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Choosing a Crib: A Guide for Expectant Parents

March 25, 2024

One of the most exciting and important tasks for expectant parents is setting up a nursery for their new arrival. At the heart of this special space is the crib, where your baby will spend a significant amount of time sleeping and growing and developing during their first years. With safety, comfort, and style in mind, this guide will help you navigate the process of choosing the perfect crib for your family.

Safety First

When it comes to cribs, safety is paramount. Look for cribs that meet current safety standards set by organizations like the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). Key safety features to consider include:

  • Sturdy Construction: The crib should be well-built and free of any loose or wobbly parts.
  • Fixed Sides: Drop-side cribs are no longer considered safe and have been banned in many countries. Opt for a crib with fixed sides for added security.
  • Slats Spacing: Ensure the slats are no more than 2 3/8 inches apart to prevent your baby's head from getting stuck.
  • Non-toxic Finish: Look for cribs with non-toxic, lead-free paint or finishes.
A couple are looking over a crib

Types of Cribs

There are several types of cribs to choose from, each with its own advantages:

  • Standard Cribs: These are the most common type of cribs, available in various styles and designs to match your nursery decor.
  • Convertible Cribs: These cribs can convert into a toddler bed, daybed, and sometimes even a full-sized bed, making them a cost-effective option in the long run.
  • Mini Cribs: Perfect for smaller spaces or as a secondary crib.  Mini cribs are compact and often portable.
  • Travel Cribs: Lightweight and collapsible, travel cribs are ideal for families on the go.

Mattress Compatibility

A good crib mattress is just as important as the crib itself. Ensure that the mattress fits snugly within the crib, with no more than two fingers of space between the mattress and the crib frame. Look for a firm mattress that supports your baby's developing spine.

Two pregnant women look at a crib

Adjustable Mattress Height

Many cribs come with adjustable mattress heights, allowing you to lower the mattress as your baby grows, starts standing, and becomes more mobile. This feature helps prevent adventurous little ones from climbing over the top rail and out of the crib.

Style and Design

While safety and functionality are the top priorities, you will also want to choose a crib that complements your nursery's theme and decor. From classic wooden designs to modern, minimalist styles, there is a crib to suit every taste.


Cribs are available in a wide range of prices, from budget-friendly options to high-end luxury models. Determine your budget beforehand. Remember, safety and quality should not be compromised for the sake of saving money.

Ease of Assembly

Consider the assembly process when choosing a crib. Some cribs come with easy-to-follow instructions and can be assembled with minimal tools, while others might require more time and effort.

A pregnant woman is examining a crib


Think about how long you plan to use the crib. If you are considering having more children, investing in a durable, high-quality crib might be a wise choice. Convertible cribs offer great value as they can grow with your child.

Read Reviews

Before making a final decision, read online reviews and talk to other parents about their experiences with different crib brands and models. Their insights can provide valuable information about the durability, ease of assembly, and overall satisfaction with the product.

Choosing the right crib is a crucial decision that impacts your baby's safety and comfort. By prioritizing safety standards, considering the type of crib, and selecting a style that fits your budget and nursery decor, you can create a cozy and secure sleeping environment for your little one.


  1. When should I buy a crib for my baby?
    • It is a good idea to have the crib set up and ready by the time you are 36-37 weeks pregnant, just in case your baby arrives earlier than expected.
  2. Can I use a second-hand crib?
    • Using a second-hand crib can be cost-effective, but make sure it meets current safety standards, has not been recalled, and is in good condition without any missing or broken parts.
  3. How long can my baby use a crib?
    • Most babies transition to a toddler bed between 18 months and 3 years old. Convertible cribs can extend the usage period as they can be transformed into toddler beds and beyond.
  4. Do cribs come with mattresses?
    • Most cribs do not come with mattresses, so you will need to purchase a crib mattress separately. Ensure it fits snugly within the crib for safety.
  5. How do I know if a crib is safe?
    • Check that the crib meets safety standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association  (JPMA), has fixed sides, slats spaced no more than 2 3/8 inches apart, and is made of non-toxic materials.
  6. Can I paint or refinish a crib?
    • If you choose to paint or refinish a crib, make sure to use non-toxic, lead-free paint or finish. Allow ample time for the paint to dry and cure before using the crib.
  7. What should I look for in a crib mattress?
    • Look for a firm mattress that fits snugly in the crib, has a waterproof cover, and meets safety standards for flammability and chemical composition.
  8. Are crib bumpers safe?
    • Crib bumpers are not recommended as they pose a risk of suffocation, entrapment, and strangulation. It is safer to use a bare crib with just a fitted sheet on the mattress.

This information is presented as a general guide to choosing a crib.  It is for informational purposes only.  The information provided is not intended to be the only information available about choosing a crib. The material provided is not expected to be a substitute for advice or information from your physician or health care provider.

If you have any questions, concerns, fears, apprehensions, unease, or worry about choosing a crib contact your health care provider immediately.

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