How To Choose A Baby Crib (Step by Step Guide)

August 30, 2023

So, you’re expecting a little one and you’ve reached the exciting milestone of choosing a baby crib. But with countless options out there, it can feel overwhelming trying to find the perfect one for your bundle of joy. From safety standards to mattress options, this article will guide you through the essential factors to consider when selecting a baby crib. Whether you’re a first-time parent or simply looking to upgrade, the tips and insights in this article will ensure that you make an informed decision that provides your baby with a comfortable and secure sleep environment.

Discover the best baby cribs currently on the market and buy the right one for you and your baby.

Factors to Consider

When it comes to choosing a baby crib, there are several important factors to consider to ensure the safety and comfort of your little one. From safety features to size, style, materials, and adjustability, each factor plays a crucial role in finding the perfect crib for your baby.


Safety should be the top priority when selecting a crib for your baby. It is essential to choose a crib that meets the highest safety standards to minimize the risk of accidents and injuries. Look for cribs with sturdy construction, slats specification that prevent your baby from getting stuck, and certifications from reputable organizations.


The size of the crib is another crucial factor to consider. It is important to choose a crib that fits comfortably in your nursery without taking up too much space. Standard crib dimensions can help you determine the right size for your needs, but it is also important to consider the size of your nursery and any space restrictions you may have.


The style of the crib is a matter of personal preference and can vary greatly from one parent to another. Traditional cribs offer a timeless and classic look, while modern cribs feature sleek and contemporary designs. Sleigh cribs add an elegant touch to any nursery, and portable cribs provide convenience for families on the go. Consider the overall aesthetic of your nursery and choose a crib style that complements your vision.


Cribs can be made from a variety of materials, each with its own unique characteristics and benefits. Wood cribs are a popular choice for their durability and natural beauty. Metal cribs offer a sleek and modern look while being lightweight and easy to clean. For parents looking for a more lightweight and affordable option, plastic cribs may be the way to go. Consider the pros and cons of each material and choose one that aligns with your preferences and needs.


An adjustable crib can provide added convenience and functionality. Look for cribs with adjustable mattress positions, allowing you to lower the mattress as your baby grows and becomes more active. Convertible cribs are also a great option as they can be transformed into toddler beds or even full-size beds, extending the lifespan of the crib. Consider the long-term value and versatility of an adjustable crib when making your decision.

Safety Features

Ensuring the safety of your baby is of utmost importance when choosing a crib. There are several safety features to look for to minimize the risk of accidents and provide a secure sleeping environment for your little one.

Sturdy Construction

A crib with a sturdy construction is essential to provide a stable and secure sleeping space for your baby. Look for cribs made from high-quality materials and strong joints to ensure the crib can withstand the test of time and the energy of an active baby.

Slats Specification

The spacing between the crib slats is an important safety consideration. The slats should be close enough together to prevent your baby from getting stuck or slipping through, but also wide enough to allow for proper ventilation. The recommended spacing is no more than 2 3/8 inches apart.

Drop-side Crib Risks

In recent years, drop-side cribs have been deemed unsafe and are no longer sold in most countries. The mechanism that allows the side of the crib to be lowered can pose a significant risk to your baby if it becomes loose or detached. It is essential to choose a crib with fixed sides for added safety and stability.


When choosing a crib, look for cribs that have been independently tested and certified by reputable organizations. The most common certification in the United States is the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) certification, which ensures that the crib meets the highest safety standards. Additionally, look for cribs that comply with international safety standards such as ASTM and CPSC.

Size and Space

Determining the right size of the crib is crucial to ensure it fits comfortably in your nursery without overcrowding the space. Consider the following factors when determining the size of the crib.

Standard Crib Dimensions

Standard crib dimensions typically measure around 52 inches in length and 28 inches in width. This size allows for a standard-sized crib mattress to fit snugly within the crib frame. Keep in mind that the height of the crib may vary, so be sure to consider this when measuring for your nursery.

Room Size Considerations

In addition to standard crib dimensions, it is essential to consider the size of your nursery when choosing a crib. Take accurate measurements of the available space to ensure the crib fits comfortably without obstructing walkways or other furniture. If you have a small nursery, consider alternative options such as mini cribs or portable cribs that take up less space.

Convertible Cribs

For families looking to invest in a crib that can grow with their child, convertible cribs are an excellent option. Convertible cribs can be transformed into toddler beds, daybeds, and even full-size beds, extending the lifespan of the crib and providing value for money. Keep in mind that convertible cribs may be larger in size, so ensure it fits well in your nursery both as a crib and as a converted bed.

Style and Design

The style and design of the crib play a significant role in setting the tone and aesthetic of your nursery. Consider the following crib styles and designs to find the perfect fit for your nursery decor.

Traditional Cribs

Traditional cribs offer a classic and timeless look that appeals to many parents. They often feature elegant details such as curved lines, decorative molding, and rounded edges. Traditional cribs are versatile and can complement a wide range of nursery decor styles.

Modern Cribs

For parents who prefer a sleek and contemporary look, modern cribs are a great choice. These cribs often feature clean lines, minimalist designs, and a focus on functionality. Modern cribs can add a stylish touch to any nursery and create a more modern and streamlined aesthetic.

Sleigh Cribs

Sleigh cribs are known for their elegant and sophisticated appearance. These cribs typically feature curved ends that resemble a sleigh, adding a touch of luxury to your nursery. Sleigh cribs are often made from wood and come in a variety of finishes, allowing you to choose the one that best matches your nursery decor.

Portable Cribs

If you and your baby are frequently on the go, a portable crib can provide convenience and flexibility. Portable cribs are lightweight, compact, and easy to assemble and disassemble, making them ideal for travel or for keeping your baby close by in any room of the house. Consider the portability and functionality of a crib if you anticipate the need for mobility.

Material Choices

The material of the crib not only affects its appearance but also its durability, safety, and maintenance requirements. Consider the following materials when choosing a crib.


Wood cribs are a popular choice for their natural beauty, durability, and timeless appeal. Different types of wood, such as maple, oak, and birch, offer unique characteristics and finishes. Wood cribs can range from traditional to modern designs and are often considered a more premium option.


Metal cribs offer a sleek and modern look that can be a great fit for contemporary nurseries. Metal cribs are lightweight, making them easy to move around, and often have intricate designs or patterns that add visual interest. They are also easy to clean and maintain.


Plastic cribs are lightweight, affordable, and easy to clean, making them a practical choice for budget-conscious parents or those looking for a more portable option. Plastic cribs often come in bright colors and fun designs, making them a popular choice for children’s rooms or play areas.

Adjustability and Convertibility

An adjustable crib can provide added convenience and accommodate your baby’s changing needs as they grow. Look for the following features when considering adjustability and convertibility.

Adjustable Mattress Positions

Many cribs feature adjustable mattress positions that allow you to lower the mattress as your baby grows and becomes more active. This feature ensures that the crib remains safe and secure as your baby starts to stand or pull themselves up. Check how many mattress positions the crib offers and whether they are easy to adjust.

Convertible Cribs

Convertible cribs are designed to grow with your child and can be transformed into different bed sizes as they outgrow the crib stage. These cribs typically convert into toddler beds, daybeds, and even full-size beds. Consider the conversion options and whether the conversion hardware is included or sold separately.

Growth of the Baby

When choosing a crib, it is important to consider the long-term needs of your baby. Take into account how quickly they are likely to grow and whether they will need additional sleeping space as they get older. Investing in an adjustable or convertible crib can save you money in the long run and provide a seamless transition for your growing child.

Mattress Support

A sturdy and supportive mattress platform is essential to ensure your baby’s safety and comfort. Look for the following features to ensure proper mattress support.

Sturdy Mattress Platform

The mattress platform should be strong and durable to support the weight of your baby. Opt for cribs with sturdy wooden or metal mattress platforms that can withstand the test of time and provide a stable surface for your baby to sleep on.

Adjustable Mattress Support

Some cribs offer adjustable mattress support, allowing you to raise or lower the mattress platform to different heights. This feature can be convenient in the early stages when you need to reach your newborn more easily, and can also help accommodate growth and mobility. Check whether the crib offers adjustable mattress support and how easy it is to change the height.

Ease of Use

A crib should be easy to assemble and use, especially during those sleep-deprived nights. Consider the following factors for ease of use.

Simple Assembly

Look for cribs that come with clear and detailed assembly instructions to make the process as straightforward as possible. Some cribs even have quick and easy assembly mechanisms, such as snap-in parts or a tool-free setup. Consider whether the crib can be easily assembled by one person or if it requires additional help.

User-Friendly Features

Some cribs come with additional features to enhance the user experience. For example, cribs with adjustable mattress heights often have a simple mechanism for raising and lowering the mattress platform. Other cribs may have drop-down sides for easier access to your baby or wheels for ease of movement. Consider what features are important to you and whether they contribute to the overall ease of use.

Price Range

The price range of cribs can vary significantly based on factors such as brand, materials, features, and design. It is essential to consider your budget when choosing a crib, but also keep in mind the long-term value and quality of the product.

Budget Considerations

Determine your budget for a crib and research cribs within that price range. Keep in mind that while price can be an indicator of quality, it is not always the case. Look for cribs that offer a good balance between affordability and safety, and consider how long you plan to use the crib before transitioning to a bed.

Cost vs Quality

When it comes to cribs, investing in quality is crucial to ensure the safety and durability of the product. While cheaper cribs may seem attractive from a budget perspective, they may not meet the highest safety standards or last as long as higher-quality cribs. Consider the long-term value and quality of the crib and weigh it against the cost.

Customer Reviews

Researching and reading customer reviews can provide valuable insights into the quality, features, and overall satisfaction of a crib. Consider the following when reading customer reviews.

Research and Read Reviews

Take the time to read reviews from other parents who have purchased and used the crib you are considering. Look for common themes in the reviews, such as safety concerns, durability issues, or positive feedback on ease of use. Reading multiple reviews can help you make a more informed decision.

Learn from Other Parents

Other parents’ experiences can offer valuable information and help you determine whether a specific crib is the right fit for you and your baby. Pay attention to the feedback on safety features, ease of assembly, mattress support, and overall satisfaction with the purchase. However, keep in mind that personal preferences can vary, so weigh reviews against your own needs and requirements.

In conclusion, choosing a baby crib involves careful consideration of multiple factors. Safety features, size, style, materials, adjustability, mattress support, ease of use, price range, and customer reviews all provide valuable information to make an informed decision. By taking the time to evaluate each factor and consider your specific needs and preferences, you can find the perfect crib that ensures your baby’s safety, comfort, and the overall aesthetic of your nursery.


Sandra McNeil, PhD.
Sandra McNeil, PhD.

Sandra has over 13 years of experience as a child psychologist, both as a practitioner and researcher. She has a Bachelor's in child psychology from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and then she did her master's in Psychology in Education (focused on Children & Families) at Columbia University, NY. She has been writing for health and child-related publications for over 5 years now.

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