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Our 5-month old is getting bigger, and she's starting to roll over, so it's time for us to switch from a bassinet to a full-sized crib.

Can anyone here recommend things to look for in a crib? Space is at a premium (the baby is in our room for now), and we'd like something with an adjustable height.

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Safety details

  • Slats should not be more than 2 3/8 inches apart -- infants' head scan slip through smaller spaces or get stuck.

  • Safe corner posts: no higher than 1/16 of an inch -- clothes can snag snagged on corner posts and strange the baby

  • Make sure it's sturdy -- some cribs are poor quality.

  • Decent wood finish (if it's wooden) Generally, you are strongly advised NOT to buy an old used crib. If you do, 100% make sure the paint doesn't have lead in it.

  • The mattress should fit the frame -- the crib interior should snugly accommodate a standard crib mattress, which is usually 51 3/4 inches long by 27 3/4 inches wide. If you can fit more than two fingers between the side of the mattress and the crib, the mattress is too small or the crib is too big.

  • Avoid bells and whistles -- you don't want any fancy or unfancy niceties. Bumpers. Streamers. Anything else that can pose danger to a baby. The more utilitarian and fewer details, the better.

Features to Look For

  • Adjustable mattress height: If the mattress is too high, you can't use it safely once the child starts to sit up (nevermind climb). If it's too low, you will be tired and miserable from putting your newborn baby in/out of the crib. Newborns don't need the depth and they do need to be handle horizontally and they need their heads supported.

  • Convertability Some cribs can be converted to toddler beds. That may not be worth the extra cost upfront as the final savings aren't that big, but that's more of a personal financial decision.

  • Drop side -- This one is controversial. Some safety advice says to NOT have drop side as there are risks. Some say it's OK. My own personal experience - it's not very risky BUT our drop side was the first thing to break - not in a dangerous way, but just got stuck so opening it was a hassle (closing was easy so it wasn't a safety concern).

Further reading: Crib Safety Tips from U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission ([1], [2])

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    I deleted the previous comments due to flags, because discussion on whether you agree or disagree with a question belongs in Parenting Chat, not comments, and because some of the comments were getting a bit rude. Politeness is a requirement on this site,regardless of your opinions on its merits or drawbacks. Please keep this in mind moving forward. – user420 Jun 9 '14 at 13:52
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I think even the most basic of cribs have adjustable mattress height now. Given the size constraints, you might check Ikea's cribs. Most of their cribs also have the advantage not having a specific back - that is a side that should go against a wall - making it easier to find a spot for it.

  • No Ikea cribs - aka Walmart cribs - or Ikea anything for that matter. That store along with its American cousin Walmart just discourage creativity. And it'll probably fall apart too. – wardr Jun 9 '14 at 8:25
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    In my experience the only time Ikea furniture falls apart is when the owner was too inept to assemble it in the first place. – AmyK Jun 9 '14 at 16:00
  • I've never run into that. Ikea furniture is usually about as easy to assemble as anything I've ever encountered purchased from a store. – wardr Jun 9 '14 at 20:59
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  • It should be affordable. A crib is not something that needs to cost a lot of money.
  • There should be a high availability. Stick to cribs from well-known brands or from large retailers. This can make any possibly return/warranty steps easier (in theory), and increases the chances of you being aware of any possible future recall notices, should they happen. Large availability, or a large retailer, also increases your odds of finding replacement parts. Boutique or unique cribs may prevent you from later being able to find accessories (such as a toddler bed conversion rail.)
  • It should take the standard mattress size. Most retailers should have a guide that helps you find the right mattress size for your crib. Crib mattress sizes are pretty standardized, so many retailers only carry cribs that accept those mattress sizes. However, you should still double check.
  • Invest in a quality mattress. Mattresses for infants should be firm, and stay firm. You can also find them with other features such as: hypoallergenic, antimicrobial, and waterproof.
  • Remember that cribs are for sleeping. Your child shouldn't need to be in their crib except to sleep and nap, so how it looks doesn't really matter. You may opt for colors or styles that fit with your decorating scheme, but they won't impact your child's sleep.
  • Avoid attached-only changing tables. If it comes with a changing table, that's great! However, since space is an issue for you, you'll want to be able to put that changing table where it best fits the space.
  • Don't just go by "convertible" on the box. Most cribs I've seen in physical retailers are advertised on the box as convertible. However, this usually just means that the frame is sturdy enough to stand with one of the long sides removed, and has holes to attach a full-size bed frame. It does not mean that the box includes a guard rail for a toddler bed. It does not mean you don't have to perform quite a bit of disassembly to remove the extra side.

    Since most cribs take the standard mattress size, and have completely vertical sides, you're going to lose about the same amount of square footage no matter which crib you go with.
    You can find cribs with under-mattress storage drawers, but it's probably just as easy to get separate storage "drawers" to put underneath, if you so need.

    Cribs, and many other infant-used products, are regulated by the US Federal Government. This means that there are standards of quality and features that must be met for them to be sold in the USA. Even if you're not in the US, the major infant brands probably still meet the US standards (since the business isn't likely making a non-regulation version for less-dominant markets).

    Many crib features, such as adjustable height, are also standard. For many styles, all it takes for the manufacture to make the mattress height adjustable is to drill an extra set of holes (or a few extra sets). It costs them almost nothing to add, but not doing so makes their product much less desirable.

    Mattress-related goods, in general, are highly standardized. That's why you can get a standard crib that can convert to a headboard for a full-size mattress. (Crib mattress is 51 5/8 inches "long", full-size mattress is 53 inches wide. This is not a coincidence.) So, most retail cribs will be compatible with various add-ons or accessories, even if from different brands.

    We purchased my son's crib at Walmart, on *clearance**, and have had no issues with it specifically. The only problem is that most cribs are too large to fit through standard house doors while fully assembled. Since my son has switched rooms a few times, and we've moved a couple times, I've had to take it apart and reassemble it in the new room many times. Nonetheless, this Graco-brand crib from the world's largest retailer has had no physical or hardware issues and is still just as sturdy as the first assembly. It was a great purchase.

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