Crib Buyer's Guide: How To Choose The Safest Crib For Your Baby
When you find out you’re expecting, the first baby item you search for is most likely a crib, and for very obvious reasons. Your baby will spend most of their time in the crib in the early days of their life.
And because babies sleep so much, nothing is more important than crib safety! But how do you know which cribs are the safest?
The experts at Newton Baby can help! In this article, we’ll discuss safe sleep guidelines, different sleep options, and how to choose a safe crib for your precious little one.
Table Of Contents
- General Safe Sleep Practices
- Sleeping Options: Bassinets, Mini Cribs, And Cribs
- How To Choose The Safest Crib For Your Baby
- Tips For Keeping Your Baby Safe In The Crib
General Safe Sleep Practices
We all worry about our babies during the night! Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ensure your little one is sleeping safe and sound.
Follow these safe sleep best practices to give your baby a good, safe night’s sleep in their crib.
Place Your Baby To Sleep On Their Back
To minimize the risk of suffocation, always place your baby on their back when putting them to sleep in their crib. This is a general rule for all healthy babies.
Unless otherwise stated by your baby’s pediatrician, always follow this safe sleep practice.
Bare Is Best
To make sure your baby’s crib is as safe as possible, abide by the “bare is best” rule. This means no extra blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, toys, or other bedding should be in the crib.
We suggest “bare is best” as a safe sleep practice because when your baby starts rolling over and moving around, they may not be able to move their body if their airway gets constricted.
This is why Newton Baby created a breathable mattress! Our mattresses can put your mind at ease at night knowing your sweet baby is sleeping safely.
Sleep Only In Safe Sleep-Approved Beds
It might be tempting to let a sleeping baby lie, but it’s actually much safer to move them if they nod off in a bouncer, lounger, car seat, or swing. Babies should only enjoy their shuteye in a safe sleep-approved bed, like a bassinet, mini crib, travel crib, or crib.
One of the issues with falling asleep in gear like bouncers and car seats is that they put baby on an incline.
While this is fine when your baby is awake, it can be unsafe if your baby falls asleep, as they can slide down or their head can slump forward, getting in the way of their breathing.
It’s best to get ahead of the issue so you don’t accidentally wake them when you move them. Once you see those eyes get sleepy, cart them off to their crib so they can get their zzz’s in the perfect (and safest) spot.
Yes To Room Sharing, No To Bed Sharing
As much as you might be tempted to snuggle up with your sweet little one at night, don’t do it. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends sharing a room with your baby but not the same sleeping surface.
The AAP says that you should ideally room share for the first year or at least six months. It’s not only the safest setup since you can feed, comfort, and keep an eye on your baby with ease, but it’s also great for bonding.
Bed sharing, which is sometimes referred to as co-sleeping, should be avoided. It increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), as the adult could roll onto the baby at night, or bedding could be inadvertently placed over the baby.
The bottom line is that even though there are a lot of cute co-sleeping options out there in the baby product market, you’ll want to skip them, and then check out our article 21 Must-Have Minimalist Baby Essentials to narrow down your list!
So, how should your baby sleep if co-sleeping is out of the question? Take a look below for some safe sleeping options for the newest member of your family.
Sleeping Options: Bassinets, Mini-Cribs, And Cribs
Based on the AAP’s recommendation of having your baby sleep in the same room as you, bassinets are a great option for the first few months. A bassinet is smaller than a crib or a mini crib and is specifically designed to be used by a baby from about birth to four months.
There are many different styles, shapes, and colors of bassinets on the market. Some come with mesh sides and others with slats; they can be rectangular, circular, or oval; and just like cribs, they come in lots of colors, from woods, whites, or subtle pastels to bright, vivid hues.
Bassinets are also generally made to be portable. Some are light and easy to pick up, while others roll on castors. The Newton Baby Bassinet and Bedside Sleeper is a top choice for secure sleep. It’s lightweight, breathable, and easy for travel.
One drawback of bassinets is that they’re only for short-time use. Once your baby can roll over, push up on their hands, or sit up on their own, a bassinet is no longer a safe option. At this point, you’ll have to purchase a crib.
For more information on bassinets and whether they’re right for your family or not, check out our What To Look For When Buying Your Baby’s Bassinet.
Mini-cribs are another short-term, space-saving option for having your baby sleep in your room. But just like with a bassinet, your baby will eventually outgrow their mini-crib.
Mini cribs are rectangular like a crib but, as we said, are smaller. These can generally be used for up to a year if they feature an adjustable base, making them a great choice because you can adhere to the AAP’s recommendation for room-sharing without overcrowding your room.
But even though your little one can sleep in a mini-crib for longer than a bassinet, a crib purchase is still in your future. If you decide purchasing a mini crib is the right choice for your family, Newton Baby has you covered!
Our Safe And Breathable Mini Crib Mattress provides all the same safety and comfort benefits as our standard-sized crib mattress but is smaller in size, measuring 23.75 inches wide and 37.75 inches long.
As you can see by now, you will eventually need to purchase a crib. Your baby will spend the first year or two (or even longer if you have a convertible crib that converts into a toddler bed) in their crib.
Cribs can be either standard-sized or custom-sized. Standard-sized cribs give you more flexibility and choice when it comes to your mattress and sheets because many companies make them to fit the standard size.
With custom-sized cribs, you’re much more limited in your choices.
Compared to bassinets and mini cribs, cribs are longer-lasting because of their larger surface area and the fact that the base can be brought down as your baby grows.
No matter what you choose for the first months, the crib is a must-have for any nursery.
How To Choose The Safest Crib For Your Baby
Because cribs come in a variety of options, it can be difficult to pick the right one. You’ll want to choose a crib that is safe and built to last. Check out our list below of what to look for to help you choose the safest crib for your baby!
Width Of Crib Slats
The crib slats should be no wider than two and three-eighths inches apart. If the slats are any farther apart than that, they create a risk of your baby getting a body part stuck in-between them.
Although most cribs will abide by this standard, you’ll still want to check to be sure. It’s especially important if a crib is purchased on the secondary market or if it’s purchased abroad. You should always pay attention to this measurement and check it yourself if necessary.
Although decorative cutouts on the ends of your crib might be pretty, they can also be dangerous. You’ll want to avoid any cribs that feature cutouts on the headboard or footboard.
Parts And Assembly
If you can, have a professional assemble your baby’s crib. But if you can’t, call up a friend or family member to make this a memorable shared experience of putting your little one’s crib together!
We strongly suggest following the instructions word-for-word to ensure proper assembly. And after you’ve assembled the crib, do a thorough check for things like:
- Sharp edges
- Protruding screws
- Decorative knobs or other pieces that could catch your baby’s clothing
We also recommend periodically tightening the hardware and checking for any missing or loose screws.
Choosing a safe crib means choosing a crib made of the safest materials, both wood and finish. Hardwoods tend to be the safest and most durable crib material, though they also tend to be the most expensive.
Softwood, like pine, is another safe choice, though cribs made of softwood are more prone to scratching.
MDF, plywood, particle board, and composite wood are widely used in crib construction as well. These materials are made from wood chips compressed and glued together.
If you’ve chosen a crib that is made from one of these materials, pay special attention to the glue used, as some contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are chemical emissions that can be dangerous for your baby.
Ideally, look for something that is VOC-free, or at least has low-VOCs. If possible, opt for cribs made with no glue, water-based glue, or soy glue.
An easy way to know if a crib is safe when it comes to emissions is to look for a label that says GREENGUARD Gold certified. GREENGUARD Gold-certified cribs must meet more rigorous standards for chemical emissions and are, therefore, a healthier choice.
It should be noted, however, that there are some very safe cribs that don’t bear this seal. Because they are made with natural materials, they don’t pay for an extra certification.
When it comes to finishes, food-grade coatings, such as linseed oil or beeswax, are best because they are plant-based with no driers or additives.
If you’re looking for an eco-friendly crib, think about purchasing something manufactured close to home. Many cribs are made of sustainable materials right in North America. These will have a lower carbon footprint, meaning they’re a better choice for everyone.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) also provides a certification you can look for. This certification shows that the wood used in the crib comes from responsibly managed forests. Note that a range of solid and composite woods can be certified.
Test the crib after assembling by pushing on the sides and the inside to guarantee it’s sturdy. You can even give it a good shake to check the frame for durability.
If it’s wobbly, go back to the beginning of the instructions and retrace the steps. If you’re convinced you assembled everything correctly, you may need to consider buying a different crib.
In order to ensure your crib is in the best condition and is safest for your baby, we recommend that you buy it new. When shopping for a new crib, look for one that is Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association-certified (JPMA).
Register your crib right away after purchasing. If for any reason your baby’s crib is recalled, the crib manufacturer has your information and can notify you.
Although purchasing new is preferred, we know parents sometimes purchase their cribs used or get hand-me-downs for a variety of reasons. If this is you, you’ll want to take extra care.
When you buy a used crib or accept a hand-me-down, the hardware might be worn down or loose. Further, a crib that has been built and then taken apart and built again could experience wear and tear. It’s also possible that essential pieces can go missing.
This means you should be extra careful in ensuring that you are getting all of the correct, “official” pieces (no hardware store substitutes), and everything is in the best condition possible.
In addition, regulations change from year to year with regard to sleep safety, so you’ll want to be sure whatever you purchase complies with all of the latest laws and best practices.
Lastly, with used cribs and hand-me-downs, you won’t be alerted of any recalls or issues, so you’ll have to remain vigilant and look to the manufacturer’s site periodically to make sure there are no safety concerns.
If you do have your eye on a used crib or are being offered a hand-me-down, be sure it features stationary sides. Cribs with moveable “drop-down” sides have been banned in the U.S. and can pose a danger to your baby.
Once you purchase your crib and crib mattress, make sure the mattress fits snugly inside the crib. This just means there shouldn’t be any gaps in-between the mattress and the corners or sides of the crib.
It’s pretty easy if you are choosing a standard-sized mattress to fit a standard-sized crib. However, if your crib is a custom size, then it’s important to purchase the correspondent mattress that has been built to fit just right.
A good rule of thumb: If you can fit two fingers between the crib frame and the mattress, then it’s not a safe fit.
Tips For Keeping Your Baby Safe In Their Crib
Choose A Firm And Breathable Mattress
The mattress is another investment you don’t want to take any shortcuts on. Just like with their crib, your little one will spend years sleeping on this mattress! It should be firm, comfortable, and breathable.
A breathable crib mattress not only helps reduce the risk of suffocation but also helps regulate your baby's body temperature (no more sweaty backs!) and reduces dust mites and allergens.
All of this allows your baby to sleep more comfortably — and longer — through the night.
And while you’re at it, go for a washable mattress. That’s right: a mattress you can wash. Newton Baby has the ONLY washable crib mattress from cover to core. Say goodbye to mold, bacteria, and allergens!
Pay Attention To Crib Placement
One thing that parents sometimes forget is that once you have a safe crib, you’ll want to be sure you place it in the safest spot in the room. This means keeping it away from windows.
In addition to concerns about the window itself, both babies and toddlers can get caught in blind cords or curtains. Instead, it might be best to put the crib near the door, so in case of emergency, they are easy to reach.
You’ll also want to keep the crib away from electrical cords, shelving, and even large picture frames. Babies can be curious, and you wouldn’t want them to pull on something that could cause them harm. Keep baby away from radiators as well, for obvious reasons.
Remember that everything in your child’s room, especially within arm’s reach, is a potential choking hazard. One such concern is your baby’s crib mobile.
The crib mobile should be removed once baby can sit up. Although it is super cute from a decorative standpoint, if you don’t want to keep track of another hazard, maybe consider skipping it altogether.
Lastly, you want to be sure that the floor is clear to and from the crib. Your baby might wake up and need your attention, like for a midnight feeding, so you want to make sure there are no tripping hazards.
Adjust The Mattress To The Correct Height
Your baby’s crib has different levels so that you lower or raise the mattress height.
The higher levels allow you to easily place your baby in their crib and are ideal for the first several weeks, but these levels become dangerous once your little one can pull themselves up.
Before your little one reaches this milestone, move the mattress height to the lower levels to provide the safest sleep area for them. Pay attention to their development and stop using their crib once your baby (now toddler!) can climb out of it.
Most cribs can be converted into toddler beds. Simply move the mattress height to the lowest level and take off or adjust the rails. No need to buy a new mattress!
Your little one will still experience the benefits of Newton Baby’s breathable Crib Mattress for years to come!
Use Proper Sheets
When you buy a crib and a mattress, don’t forget to choose crib sheets that fit tightly around your baby’s mattress.
Tip: if Newton Baby is your go-to for a crib mattress, it’s OK to skip the sheet! Our mattress has two layers of Breathe-Thru spacer fabric that are quilted together in an attractive cloud pattern to create soft pillows of air.
But should you not have a Newton Baby mattress, our Breathable, Organic Cotton Sheets guarantee a safe, snug fit for any crib mattress!
Never Use A Crib Bumper
Even though crib bumpers look cute and seem like they can give baby a more pleasant and comfortable sleep, they are not recommended. The risks outweigh the rewards.
Crib bumpers can pose a risk of suffocation or entrapment. And, if a baby is older, they could step on them to try to climb out of the crib.
Keep The Crib Clear
We said this before, but it bears repeating: keep the crib clear of blankets, toys, pillows, or anything besides the mattress and a tight-fitting sheet. When it comes to your baby’s crib, less is definitely more.
Choose Flame-Retardant Fabrics
Another important tip when building a safe nursery is to make sure that all fabrics in your baby’s room are flame-retardant. This includes their sleepwear and curtains.
It should be noted that natural fabrics, like wool and cotton, are inherently flame-retardant.
Give Your Baby Healthier, Safer Sleep
As a parent, you have a lot of decisions to make regarding your new baby, including their crib! We want to make the decision-making process as smooth as possible for you.
When shopping for your little one’s crib, keep this guide in mind and look for one that is new, durable, has no loose or dangerous parts, is sturdy, and has the right distance between slats.
And once you’ve found the perfect (and safest!) crib for your baby, shop Newton Baby for all of your safe sleep essentials!