Child Craft Parisian 3 in 1 cribWeb:

To say Child Craft has had its ups and downs is like saying a ski run with moguls has a few bumps. (Sorry, a Colorado-specific metaphor).

Child Craft, the Indiana-based crib maker that traces its roots back to 1911, was once among the top brands of nursery furniture. In recent years, however, the company has had a slow, painful slide into obscurity. Some of this has been bad luck (a 2004 flood knocked the company offline for several months) . . . while most of the blame can be laid at the feet of the company’s management, which never fully adapted to the flood of Asian-produced nursery furniture, both on the high and low end of the market.

Adding to the brand’s woes, the company has gone through several changes in ownership. The latest: commercial crib maker Foundations acquired the assets of Child Craft in 2009.

Foundations relaunch of the Child Craft brand focused on entry-price cribs sold mostly online. Example: the low-profile Parisian 3 in 1 (pictured) is $160 and available on sites like Amazon—that’s a great value. A limited number of ready-to-assemble dresser styles run $160 to $290.

While we like Child Craft for its value, there is one major caveat—we see many reports from readers of shipping damage, including parts rolling around loose in boxes. Cracked headboards, wood scratches and dents indicate Child Craft needs to beef up its packaging. We’d suggest buying this crib from a store (Buy Buy Baby sells the Child Craft London Euro) and inspecting the contents of the box for damage before paying.

We are less enthusiastic about Child Craft’s dressers, which are made by ready-to-assemble king Sauder. We heard more than one parent complain about freight damage to the dressers; assembly is difficult and time consuming. Given the majority of negative reviews on the dressers, we say steer clear.

Style-wise, Child Craft introduced a couple two-tone and grey crib styles in the past year that are, dare we say, hip? This is a change from recent seasons, when the line seemed content to churn out very safe and traditional styles. A new mid-century modern crib joined the line in recent months.

New this year, Child Craft has re-launched its moribund speciality store-only label, Legacy. Yes, Legacy by Child Craft was big in the 90’s before it went dormant for much of the current century. The new Legacy has just three collections and isn’t sold online or in chains—only specialty stores. (Availability seems limited at the moment to stores east of the Mississippi—ok, there is one dealer in Iowa. But that’s it.). We don’t have pricing yet, but we’d guess it probably in the opening price point for most stores ($400 or $500). We’ve seen samples of the new Legacy cribs that looked well built, but with no parent feedback yet, the jury is still out on Legacy.

Bottom line: a mixed review for Child Craft: a thumbs up for the affordable cribs (especially the London and Parisian). But thumbs down for the shipping damage and dressers. Rating: C+