The cornerstone of any nursery is the crib. Although you'll find endless designs, there are strict guidelines as to how a crib should be made, where in the room it should go, and what should be in it. Here, we outline how to buy and assemble your crib.
Buy a new crib. A family heirloom has sentimental value, but it's not safe. And even your neighbor's 5-year-old crib may not be safe if it has missing or worn hardware, or outdated construction. Millions of cribs have been recalled, especially the drop-side style that was so popular in the last decade. Any new crib should have all fixed sides (no moving parts).
There are two crib sizes. A mini is less expensive, but fits a baby up until only 6 to 8 months; a standard fits a baby for up to 2 or 3 years. Many standard cribs give you the option of converting it to a toddler bed by removing one of the sides, but this often requires a conversion kit, which costs a bit more money.
Crib prices depend largely on the materials. Higher quality wood and greener materials carry a bigger price tag, as does anything made in America or manufactured under a designer name. Starting prices can be as low as $100 to $150; there are many cribs around the $500 price point; and elite models cost $1,000 or more. When you buy a crib, keep in mind that the mattress is a separate purchase, not included in the price.
If building your crib is a daunting task, ask the store where you're purchasing it if it can send someone to assemble it for you, for a fee.
When you assemble the crib, be sure you screw all the hardware tightly in place. Place the mattress at the highest level so it will be easy for you to place your newborn in it and take her out. As your baby grows, lower the mattress so she can't get out on her own.
Make sure that the crib isn't in front of a window or a wall decoration that a baby could grab onto. Keep the crib away from draperies that have pull tabs or cords, and lamps with cords.
Okay, you've had your chance to buy and assemble a crib -- here is what can go in it: the mattress with a mattress protector and a fitted crib sheet, and your baby. That's it! Toys, stuffed animals, pillows, and bumpers are all suffocation hazards, and the only kind of blanket permitted is a wearable one that zips or snaps up. Unfortunately, most traditional bedding sets include bumpers, but there is no safe time to use them; fortunately, it's getting easier to buy fitted crib sheets individually, or bedding sets that don't have a bumper. By the time your toddler is big enough to ask for his teddy or want to snuggle on a pillow, he'll be old enough and it will be safe!