You’ll be able to use a baby crib from the time your baby is born until about the age of two. There are several important factors to consider when choosing a crib.
Most of the cribs sold today are variations on a familiar theme: the standard-sized rectangular walled bed. Usually the headboard and footboard are solid and there are spindles on the long sides. This is what most of us picture when we think of a baby crib.
For many nurseries, the standard rectangular crib turns out to be the best choice. There are several really innovative options, however:
convert to a toddler bed when your baby outgrows the crib. Some of them can convert again as the child grows. The most versatile can become a full-size or even a queen-size bed.
We like convertible cribs because they save you money in the long run. There's no need to buy another bed when your child outgrows her crib. (A convertible may cost more than a non-convertible crib initially.)
are unusual and attractive. They have no corners and no “short sides”. We like the fact that when a baby starts pulling up and falling backwards, he won’t hit his head on the other side of the crib. Round cribs work best in large nurseries.
Crib Design Features
It’s smart to choose a model with adjustable mattress heights. During crib assembly, you place the mattress at its highest setting, where it's easy to reach; you lower it as the baby grows and learns to stand up.
Choose a baby crib constructed from a hardwood like maple or oak. Soft woods, such as pine, dent more easily. Dents are primarily a cosmetic problem. More importantly, using weaker woods could lead to structural problems like warped slats.
If you want a crib that will be ultra-safe and will have the potential to last through several children, it's important to pick one made of strong wood. (Metal cribs can also be sturdy and durable, but they aren't nearly as attractive as hardwood cribs.)
Don't choose a crib that has plastic hardware (like drop latches or wheels). Metal hardware is far more durable. Also, make sure the crib has a metal mattress support rather than one made of wood. Metal is the only material sure to withstand a jumping toddler.
When you head out to select the perfect baby crib, keep the above design features in mind. (Before you go shopping, take a moment to read and print our compilation of the strongest baby crib safety standards.)
JPMA Crib Certification
A baby crib is the only place you will ever consider placing your baby unattended. Safety is absolutely critical. The gold standard for a safe crib is a certification from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA).
certifies cribs which meet or exceed voluntary safety standards issued by the American Society for Testing
and Materials ASTM). These standards are stricter and safer than the mandatory safety standards promulgated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission CPSC). Federal law mandates that all baby cribs sold in the United States must conform to the less stringent CPSC standards.
Check the JPMA certified product index for an up-to-the minute list of manufacturers of JPMA-certified baby cribs.