Best Baby Crib 2017

Best Baby Crib 2017

Last Updated: Aug 2, 2017 @ 3:27 pmAfter researching and reviewing 87 different crib brands, we pick the DaVinci Kalani crib ($176 on Amazon) as the Best Baby Crib 2017 (full-size).

Scroll down for our picks for Best Budget-Friendly Cribs, Best Crib for City Dwellers and Best Eco Baby Crib.
New to crib shopping? Read our 7 Things No One Tells You About Buying a Baby Crib for advice and tips.

An excellent crib should be affordable, easy to put together and safe—from a company that has a strong safety track record in this category. We also prefer cribs that are third-party certified to be low emission (that is, the stains or paints used to finish the crib don’t emit any volatile organic compounds.) A variety of colors is also a nice plus.

The DaVinci Kalani crib hits all the right notes—made of New Zealand pine, the Kalani is $176 on Amazon. We found this crib easy to assemble and use. It has four different configurations: toddler bed, daybed and full-size bed. Included in the box is the toddler rail—which is a nice bonus, as other brands charge $20 to $80 as an accessory. (Of course, the bed rails to convert the Kalani into a full size bed are an extra $89 purchase, is is customary).

The Kalani crib is GREENGUARD GOLD certified to be low emission. That means it is third-party tested to be free of 260 VOC-emitting chemicals. The Kalani imported from Vietnam.

We like the little touches DaVinci has added to the Kalani—note the design detail at the feet and the SEVEN color finishes, including trendy colors like black and grey. Most cribs in this price range have just two or three finish options.

DaVinci is part of the Million Dollar Baby furniture company, which has a very good safety track record in the crib and nursery furniture category. Read more about Million Dollar Baby here with our in-depth review.

The Kalani has a metal spring platform, which we prefer. Other $200 cribs sometimes have MDF or solid wood boards.

So what are the downsides to the DaVinci Kalani crib? Since the crib is made of pine, it can be easily scratched or damaged (example: if you rub a belt buckle against the side rail). While we found the Kalani to be easy to assemble, a minority of online disagreed, citing the large number of parts needed to assemble the crib (the headboard on the Kalani has four separate pieces, for example). We see that point, but the Kalani isn’t that different (number of parts-wise) compared to other similar style cribs.

Bottom line: the DaVinci Kalani crib is safe, easy to assemble and a great buy at under $200

 

The Best Baby Crib

DaVinci Kalani
Available in seven colors, the DaVinci is an excellent safe crib at an affordable price point.

Also Great: Amazon Union Crib

amazon union crib grey

Not that’s not a typo—this simple Union crib at Amazon is just $107 to $124 with free shipping. Is it a good deal? See our review at left.

The Union convertible crib is an Amazon Exclusive made by DaVinci (part of Million Dollar Baby empire). The simple $107-$124 crib is made of New Zealand pine and style-wise echoes the simple IKEA Guillver crib.

Fans of this crib love the easy assembly and metal spring mattress support. The value, of course, goes without saying—especially with cribs at chain stores that start the $200 and $300 range.

As for drawbacks, the claim here is that this crib has four uses—crib, toddler bed, day bed and full-size bed. The caveat: the toddler bed and full-size bed require the separate purchase of a toddler rail ($50) full/twin size bed rail ($78; it’s actually a DaVinci full size conversion rail kit).

And when converted to a twin or full bed, we’d bet the Union crib will look rather funky—that’s because the headboard and footboard are the same size. If you really want a convertible crib, the DaVinci Kalani ($176) might be a better bet as it has a headboard that is higher than the footboard. (Perhaps in recognition of this limitation, Amazon now refers to the Union as a 3-in-1 convertible crib; it used to be called a 4-in-1).

Also: this crib has exposed screws and screw holes. That doesn’t compromise safety; it’s just an aesthetic issue. More expensive cribs hide this hardware, but that is the trade-off to get the price so low. Here’s an example of the visible screw holes:

 

Visible screw on the Amazon Union crib—not a safety hazard, but some folks don't like the look.

Visible screw on the Amazon Union crib—not a safety hazard, but some folks don’t like the look.

A final drawback: this crib is made from New Zealand pine. As we explained in the Million Dollar Baby review above, this wood is soft and can easily scratch. Hence, take great care when unpacking and assembling this crib. Even rubbing a belt buckle against the crib rail will scratch it (when you lean into the crib to pick up baby, for example).

Also: if your teething baby decides to munch on the crib rail, the finish will most likely come off. It isn’t a health hazard (the paint is non-toxic), but this has alarmed more than a few parents. (If teething is an issue, you can use a cloth rail cover for $18 like this.)

We realize this a chewed on crib doesn’t look perfect, but having a baby in your house means everything will now be scratched, scuffed and chewed on—your crib will simply match the rest of your furniture. (“You can either have children or nice stuff!”—Dennis Miller).

FYI: The Union crib comes in five finishes, including blue (lagoon) and yellow (sunshine), which is unusual at this price point. Typically, $115 cribs are offered in one or two colors. The caveat to this is that we’ve noticed that Amazon has occasionally runs out of some of the finishes. So if you have your heart set on a particular finish and see it in stock, we wouldn’t wait to order it.

Best Budget-Friendly Crib (Convertible)

Available in white, grey and brown (espresso), the Fisher Price Newbury crib is an excellent buy for under $200. And it converts to a headboard for a full-size bed.

Available in white, grey and brown (espresso, pictured), the Fisher Price Newbury crib is an excellent buy for under $200. And it converts to a headboard for a full-size bed.

Best Budget-Friendly Crib (Convertible). The Fisher-Price Newbury is our pick as the best budget-friendly convertible crib. Made of New Zealand pine, the Newbury converts to a full-size headboard and is available in four colors (white and three shades of brown: praline, espresso and cherry).

The Fisher-Price Newbury is a simple crib for $150 with a “4-in-1” pitch—it coverts from crib to toddler bed, daybed and finally a headboard for a full-size bed. The toddler and daybed configuration requires the separate purchase of a toddler rail ($20, see below).

We should point out that even though this crib is touted as convertible, it isn’t as convertible as other brands. With more expensive cribs, you get both a headboard and footboard—therefore, you only have to get conversion rails ($100-$200) to make it into a full-size bed. For the Newbury, you get a headboard but no footboard—and you have to purchase a bedframe like this one for $40. The result is a simpler look, which we think is just fine. And remember that most convertible cribs that convert into a headboard and footboard are two to three times the price of the Newbury.

Price-wise it is probably a wash, but with other cribs you are getting both a headboard and footboard. With the Newbury, it is just the headboard.

Best Budget-Friendly Crib (Basic)

ikea gulliver crib

Can you buy a safe crib for just $99? Yes, you can—the IKEA Gulliver is just $99.

 

Best Budget-Friendly Crib (Basic). Another affordable simple crib is IKEA’s Gulliver at $99. No, that’s not a typo! A simple, modern crib for $99. The crib is just a crib—it doesn’t convert to a full-size bed, etc. Also: the Gulliver only has two mattress positions. Very simple, but well made.

You can have any color for the Gilliver as long as it is white. FYI: IKEA has a few other crib styles that run $99 to $199 in a few different finish options.

If you are into minimalist style, either of these cribs will fit the bill. Note that even though IKEA cribs are simple, they meet all U.S. safety standards. We’ve recommended this brand for years and readers agree—these are safe, good quality cribs.

Best Crib For City Dwellers (and those with little space)

The Stokke Sleepi's oval shape and wheels make it easy to move from room to room, a necessity if you live in a small space!

The Stokke Sleepi’s oval shape and wheels make it easy to move from room to room, a necessity if you live in a small space! Unfortunately, this one isn’t cheap—$1000 with conversion kit to a toddler bed.

Best Crib For City Dwellers (and those with little space). If you live in the city, space may be at a premium. We have two solutions here, although both have drawbacks.

Our best pick for cribs for city dwellers is the Stokke Sleepi. Norwegian juvenile gear maker Stokke pitches its oval crib as a “system” that grows with your child: the Sleepi morphs from a bassinet to a crib, then a toddler bed and finally two chairs . . . all for a mere $1000. You can buy just the crib for $799 (without the toddler bed conversion kit).

The Sleepi’s oval shape and wheels makes it easier to move through narrow doors. The Sleepi is 29” wide; standard full-size cribs are 30” and more. That may not sound like much, but it can make the difference between fitting in a doorway or not. Plus few cribs come with wheels these days, as the Stokke does.

Also: you can use the Sleepi in bassinet mode for up to six months. The bassinet mode takes up just 26” in width.

And the bassinet’s simple style wins fans for its minimalist aesthetic.

So what’s not to like about Sleepi, excluding its steep price? Well, an oval crib requires a special oval crib mattress ($200); and oval crib bedding ($35 for a sheet). As you might guess, choices are limited.

We also noted that Stokke has struggled with quality control issues in recent years, as expressed by our readers as well as customer reviews posted to Amazon. As a result, we gave them an overall grade of B-.

If the price and concerns about the Stokke Sleepi have you wishing for another alternative, consider plan B: a portable crib.

About 10% of all cribs sold in North America are these cribs, sometimes called portable cribs, mini cribs, folding cribs and so on.

As you can guess from the name, these cribs are narrower in both width (25” width versus 30” or more for full-size cribs) and length (about 39” vs 52”).

Our top pick for portable crib is the Babyletto’s Origami Mini Crib ($250). This simple crib folds away when not in use and comes with wheels to move it about a small apartment or condo. (Using the wheels is optional). Overall, we found the construction quality to be above average for this crib.

Option two for those short on space: a mini crib like the Babyletto Origami mini crib, $250 on Amazon

Option two for those short on space: a mini crib like the Babyletto Origami mini crib, $250 on Amazon.

The downside to the Babyletto Origami Mini Crib? Well, it does take a while to assemble (a few users complained it was over an hour). And the crib only comes with a one-inch pad; you should probably replace this with a mattress that snugly fits it (37 x 23.875 mattress), such as this one from BabyLetto sold at Target for $99.

Here’s the biggest drawback to the Origami mini crib—and it’s the same drawback that affects nearly ALL mini crib: babies often outgrow them before they are old enough to go into a toddler or big kid bed.

Babyletto says the Origami crib can’t be used “when a child begins to climb.” Well, a typical child will hit that milestone around six to ten months when they can pull themselves up to a standing position. Some mini cribs (but not all) have lower rails than a standard size crib—and that makes climbing out easy for infants under a year old.

Hence, mini cribs are more like bassinet replacements. Keep in mind that most babies will use a crib for two or three years (and sometimes up to age four). And a crib is the safest place for babies to sleep.

Yes, there are stories floating around out there that a small baby can make it in a mini crib to age 3, but that is the exception.

So what happens when your baby outgrows a mini crib before their first birthday? Well, then you have to move to a full-size crib. Hence, you can use a mini crib as a bridge until you have more room in your apartment or condo . . . or you find living accommodations with more space!

Bottom line: a mini crib can make do for a while, but you’ll be finding yourself purchasing a full-size crib as your baby nears one year of age.

Best Eco Baby Crib

Eco Chic Baby Dorchester Classic Island 4-in-1 Convertible Crib - Slate

The Dorchester by Eco Chic Baby (part of the Baby Appleseed nursery brand) is our pick for the most eco-friendly crib. $500 at Babies R Us.

Best Eco Baby Crib. Eco-Chic Baby Dorchester Classic Island 4-in-1 Convertible Crib is our pick for top eco friendly crib. This $500 crib ticks all the boxes for our eco-friendly pick: GREENGUARD Gold certified and made by an established nursery furniture company with a good quality track record.

Exclusive to Babies R Us, Eco-Chic Baby is part of the Baby Appleseed family of nursery furniture brands. The company’s mojo is to combine eco-friendliness and elegant design. The eco-pitch: when you buy one of their cribs, the company will plant ten trees in your baby’s name, thanks to a partnership with the non-profit American Forests.

GREENGUARD Gold is an independent third-party certification that the nursery furniture item is low-emission—that is, emission of volatile compounds (VOC’s) which can contribute to bad indoor air quality. (Read more about GREENGUARD testing here).

The Dorchester is made of American poplar wood, which is more durable than pine (commonly seen in sub-$300 cribs). We consider poplar wood to be sustainable—and since it is harvested in the U.S., this process must meet American environmental standards.

This crib has several matching accessories, including a five drawer dresser, double dresser and armoire.

Here’s what the Dorchester Island crib looks like when converted:

4 modes of the Eco Chic Baby Dorchester Classic Island 4-in-1 Convertible Crib - Slate

So what’s not to like? Well, like most convertible cribs, the optional toddler rail ($100) and conversion rail kit ($200) are extra purchases. While the toddler rail (for the toddler bed mode pictured above) is optional, if you plan to convert this crib to a full-size bed, that $200 conversion rail kit makes the Dorchester a $700 total purchase.

And you can have any color you wish for this crib as long as it is “slate.” Yep, at the time of this writing, that is your only option.

The Eco-Chic Dorchester Island crib is only available at Babies R Us—so there’s no price shopping this to online competitors. If you don’t live near a BRU or prefer to buy from Amazon, Eco-Chic’s sister brand Karla DuBois has a similar style crib for just $400:

You can get a similar look at $100 less by getting this Karla DuBois Baby OSLO Convertible Crib with Drawer in Chocolate Slate. $400 on Amazon.

You can get a similar look at $100 less by getting this Karla DuBois Baby OSLO Convertible Crib with Drawer in Chocolate Slate. $400 on Amazon.

Yes, the Oslo crib has the same GREENGUARD Gold certification and quality as Eco-Chic Baby, but at $100 lower in price.

Best Crib Made in the USA

If you'd prefer to stick with a made-in-America crib, our top pick is Andersen crib by El Greco. $799 on Land of Nod.

If you’d prefer to stick with a made-in-America crib, our top pick is Andersen crib by El Greco. $799 on Land of Nod.

Best Crib Made in the USA. El Greco’s Andersen crib ($799 at Land of Nod) is our pick for the best made-in-the-USA crib. (FYI: 97% of all cribs sold in the US are made in Asia, mostly China and Vietnam).

Based in Jamestown, New York, El Greco has been making furniture since 1975 but largely flies under the radar of the industry. Why? Because most of El Greco’s cribs and dressers are sold as private label offerings by Land of Nod and Room & Board (El Greco’s web site lists which cribs they make for each chain). Yes, the brand is also sold in a handful of furniture stores, but most are regular furniture stores, not baby retailers.

Quality is excellent—the Andersen crib is made of solid maple or walnut (depending on the finish), which is rare to find in nursery furniture these days. El Greco has never had a safety recall in 40+ years (!) of business and their finishes are GREENGUARD-certified. El Greco posts detailed info on their manufacturing process here: http://www.elgrecofurniture.com/product-details/

The Andersen crib comes in three finishes (maple, walnut or white).

So what are the drawbacks? Well, the Andresen is a basic crib that doesn’t convert into a full-size bed like many other cribs in this price range. That makes the $799 investment here steep. But if you plan to use this crib for more than one baby, you could justify the expense.

FYI: If you like El Greco but don’t like the simple style of the Andersen, the company sells a handful of other crib at Room & Board, a 16 store chain of modern furniture stores. If you don’t have one of those stores nearby, you can order El Greco cribs online at Room & Board’s web site.

What if you don’t have that much money but still want an American-made crib? Unfortunately, there isn’t much beyond El Greco.

Yes, there are a handful of modern furniture companies like DucDuc that make cribs in the US, but most of these are $1000+ and even $2000+. And we found El Greco’s quality superior to these alternatives.

Best High-Style Crib

Yes, it is insanely expensive, but the Ubabub crib is a conversation piece. Clear acrylic sides have funky cut-outs and the curved end panels set the Pod apart. Bonus: it includes a custom-fitted mattress. $2300 on Amazon.

Expensive but unique, the Ubabub Pod crib is a guaranteed conversation piece. Clear acrylic sides have starburst cut-outs and the curved end panels set the Pod apart. Bonus: it includes a custom-fitted mattress. $2300 on Amazon.

Best High-Style Crib. Ubabub’s Pod crib is a futuristic show stopper—yes, insanely expensive ($2300) but wins our pick for best high style crib with its curved wood panels and acrylic sides with funky cut-outs. The detail and craftsmanship on this crib is something to behold.

The Pod comes with a custom-fitted mattress and the conversion kit to turn into a toddler bed that looks like something out of a movie set in 2093.

Distributed in the US by the Million Dollar Baby family of nursery brands, Ubabub (pronounced “uber-bub”) is actually based in Australia and sells its goods in both Oz and New Zealand. Ubabub has a good reputation for quality and a solid track record for safety.

Best Travel/Portable Baby Crib

Road trip! For an easy-to-use travel crib, we like the BabyBjorn Travel Crib light. Comes in three colors, black, silver and the pictured pink. $217 on Amazon

Road trip! For an easy-to-use travel crib, we like the BabyBjorn Travel Crib light. Comes in three colors, black, silver and the pictured pink. $200 on Amazon.

Best Travel/Portable Baby Crib. After evaluating and testing 17 portable baby cribs, we pick the BabyBjorn’s Travel Crib Light ($200) for Best Travel/Portable Baby Crib. While not the cheapest option out there, we judged this ultra-light play yard (which folds up like an umbrella and fits in a small carry case) to be worth the investment.

Parent feedback has been universally positive. At 11 pounds, it is half the weight of a standard Graco Pack N Play.

The Travel Crib Light ($267; 13 lbs.) has breathable mesh sides with exterior metal poles and comes with an organic fitted sheet and mattress. The top edge includes a padded cover and it folds into a 19” x 23.5” x 5.5” bag. You’ll note that the shape is rather different from a traditional play yard and it uses poles like you’d see on a camping tent. Here are some photos of the folding system used by the Travel Crib Light:

Baby Bjorn Travel Light Travel Crib fold

Overall, readers like the Travel Crib Light. Fans love the easy set up and break down, and note that the fabric is nicer than other similar travel cribs. The mattress is pretty thick for a travel crib and the light weight makes it easy to lug around.

The only complaints: short parents may have a tougher time lowering baby into the crib and the exterior poles jut out at an angle, creating a tripping hazard. Yes, it is pricey, but if you plan to travel frequently with your baby it may be worth the expense.

Also Great: Guava Family Lotus Everywhere Travel Crib

The secret sauce to the Guava Family Lotus travel crib is its wide variety of accessories, including bassinet, mosquito netting and more. $200 on Amazon.

The secret sauce to the Guava Family Lotus travel crib is its wide variety of accessories, including bassinet, sunshade, mosquito netting and more. $200 on Amazon.

If you are an occasional traveler, the Lotus Everywhere Travel Crib is a lightweight travel solution with a twist.

The Lotus has a similar designed to the Bjorn Travel Crib Light, but the frame poles are thicker and one of the mesh sides has a zipper (with a locking zipper so toddlers can’t escape. A toddler replies: how much do you want to bet?).

At 13 lbs., this is definitely a lighter option for travel than a Pack N Play and it comes in a backpack bag for easy carrying. Lotus has priced its travel play yard at $200, about 15% less expensive than the Bjorn.

But what really makes the Lotus different from the Bjorn and other travel play yards are the accessories. Need a bassinet? You can purchase a Bassinet Conversion Kit ($110). FYI: Lotus sells a Bassinet Kit + Crib Bundle in one package for $300. Guava also makes three types of sheets for the travel crib, a Fun Shade for sunny days, and a mosquito net.

So what’s the real difference between the Bjorn and the Lotus? The mattress in the Bjorn is thicker and the fabric is better quality, in our opinion. The footprint of the Lotus is slightly larger than the Bjorn but both have leg poles that stick out and could be a trip hazard.

Some parents complained that the Lotus’ Velcro straps used to secure the mattress and sheet are difficult to thread, since you have to do it by touch. Bjorn calls out it’s attachments more clearly. Finally, we wondered if the zippered side mesh was a really useful feature. We like that you could open the side and make the Lotus into a fort or hideaway for older toddlers with a blanket or even the sunshade over the top—but that’s not a necessity, just a nice side benefit.

Yes, the Bjorn outpaces the Lotus on fabric quality and ease of set-up/take down, but the Lotus does have more accessories.

Best Crib for Short Parents

It's simple, modern—and low profile. The Modo crib is a good bet for shorter parents. $279 on Amazon.

It’s simple, modern—and low profile. The Modo crib is a good bet for shorter parents. $279 on Amazon.

Best Crib for Short Parents. If you are under 5’5”, you may find reaching into a standard-size stationary crib challenging. Since most cribs sit a foot or two off the floor and drop-side cribs were phased out in 2011, shorter parents may find it difficult putting baby in a standard crib when the mattress in its lowest position.

For those parents, a lower profile crib may be just the ticket. A good bet: babyletto’s Modo 3-in-1 crib  (pictured) is made from New Zealand pine and is relatively affordable at $279. At only 34” tall, the Modo sits low to the ground making it much easier to put baby in and out of the crib.

The Modo is available in six color combinations including two-tone options (white top with brown or grey base) that gives it a modern spin.

We like the Modo’s GREENGUARD Gold certification that means the crib is low in VOC emission, as well as the four mattress levels.

While Babyletto touts the Modo’s “3-in-1” conversion feature, the Modo only coverts into a toddler bed (the toddler rail is included, which is a nice touch). Hence, the Modo doesn’t convert into a full-size bed for older kids.

Best Crib for Grandma’s House

It folds! It wheels away! The Dream on Me Portable Stationary Side crib is also affordable. A good pick for the grandparents home. $110 on Amazon.

It folds! It wheels away! The Dream on Me Portable Stationary Side crib is also affordable. A good pick for the grandparents home. $110 on Amazon.

Best Crib for Grandma’s House. The best crib for the grandparents must be easy to set up and take down.

We suggested one of two options here: a portable crib like the Dream On Me 2 in 1 Portable Folding Stationary Side Crib ($110) hits all the right notes—easy to assemble, folds away for storage and is affordable.

The biggest drawback: the Dream on Me crib is actually a mini crib that is only 38” long (versus 52” for a full-size crib). That means babies older than one year of age or larger infants may outgrow this crib before they are old enough to sleep in a toddler bed. One solution: go for one of our travel crib picks (scroll up the page to see this section).

(FYI: Babies typically stay in a crib to age three or later. Once a child regularly climbs out of a crib, it is time for a big kid bed.)

Hence the key issue with any mini crib is safety—older babies (younger toddlers) can easily escape a mini crib. Not so easily in a full-size crib.

Therefore, our second option here is a full-size crib that is easily to assemble. Yes, such cribs do exist. Our pick for this would be the Delta Canton crib ($220; not pictured)—Delta includes all the tools (allen wrench) to make assembly easy.

Why Trust Us

We evaluated cribs with hands on inspections, checking seats for ease of use (installation and adjusting the seat). We also gather significant reader feedback, tracking seats on quality and durability. Besides interviewing parents, we also talk with furniture experts with years of experience with wood furniture.

We’ve been rating and reviewing cribs since 1994. During that time, we have also visited manufacturer facilities and watched cribs during testing. While we don’t personally test cribs, we compare our reader feedback with tests done by organizations like the Greenguard and Consumer Reports.

How we picked a winner

To come up with our ratings, we often tour manufacturing facilities. Here's a shot from Dutailier's factory in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada. Those are leather pelts about to be cut by a water jets, on the way to becoming a glider rocker in your nursery. Yes, water jets!

To come up with our ratings, we often tour manufacturing facilities. Here’s a shot from Dutailier’s factory in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada. Those are leather pelts about to be cut by a water jets, on the way to becoming a glider rocker in your nursery. Yes, water jets!

We evaluate cribs with in-depth inspections, checking models for overall quality and ease of use—for example, adjusting the mattress height as well as detailed analysis of the wood used. We also gather significant reader feedback (our book, Baby Bargains has over 1 million copies in print), tracking cribs on quality and durability. Besides interviewing parents, we also regularly talk with retailers of nursery furniture to see which brands are most trustworthy and other key quality metrics. The reliability of nursery furniture companies is another key factor—we meet with key company executives at least once a year. Since we’ve been doing this since 1994, we have developed detailed profiles of major crib brands that help guide our recommendations. See below for links.

7 Things No One Tells You About . . .

7 Things No One Tells You About Buying A Crib!

1. Whether they cost $70 or $700, all cribs sold in the U.S. and Canada meet mandatory safety rules.

Yes, you read that right—that crib at IKEA for under $100 is just as safe as the European designer model from a fancy boutique that runs $2000.

Do cheap cribs have dangerous designs? No. Long gone are the days when you had to measure slats to make sure they were the correct distance. If a crib is sold in a major store or reputable online site, you can rest assured it meets current safety standards. Unlike other baby gear, safety standards for cribs are mandatory in the US and Canada.

That said, we would suggest buying from an established brand name (we review top brands on this site, scroll below for links). Yes, some web sites sell cribs from obscure brands with little or no history in the U.S. The concern here is whether you’d be able to contact them to buy replacement parts. Or how would they handle a safety recall?

2. Almost all cribs sold today are imported from Asia. Yes, even those with Italian-sounding names.

China and Vietnam are the two biggest exporters of cribs to North America. In fact, we’d estimate that 97% of the cribs sold in the U.S. are imported from Asia. The rest are imported from Eastern Europe (Latvia, Romania) with a smattering from Italy and Canada. And yes, there is a company or two left in the U.S. that makes cribs domestically (El Greco).

We realize some parents are concerned about products from China, which has suffered various product safety scandals. For those folks, we recommend a crib or two made in North America (see pick here). Fair warning: this will cost you much more than an imported crib.

3. Cribs are sold a la carte. And require assembly.

When you shop for cribs, you often will find pictures like this:

Fancy over the top nursery!

But when you buy a crib, what you get is actually this:

Plain crib

Yep, that is it. Crib mattress? Extra. Sheets? Extra. Fancy bedding decor? Extra. You get the picture.

Obviously, some of these are required (mattress) and most are optional (besides sheets, just about everything else). And those extras (crib mattresses) can sometimes cost more than the crib itself. Just a heads up as you plan that nursery room budget!

4. Size matters.

Not the size of the crib, but the size of your baby’s bedroom. Full-size cribs are all the same size: about 29” wide and 53” long. That’s the INTERIOR dimension of the crib. Cribs with fancy headboards or curved sides can be several inches wider/longer.

Fitting a full-size crib into a tiny secondary bedroom (or urban condo) can sometimes be a challenge. We recommend some options for those who are space-challenged.

And remember that the crib is just the start of your nursery furniture saga—most nurseries also have a dresser to store clothes. And perhaps a place to sit and nurse baby. Later you might want a desk and chair. Plan out space considerations before shopping.

Where the baby’s crib should go in a nursery is another factor. The safest place for a crib is away from any heating or cooling source (ducts, radiators, etc). And you’ll want to keep baby’s crib away from windows and window coverings/blinds (cords are a strangulation hazard). Got a baby monitor as a gift? Keep the cord at least three feet from the crib.

We should note that not all cribs are your standard rectangle. There are some funky cribs out there—round cribs, for example:

Round crib

But remember this equation: more funky = more money. A round crib needs a special round mattress, round bedding, and so on . . . at prices typically much more than standard size crib accessories.

5. To convert? Or not to convert?

Full-size cribs today come in two basic flavors: convertible cribs or not convertible.

Non-convertible cribs (we call them basic cribs) are just, well, cribs. They don’t morph into other piece of furniture. As such, they are typically less expensive than convertible cribs.

As the name implies, convertible cribs . . . well, convert into several different stages as your child grows. Many “4-in-1” cribs are first cribs, then toddler beds (with a toddler rail replacing one side), “day beds” (no toddler rail) and then full-size beds. The different configurations look like this:

The four different configurations of a convertible crib: crib, toddler bed with rail, day bed (no rail for older toddlers) and then finally full-size bed.

The four different configurations of a convertible crib: crib, toddler bed with rail, day bed (no rail for older toddlers) and then finally full-size bed.

In the latter use, the headboard of the crib becomes the headboard of a child’s full-size bed. In order to do all this presto-change, you need (you guessed it) an extra “conversion kit” which includes bed rails to make a full-size bed, connecting the headboard and footboard. These kits range from $100 to $200 extra. And convertible cribs are more pricey than basic cribs—convertibles start around $250 and can easily soar into the $500’s.

You could argue that even with this extra expense, you would save money in the long run because you are not buying a separate bed when a child outgrows a crib. But basic (non-convertible) cribs start around $100 and you can buy a twin bed for as little as $139. Like this one:

Simple twin bed frame and headboard.

Homelegance twin platform bed with headboard. $139 on Amazon.

The take home message: convertible cribs aren’t really money savers, but more of a choice in aesthetics.

Confusingly, there are several variations on convertible cribs. Some manufactures say they are “convertible” when all they mean is you can take the side rail off and then have a toddler bed. Doh! That doesn’t count as convertible in our book. On the other hand, some crib makers include a toddler rail for free (the rail keeps a toddler from rolling out of the crib once the side rail is removed).

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to whether to buy a basic or convertible crib. Some considerations: if space is tight, remember that using a standard crib and then buying a twin size bed may make much more sense than a convertible that morphs into a full size bed (full size beds are 15” wider than a twin).

Think about how the crib will look when converted. Is the headboard higher than the footboard? Most folks think that looks better than converted cribs where the headboard and footboard are similar in height, which is more common in lower price convertible cribs. Your choice, of course!

Some convertible cribs (like the affordable and popular Fisher-Price models) don’t require special conversion kits or rails—you can use standard bed frames like this:

Hercules Universal Heavy Duty Adjustable Metal Bed Frame with Double Rail Center Bar and 7-Locking Rug Rollers, Queen/Twin/Twin X-Large/Full/Full X-Large/King/California King, Black

This bed frame can morph from a twin bed to full-size, queen or king. $40 on Amazon. Money saving tip: use these rails with simple convertible cribs from a brand like Fisher Price to save over pricey “conversion kits”.

These rails run about $40. If you plan to have more than one child, it might make sense to buy an affordable basic crib you can re-use from child to child. Then as each one outgrows the crib, you can move then into a twin bed (headboard or footboard optional, of course).

6. It may take 14 weeks to special order that fancy crib. Yes, we said 14 weeks. Not days. Weeks.

There are three basic places to buy a crib: online, chain stores and specialty boutiques. Most online sites deliver in about a week.

Chain stores stock many cribs, while some styles require two to four week lead times (to ship in from a distribution center).

Specialty boutiques, however, are a mixed bag. Some do stock cribs for immediate purchase. Most, however, require you to special order. And that is where the 14 week wait can come in.

Most specialty stores carry upper-end crib brands that cost $500 to $1500. Some of these brands require a wait of 8-12 weeks for delivery, with a few up to 14 weeks. And sometimes deliveries can be delayed (port strike? earthquake? Chinese new year?), causing your furniture to go on back order for, say, 20 weeks. Plan accordingly!

7. Say no to . . . .

. . . used or hand-me-down cribs. Buy a brand-new crib to make sure it meets current standards.

Here's an antique iron baby crib, like many cribs lurking in relative's basements and attics. Does it meet current safety standards. That would be a big fat NO!

Here’s an antique iron baby crib, like many cribs lurking in relative’s basements and attics. Does it meet current safety standards. That would be a big fat NO!

Crib safety standards have changed over the years—not more than a few years ago, cribs had drop-sides which were implicated in safety issues (sides detached, resulting in injuries and in some cases, death). These cribs were outlawed in 2011.

We know well-meaning family members want to help you by dusting off that family heirloom your grandfather used in the “old days.” Or a friend has a crib in the attic from 1998 they are dying to pawn off graciously give you.

Just say no—even a late-model crib can be dangerous if it is missing hardware or instructions. Buying new insures your crib meets current safety standards and has all its parts.

Reviews of 50+ crib brands

The Best Baby Crib

Pali Imperia
Available in both white and espresso, the Pali Imperia is an excellent crib with simple lines and quality construction.