, if the crib was delivered damaged or with missing parts, or if it just didn’t hold up to my expectations, it could be returned or replaced with ease.
  • Shop online. This method gives you the ease and ability to compare prices/models in a jiffy, without leaving the comfort of your home. Most baby websites even have experts available to call or engaged in a chat service online with.
  • Read reviews. I always consider what other parents say about a product. This helps me understand another mom’s perspective and help me narrow down my choices.
  • Weight/height limits. This is important to note to ensure you use the crib and/or convertible toddler bed correctly and safely. 

Best Places to Buy a Crib

You can find a crib at pretty much any baby chain store or big name retailer.

While some parents love being “hands on” and checking out assembled models in person, others love the convenience of shopping online.

Regardless of your preference, here are a few places that boast great cribs and offer an abundance of choices and price points:

  • Amazon. By all means, you must check out cribs on Amazon. If you’re a Prime member, you get free two day shipping (great for mom procrastinators), you can read reviews, and all the specifications are organized and easy to access. You get competitive prices and a larger selection of cribs to browse. Plus, you can set up a registry with ease, so friends and family do have the option to chip in and get you a crib.
  • Walmart. Whether you go in the store or online, you can ensure that you’ll find a crib that fits your style needs, space needs, and budget at Walmart!
  • Babies"R"Us. Many parents like to shop online or in stores here because they can earn rewards points. The bigger the purchase, the more points you earn to save money on future baby purchases. The store has great customer service and items are easy to return or trade, especially if you set up a registry. 

Safety Ratings

Safety is the number one priority when buying a crib for your little one.

You'll want to look for a crib that is certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA).

You could also shop for a crib that adheres to Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulations. 

In addition, there are a few ways to determine if your crib is safe:

If the slats on your crib are greater than 2 and 2/8 inches wide, they are too far apart. Since many people opt to buy cribs online and this information may be missing from its specifications, measure its openings when you get home.

You should also investigate the crib fully before putting your baby in it. Human error happens, so feel around for sharp edges, protruding hardware, decorative knobs-anything that could catch your baby-especially around their neck.

Don’t be afraid to give your crib of choice a good shake. This will help you determine you assembled it correctly and you can check to see if the frame on the bottom seems loose at all (keep in mind, display models aren’t always assembled in the most secure way). 

During your investigation, also check for loose slats or any cracks in the wood. Double check that all your hardware is tight enough before putting your baby in the crib. It doesn’t hurt to tighten screws up over time either, since they can become loose. 

Once you have a crib in mind, make sure it doesn’t boast drop sides. The CPSC regulations for full sized cribs declared this feature a danger and have been linked to at least 32 deaths over the past decade. Opt for a single drop gate instead, which lowers a portion, rather than the entire side of the crib. 

Consider mattress height as well. Some cribs boast two kinds, while others boast three (even four). This way, your baby won’t be able to get over the side and get hurt. Because all babies start to pull themselves up at different ages and stages (the norm is between 6 and 8 months), you do want to make sure your crib is in the right position. 

The Importance of Buying New

Cribs are regulated by the federal government, so when you use a used one (especially if it’s older), you run into the chance of having the crib recalled, and not being aware of it. 

They may not meet current safety standards or pose a threat to your child’s safety. 

And in fact, by law, the production date of a crib must be displayed on it and on its shipping carton. 

Also, when you buy new, you have less of a chance of exposing your baby to weakened hardware or loose glue joints which can be caused by changes during humidity during storage. 

When you buy new, you can also purchase the mattress at the same time, guaranteeing a perfect fit. 

You never want any gaping around the edges because your baby could get stuck in an open crevice and suffocate. A good rule of thumb to follow is if you can stick more than two fingers between your mattress and its crib frame, then the fit isn’t right!

Safe Sleeping Tips

It’s hard work keeping your baby safe and sound. But, as a parent, it’s your number one job.

Here are a few safe sleeping tips to take into consideration:

  • Go bare. Cuddly stuffed animals are pretty cute, pillows are comfortable, and bumpers are just plain pretty—but they are all considered to be a death trap, especially to a newborn. Your crib should have a fitted sheet. The end. A bare bone crib is the only way to ensure that your child isn’t at risk for SIDS. They need unblocked airflow around the crib, and they certainly can fall asleep without a pillow. 
  • Check corners. Look out for gaping! The right mattress should avoid this, but always do a scan around your crib to make sure your baby can’t get stuck in any spare spaces.
  • Skip sleep positioners. While some parents feel sleep positioners are a must so that their little one sleeps through the night, they can be a danger. While the intent of a positioner is to not allow a baby to roll over, it can and will happen from time to time, posing a health threat. Some babies who suffer from acid reflux do benefit from wedges (because they need to be elevated), but the AAP cannot confirm their effectiveness. In fact, the FDA has actually put a ban on using wedges for acid reflux, but the products are still out on the market. A baby can roll right off, put their face up against one, and suffocate. 
  • Tighten hardware. As stated previously, hardware can loosen up over time. It never hurts to do routine tightening each month and totally replace parts that are missing or broken.
  • Adjust sheets. Fitted sheets should be just that—ultra fitted. If your sheets are loose, or if they gape from time to time, always reposition them or pick up a different set that gives you a snugger fit.
  • Put your baby to sleep on their back. Your baby’s best sleep position (to reduce the risk of SIDS) is on their back. While you can’t always help if your child turns over in the middle of the night and ends up on their side or tummy in the morning, you can start them off on their back. In fact, some devices have been designed for your to place your baby on, and if they roll over in their sleep, an alert sounds in order for you to go into their nursery and reposition them. 
  • Avoid co-sleeping. While some parents swear by this (especially nursing moms), it is advised that your baby sleeps in their own crib and doesn’t share your bed. This takes the risk of accidental suffocation away (in your soft bedding), and well as accidental smothering (if a parent rolls over on the baby while they’re asleep). Your baby also will not be able to become trapped between any objects on your bed, nor will they risk falling out of bed. 
  • Use a pacifier. Not only does a pacifier help soothe your baby, it helps to reduce the risk of SIDS (just be sure to remove it prior to the age of 3, as dental damage can occur).
  • Never overdress. Your baby doesn’t need super wooly pajamas, nor an electric blanket. In fact, your baby’s room should be between 68 and 72 degrees, and should not feel warm to the touch if you check on them. The right temperature will keep your baby comfortable, cool, and safe. 
  • Snug sleepwear. Just like their fitted sheet, their sleepwear shouldn’t be too loose. Avoid drawstrings, ribbon, or any other embellishment that may snag and get stuck on something. Pajamas that are also made of flame resistant fabric are ideal. 
  • No bottles. Your baby should not be sent to bed with a bottle or sippy cup. Not only could the nipple get lodge in their throats, but the sugar from their drinks could cause bottle rot and lead to tooth and gum problems.
  • Mobiles out of reach. While mobiles create a peaceful sleeping environment, you should make sure they are able to be looked at, and never reached. These devices contain a lot of parts, and some of which can come loose after a baby tugs on it and can pose a choking hazard. 

Sleeping Do's

With so many things you “shouldn’t” do when it comes to putting your baby to bed safely in their crib, I believe there are certain things that you should do to help them sleep and sleep safely.

They include:

  • Swaddle use. Swaddles are safe. They look like miniature torture devices, but they actually help a newborn baby sleep. Swaddles come in different sizes and fabrics, so you don’t have to worry about your baby overheating, especially during summer months. It helps stop your baby from waking himself up due to involuntary reactions. Once your baby starts to roll over, leave their hands out and switch over to a sleep sack until they are closer to eight or nine months of age.
  • Use a cool mist humidifier. These put moisture back into the air and use cold air, not hot. So, they aren’t a safety hazard. When the air quality is right, your baby breathes better and as a result, sleeps better!
  • Use a monitor. Many parents use monitors right from the get go, which helps them gain peace when their little baby sleeps in their own room overnight. You get a full view and can hear every little whimper and cry, as well as every breath. Some monitors allow you to adjust the room’s temperature, speak to your child, and adjust the lighting. Just be sure to set up the monitor away from your baby’s grasp and in a spot that is close enough to get a great view and excellent audio. 
  • Play white noise. If you want your baby to sleep soundly, play background noise. Whether you choose a white noise machine or a soothing sounds machine, the soft music or rhythms will make a big, silent room much cozier and familiar to a little baby (after all, the womb is a loud place!)

Best Convertible Crib

babyletto Hudson 3-in-1 Convertible Crib

The babyletto Hudson 3-in-1 Convertible Crib (click here to check the price on Amazon) is a multifunctional crib that will actually grow with your child.

Featuring a stylish design that will transform from a newborn bed to an infant bed, once your child is ready for a daybed, there is no need to go out and purchase one because this convertible crib has you covered.

If you're looking for a crib with a modern design that will last a long time to come, this might be the one for you.

We like

It’s sturdy. Made from high-quality materials so you can be assured of your child’s safety, the slat strength of the babyletto is a whopping 135+ pounds.

Eco-conscious design. The babyletto is one of the healthiest cribs on the market. Not only does it meet the ASTM standards, but also the CPCS safety standards and is GREENGUARD certified.

It’s low to the ground. The legs of this crib are slightly shorter than the average crib, giving you the ability to place your baby in his or her bed easily. This crib also has several different heights that you can position the mattress as your child grows.

Easy to assemble. With the help of a partner, assembling this crib should be a quick job. The instructions that come with your baby’s bed are clear and to the point. All hardware is provided, so you won’t need to go out and purchase anything additional.

Keep in mind

Can scuff your floor. If you have hardwood floors that you would like to protect, you might want to think about using a rug underneath or furniture pads for the feet. Otherwise, you may end up with unwanted markings on your flooring.

It’s pretty big. While you want your baby to be comfortable and have plenty of room to move around, a large bed can cause some problems. You will need to make sure the crib mattress you choose is big enough or else it can pose a safety risk for your little one.


Best Crib for Newborns

Dream On Me Violet 7 in 1 Convertible Life Style Crib

The Dream On Me Violet 7 in 1 Convertible Life Style Crib (click here to check the price on Amazon) is made from high-quality materials and is phthalates, latex, lead, and BPA free.

You can be confident your baby will have a healthy sleeping environment with this crib, while the stylish design is gender neutral so you can use it over the span of multiple children.

You may want to consider this crib if you are on the market for something that can easily be converted to multiple positions as your little one grows.

We like

Toddler guard rail. Once your little one begins to stand, having a guard rail is essential. Without a guard rail, the potential for falling out of the crib is greatly increased.

Four height settings. Before you know it your baby will be outgrowing the first height setting and then the next. It’s nice to know you will be able to convert this crib to your child’s needs.

Options galore. With this bed, you get it all. Following the simple instructions, you can either have a crib, toddler bed, a day choice of two sized youth beds and even two sizes of full-sized bed.

Keep in mind

Tons of stickers. While you may appreciate Dream on Me’s commitment to your child’s safety with all the warning stickers, they are somewhat unsightly. They can be time-consuming to remove if you don’t have WD-40 or something similar.

Some items sold separately. Even though this bed can be easily converted last your child’s lifetime, there are extras involved. For example, if you plan to have a foot board on your youth bed or full-sized bed you will need to buy a conversion kit.


Best 4-in-1 Crib

Delta Children Emery 4-in-1 Crib

The sturdy Emery 4-in-1 Crib from Delta Children (click here to check the price on Amazon) was built to last.

It can accommodate your newborn child and develops right along with them. The sleek design is gender neutral and will fit in with just about any nursery theme.

We like

Easy to assemble. All tools and hardware are included. Depending on which version you want, there are only several pieces to put together. Although it may take the help of a partner, putting this crib together doesn’t take a lot of effort.

Heavy-duty wood. All parts of this crib are made from durable wood that provide your baby a safe place to rest their head.

It’s gender-neutral. Whether you have a boy or a girl, this crib will be suitable. Its elegant design will pair well with any theme in your nursery.

Keep in mind

Not everything is included. For several of the conversions, you will have to purchase items separately. On the plus side, if you decide you don’t want to use a certain design, you won't have spare parts taking up valuable storage until you need them.

Slats are wide. As your little one grows, they are testing their boundaries. The slats on this crib are spaced further apart than some which can lead to trapped hands and feet of curious babies.


Best Crib for Twins

DaVinci Kalani 4-in-1 Convertible Crib

The DaVinci Kalani 4-in-1 Convertible Crib (click here to check the price on Amazon) will work well for just about any family.

In compliance with ASTM and CPSC safety standards along with its GREENGUARD Gold certification take some of the guesswork out of purchasing this fashionable crib.

If you are looking for a solid crib to add to your registry, you might want to consider this 4-in-1 set.

We like

Four stages of use. This stylish crib will last your child all the way from infancy to teen years. It converts from crib to a complete full-sized bed with limited assembly.

Low environmental impact. The Kalani is constructed from 100% New Zealand Pine in sustainable forests, and Davinci even ships their products with the lowest carbon footprint possible.

It’s sturdy. Made from a few solid pieces, this DaVinci crib holds up well. The slats are strong and can hold up to 135 pounds of weight pushed against them.

Keep in mind

Scratches and dings easily. The finish on this crib has a tendency to scratch easier than some others. If you have pets or multiple children in the home, you might want to consider looking elsewhere.

Instruction manual is difficult to follow. For an item that can be assembled in a variety of ways, the instructions were lacking. Have someone handy help you with this assembly.


Best Modern Crib

#5. Graco Hayden Convertible Crib

The Graco Hayden Convertible Crib (click here to check the price on Amazon) is affordable bundle package that not only looks great but is made with the highest safety standards in mind for your little one.

You might want to think about purchasing this set if you are on the market for a high-end crib and mattress combo without the price-tag. This set also makes a perfect baby shower gift.

We like

Bundled with the mattress. With the purchase of this convertible crib, you won’t have to worry about sizing numerous mattresses to ensure a perfect fit for your crib.

Certified safe. Not only does this Graco crib meet all the ASTM and CPSC safety standards, but it is also JPMA certified as well, so you can be confident in knowing your baby is sleeping soundly.

Easy to put together. The Hayden comes with very clear instructions and well-marked parts which make putting this crib together a breeze.

Keep in mind

It’s bulky. This crib may take up a good portion of your nursery, so you should measure beforehand to ensure it will fit your dimensions. Assembly will need to be done in the baby’s room due to the fact it won't fit through an average sized door.

Too low for an infant. The highest setting is pretty low for a newborn or infant. If you plan to have a cesarean, you might want to have your partner do the lifting in and out of this crib to start.


Wrapping Up

So many cribs to choose from, so little time!

Consider the different kinds of cribs on the market, and features to look for in regard to your top priority: your baby’s safety. 

In addition, brush up on safety tips to ensure that your baby’s first experience in their crib is a positive one!

Kate Trout
 

Hi there, I'm Kate! I started Maternity Glow to be a place for new and expecting moms to come to for practical pregnancy advice, parenting tips, and baby care tricks.

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