12 Cribs That Designer Parents Swear By
For many Cubby readers, there’s a good chance you’ve already bought your first crib, but for those who are on the cusp of parenthood or who are in the market for a new baby bed, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about buying a crib today.
A crib is a critical decision in your baby’s nursery because it is the anchor piece of furniture in the room, says Emma Beryl, an interior designer based in New York and New Orleans. “Figure out the mood of the room,” says Beryl, “That will establish the design direction.” If you want things light, bright, and airy, you’ll be looking at white or pale wood finishes; if you prefer something modern and pop-y, you might go for a painted finish in a bright color.
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, it’s perfectly fine to buy the crib online. “I don’t think you have to see the crib in person,” says Mikayla Keating, a Decorist designer and mom, “I personally didn’t. I did my research and read reviews carefully. If you are on the edge, see it in person, but it is not necessary.” However, if you want to be choosey about style in 2021, you need to shop sooner. With manufacturing backed up, the designers and industry pros we spoke to said give yourself plenty of time to wait for things to come in, especially if you’re looking at higher end brands. “I understand that people want to wait until closer to Baby’s arrival to start planning, but we can’t do that anymore because it’s so hard to get your hands on stuff,” says Beryl.
Here’s what you need to know to buy with confidence.
What style of crib should I get?
The experts agree that when it comes to a crib, simple is best. “Style-wise, the most important thing is figuring out something that you’re not going to get sick of. Keep it classic,” says Beryl, who adds, “You want something pretty neutral and non-gendered, if you plan on having more kids.”
What is the most durable crib?
According to the experts we interviewed, natural wood cribs are a great choice for durability. They also suggest avoiding plastic or fabric components, which can easily show wear. “I’ve seen some cribs that have plexi components — that’s probably a disaster waiting to happen,” cautions Beryl. She and other experts also note that painted finishes can easily chip, because, yes, babies have been known to gnaw on the sides and rails of their cribs. If you’re longing for a painted finish, read the reviews carefully to check for mention of chipping paint.
What’s the safest crib to buy?
If a crib is for sale today, it will be a safe choice for your child, Jessica Hartshorn, a senior editor at Parents magazine, who has been covering the crib market for more than 20 years, reassures us. Cribs are subjected to rigorous safety testing before they can be sold. She says what’s more important for safety is how you put your child to sleep: There should be nothing in the crib but a mattress and crib sheet and your child should always be put down on her back.
Another safety concern are the materials and chemicals used to manufacture and finish furniture. Look for Greenguard certification, which ensures low chemical emissions at different levels. Beryl, who is based in New York and New Orleans, says she always looks for no VOC finishes for nursery rooms, and her hack for materials safety standards is to enter a California shipping address: The state’s rigorous emissions laws will prevent you from ordering anything that is questionable.
Should I get a crib with storage?
While storage is a nice extra for a crib, it comes at a price: The assembly and durability. “You can buy a crib with drawers with storage, but they are harder to build,” says Hartshorn, who has assembled hundreds of cribs through her work. Instead, Hartshorn recommends a standard crib with room beneath for storage baskets. “A simple crib can give you more confidence in your assembly.”
Do I need a crib that converts to a toddler bed or a big kid bed?
Our experts note that most of today’s cribs convert to a toddler bed and that it’s a good feature to look for. “It’s a nice way for a kid to slowly transition to a big kid bed, since it’s the same bed they have known,” says Hartshorn. However, Hartshorn and Keating were both skeptical that a crib needed to be converted to a big kid bed. “When you hit that stage it’s fun to buy them a new bed,” says Keating. Also: be aware that converting a crib to a toddler bed sometimes requires you to buy extra parts. To be sure they won’t be out of stock or discontinued when your kid is ready, buy all the extras at the same time as your crib.
How much should I spend on a crib?
Budget is a personal choice, but “a crib is not a place to overspend,” says Hartshorn, who points out that IKEA makes a popular, safe and sturdy crib that retails for just $80 and in Finland, babies famously sleep in a state-issued cardboard box. You can expect to spend around $200 to $400 for a middle of the road design, and into the thousands for something handcrafted from hardwood. “If you are inclined to buy the best, stick to a simple crib anyway and buy a really premium mattress,” advises Hartshorn, noting “it’s the mattress that kid is really on.” (When shopping for a crib mattress, look for a firm mattress that springs up when you press into it; know that it will be much firmer/harder than an adult mattress. Greenguard also certifies mattresses for harmful emissions, so look for their seal, if that concerns you. Consumer Reports has a highly detailed guide to buying a crib mattress, if you need more guidance.)
I’m in a small space; should I get a mini crib?
The experts were divided on this. Beryl felt buying a mini crib was just “kicking the can down the road” when it comes to upgrading to a bigger space, but Alison Mazurek, a mom of two and the blogger behind 600 Sq Ft and a Baby says, “A mini crib gave us extra square footage in our small space that was incredibly valuable. Don’t underestimate what a few additional square feet can mean for a small space (clear walkways! more play space!) and a mini crib can give that to you.” Here at Cubby, we come down on Team Mini Crib: If it helps you stay in a home you love a little bit longer, go for it.
Can I buy a crib secondhand?
The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) cautions, “You should never purchase or use second hand cribs handed down from friends or family members as they may not meet the most current safety standards.” However, “never” may be an overly cautious assertion, since crib safety standards are not frequently changing. Use common sense: Don’t drag a dusty old crib out of your parents’ garage (and never use a drop side crib, which are a major safety hazard). But if your best friend is ready to pass on the crib she bought two years ago, check to make sure it was not recalled and that there are no missing, loose, broken, or improperly installed screws or other hardware on the crib. In the event that you do need to replace a piece of hardware, only use hardware obtained directly from the manufacturer.
Dee Ike, the blogger behind Dee Diary and a mom of two in New York City, says “There are things I would not buy second-hand, like a car seat, since those are directly impacted by ever-changing safety standards, but the Stokke cribs I own are wooden and built to last a long time. I bought both of mine like-new from moms that decided to go in different directions with their decor.”
Cubby: Eat. Live. Play. Families Together at Home.
Want more great home ideas for families? Sign up for Cubby’s weekly newsletter featuring our best editor-approved product recommendations, meal ideas, and all the kid’s room decor ideas you need.