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Baby Cribs

Baby cribs and bassinets form the centerpiece of any nursery, and come in many types.

Safety, style and comfort are important factors to keep in mind when buying a baby crib. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
Safety, style and comfort are important factors to keep in mind when buying a baby crib.

Baby Cribs

Perhaps no single piece of furniture in a nursery is more important than a baby crib. According to Texas Childrens Pediatric Associates, newborns sleep 16 hours a day on average, so two-thirds of an infant's day is spent in a baby crib. When shopping for a baby crib, several factors should be considered:

  • Safety
  • Style
  • Comfort
  • Cost
  • Baby crib features
  • Baby Crib Safety

Safety is commonly regarded as the single most important issue when choosing a baby crib. Statistics from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) show that 30 percent of baby crib-related deaths in the United States occur due to old, broken or missing parts of a baby crib. It is recommended that any baby crib considered for purchase should have certification that it has met federal standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and voluntary standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). This certification from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) assuring these standards have been met should clearly be indicated on a sticker affixed to the baby crib itself, on the baby crib box and also in any product literature accompanying the baby crib.

These current safety standards include:

  • No missing, broken or improperly installed bolts, screws or other hardware on the baby crib
  • Baby crib slats 2 and 3/8 inches, or less, apart to prevent a baby from slipping through or having his or her head caught between the slats
  • Corner posts no higher than 1/16 of an inch above the panels of the baby crib
  • Properly secured mattress support hangers, attached to the baby crib frame with closed hooks or bolts
  • Properly set mattress support hangers to prevent children from climbing out of the baby crib
  • Footboards and headboards free of decorative cutouts to prevent entrapment of any kind

Additional safety features and tips concerning the use of a baby crib include:

  • A locking mechanism for dropsides
  • Crib mattresses that fit tightly, with no more than a two-finger width gap between the mattress and the sides of the baby crib
  • Smooth edges and corners and no peeling paint or splinters
  • A baby crib should be kept away from windows and any window treatments that include cords such as drapes and blinds
  • The dropside or sides should be kept up at all times when a baby is inside a baby crib
  • A secure crib sheet which fits around each corner of the mattress should be used
  • Wheel locks should be locked on rolling casters
  • A teething rail along the tops of railings to prevent babies from chewing on wooden surfaces of a baby crib

Due to changes in federal safety standards over the past few decades, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission strongly discourages the use of an old or second-hand baby crib or bassinet, as these are not likely to meet current federal and ASTM standards. Older baby cribs, for instance, may not have the recommended spacing between slats, particularly if they were manufactured before 1974; or there may be lead paint used in an older baby crib or bassinet that can cause serious illness.

Baby Crib Types

The types of baby cribs available range from the traditional to the practical. They include:

  • Standard
  • Convertible
  • Canopy
  • Round
  • Portable

A standard baby crib is rectangular-shaped, with either one or two dropsides. Convertible baby cribs are similar, but can be converted to a toddler bed and later to a full-sized bed by removing the dropsides as the child grows older. A canopy baby crib has four posts in each corner over which a fabric canopy can be attached. Round baby cribs are the most recent type to come onto the market, and are increasing in popularity among high-end shoppers. Round baby cribs usually have one dropside. Finally, a portable baby crib is lightweight and best used for traveling or visiting. Portable baby cribs have locks and hinges that allow them to be folded for easy transportation.

Each style of baby crib has pros and cons. Standard baby cribs offer the widest selection when it comes to manufacturer names and styles, including arched headboards or footboards and choices of flat or rounded spindles or slats. Standard baby cribs can be expensive if they have the double dropsides, and they are limited to only a traditional nursery look.

Convertible baby cribs can also be expensive, but parents save money over time since there is no need to buy a new bed as the child grows. This type of baby crib is also available in a variety of styles from many of the top crib manufacturers. Because of their long-term value, convertible baby cribs are one of the most popular types of baby crib purchased in the U.S.

A canopy baby crib is perfect for those seeking to give a nursery an elegant or classic look. A canopy baby crib can be traditional or even round, and is available in wood or iron in many styles, as well as colors. Due to the addition of the canopy, this type of baby crib can be even more expensive than traditional or convertible baby cribs.

The popular round baby crib not only gives a nursery a modern look, but it also has some advantages such as allowing more visibility to the baby and more areas of access for parents. The circular design also removes the risk of babies bumping their heads on corners. However, this baby crib is expensive, and can be smaller than traditional baby cribs. Also, since round baby cribs are best when placed in the center of the room, floor space is compromised.

Portable baby cribs are great for those on the go, their foldable capability makes them easy to fit in cars and some models even come with carrying bags for easy handling. One downside is that they are only recommended for use in babies up to 18 months, as they are smaller than traditional cribs. Also, the safety standards are not in place for this type of crib. It is recommended that infants not be left unsupervised in a portable baby crib, and this crib should never be substituted for a traditional baby crib.

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