With your new bundle of joy on the way, you’ll probably be rocking out a cool nursery theme soon! (Low maintenance solid colors are totally a theme). Whether you go full geek like these cool Harry Potter, Star Wars, or Mario Brothers nurseries or keep things low key, subtle, and classic, your baby needs a place to sleep. When you walk into a baby store to start shopping, you will be astounded by the number of crib styles and crib mattresses available. Our goal is to help you make some sense of things and pick the right bed for your baby!
Step 1: Location, location, location.
Where will your baby sleep? In a crib in the nursery, a crib in your room, a bassinet or cradle, or even in bed with you? These are all valid options and you can decide the option that works best for you and your family. It may be easier in the early days to have the baby in the same room as you, especially for nursing moms.
Step 2: Select your crib.
Start with the crib, mini-crib, cradle, or bassinet you’ll use. Most children will use their crib and mattress for two to four years, so spend some time selecting one that is sturdy and solid. It needs to stand up to jumping, kicking toddlers and occasional escape attempts as your child grows up and explores. Standard crib size is about 54 inches long by 30 inches wide and will fit most crib mattresses.
What to avoid: Drop-side cribs (these were recalled for safety concerns) or cribs with openings between the slats wider than 2 ⅜” (the ASTM standard to prevent babies’ heads from being caught in the gaps). If you are buying or accepting a gift of a handmade or secondhand crib mattress, check all of the current safety recommendations to ensure you’re getting a safe crib.
Bonus features: Some cool features to watch for include a crib that transitions to a toddler bed or a crib that allows you to adjust the height of the mattress. Both of these features will help you extend the useful life of your crib before your child outgrows it!
Step 3: Select your mattress.
Crib mattresses are typically made with a steel innerspring or foam core for support. The number one priority for selecting a safer crib mattress is to get one with a firm, flat surface. The mattress should not sag or be soft/mushy when you put weight on it. When it comes to choosing a baby product, the mattress is one of the most important things to research and make an educated decision about, because your child can spend up to sixteen hours per day on their mattress!
The materials used in the mattress really matter. That’s why we recommend a company like Naturepedic organic crib mattresses, which are made without questionable chemicals. The lightweight models have a patented core made without polyurethane foam or flame retardants. They’re all made with organic cotton and the waterproof crib mattresses have a patented food-grade waterproof surface, made without yucky chemicals that off-gas VOCs into your baby’s space. We also love Lullaby Earth, which isn’t an organic brand but has the same commitment to making a safer crib mattress without hazardous chemicals.
Make sure your crib mattress fits snugly into the crib, so there are no gaps between the mattress and the crib where your baby’s arms or legs might get stuck. Sturdy mattress edges also help to keep arms and legs inside the crib when your toddler starts to get bouncy!
Step 4: Decide on bedding.
Babies should have very limited bedding: a snug fitted sheet, the end! Soft bedding, blankets, pillows, and stuffed toys are dangerous to keep in a crib. You can use a mattress pad beneath the sheet if necessary (such as a breathable pad or waterproof pad) but no soft bedding is allowed in the crib. Bumpers are also not a safe option for cribs as the baby can become tangled in them and they may pose a suffocation risk. But make sure you do pick a fun theme!
Step 5: Other safety considerations
Now that your baby’s bed is all set up, make sure the rest of their room is set up for safety too! Do not place the crib near a window, air conditioning unit, or heater. Keep wall hangings like photos, shelves, and curtains away from the crib, so your baby can’t accidentally pull them into the crib where they will pose a hazard. Keep an eye out for splintered wood and loose screws or nails that might snag clothing or skin.
Ready to shop?
We love to see cute nurseries, so share a pic of your own crib setup on our Facebook page! Let us know if you have any more questions about choosing a crib or mattress for your little one.