Types Of Cribs | A Complete Guide

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About a month ago, I removed the side rail from Mia’s crib.

She’s growing up so fast (sigh)…

We’ve gone from Stage 1 to Stage 2, so it now functions as a toddler bed.

On the down side, it means she can get out when she wants which sometimes makes it harder to put her to bed at night if she’s a bit restless!

We’ve been happy with our choice of crib. It’s a Jungle Friends Cot Bed from Babies ‘R’ Us (which I don’t think you can buy now – unless you purchase it second hand).  It was easy to put together, it’s strong and sturdy and it will last a long time.

Need a crib for your baby's nursery? Check out this detailed guide on all the types of cribs, so you can see what is right for you and your family.

This blog post will (hopefully) contain all the information you need about cribs, the different types, some alternatives and some useful FAQs you may have about buying one.

History of baby cribs

Ever since parents started having children, they have looked for a safe place where their child can rest and sleep.

From the 1600s to the 1800s, it wasn’t uncommon for children to sleep in pine rockers or in hollowed-out logs, as these were affordable, easy to make, and provided a safe place for a sleeping child.

It wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th century that parents started elevating their cribs to keep children off of the cold ground. Wicker cribs where incredibly common at this point in time, although they weren’t considered to be the most comfortable option.

Iron cribs were considered a better choice because they were seen as more sanitary. Unfortunately, they were often coated with lead paint, which is toxic.

After Eleanor Roosevelt allowed her child to nap in a chicken wire cage from her window, baby cages had a boom in popularity. It was still another 30 years until cribs started to look like the modern cribs that people use now.

Thanks to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission creating crib safety standards in 1973, cribs became much safer and the designs started to become more streamlined.

Other notable events in the history of baby cribs include the creation of the Graco Pack N’ Play in 1987 and the first convertible crib in the late 1990s.

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 pros and cons.

Standard cribs have long been very common and can be very plain or intricate. While they used to have drop sides in the past, they now feature fixed sides, which are much safer for children.

Mini Cribs

Mini cribs look like standard cribs, but 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.

The Delta Children Folding Portable Mini Baby Crib is very affordable, easy to assemble and comes with a mattress.

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Travel Cribs

Portable 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 that they can be pushed from one location in the home to another without having to be carried.

The BABYBJORN Travel Crib is a great option if you want something portable if you’re often away from home with your little one. It can be used until the age of 3, it’s easy to put together and only weighs 13lbs.

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Cribs With Changing Tables

Crib and changer combos became popular recently as parents 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.

They’re a bit more bulky, but they’re very useful for convenient storage and accessibility.

If you like the all-on-one option of a changing table and crib, take a look at the Dream On Me Jayden 4 in 1 Crib. It comes in 3 colours; black, cherry or espresso, it’s fairly easy to assemble and it can be converted into a toddler bed.

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Convertible Cribs    

The last option that parents can choose is the convertible crib. 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.

The Storkcraft Tuscany 4 in 1 Convertible Crib is a great option if you want versatility and something that you can use for a long time. You can use it as a crib, toddler bed and even as a full-size bed.

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Pros of convertible cribs

There are a lot of things to love about convertible cribs.

The most obvious reason is that a family who buys one 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.

Cons of convertible cribs

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 look a bit worn over time 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. 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?

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.

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 or 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.

Alternatives to cribs - cradles and moses baskets


How many crib sheets do I need?

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.

What to hang over the crib?

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.

When to remove crib bumpers?

Crib bumpers are designed to keep a child from injuring themselves when they roll over and move around in the crib, but do need to be removed after a short while.

As soon as a baby starts to pull on the bumpers, then they need to be taken out of the crib so that the child can’t pull them down over their face. They also need to be removed before a baby is pulling up so that they can’t use them as a step to climb out of the crib.

Parents who have particularly active children may want to remove their bumpers earlier, as bumpers can raise the risk of suffocation when a child rolls over and places their face against the bumper. Removing them before the child is too mobile is a good idea and will reduce the risk of this occurring.

Can I put blankets and stuffed animals in the crib?

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, at least for the first few months.

Warm PJs or a sleep sack are the best options for keeping a baby warm and comfortable during the night.

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Author: Dad Racket

Graham runs the place around here. He likes making a "little noise" about all things to do with tennis and parenting. Check out his about page to learn more.

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