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Best Baby Crib: Graco Benton 4-in-1 Convertible Crib

The Graco Benton is a simple, affordable crib that is easy to put together and can morph into a full-size bed (when you use the curved side as a headboard and separately purchase bed rails).

What We Liked

• Good quality. We like the metal spring mattress platform—some low-end cribs come with flat wood boards as a mattress base, which we don’t recommend.

• Easy assembly. It took us about 45 minutes to assemble and we found it easier overall than most other cribs.

• Choice of colors. The Graco Benton comes in four different colors, including the ever-popular Pebble Grey. Many low-end cribs only come in white or brown.

What Needs Work

• Paint can chip. Like most lower-price cribs, the Graco Benton uses a soft wood that is easily scratched—take care with the assembly or moving the crib around. A simple belt buckle can leave a scratch when accidentally rubbed against a crib rail.

• Customer service could be better. Even though this crib bears the Graco name, it is actually made under license by Stork Craft. Stork Craft is a Canadian company that focuses on imported furniture sold at affordable prices—that is all well and good, but their customer service sometimes leaves a bit to be desired. We see more than a few complaints about slow replies to requests for parts, the wrong part shipped out, etc.

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Best Budget-Friendly Crib: Union 3-in-1 Convertible Crib

This no-frills crib is made of New Zealand pine and style-wise echoes the simple IKEA Guillver crib—at this price, it is easily our pick for best budget-friendly crib.

What We Liked

• Easy to assemble. We clocked assembly time at just 30 minutes, which is better than most cribs.

• Variety of finishes. The Union crib comes in five finishes, including blue and yellow, which is unusual at this price point. Typically, affordable cribs are offered in only one or two colors. The caveat to this is that we’ve noticed that some finishes are more popular than others and may run out at times. So if you have your heart set on a particular finish and see it in stock, we wouldn’t wait to order it.

• Solid, sturdy crib. Yes, this is a very affordable crib, but it is well made—solid and sturdy.

• Good brand reputation. The Union crib is made by Million Dollar Baby, a Los Angeles-based crib importer with a strong safety record. We’ve been tracking nursery furniture brands since 1994 and Million Dollar Baby is one we’d recommend.

What Needs Work

• Some colors don’t have matching toddler rails. If you get one of unusual colors, like Lagoon blue, you won’t be able to find a matching toddler rail. Only white and grey have matching rails.

• Not convertible into full-size bed. This crib does not convert into a full-size bed for older kiddos, as does our top pick above.

• 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.

• Soft wood can scratch. This crib is made from New Zealand pine, which is soft and can easily scratch. Hence, take great care when unpacking and assembling this crib. Even rubbing a 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).

We realize 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).

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Best Baby Crib Splurge: Babyletto Hudson 3-in-1 Convertible Crib with Toddler Bed Conversion Kit

BabyLetto’s Hudson crib is our pick as the best splurge-worthy crib. Here’s an overview:

What We Liked

• Mid-century vibe. This solidly made crib is a great splurge if you are looking for a crib as a statement piece. Bonus: you can get this crib in a two-tone option, where the spindles are a contrasting color to the crib’s base.

• Lower profile also great for shorter 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 is in its lowest position. At only 34” tall, the Hudson sits low to the ground making it much easier to put baby in and out of the crib.

• GREENGUARD. This crib is low in VOC emissions.

• Included conversion kit to toddler bed. This crib comes with a toddler rail—that is usually an extra purchase.

What’s Needs Work

• Doesn’t convert into full-size bed. While Babyletto touts the Hudson’s “3-in-1” conversion feature, the Hudson only converts into a toddler bed (the toddler rail is included, which is a nice touch). Bottom line: the Hudson doesn’t convert into a full-size bed for older kids.

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Best Travel Baby Crib: BABYBJORN Travel Crib Light

After evaluating and testing 17 portable baby cribs, we pick the BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light 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.

What We Liked

• Quick set up. Our testers loved 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, another plus.

• Light weight. At 13 pounds, The BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light is half the weight of other travel cribs we tested.

• Mesh sides for air flow. Our testers liked the overall design with exterior metal poles and included 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.

What’s Needs Work

• Legs can be a tripping hazard. The exterior poles of this travel crib extend at an angle from the base—and you can trip on them if not careful.

• Not the best for short parents. Since the mattress for this travel crib rests on the ground, it can be harder for shorter parents to lay a baby down to sleep.

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing baby gear, including cribs and nursery furniture, since 1994. We do hands-on testing—we buy the products with our own money and evaluate with an eye toward safety, ease of use and affordability.

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Baby Bargains is your independent and unbiased source for expert baby gear reviews.

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