Even if you use a bassinet or cradle for the first few months after baby's born, you'll need to upgrade to a crib eventually. Buying your baby's crib is an investment no parent should take lightly. There are several questions to consider. How safe is the crib? How durable? How much does it cost?
Investing in a new crib is so important because safety standards are constantly being updated. There was a time when babies slept in their parents' beds, on their stomachs, wrapped in a blanket. Today, this is not advisable due to the high risk of suffocation. If you must use an older crib, avoid those built before 2000, about a year after the latest voluntary standards for slat-attachment strength were implemented.
Most standard cribs on the market today are built to meet or exceed the minimum
safety standards. Baby cribs come with fixed, single-drop or double-drop sides.
Standard cribs generally come with an adjustable mattress height mechanism and a ‘drop' side. Both features become increasingly important as your baby grows taller and heavier. Drop sides also make it much easier to lift baby out of the crib, especially for taller parents. As soon as your baby is able to pull up, at around 6-8 months, you will need to position the mattress at its lowest level to prevent him or her from climbing out of the crib. At least one drop side is handy if your crib doubles as a changing station. Baby cribs with double drop sides are suitable if the nursery is big enough that the crib isn't against a wall. Most drop sides work by pressing your knee against the side of the crib.
Parents may choose a crib that will convert into a toddler bed for its longevity, especially if they do not plan on having more children in the near future. Convertible cribs convert into a toddler bed, then into a “big kid” bed and sometimes, even into a day bed/full-size bed/chairs!
Many convertible cribs can be switched to a "big girl" or "big boy" bed simply by removing one drop side. Some parents feel their toddlers have an easier time adjusting to the crib-to-bed transition with a convertible crib. To convert some cribs, you may need to buy additional parts, such as bed rails, stabilizing rails, or support rails, for converting to a full-size bed.
Families are much more mobile today, so portable cribs are becoming an increasingly popular choice. These cribs are smaller and lighter than standard cribs and generally have casters for easy portability. Some portable cribs only fold in half, while others feature a handle and wheels. The portable crib you choose should be light enough for you to handle it comfortably. Only use the mattress provided by the manufacturer.
Important note: Portable cribs are not required to meet the same safety standards as standard baby cribs.
(Information compiled from consumerreports.org, babyproducts.about.com)
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