Step One: Set up in the nursery
While putting the crib together in the garage or basement might offer you more space, the last thing you want is to finish the job and realize you can't get the piece through the door. So set up everything in the baby's room and assemble it there.
Step Two: Read the directions
It might sound simple enough, but plenty of us dive right into assembly mode without reading through the instructions. Safety is your number one priority, so you don't want to miss a crucial step. "Any new baby crib you purchase is supposed to meet minimum government requirements," says Heather Corley, of About.com's Baby Product Guide. "If you assemble it to the manufacturer's instructions and use the crib properly, even the least expensive crib should be safe for baby."
Step Three: Line up the parts
Also, take a look at the parts list before you begin and make sure you have everything you need. If you don't have all the pieces, call the store or manufacturer so they can send you any missing pieces (don't try to put it together without all the parts!). Typically, the set will include:
1. Two side pieces
2. The heat and foot boards
3. Board or slats
4. Screws, bolts or other fasteners
5. Wheels (for some models)
Step Four: Get some backup
Ask a friend or family member to help out -- it's always a good idea to have someone on hand to read the directions to you while you work and to hold the pieces together so that you can put it together securely. Also, be sure to keep the customer service number for the crib manufacturer on hand in case you have any questions while you're working.
Step Five: Start with the head and foot
Set up the head and foot boards and attach any stabilizing bars. Keep in mind that you will either attach the spring board or you will attach the pieces that the spring board sits in. "Adjustable mattress height is available on all but the most inexpensive cribs," says Corley. "It allows the mattress to be higher in the crib so you can gently lay down a sleeping newborn, then lowered for babies who can pull up. At least two mattress heights is nice, three is even better." The best choice is a metal spring system to support the mattress.
Step Six: Then move from back to front
Attach the back of the crib, followed by the front -- and both should be stationary. After the deaths of more than 30 infants and toddlers in the past decade and millions of recalls, the government finally outlawed the sale and resale of drop-side cribs, which have a side rail that moves up and down (the ban will officially go into effect in June 2011). If you've already bought a drop-side crib, call the store for an exchange.
Step Seven: Put in the mattress
Remember that you'll have to purchase the mattress separately from the crib, so be sure to order one that is sure to fit. "The mattress should fit fairly tight inside the crib. There shouldn't be an obvious gap between the crib frame and mattress, and you shouldn't be able to easily push more than one finger down in between the mattress and crib frame," says Corley.
Step Eight: Double check your work
Do an inspection of the crib: make sure all the screws and bolts are tight, that the spring board is securely in the right setting, and that there is nothing poking out that can hut the baby, such as a sharp edge.
Once you're done, now the fun begins -- setting up the bedding and making baby's first room as cute and comfy as can be!
Copyright © 2011 Meredith Corporation.