Baby crib buying guide

Last Updated on September 3, 2020 by Ines

How to choose a crib? A new Baby Crib Buying Guide!

How to buy a crib?

Providing a safe sleeping environment is one of the first tasks of feature parents. A crib might seems like a big place to put your newborn in, but it’s the most rational and the safest decision you can make! With so many factors to take into consideration, you might be wondering how to buy a crib that will suits your family the most. To help you with that, we have combined years of experience and knowledge into a useful baby crib buying guide.

Baby crib buying guide

1. Determine your price range for a crib

Set your budget for a crib and try not to exceed it. Consider that you also need a crib mattress, which will cost you from $50 to $200 and more.

How much should you spend on a crib?

Cribs cost from $100, or even less for some mini cribs, to $1000 and more for unique designers cribs. Keep in mind that a more expensive crib doesn’t necessarily have to be safer or of better quality than affordable cribs!

How much does the average crib cost?

*There are, of course, quality and bad cribs in every price range. I’ve added links to our selections of the best baby cribs in each category.

Affordable cribs of sufficient quality$100 – $150Best deals on baby cribs
Mid-priced crib of good quality$150 – $450Best baby cribs
High-end cribs$450 and moreAcrylic or designer cribs
Examples of great cribs in their price range:

2. Think about which crib’s features are most important to you

You can pick amongst many different crib types:

  1. regular cribs
  2. convertible cribs
  3. portable cribs
  4. cribs with extra storage

1. Regular crib

A regular crib is a basic model, without added features. It’s without wheels, it doesn’t convert, and doesn’t possess additional storage under the crib.

Although it’s safe, and usually doesn’t cost a lot, it is the least wanted crib’s type. Because of the convenience, parents tend to decide on cribs with additional features, so such cribs are slowly withdrawing from the sale, and are actually hard to get.

2. Convertible crib

The convertible crib grows with your child. It is currently the most popular crib type on the market! 

When your baby outgrows the crib, you can convert it into a bigger bed. Depends on the model you choose, a convertible crib transits into one, or more following beds:

  • toddler bed
  • daybed
  • twin bed
  • full-size adult bed

Depending on the number of available conversions, we divide them into three major groups:

Example of a 3-in-1 convertible crib:

Babyletto Hudson 3-in-1 Convertible Crib

Babyletto Hudson 3-in-1 convertible crib

Example of a 4-in-1 convertible crib:

DaVinci Kalani 4-in-1 Convertible Crib

DaVinci Kalani 4-in-1 convertible crib

Things you should know before you pick a convertible crib

Two convertible cribs with the same number don’t need to convert into the same beds. For instance, while one 3-in-1 convertible crib converts into a toddler bed and daybed, the other crib skips the toddler bed and converts into a daybed and full-size bed.

There are even more combinations, but you get the point. What I want to say is, read the crib’s description before you buy the crib!

Some convertible cribs convert into a toddler bed without a safety guardrail. But those who have it, are available with or without a toddler rail included in the price.

In fact, most of the time, it has to be bought separately. A rare exception are:

Because of the included guardrail, these cribs may look more expensive, but that’s not true. As it saves you hassle with searching for a suitable rail, is the included guardrail actually a benefit.
If need it, it’s best to buy it at the same time as a crib. A safety guardrail might won’t be on the stock after some time, there may be a lack of different finishes, etc.

You can use the same mattress in the crib, toddler bed, and daybed. Great options for convertible cribs are dual-sided crib mattresses, which grow with the crib. Those mattresses have two sides of different firmness, a firm side for baby, and a more cozy side for the toddler.

You will have to buy a full-size convertible kit and a fitted mattress for all convertible models that transit into a full-size bed.

Do you want to know what are the best convertible cribs of this year? We have reviewed numerous convertible cribs and made a list of the best ones for this year.

Check me or save me for later:

3. Portable cribs

This is a unique group, with a lot of different cribs. Because any crib that is relatively easy to move belongs in it, you can imagine that it includes various models. From wooden or metal cribs on wheels to travel cribs and Pack ‘N Plays, these are all portable cribs. And the difference between a wooden model and smaller, lighter travel crib made of mesh is, of course, enormous.

I want to focus on portable cribs for everyday use, but if you want more information about travel cribs and Pack ‘N Plays, you can find them HERE.

A wooden or metal portable cribs stand on caster wheels. You can easily move them around your home, and lots of them even fold down for convenient storage. 

That applies mostly for mini portable cribs, which are available in a much wider assortment than full-size models. Because mini cribs don’t occupy a lot of space, and you can fold them away when they’re not in use, they are an excellent choice for modern families with space issues or grandparent’s homes!

Example of a mini portable crib:

Delta Children portable mini baby crib REVIEW

Delta Children mini portable crib

Although some mini portable cribs fit into the car trunk, I would suggest a travel crib or a Pack ‘N Play for the traveling.

Check me or save me for later:

Of course, all the above doesn’t mean you can’t buy a quality full-size model as well. Although rare, some full-size portable cribs also fold up or even convert into bigger beds. 

Example of a full-size portable crib:

Best full-size portable crib - Babyletto Maki features

Babyletto Maik full-size portable crib

Check me or save me for later:

4. Cribs with extra storage

Cribs with extra storage are great for everyone with space issues. You can choose between three types:

  1. Cribs with a built-in trundle drawer under the mattress area
  2. Cribs with an attached changing table 
  3. Cribs with under crib drawer and changing table
1. Convertible cribs with a trundle drawer:

These cribs efficiently use otherwise unutilized space under the crib. They have a built-in storage drawer, which lies under the whole mattress area, and it’s sometimes further divided into two parts. 

Example of the convertible crib with under crib drawer:

Babyletto Mercer's under-crib storage drawer review

Babyletto Mercer 3-in-1 convertible crib with an under crib drawer

Check me or save me for later:

2. Convertible crib with an attached changing table:

So-called combo cribs consisting of two pieces of furniture, crib and changing table. The changer is attached to the left or right side of the crib and possesses drawers and shelves. If the crib converts into a full-size adult bed, the detached changer usually transits into the nightstand too.

Example of a convertible crib with changing table:

Storkcraft Portofino 4-in-1 Fixed Side Convertible Crib and Changer

Storkcraft Portofino 4-in-1 combo crib

Check me or save me for later:

3. Convertible cribs with under crib drawer and changer:

I call these cribs the cribs with ultimate storage space. These models have everything described above. They are convertible, with large under crib drawer, and an attached changing table. Such cribs are rare, but we had found a few great models.

Example of a convertible crib with changing table and under crib drawer:

DaVinci Piedmont 4-in-1 Crib with drawer and Changer Combo - conversions

DaVinci Piedmont 4-in-1 convertible crib changing table

Check me or save me for later:

3. Measure available space before you buy a crib!

If space is not an issue, you can skip this step, otherwise measure how much space you have for the crib.

The inner dimensions for standard size baby cribs are defined by law. However, because of different crib’s frames, the overall dimensions in the same crib’s type can differ up to a few inches.

Except for the portable cribs, each group has models with a sleek and those with a bulky design. But in general, portable cribs take up the least space, convertible cribs are in the middle, and combo cribs are those with the biggest footprint.

Keep in mind:

  • A combo crib has an attached changing table, so yes, it takes up more space than a classic convertible crib, but less than a separately placed crib and changing table. As such, it is actually a space saver.

4. Think about crib’s shape

Cribs are available in a rectangular and oval shape. Oval or cocoon-like round cribs are rare and considered unique and stylish. Although such cribs are cute and safe, think about if this is what you want.

  1. An oval crib looks great in big a nursery, where it stands as a centerpiece of the room. An oval crib squeezed into the room’s corner is not what you want! And not only, that the room won’t be like on the picture, an oval crib will also take you more much-needed space than a classic model.
  2. Oval cribs are expensive!
  3. Keep in mind that you need an oval mattress, which costs lots more than a regular crib mattress. Not because it would be better, but because of its unique shape and the fact that it’s hard to get.
  4. The same goes for the sheets. You have a smaller selection of fitted sheets, which are, of course, much more expensive.

5. Ask yourself what mattress fits into your preferred crib!

You can choose from a bunch of different crib mattresses. You can decide on foam or innerspring crib mattress, choose 100% organic, natural, eco-friendly, synthetic crib mattress, or even such made of unique materials.

You can choose a regular crib mattress or such that grows with the crib. That is so-called dual-sided crib mattresses, which is made of two different sides, and in my opinion, a perfect choice for convertible cribs.

But the most important features you should consider when buying a crib mattress are the firmness and snug-fit.

Standard size crib mattress:

The size of the full-size crib mattresses is standardized. So any new standard size crib mattress fits into any new full-size crib.

is a baby crib with the following measurements: 52 3⁄8 ± 5⁄8 inches in length by 28 ± 5⁄8 inches in width

is a baby crib mattress with the following measurements: at least 27 1/4 inches by 51 5/8 inches and no more than 6 inches thick

Mini crib mattress:

As the size of the mini cribs is not determined by law, is buying a fitted mini-mattress a little more complex. However, in most cases, the inner dimensions of mini cribs are around 38″ (96,52cm) by 24″ (60,96cm), which is great because most mini crib mattresses correspond to those measurements.

>>> Our NEW baby crib mattress buying guide

6. Mattress support

Check up what holds up the crib’s mattress. You can choose between wooden slats, metal bars, and metal frames with wire springs.

A new crib safety standards from 2011 recommends stronger mattress support. While each of these supports went through rigorous testing, a wire spring mattress support tend to be the sturdiest choice, and will better withstand a jumping toddler than a wooden slat base.

Adjustable mattress support

Adjustable mattress support is certainly something that you want! It allows the mattress to be higher in the crib at the beginning. The ability to gently lay down a sleeping newborn, without waking him up, is priceless! Just don’t forget to gradually lower it down while your baby grows!

Baby cribs include from 2 to 5 mattress height adjustment levels. While two levels are more common for portable cribs, convertible cribs usually have 3 to 4 adjustments. And in my opinion that is enough. If it has more levels, there is such a small difference between the individual heights, that it is neglectable.

7. If you are very short, think about picking the crib with a low profile!

Such cribs have a special design, like a minimalistic frame and short legs. The best cribs for short moms don’t have low railings, so your baby won’t escape from the crib sooner than from any other model.

For ease in reaching the baby, such cribs strictly rely on the specific design and mattress height adjustments. They are as safe as other crib models!

RELATED: Best cribs for short moms

8. Safety

The baby crib must be safe! If you love its design and features, but it’s not safe, don’t buy it!

All new cribs must meet strict safety standards set by the government, otherwise, they shouldn’t be on the market. But if you decide on a used crib, you have to be very careful.

Do not buy a used crib made prior July 2011, when CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) set new, more strict safety standards.

The most significant change they have made is the ban on the sale of dropping side cribs. There were too many injuries and even tragic deaths because of dropping sides, so it’s not worth the risk. You can read more about this in our article, New baby cribs safety standards.

I hope our baby crib buying guide answered all your questions and helped you choose the best crib for your baby. If not, ask us in the comments below. We will answer as soon as possible!

I have already linked to many useful articles about baby cribs, but feel free to check up our baby crib reviews, crib mattress reviews, best-of lists, pregnancy tips, and more.

Baby's Little Place

I am the founder of Baby’s Little Place. I’m a mom to the one-year-old daughter and I know how overwhelming could be when you are looking at things and tips for a new baby, especially if you are a first-time parent. That’s why I set up this site…because I want to do something I am passionate about, as well as I want to help new parents and parents to be.

I hope you enjoyed reading my article! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them down below. I will be happy to discuss it with you!


Founder, Baby’s Little Place

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