The Definitive Guide to Crib Buying
Next to cuddling in your arms, your new baby will spend most of his time tucked in his crib, and with luck, he’ll be sleeping soundly! Finding the right crib is a matter of matching your personal style with your options and your checkbook. This guide will help you find the right crib to meet your needs and your baby’s.
Options, Options: Finding What You Want in a Crib
When it comes to shopping for a crib, a smart start is to review crib options. Consider this review a crib anatomy lesson! Just as on a bed, the crib’s taller front and back sides are the headboard and the footboard. Usually, they are the same height and design. The sides of the cribs are referred to as just that—the sides, with the top part being the “sidebar. Bars on the cribs are also called “slats.”
Consider what would make you most comfortable with a crib. For those thinking beyond the baby years, you can choose cribs that convert into toddler beds and even form a headboard and footboard for a bed. Keep in mind, the more options you choose, the greater expense and the more hardware you’ll have to put together, sometimes making the crib less stable.
Fixed-Side Cribs: Built with four stationary sides that remain in place throughout the lifetime of crib use, rectangular fixed-side models are also called “static” or “standard” cribs. Fixed-side cribs tend to be lower in cost than other types. Crib dimensions (length and width) for most rectangular cribs measure approximately 54 inches by 30 inches. Heights vary.
Drop-Side Cribs: In June 2011, the CPSC made drop-side cribs illegal to manufacture, sell, or even donate in the US. Safety problems with drop-side cribs have centered around malfunctioning hardware and assembly problems that cause the drop-side to partially detach from the crib, creating entrapment and suffocation risks.
Convertible Cribs: Billed as “more bang for your buck,” a convertible crib is equipped to turn into a toddler bed, day bed, or even a double bed. If you’re planning on investing a lot of money in a crib, this option might make sense since your crib can last from newborn stage and indefinitely into childhood. Sounds good, but if you plan on having more children, you may need to keep the crib as a crib, not a double bed—though your youngest could take advantage of the bed option after the crib isn’t needed for a baby. In addition, the crib style you may have been in love with while pregnant might get boring after a few years, so choose carefully. You will also need to keep track of the various parts required for the transformations, so mark them and bundle them together before storing them.
Rounded Cribs: Space-saving and oh-so-cozy looking, circular or oblong shaped cribs skip the solid headboards and footboards to give baby full view of his surroundings (slats encircle baby in this type of crib). Rounded cribs generally measure between 40 to 50 inches in diameter. Despite the unconventional shape, many rounded cribs are also convertible for later use as a toddler or day bed. If you go with this crib type, you must also buy a mattress and bedding designed to fit round cribs.
Regardless of which options interest you, it’s key to try them out before you buy. You may go in thinking you absolutely need a convertible crib only to find that a standard crib suits your height or that a rounded crib works better in your nursery space. Keep in mind that you will not always be putting a sleeping baby into the crib—and once your child can pull himself to stand he’ll give those sidebars a rigorous workout!
Multiple Position Mattress Springs
As your baby grows, you will need to lower the mattress from the higher position designed for a newborn to lower levels for your toddler. Most cribs have at least two positions, and some have up to four. Make sure that you understand how to adjust the various levels. You may also be given the choice between metal springs and wooden slats.
Want to create more storage area in your nursery? Think about adding a drawer under the crib. That empty space can easily be turned into a spot to store a favorite quilt or hide an extra supply of diapers.
Plan on moving the crib around in the baby’s room? Casters are the metal or plastic wheels at the bottom of the crib’s four posts that can make changing baby’s bedding a breeze.
Adding Personality: Crib Furniture Styles and Finishes
A crib gives your baby’s nursery personality. With numerous styles available, you should be able to find exactly what you need. Babies ‘R’ Us, the self-proclaimed baby superstore, lists four styles of nursery furniture in its baby resource guide. These styles cover most of what you’ll find in larger baby furniture outlets and department stores. Specialty furniture shops will likely have their own spin on these styles. Have fun shopping around!
- Traditional: Cribs in this category have decorative touches that give the nursery a homey feel. So called “traditional” cribs include some of the most popular styles such as Jenny Lind, which are characterized by their spindled slats and dark wood finishes.
- Colonial: The colonial style draws from its European roots, meaning you can expect more engravings, scrollwork, and other woodwork on these cribs.
- Shaker: Simple, clean lines define the shaker style. Look for durable, solid construction.
- Contemporary: Contemporary style encompasses those cribs that are less decorative and more elegant. These cribs are often in lighter wood finishes or even constructed of metal.
No matter which furniture style you choose you will also have a choice of wood finishes. Consider first whether you want a hardwood, usually oak, which is stronger and more resilient than softwood, like pine, which tends to be less expensive. Either wood comes in a variety of finishes. A few are listed here:
- Oak: A popular choice both in wood and in finish, oak is a medium brown, tan color.
- Natural: A natural finish brightens a nursery and highlights the look of the wood.
- Cherry: A darker, redder finish will add a subtle touch of warmth and color to your nursery.
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