Modern Crib Buying Guide: What To Know Before Shopping

Parents standing over baby in a modern crib
Choosing the right crib for your newborn can be a daunting task. There’s a lot that goes into picking the safest, most comfortable option. Don’t get discouraged, though. We’ve created this modern crib buying guide to help you decide.

But before we get to our shopping tips, let’s define what a modern crib is. Then, we’ll review some basic crib safety tips.

Table of contents

What is a modern crib?

modern crib

Stylistically speaking, a modern crib focuses on function and simplicity. It typically has clean lines, minimal embellishments, and a neutral color palette. The materials used are often sustainable and environmentally friendly, such as solid wood or metal.

Since functionality is such an important part of this style, many modern cribs convert into toddler beds or daybeds, allowing you to get more use out of your investment.

Today’s manufacturers are supposed to build modern cribs to modern standards. They should be designed with your child’s safety in mind. But it’s good to review crib and sleep safety guidelines before you buy.

Modern crib safety

Babies spend a lot of time sleeping, so their crib must be a safe place for them to rest. Here are some general safety tips when selecting a crib and setting up your nursery.

1) Avoid extra bedding.

To make sure your baby’s modern crib is as safe as possible, avoid extra bedding such as:

If in doubt about what you can include in your little one’s crib, abide by the “bare is best” rule at all times.

This safe sleep practice ensures that when your baby starts rolling over and moving around, they won’t find themselves in a position that restricts their airflow (e.g., with their face in a bumper, tangled in blankets, or underneath a stuffed animal).

That’s why we at Newton Baby created a breathable mattress. Our mattresses put your mind at ease at night because you know your sweet baby is sleeping safely.

And if you’re worried about your little one getting cold, use swaddle blankets to keep your baby cozy, comfy, and safe all night long!

2) Avoid off-gassing.

Newton mattress for the modern crib

If you’re not familiar with “off-gassing,” you’re probably not the only one. Many people don’t know what it is, but it happens in all of our homes.

Off-gassing is what happens when manufactured items release chemicals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. Breathing in those chemicals can cause irritation, health conditions, and even some serious diseases.

If possible, choose a crib mattress that has low chemical emissions. How can you know that? Look for a mattress with GREENGUARD Certification. Even better, look for one with a GREENGUARD Gold Certification (like all of our crib, cradle, and bassinet options).

The Greenguard Certification Program tests the chemical emission of all sorts of products (not just mattresses). That makes it easier for you as a buyer to know which products have low chemical emissions and won’t expose your family to VOCs.

When it comes to picking a safe crib mattress, look no further than our Crib Mattress! Our mattress is independently tested and certified for low chemical emissions to GREENGUARD’s Gold Standard.

For more information on off-gassing, check out this article from our blog: Mattress Off-Gassing: What It Is And Why It’s Dangerous.

3) Avoid small, sharp parts.

To avoid choking hazards, stay away from modern cribs with small parts that your baby could put in their mouth. It’s also important to check for sharp or pointed parts, especially on the inside walls of the cradle.

And be sure to position their crib so it’s not underneath curtains, blinds, or strings that could find their way into your little ones’ hands or entangle their body.

While a newborn won’t yet be grabbing things, it’s best to start thinking about safety and babyproofing before your baby starts pulling to stand and becoming more mobile.

4) Follow safe sleep guidelines.

Whether your baby sleeps in a crib or a bassinet, following the safe sleep guidelines recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics is important.

These include:

  • Putting your baby to sleep on their back
  • Having a separate place for them to sleep instead of sleeping with them
  • Using only firm, flat surfaces for sleep
  • Ensuring your crib mattress is designed for your crib and fits snugly
  • Avoiding letting your baby sleep in an inclined position

These guidelines can give you peace of mind that while you’re sleeping, your baby will be safe.

Modern crib buying guide

Nursery with modern crib

Now that you know the basics of crib safety, let’s dive into what to look for when shopping for a modern crib.

Here are some key features to consider:

1) Safety and width of slats

Modern crib manufacturers must follow strict regulations to meet standards that ensure the safety of your little one.

To make sure your baby’s crib meets (and, hopefully, exceeds) these safety standards, look for the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) certification and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) seal.

According to Consumer Reports, “JPMA certification seal means that a baby product has been tested by an independent facility and met the guidelines set by standards developer ASTM [American Society for Testing Materials] International.”

Always be sure to read the labels on the crib you’re considering and check for these specific labels.

Another big part of modern crib safety is the width of the space between slats. The crib slats should be no wider than two and three-eighths inches apart. If the slats are any farther apart than that, your baby could get a body part stuck in-between them.

Always pay attention to this measurement and check it yourself if you’re unsure.

2) Condition

Heirlooms are special and hand-me-downs can save a lot of money, but there are a few baby items you should always buy new. A crib is one of them.

Old cribs may have dangerous design features, such as a drop-side rail or corner posts that are the wrong height and thus pose a strangulation hazard.

Other risks include:

  • Cut out designs on the headboard or footboard
  • Lead paint
  • Stripped screws that are no longer sturdy
  • Odd sizes, leaving gaps between the sides and the mattress

When shopping for a modern crib, stick with one that’s brand new, meets current safety standards, and has all of its parts intact.

It’s also important to register your crib right away after you get it set up. If the manufacturer recalls your baby’s crib for any reason, they’ll notify you and offer a replacement, a warning, or a fix. If you choose a hand-me-down or used crib, you don’t get that level of safety.

To check for recalls, you can visit the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission website. You can select “Cribs” as a category and see which products have been recalled. But it’s much easier to register a new crib and get notified automatically.

3) Space

Yellow nursery with two modern cribs

Before making a purchase, measure the space in your baby’s nursery where this piece of furniture is likely to go. Is there enough room?

Modern cribs come in two basic sizes: mini and standard. Mini cribs typically measure 24” x 38” inside the rails, while standard cribs typically measure 28” x 52” inside the rails.

You might find cribs with slight variations from these measurements, so always check the fit of your mattress before allowing your baby to sleep there for the first time. We’ll examine this more in the Modern Crib Mattresses section below.

Mini cribs are ideal if your nursery is tight on space or if your newborn is sharing the room with other siblings. The downside of a mini crib is that your baby will outgrow it rather quickly — anywhere from 18 months to 24 months old.

Standard cribs are the first choice for many parents because their babies will get years of use out of this one piece of furniture. Many standard cribs even convert into toddler beds so that your baby’s sleep area can grow as they do!

If this is a feature you want, look for a 3-in-1 or 4-in-1 style crib. The 3-in-1 works as a:

  • Crib
  • Toddler bed
  • Twin-size daybed

The 4-in-1 can also convert into a full-sized bed. However, you may need to buy an additional rail or conversion kit.

Always read the fine print when you order your crib so you can buy anything you need at that time. Otherwise, the conversion parts could be discontinued or out of stock when your baby is ready for a bigger bed.

4) Sturdiness

Before you buy a modern crib, test the sturdiness of the item by pushing on the sides and the inside. You can even give it a good shake to see if anything happens (nothing should).

If, after a push, pull, or shake test, the crib seems wobbly, you might want to consider another option.

If you’ve purchased a crib that seemed sturdy in the store, but now seems unsound, try dismantling the item and reassembling it again from the beginning. You’ll also want to regularly check that the screws or bolts are tight and haven’t come loose.

Tip: Assemble the crib in your baby’s nursery. Otherwise, it may not fit through the door without dismantling, and then you risk not getting everything tight enough the second time.

5) Materials

Most modern cribs are made from wood or metal. Both are good choices and tend to be durable.

While you can select from many different types of wood, some are more eco-friendly than others. Look for cribs made from sustainably sourced options such as New Zealand pine or Beechwood.

6) Adjustable mattress height

putting together a modern crib

While this feature isn’t absolutely necessary, your back will thank you for buying a crib with an adjustable mattress height.

When your baby is in the newborn stage, you can put the mattress in the highest setting to make it easier to reach inside and pick them up. You can lower the mattress for safety as they grow and start crawling and pulling to stand.

7) Price

While money isn’t everything, sticking to your budget when furnishing your baby’s room is important. The good news is that you can find modern cribs at a variety of price points.

Here are a few ways to save some money on a crib:

  • Look for a bundle deal where you save by purchasing a crib and mattress together
  • Find a company that offers free shipping on cribs
  • Pick a convertible crib that’ll last for years
  • Select a model with an included toddler conversion kit
  • Apply for financing so you can make payments over time

Modern cribs from Newton Baby

With so many options on the market, deciding which modern crib is right for your little one can be overwhelming. That’s why you’ll want to find a company that prioritizes safety, durability, and sustainability.

Newton Baby offers a range of modern cribs that check all those boxes. Here are some of our most popular modern cribs for your consideration:

Soho Convertible Crib

Soho Convertible modern crib

This 3-in-1 convertible crib is mid-century modern, a subset of modern design. It features uniquely inclined legs and clean lines. The fine Italian craftsmanship means this piece of furniture can last for years to come.

The Soho Convertible Crib requires a rail to safely convert it to a toddler bed. This rail is sold and shipped separately, so consider ordering it at the same time as your crib and then storing it inside, where the weather or humidity levels can’t warp it.

With three different colors to choose from (white, natural, and white/natural), this crib will look great in any nursery, regardless of the room’s theme.

Hudson Convertible Crib

Hudson Convertible modern crib

This crib is a modern favorite. The rounded spindles give it a stylish look and the angled feet add a touch of charm.

It’s made from solid New Zealand pine wood for sustainability and durability. Plus, this crib:

  • Exceeds ASTM International and US CPSC safety standards with its non-toxic, multi-step painting process
  • Features hidden hardware that eliminates visible screws or bolts
  • Has been GREENGUARD Gold certified to give you peace of mind about your baby sleeping in it

Also, when you buy a Hudson Convertible Crib, it comes with a toddler bed conversion kit. You won’t have to worry about buying additional parts down the road.

Sprout Convertible Crib

Sprout Convertible Crib - Modern Crib

This 4-in-1 convertible crib is the only bed your child needs. From infancy to their teenage years, the Sprout Convertible Crib transforms and grows with them. The toddler conversion kit comes with the crib, but you’ll need to purchase the full-size conversion kit separately.

It features a sleek, modern design with tapered spindles and triangular feet. The New Zealand pine wood looks beautiful in all three color options. And like all Newton Baby cribs, it’s free of harmful chemicals and emissions.

Origami Mini Crib

If space is an issue in your nursery, check out this mini crib with clean lines and a minimalistic design. The Origami Mini Crib is a portable crib with a petite footprint. It features locking wheels that allow you to easily move it from room to room.

These wheels are removable, and the frame folds, making it possible to transport this crib when heading to Grandma’s house or out on an adventure. Everyone has a better night when your baby has a familiar place to sleep.

The hidden hardware construction process means the crib’s sleek lines aren’t interrupted by screw holes. And, with so many different colors, including light sage and navy, you’ll find one that looks great in your baby’s nursery.

Modern crib mattresses

modern crib

Once you’ve chosen the best modern crib for your newborn, the next big step is deciding on which mattress to put inside. Your baby will be spending a lot of time there, so you want to get it right the first time.

Here are some factors to consider.

1) Fit

Any mattress should fit snugly inside the modern crib with no large gaps between the sides (slats) and the edge of the mattress). If there’s too much of a gap, your baby could get their arm or leg stuck there.

Not sure what too much of a gap is? Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you can fit two fingers between the crib frame and the mattress, it’s not a safe fit.

2) Breathability

Mattress breathability is one of the most important variables to look for when purchasing a mattress to go with your modern crib!

Breathable mattresses allow air to flow freely through the top, bottom, and sides of the mattress. In fact, the best breathable mattresses — like our Original Crib Mattress — are 90% air by volume.

With a Newton Baby mattress and sheet set, even if your baby turns onto their stomach while sleeping, they’ll still be able to breathe thanks to our unique Wovenaire® and Breathe-Thru technologies.

And because all Newton Baby breathable mattresses are made of safe, food-grade polymer, they’re also:

  • Hypoallergenic
  • Free of biocides
  • Free of toxic fire retardants
  • 100% recyclable
  • Fully washable

That’s peace of mind you can’t get anywhere else!

3) Firmness

Another important factor to consider when shopping for a mattress for your modern crib is firmness. For newborns, infants, and even most children, the firmer the mattress the better. But firm doesn’t mean hard!

Most traditional crib mattresses are encased in non-breathable plastic to prevent your baby’s head from sinking into the mattress so much that it cuts off their breathing. While keeping your baby safe, the plastic wrap makes these types of mattresses hard and uncomfortable.

But what other options are there? Plenty!

We’ve created a firm and breathable mattress that keeps your little one safe and comfy throughout the night and doesn’t feel like they’re sleeping on a piece of plywood.

Test your baby’s mattress firmness by pushing down around the edges and in the center. It should require a fair bit of effort to make a dent. And when you release your hand, the mattress should spring back immediately into its normal shape.

4) Washability

Between poop and spit-up, babies have messes coming out of both ends. And unfortunately, at least some of that mess will end up on your crib mattress.

To keep it sanitary, look for a completely washable mattress, like the Essential Crib Mattress from Newton Baby. The cover comes off and is machine washable. Then, you can rinse the core clean in the shower.

Knowing that you can wash the mattress makes those inevitable diaper blowouts a little easier to deal with. You won’t have to worry about stains or germs building up where your baby sleeps.

5) Bedding

While your baby can sleep on a Newton Crib Mattress without bedding, most parents add a Waterproof Crib Mattress Pad and Breathable, Organic Cotton Sheets to make the mattress more waterproof and cozy.

No matter what bedding you pick for your crib, it must be snug. If you’re using a mini-crib, double-check the size to ensure you won’t have too much extra fabric on the corners. A sheet that’s too big can lead to strangulation or entanglement.

In addition to being the right size, look for bedding that’s made from a breathable material like cotton. This way, your baby can breathe through it even if they roll over and sleep on their stomach.

The best mattress for your modern crib

Stack of Newton Baby crib mattresses

As a parent, you have a lot of decisions to make regarding your new baby. We want to make the decision-making process as smooth as possible for you with this modern crib buying guide.

When shopping for your little one’s crib, keep these points in mind:

  • Look for one that is new
  • Opt for durability
  • Avoid loose or dangerous parts
  • Choose the sturdiest option possible
  • Make sure the slats aren’t too far apart

And, remember, the only things that should be in your little one’s crib are a firm and breathable mattress, a waterproof mattress pad if you prefer, and a fitted cotton sheet...oh, and your baby, of course!

Once you’ve found the perfect (and safest) modern crib for your baby, shop Newton Baby for all of your safe sleep essentials!

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