Choosing a baby crib used to be quite straightforward when there wasn’t that much on offer. Most cribs were a standard rectangular shape with slatted sides and one that dropped down. Oh boy, have times changed. There are so many to choose from now that it can seem overwhelming! Should you go for a standard design, a round one, a traditional one or even an eco-friendly one?

Here’s a guide to help you make the best choice for your baby and as the decorative focal point of your nursery.

Safety First

The most important consideration is the safety of the baby or infant who is going to be sleeping in the crib. If you are thinking about buying a used crib or accepting one passed on from a friend or relative, it very important to check out the current baby safety guidelines because the safety standards for cribs have changed in recent years.

To help you out, we’re including the guidelines taken from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. They are as follows:

Tips for Selecting a Crib:

  • Infants should ALWAYS sleep in a crib, which meets current Federal and ASTM standards
  • The crib mattress should fit snugly with no more than two fingers width, one-inch, between the edge of the mattress and the crib side. Otherwise, the baby can get trapped between the mattress and the side of the crib
  • No pillow-like bumpers
  • Look for the JPMA Certification Seal

Tips for Use:

  • Remember to ALWAYS keep the drop side up when the baby is in the crib
  • NEVER place the crib near windows, draperies, blinds, or wall mounted decorative accessories with long cords
  • Make sure there are no missing, loose, broken, or improperly installed screws, brackets or other hardware on the crib or the mattress support
  • Crib slats or spindles should be spaced no more than 2 3/8″ apart, and none should be loose or missing
  • Never use a crib with corner posts over 1/16 of an inch above the end panels (unless they are over 16″ high for a canopy) * Babies can strangle if their clothes become caught on corner posts. These should be unscrewed or sawed off, and the remaining end panel should be sanded smooth
  • No cut out areas on the headboard or foot board so baby’s head cannot get trapped
  • ALWAYS use a crib sheet that fits securely on the mattress, wraps around the mattress corners and stays securely on the mattress corners
  • No cracked or peeling paint
  • No splinters or rough edges
  • Use bumper pads only until the child can pull up to a standing position. Then remove them so baby cannot use the pads to climb out of the crib
  • Mobiles should also be removed when baby can pull himself or herself up
  • NEVER place infants to sleep on pillows, sofa cushions, adult beds, waterbeds, beanbags, or any other surface not specifically designed for infant sleep

Choosing your crib

Now that you know what safety aspects to check for, it’s time to choose the crib. There are so many styles to choose from, including sleigh style, four posters, canopy cribs, cribs especially for twin babies, iron cribs and hand painted ones. You can find out more about all of these by doing an internet search on them but in this guide, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons at the two most popular current styles, the round crib and the convertible one.

A Round Crib

These cribs are adorable and make an amazing centerpiece for any nursery. However, before you make your choice, here are the pros and cons.


  • It will be a real show-stopper in the Nursery
  • They usually come with posts, with or without a canopy
  • They will fit anywhere in the room, so they are just right for oddly shaped rooms that have been changed into a nursery, like an attic with a sloping ceiling
  • You won’t need to buy a separate mattress as these cribs usually come with a round mattress. This is where you need to check out the safety guidelines. The mattress should fit so that you can only get one finger between it and the crib side. The slats should be no more than 2?” apart.


The sizing of these cribs can be a little confusing. A sales person may tell you that these have more square inches and they do – but they don’t have length which allows an infant to sleep in the crib once they are past a certain size and age.

To understand this, let’s look at the dimensions.A standard rectangular crib is 54½” long and 30¼” wide. A round crib usually has an internal diameter of 42” and an external diameter of 46”, which means that it has more than 8 inches less of ‘growing’ room. If you intend to move your baby into a toddler bed or ordinary bed once they reach 1½ years or 2 years old then this won’t be a problem but if you want them in the crib longer than that – then this style won’t suit you…or your baby.

  • Price is a downside.  They start at around $800 and can go to over $1200 or more.
  • You can of course find bargains, if you spend time shopping around.
  • You will need to source round bedding.

This isn’t a real problem as you can find it in retail stores and online but it’s just something to bear in mind.

A Convertible Crib

What is it?

There are two basic styles of convertible crib. The ‘3 in 1’ goes from a crib to a toddler bed and then to a daybed. The ‘4 in 1’ does those three but then goes one step further by converting to a full sized bed.


  • You only have to buy one bed and if you choose the ‘4 in 1’ that’s it until your child leaves home!


  • Price again – these cribs start at around $170 and can go to over $2,000.
  • It ties you in to having the same bed and limits your decorating choices and doesn’t take your growing child’s tastes into consideration.

Relax and enjoy

When choosing your crib, above all, enjoy it! Take your time browsing the internet, bookmark your favorites and then you can compare prices and sizes. Although the choice is overwhelming, it does mean that you will find the crib of your dreams so have fun searching!

A final note about the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association

Their website is a wonderful place with safety guidelines and tips for every kind of infant paraphernalia from safety gates to stationary activity centers and everything in between. If you’d like to read more about any of these things go and check it out here.

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Filed under: Baby CribsTips & Hints

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