Convertible Baby Cribs for Nursery

One of the most important decisions you'll make as a new parent is which crib to purchase. Though you should also have in mind what you want from the style and size of the piece, the most important factor to consider is safety so be sure that any crib you purchase meets safety standards. Ease some of the stress of child care by finding the crib that's safe, secure, and comfortable for your newborn. More

How to Choose a Crib

Standard cribs are simply designed and affordable, so they'll fit effortlessly into any nursery. On the other hand, multipurpose pieces tend to be more expensive because of all their extra features. These cribs are typically worth the investment because they double as dressers or changing tables. You can even get a frame that later converts readily into a toddler bed or the headboard and baseboard of a grown-up bed, which saves you time and money in the long term. Cribs come in a range of prices:

As for size, you'll want to pick out a crib that allows you to reach in for your little one without permitting them to climb out. Many pieces have adjustable mattress elevations so you can lower the mattress as your baby grows. Also, be sure to find a mattress that precisely fits the crib you choose, as those that are too small can risk your child's safety.

Finding the Best Material

Commonly, you'll find cribs built from wood or metal, as these are affordable, durable, and popular materials. To decide between the two, consider which material will fit best in the decor of your baby's room. It's important to only buy cribs with non-toxic stains, paints, and materials to keep your baby safe from contaminants.

Color & Style

Some cribs feature fun and functional design features that allow you to liven up your nursery. However, most pieces come with very few embellishments since tiny ornaments are dangerous to small children. Still, stylish cribs are available in countless, trendy colors, from classic wood finishes like dark cherry to black, white, and espresso.

Cribs are an important purchase for new parents since babies spend so much of their time sleeping. Consumer reports note that cribs are by far the safest place to settle your little one as they are the most widely regulated sleep surface as compared to bassinets or bedside sleepers.

There is no need to purchase intermediary sleepers as a newborn can sleep safely in a crib from their first day home. For this reason, purchasing the crib before the arrival of your new bundle of joy is ideal. Your baby will use the crib for the first two years, and then be ready to move to a toddler or twin-sized bed.

Legislation and standards change regularly with a major change in standards in 2011. Buying new is the only way to be certain that the crib you have is up with the most current findings and regulations.

Crib Safety

The federal government regulates the manufacture and sale of all cribs and many are also certified by Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). The law states that cribs must have the production date displayed on both the crib and the shipping carton; check to be sure they are posted and for even more peace of mind, look for a JPMA-certified safety seal.

Here are a few of the current recommendations and regulations for safe cribs and safe sleep environment for babies:

  • No drop-side cribs – while convenient, they have been found to be the cause of serious harm and death to babies, they have been banned since 2011.
  • Close slats – slats must be closer than 2 3/8 inches apart, with no decorative cut-out areas.
  • Tight-fitting, firm crib mattress – there should be no space between the edge of the mattress and the walls of the crib, and the mattress should be very firm, with no sagging under the weight of your baby.
  • No bumpers, stuffed animals or pillows or quilts – the Consumer Product Safety Commission notes “to prevent the risk of entanglement or suffocation Bare is Best.”
  • Keep cribs away from windows and also away from with blind cords, curtain cords, baby monitor cords and any other cords that could strangle a baby.
  • Lower the mattress setting as soon as your baby can push up onto their knees or sit up.

Crib Assembly

While some stores will deliver assembled cribs, the majority of cribs come boxed, requiring some assembly. Many models are designed to be assembled relatively quickly and easily with steps including connecting three sides of the crib, attaching the mattress springs or support slats, and then attaching the fourth side. If you are handy, expect many styles to take thirty minutes to an hour to complete the assembly. Some more complicated models can take longer to assemble.

When assembling your crib, be sure to follow all of the manufacturer's directions carefully. Be sure to use all appropriate hardware, and check that if you have leftover pieces that they are intentional extras or are supplied for future conversion to a bed (see below). If any hardware or parts are missing, be sure to get replacement parts from the manufacturer rather than substituting in other parts. Home fixes can cause serious risks.

Inspecting your Crib

Both in the store and after you’ve put your purchased crib together, thoroughly inspect your crib:

  • Make sure all slats are firm and sturdy.
  • Corners must be flush with the end panels. Corner posts were once a popular design on cribs, but have been found to be a hazard by catching on baby's clothing, tangling and becoming a strangulation hazard. Regulations now require that corner posts be no more than 1/16 inch high.
  • There should be no sharp or rough edges around the crib, check all wood surfaces and hardware.
  • Check all hardware to be sure it is secure and properly installed, no pieces should be loose or altogether missing.
  • Paint and finishes should be in good condition and not be cracked or pealing in any location.
  • Make sure the mattress support, springs or slats are safely and securely connected to the frame and put the mattress in the proper height setting for the age and ability of your baby.

Crib Location

When placing your baby’s crib in the room, there are several reasons to be sure to keep it away from windows. Any window with blinds or draperies needs to be at least 3 feet away from the crib because of entanglement and strangulation risks. There is also the danger of an older baby climbing out and falling out of an open window. Additionally, windows can create problems with sleeping comfort, being either drafty locations or sources of excess heat from the sun.

Convertible Cribs

Some cribs convert to toddler beds and even become the headboard for a full-sized bed. Often you will see them described at 3-in-1 cribs or 4-in-1 cribs, offering some combination of these options crib, toddler bed, daybed and full-size bed. These cribs grow with your child. Some cribs will come with conversion kits, but some manufacturers will sell that kit separately. If it is something you are interested in, we recommend you buy the conversion kit at the same time as the crib to avoid the potential of products being discontinued and unavailable at a later date. When shopping and comparing pricing check to see what is included and what you will need to buy separately in order to determine the final total price of the crib.

Typically, when converting to a toddler bed, the very lowest setting for the crib mattress will be used and the front side panel of the crib will be removed. This will then look like a small low daybed. Some will have a low, partial guard rail that can be installed across the open side to keep your toddler from rolling off, but still, provide them space to get in and out of bed on their own. The daybed without the rail would be the third configuration stage. And finally, as your child grows, some convertible cribs have conversion kits to use the backside of the crib as a headboard for a full-sized bed, and others include the front face of the crib as a footboard.

Crib Sheets

To protect babies from the risk of entanglement, suffocation or strangulation be sure that the fitted crib sheet properly fits the mattress. Only use fitted crib sheets designed for use on crib mattresses and be sure the sheet fits snuggly and securely.

And as stated above, soft bedding can be hazardous to babies. For this reason, doctors and government agencies recommend removing bumpers, quilts, comforters, pillows, soft stuffed toys and other soft products from the crib while the baby is sleeping. Crib skirts that rest completely below the mattress have no way to interfere with the baby and are fine to use.