Many moms like to have the crib set up several weeks before their due date. But do not worry if the baby arrives before your crib does; tots do fine in a bassinet, cradle, or sleeper for your first few weeks or even months of their lives.
Babies often spend more time in the crib than anywhere else, so while relaxation is important, safety is vital. Since most kids sleep in a crib until it's time to move to a real bed -- typically between the ages of 3 and 2 -- you will want a sturdy one.
Security limits: Crib manufacturers recommend discontinuing use (or turning into the product's next phase ( for convertible cribs) when your child reaches a particular height, weight, or developmental phase. Height/weight limits are usually much lower on portable or mini-cribs. Read your product manual carefully and follow instructions.
Old Automobiles: Cribs made before 1974, when national crib-safety standards went into effect, are more likely than newer models to have security issues. Secondhand cribs might also have splinters, lead paint, stopped (and potentially dangerous) features, or slats which are too far apart. Slats should be no longer than 2 3/8 inches apart (about the size of a soda can) to prevent a baby's head from getting suck. Posts on a crib should no greater than 1/16 of an inch (unless they're over 16 inches to encourage a canopy); otherwise, clothing can catch them on and injure or choke a baby. Even versions fabricated as recently as 1991 can be dangerous, so if you are borrowing a crib or buying a used one, keep an eye out for these dangers as well as for sharp edges, protruding metal, anything which may be broken off and choked on, peeling paint, and cutouts along the rail that can trap your baby's arm or neck. Check the product recalls from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to ensure it has not been recalled.
Space savers: Children short on space may be considering mobile or mini-crib possibilities, each of which occupy less space than full-size Automobiles. Some fold or collapse for storage; some have wheels so that they may be wrapped around the home.
Stability: Give the crib a good shake at the shop or after you put it together in your home. If it wobbles or rattles, it might have been placed together improperly. (Although wobbling or rattling could also be a indication that you need to start looking for a sturdier crib.)
Full-sized Automobiles, such as convertibles, vary from $110 to $800.
Frame size: The crib interior should snugly accommodate a standard crib mattress -- at least 51 3/4 inches long by 27 3/8 inches wide. Ensure there is not any space between the sides of the mattress and the crib walls. This poses a significant danger, as infants can get trapped inside that space.
Adjustable mattress heightthe majority of Automobiles let you change the elevation of the crib mattress by simply raising or lowering the mattress support. The time to lower the mattress is when your child begins sitting up. As children get more active and move to pulling up and standing, they can climb and drop out of the crib.
Bumpers: Crib bumpers -- cushioned padding that attaches to the interior railings of the crib -- are occasionally still contained in crib bedding collections, but quite a few organizations, including the AAP, now discourage them as a SIDS hazard for babies.
Most new cribs on the market comply with the mandatory and voluntary safety standards. Read crib safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). For starters, make sure yours is properly constructed and structurally sound; the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports many cases in which cribs have come apart. If this occurs, a baby's head can get trapped in the spaces between the mattress and side rail.
For a foam mattress, more important than thickness, however, is high density; weight can be a good indication -- a heftier mattress is thicker than one that is the same size but lighter. (See our purchasing guide for more information on purchasing crib mattress.)
When setting up a crib, select a place away from windows, window blinds, and draperies. Infants can strangle on the cords, and mature babies could possibly pull up themselves and drop through the window. When there's a cable in your baby screen, keep it at least 3 feet in the crib.
Safe sleep hints: Get advice about infant bedding and sleep position to lower your baby's risk of SIDS.
Cribs with drop sides: The principle is simple -- don't use them. The movable railings known as fall sides were common on toddlers for decades, but can pose a severe hazard for infants. If the drop side comes or dries loose, then a baby can become entrapped and strangle or suffocate in the space between the drop side along with the crib mattress. Their sale was banned since 2011.
Versatility: Many Automobiles are designed to convert into a toddler bed, day bed, or even the headboard and footboard for a full size bed. Make certain the crib makeover is relatively simple to perform (check online reviews from parents) and that you like the appearance of the brand new furniture.