Picturing your baby’s crib in the nursery is an exciting thing expecting parents do. You see the adorable bedding surrounding your sleeping baby—the matching sheets, blankets, bumper, and mobile that will lull your newborn to sleep.

Believe it or not, there are quite a few decisions to make surrounding this seemingly simple piece of furniture. These decisions include the type of crib, the inner and outer workings of the mattress, the bumper and bedding sets. Read on to learn more about these pieces so you can make the best decision possible for your baby.

Baby Crib

Many cribs sold today are convertible, meaning you will be able to use them for years. Here’s how that works at different developmental stages.

For Newborns

The mattress is at the highest setting as your baby can’t sit up on their own yet. This also makes it easier to put your baby in and take them out. As they get stronger and can roll over, sit up, pull themselves up, and eventually stand, you can lower the mattress so your baby stays safe.

Younger Kids

When your child is ready for a “big” bed, many cribs convert to a toddler or a daybed. The mattress stays at the lowest setting but the front rail is removed for them to easily get in and out of. From there, the toddler bed can have the sides removed and transition into a full-size bed. Note that some models have a conversion kit that is sold separately for all the transitions.

Crib Regulations

In 2011, baby crib regulations were updated. If the crib you’re considering was built after that time, it should be current with safety standards. Those are:

  • The space between the slats should be no wider than 2 3/8 inches
  • The crib sides should be at least 26” higher than the mattress
  • There should be no dropping sides.

Using a crib’s model number, you can check for recalls from the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) site.

Baby Mattress

You may think choosing a mattress for your crib will be a quick decision but the only thing you won’t have to consider is the size because they’re all a standard size.

The Inside

  • Innerspring Coil Mattress: the center layer of this mattress is made up of metal coils. Border rods are essential to prevent the mattress from drooping.
  • Foam Mattress: these mattresses are comprised of the common foam, polyurethane–the heavier and denser, the better.
  • Dual Sided: one side is more firm for infants while the other side has a bit more cushion for a toddler. This is ideal for a convertible crib and will last longer.

The Outside

This part of the mattress is fully encased in either fabric or vinyl.

  • Fabric: Pro–can easily breathe, Con–easily damaged (rip, tear)
  • Vinyl: Pro–easy to clean, Con–not as breathable (although many come with ventilation holes)
  • Keeping all of this in mind, you’ll need to choose within your budget.

Crib Bedding Sets

The most important thing to focus on is that the fitted crib sheet fits tightly around the mattress. After that, your decisions come down to preference.
Bedding sets are for you to decide on, making the nursery for your baby unique. You get to choose any color scheme you want—from hues of pink or blue, or neutrals including tan, grays, soft greens, and yellows. There is a multitude of designs, patterns, and images to choose from.

These sets can be as simple as a fitted crib mattress sheet, quilt, and crib skirt. They can be as comprehensive as everything you could want for your nursery–pillows, mobiles, stuffed animals, wall art, rugs, valances, curtains, changing table covers, storage baskets, wall decals, light switch plates, lamps, other lighting, rail covers, and bumpers.

A decision many parents face is whether to choose non-organic or organic cotton sheet sets. Organic cotton is grown without pesticides. It also comes with a price tag of up to twice the cost of regular cotton sheets. Often this decision comes down to cost.

Baby Crib Bumpers

Many crib bedding sets have a cute, matching bumper to make it look comfortable and cozy for a baby. Originally, bumpers had a dual purpose. They were intended to protect the baby’s head when they’re moving around in their sleep and to prevent their arms or legs from getting stuck between the slats.

However, it’s now discouraged to use a bumper in your baby’s crib. One of the reasons is that due to being made of non-breathable materials there are suffocation hazards. Even the crib “liners” that are made of breathable material are discouraged because the baby can get tangled, or even strangled, with the ties that keep the bumper to the crib. Also, when the baby is strong enough and starts climbing around, they can use the bumper as a “step” and be closer to crawling out of the crib.

Your baby’s safety is the most important thing, so it’s best to steer away from using a bumper in their crib.

Enjoy the Process

Your baby has already taken over your world and they aren’t even here yet. Safety will be a top priority when making your baby crib purchases. Despite the numerous decisions to make, do your best to have fun and enjoy this time!

Once all of these fun choices are made and you’re ready, you can start your journey choosing the right child care professional for your family.

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