The list of “what to buy” when a new baby is coming is lengthy, to say the least. Near the top of the must-haves, however, is that place for your bambino to rest his precious head at night: a crib.
The selection and options of cribs can be overwhelming. Is it safe? Do I need a convertible crib? What material is best? And what do I need to think of along with it? We are here to help.
Here are some tips for figuring out which crib type is best for you.
Types of cribs you can choose
There are two main types of cribs: standard, and convertible. Standard cribs are just that, basic cribs with a base and four sides to protect your little one and serve as comfortable sleeping quarters until he’s old enough to transition to a “big boy” or “big girl” bed.
Convertible cribs, which are becoming more common nowadays, come in various flavours, and look much the same as basic cribs to the naked eye. But they are designed such that, as the name implies, you can convert them to a different type of bed as your child grows. Three-in-ones go from crib to daybed to toddler bed; and 4-in-1s add the ability to transform to a full-sized bed by using the head and footboard with separately purchased bed rails and a larger mattress later on. Most cribs, convertible or otherwise, can adjust to two or three height levels so you can gradually lower it as your child grows and gains the ability to stand on his own.
Convertible cribs can help budget-conscious parents save some bucks in the long-term, since they can use the crib far beyond the baby and toddler years. Baby gets to essentially stay in the “same” bed with which he’s been comfortable, and the daybed option in between can help make the transition to a full-sized bed setup once the time comes a bit smoother. Not to mention that convertibles also solve the issue of having to put the crib in storage, or resell it, once baby has grown out of it.
You might prefer, however, to buy a standard crib if you plan on having more than one child, and the crib will be transferred from one child to the next, at which point you’ll need to purchase a toddler bed anyway. That said, even in such circumstances, a convertible crib can prove useful in that it becomes one less bed that needs to be purchased a few years down the line when child number-two is ready to move on to a bigger bed. And even if you never convert to the full-sized bed option (I had a convertible crib for my son and only briefly used the daybed option), they can offer great value and future-proofing, so to speak, in the event that you find use for that extra bed option.
Beyond the standard and convertibles, there are other crib types from which you can choose as well, including bassinets and cradles.
Portable cribs/bassinets make sense for secondary homes, such as the grandparents or cottage, or for using while traveling. Many won’t do the trick for use every day and overnight, but could be worthwhile in addition to a full-sized crib if you know your baby will be spending many nights sleeping away from home. They are typically lightweight, and fold up so you can easily bring it along as needed. What’s more, you might find that, as lovely as the nursery is, your baby may end up sleeping in your room for the first few months. And if you want to refrain from co-sleeping, placing a bassinet by your bedside can be a convenient way to keep an eye on the baby, and make nighttime nursing/feeding sessions easier.
If you plan to have the baby sleep in the room with you for at least the first few months, having a bassinet is a good option so baby can be close by, but doesn’t necessarily have to be in the bed with you. (Though that’s quite alright, too, if you prefer!) They can also come in handy on nights when baby isn’t feeling well, and you want to keep a closer eye on him. Many bassinets can be used for babies up to 3-5 months in age (depending on their weight and size), and some can rock, or come on wheels so they can be easily moved from room to room. Some models can even fold up, or swivel so you can have the baby lie parallel to you, and swivel him to easily pick him up when needed in the middle of the night. come with a mattress and fitted sheet, so you don’t need to buy anything else to get started.
Multipurpose cribs that include things like drawers and storage space underneath or at the side, are ideal if you’re in a small dwelling, like a one-bedroom apartment, or if the nursery is super small. Some are essential cribs with dressers attached, including several shelves and/or drawers, and sometimes even a change table on top. It negates the need to buy a change table and/or dresser separately, and can help you save space in the room.
Another consideration to make: if you are shopping to design and outfit an entire nursery, consider looking into nursery bundles, which include not only a crib, but also other essential items you might need for the nursery, or even outside of the nursery. These come with everything from car seats, gliders, and dressers, to change tables and baby swings.
Materials, Finish, and Look of Cribs
Most cribs these days come made of wood. All cribs sold in Canada must meet safety standards, but always do your research to make sure the model meets safety standards set by organizations like ATSM, CPSC, and JPMA. It’s not a bad idea to verify that there haven’t been any recalls on the particular model before investing your money as well.
You want to look for one that’s relatively easy to assemble, though most cribs today are pretty standard in how they are put together.
Something you might not initially think of to consider when selecting a crib is household allergies: is anyone in the family allergic to birch or pine? If so, you’ll want to make note of what type of wood the crib is made of to ensure that there are no adverse reactions. I am, for example, allergic to birch pollen, so would find it best to locate a crib made of something like pine wood instead.
Then, we come to the look and finish. What to choose will depend not only on your personal tastes, but also your overall decor plans for the nursery. If you are buying other furniture for the room, naturally, you’ll want the crib to match (bundles, as noted above, come handy for getting everything in one shot.) Various finishes are available, from white, to light grey, espresso, dark grey, natural, light or dark brown, and more. Whichever colour/finish you choose, ensure that the paint or dyes is non-toxic. Remember, not only will baby be breathing inside that crib often, but chances are he’ll be biting on those slats at some point in time, too. Also, consider how the choice in finish of the crib will work with your choice in paint on the walls. You don’t want to end up with dark paint and dark furniture or, conversely, very light paint and bright white furniture.
Size and Height of Cribs
There are a number of things you should think about when deciding what sized crib to buy. First is the size of the nursery: do you have room for a large and high crib, or only a small one?
Second is the ease at which you can get baby in and out of the crib. You want to be able to lean over the front rail and grab your little one easily, without causing stress on your arms or shoulders. If you’re particularly short, you’ll want a crib that has a low enough front that you can comfortably get baby in and out when the mattress is at its highest point.
The mattress choice might also impact which sized crib you purchase: if you already have a mattress, or have a particular one in mind, you want to ensure it fits perfectly, without leaving any dangerous gaps between the sides of the crib and the mattress.
Aesthetics will also be factored into your decision. Cribs with a much higher back than front often carry a more traditional look. Another more traditional styling comes in the form of sleigh-designed cribs. Meanwhile,
others with the same height on all four sides exude more modern design.
If you’re looking for something truly different, you can get a crib that comes in a two-tone colour/finish options, a funky colour like pink or black cherry, for a unique look.
What accessories should you buy with a crib?
First and foremost is the mattress—a crib is not a crib without one. Many have useful features, like two sides: a firmer one for babies, and a softer one for toddlers one year and older. Look for a mattress that is water-resistant (trust me, you’ll need it!), and that has a removable and washable vinyl cover for nightly accidents (which are inevitable.) You can also buy crib mattress covers separately.
Along with that, you’ll need a fitted sheet. A basic colour might do to start off with, since chances are you’ll get some crib bedding to match the nursery decor, including a comforter, skirt, and bumper. Some sets even come with matching wall decals in themes like Safari so you can complete the entire look of your nursery in one go.
Consider also grabbing a musical mobile, which will come in handy on those nights when you’re looking to try and help lull baby to sleep, or keep him distracted during teething pain or sickness.
If you haven’t opted for one of the multipurpose cribs, that likely means you need to get some matching furniture to outfit the nursery as well, like a change table and dresser. Search for everything you’d need in one shot so you can have a perfectly matched, gorgeously designed nursery in which to house your new crib.
Check out a wide selection of cribs at Best Buy Online.