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During the first year of your baby’s life, they will sleep a lot. In fact, it will probably be between 12-18 hours a day, so getting their sleeping environment right is essential. While many parents decide to co-sleep with their newborn baby, or use a bassinet in the beginning, many consider transitioning to a crib once their baby is several months old.
While there have been some interesting crib designs over the years, these days there are several options available to parents, all of which have their advantages and disadvantages. The main types of cribs include convertible cribs, travel cribs, standard cribs, round cribs, mini cribs and crib/changer combos. In this article let’s look at these different types of cribs you can buy in more detail, the pros and cons of these options and what to consider when you’re buying one.
Types of Cribs
Parents looking to choose a crib for their baby can understandably become overwhelmed, as there are many choices on the market, and all of them have their own advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a look at some of the options in more detail.
These cribs are designed to grow with the child as they get larger and as their needs change, making them one of the most popular options on the market right now. They start out as a crib, which is ideal for infants, and then they can be converted to a toddler bed. From there, some convertible cribs will convert to a full-size adult bed.
There are a lot of things to love about convertible cribs. The most obvious reason is that a family who buys a convertible crib won’t have to worry about buying another bed for their child. Since these cribs can act as a crib, a toddler bed, and finally a full-size bed, they are a great option for families who want to invest in a single piece of furniture.
Some convertible cribs will also convert into a daybed or even a bench, giving families a lot of leeway when changing the crib into other pieces of furniture in their home. Another obvious advantage of a convertible crib is that it can match the rest of the furniture in the nursery. This means that if it is bought at the same time as a dresser, then the bed and dresser will match in the future, creating a cohesive look in a teenager’s or an adult’s bedroom.
Unfortunately, some parents experience drawbacks to using these cribs. One reason why a family may want to pass on buying a convertible crib is because they are planning on having another child right away. While a convertible crib will continue to provide the first child a place to sleep, this means that the parents will have to purchase another crib for their other children.
Another con of convertible cribs is that they can tend to get pretty banged up while the child is growing, and they may not be in great condition when it’s time for them to be converted into an adult bed. Most adults or teenagers won’t want a bed in their room that is covered with bite marks, crayon, or marker pen! It can be a much better option to simply buy a new bed when the time comes, as this ensures that the bed will be in great condition.
These cribs also tend to be more expensive, which can put them out of reach of families who have smaller budgets for setting up a nursery. Since these cribs don’t come with larger mattresses for when they are converted, this is an additional expense that parents will have to plan for in the future.
Are convertible cribs worth it?
One of the main reasons why fans of convertible cribs are happy to buy them when setting up a nursery is because babies tend to grow very quickly and can easily grow out of a crib. If parents aren’t prepared to buy or set up a toddler bed, then they may find themselves with a very unhappy child who is not willing to stay in their crib.
Parents who are in love with the design, color and shape of a convertible crib and feel confident that they are willing to use the crib as a bed later, will likely be happy making this purchase. Convertible cribs are often more of an investment than other types of cribs because they can be used in so many ways, but this is a great way to save time and frustration in the future. These parents are likely to believe that convertible cribs are worth the purchase, as they make it much easier to buy furniture for their child and reduce the stress and pressure of picking out new pieces in the future.
On the other hand, parents who love to buy new furniture for their home and want to be able to redecorate a room as their child grows up may want to pass on a convertible crib. These are investment pieces and are best used by families who are willing to commit to using the same piece of furniture for years.
Standard cribs are very common and they feature a plain or intricate design. While they used to have drop sides in the past, they now feature fixed sides, which are much safer for children. Standard cribs will have slats on the sides and they are designed for babies who are usually older than 6 months.
- Durable, safe and they last a long time
- One of the most popular options, so it’s easy to find the right sized mattress.
- Some standard cribs can convert to toddler beds (you simply remove one of the sides)
- They take up a lot of space, which may be an issue if you have a small bedroom.
- Heavy and difficult to move around.
Mini cribs look like standard cribs, but they are significantly smaller. This makes them great for taking on the go or for use in smaller homes where space is at a premium. They generally come apart easily and can be stored flat so that they don’t take up a lot of space. Mini cribs are ideal for newborn babies until they reach 18-24 months.
- If you have a small bedroom, a mini crib is a great option to save some precious space.
- Lightweight. They’re easier to move around so you can put it exactly where you want in your home.
- Not a long term option. Once your baby is approaching their 2nd birthday, they will likely need something bigger.
Crib and changer combo
Crib and changer combos have become popular recently as parents have realized the obvious benefit of having just one piece of furniture in the nursery that can act as both a crib and a changer. They are incredibly convenient and make midnight changes much faster and easier, as everything is located right by the crib.
- Good cost saving option. You are effectively getting 2 products in one; a crib and a changing table.
- It’s also a good way for saving space. Buying a crib and changing table as two separate items will take up more space than a crib and changer combo.
- A good practical option. With this product you have plenty of space for storing baby items, which are within easy reach. This makes things easy at bedtime and for naps, as you can do a quick change and put your baby down to sleep. It makes the whole process smoother and more comfortable for you and your baby.
- Although you are getting two products in one, check the size of the changing table carefully. It’s possible your baby may outgrow it quicker than you think and you’ll need another option for changing their diapers every day.
Portable or travel cribs are designed to be even easier to move, which makes them ideal for relocating in the home or taking them on vacation. They generally have wheels so they can be pushed from one location in the home to another without having to be carried.
- Most travel cribs are lightweight and easy to move around
- You can fold a travel crib down and store it somewhere. This is handy if you don’t need to use it for a while, or if you are travelling somewhere by car and staying with friends.
- You can use a travel crib for newborn babies, older babies and toddlers.
- Well priced. They won’t cost as much as a convertible or standard crib.
- Although many manufacturers claim their travel cribs are easy to assemble and taken down, do your research because some can models can be very frustrating to use!
- Comfort. In general, a travel crib isn’t as comfortable for most babies to sleep in, partly because the mattresses are thinner.
- Appearance. This might be a personal opinion, but a solid wooden crib can blend in well in your baby’s nursery with the other items of furniture, whereas most travel cribs just don’t look as cosy.
Here’s a detailed look comparing a travel crib with a Pack n’ play.
If you’re not keen on the standard rectangular shape for a crib, you can choose a round crib. These can look very elegant and stylish in the right setting.
- Stylish and elegant appearance. Many round cribs can look amazing in the right nursery setting, like something you might see in a fairytale!
- Easier to find somewhere to put a round crib. With rectangular cribs, you have to put them next to a wall, or in a corner somewhere. Round cribs can go anywhere.
- They take up less space than standard cribs.
- Round cribs don’t last as long as standard or convertible cribs.
- It’s a harder to find mattresses and bedding to fit a round crib.
Click here to learn more about round cribs
What should you consider when you’re buying a crib?
Here are some important things to consider if you’re in the market for a baby crib.
Most cribs are made from wood, but you can also get metal and plastic ones. Wood is the most popular, with the most choice of cribs available, and it’s the most functional as it is easier to convert them into toddler and adult beds. Furthermore, wooden cribs tend to blend better with other items of nursery furniture, creating a traditional look which most parents desire. However, metal cribs are a little stronger, more durable, but they cost more and there aren’t many designs to choose from.
Consider the size of the crib carefully. It’s important to think at this stage where your baby will sleep as a newborn, as an older baby and as a toddler. Babies grow up fast so they will need to transition to a larger crib or toddler bed. You should factor all of this in when you’re planning your baby’s nursery.
White and natural wood are the most popular colours, but you have many other options if you shop around. If you’re planning on decorating your baby’s nursery, you can choose a crib colour that will blend in well with everything in the room.
Almost all solid wooden or metal cribs have slats or bars on the sides to help improve the ventilation while your baby is sleeping. Some have slats all the way around where as others may just have them on the sides, with a solid head and footboard. Decide what you think will look better in your baby’s room.
If you want a traditional and rustic look, a wooden crib is a good choice. For something more elegant, you might want to look at a round crib. And for an antique look, some metal cribs are a good choice.
Along with car seats and strollers, cribs are another expensive item you need to purchase. Therefore you need to take your time and do your research so you buy the right crib for you and your baby. Don’t always be put off by a higher price than you’re prepared to pay, especially if it’s a convertible crib as you will get a lot more use out of it over several years.
Arguably the most practical design option is a convertible crib. You make one purchase and you just convert it into a toddler bed and adult bed as your child grows. However, you have to look after it as it will undoubtedly get scratched and pick up unsightly marks. If space is an issue, might want to consider a crib and changer combo.
Easy to assemble
If you have your heart set on a particular crib, it’s probably worth checking the reviews or looking at some YouTube videos and see if it is easy to assemble. If you’re assembling the crib after your newborn has appeared on the scene, trying to put it together in a sleep deprived state can be a real challenge, especially if the instructions aren’t very clear.
Alternatives to Cribs
Parents who aren’t sure if a crib is the right option for them will want to consider some of the more popular alternatives. One of the most popular options for parents who are looking to ditch the crib is a co-sleeper. This is a wonderful way for parents and babies to bond, but using an actual device designed for co-sleeping rather than just putting the baby in the bed is much safer.
Another great alternative is a Moses basket. These baskets are incredibly mobile and allow parents to easily take them on the go for sleeping and napping away from home. Thanks to their smaller size, they’re great for tiny homes, but children can quickly and easily outgrow them after just a few months.
Cradles used to be very popular and are still present in some modern-day nurseries. They offer the additional benefit of providing a gentle rocking motion to the sleeping child. Since they are generally more affordable than cribs and are also smaller, they may be a great alternative for some parents. Like a Moses basket, however, babies can quickly outgrow them.
Many families have a Pack ‘N Play that they use when taking baby on the go, so that their child can nap outside when the family is enjoying the outdoors. There’s no reason why this can’t be used as a great alternative to a crib. They do tend to be a bit smaller, but since they are great for travel and are easy to set up and break down, they are perfect for small houses and families on the go.
If you’re looking for a cheaper option than a crib, but you still want something that can be used for the long-term, you may want to consider a Montessori floor bed
Want some more options? Here is a list of 11 alternatives to cribs.
Every family will have a different amount of crib sheets, depending on a few different factors. One thing to consider when deciding how many crib sheets to buy is how often you do laundry. Babies can be very messy, and trying to wash sheets in the middle of the night after an accident is frustrating. Rather than dealing with dirty sheets and midnight laundry, families need to make sure to have enough sheets on hand to survive between laundry days and accidents. Generally speaking, families need to have a minimum of three or four crib sheets on hand, and more if they do not do laundry regularly or are anticipating a lot of midnight accidents.
Every parent wants to make sure that their child is stimulated when in their crib and that they have something to look at, which is why mobiles over the crib became so popular. Hanging anything over a crib, however, is risky, as it could easily fall on the baby and injure them. Rather than hanging something directly over the crib, parents can opt instead to hang items or art on the walls. There are some mobiles that can attach to the sides of the crib, which is much safer than having something hanging over the child’s head. However, since these do have cords and strings, which can be dangerous, as soon as a child starts to push themselves up and reach for them, they need to be removed. This will prevent them from being tangled in these cords.
It can be really tempting to tuck a baby into their crib with plenty of soft blankets and stuffed animals, but this is actually very dangerous and can put a baby at risk of suffocating. It’s much better to use a sleep sack for babies, as this helps them to stay nice and warm during the night, but won’t cover their face.
When babies roll over and land with their face on something soft, then they can easily suffocate since they can’t always push themselves up and out of the way. Anything soft in the crib, such as a blanket, pillow, or stuffed animal, can put a child at risk of suffocating and needs to be removed. Warm PJs or a sleep sack are the best options for keeping a baby warm and comfortable during the night.
Graham is a father of two who founded Dadometer to share his parenting journey with other moms and dads.