Any parent will tell you that on the mile-long list of baby gear essentials, a crib is one of the most important items you can buy (of course, that’s not to discount the value of baby swaddles, blackout curtains and sound machines). Whether you have a newborn or a toddler, sleep is precious to you and your child. And, a crib is not only the safest option for your baby’s sleep, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, but it’s the foundational building block of a healthy and sustainable routine for you and your family.
Per certified pediatric sleep consultant Kelly Murray, “Sleep is important for a baby’s cognitive development, emotional regulation, immunity and even physical growth.” Plus, if that baby’s caretakers aren’t getting adequate sleep, the physical and mental health, as well as the happiness and stability of the entire household, can be thrown off.
But like most things baby-related, the search for the perfect crib can feel, well, overwhelming. As incredible as it is to parent in a time of immense variety, there is such a thing as too many options to choose from. As Cassie Shortsleeve, a mom of two, perinatal health coach, founder of Dear Sunday Motherhood and co-founder of The Chamber of Mothers puts it, “There’s no such thing as the [overall] best crib. The best crib is the crib that works best for you and your family. It creates a safe sleeping space for your child and meets their needs as well as yours as a family while also, hopefully, making your life a little easier.”
Shortsleeve went on to tell Forbes, “In the prenatal quest to decorate a nursery, we tend to choose cribs based on what they look like, overlooking other more important features. It took having two kids for me to realize that functional aspects of a crib—a convertible crib that could someday be a toddler bed, a travel crib with netted sides to guard against lost pacifiers, cribs with storage options—aren’t always the ones we’re initially drawn to.” She added, “There’s nothing wrong with a stylish crib; I just always urge parents to also consider utility and timeline.” In short: To find the best crib for your baby (and you), you’ll want to look at special features, the size of your space and of course, safety certifications of the product.
With all this in mind, it’s clear that there’s much to consider when determining which crib is right for your growing family. And since your free time is about to become more valuable than ever, we’ve done all the research for you. Based on expert advice and the experience of actual parents and caretakers, we’ve rounded up the best cribs on the market. For those who are new to the whole baby thing, be sure to take a look at the end of this list for more info and FAQs on finding the ideal sleep solution for your household.
Best Crib Overall
A Versatile, Well-Constructed Sleep Space For Baby
Best Travel Crib
Smart Details Ensure Your Baby Will Sleep Well Away From Home
Best Crib For Small Spaces
A Petite, Cozy And Convenient Bed For Baby
Best Crib With Storage
A Good-Looking Combo Crib With Extra Space To Stash Supplies
Best Smart Crib
Soothe Baby To Better Sleep With This Tech-y Bassinet
Best Crib With Changing Table
No Need For A Separate Changer With This Practical Crib
Best Budget-Friendly Crib
A Wallet-Friendly Crib That Checks The Important Boxes
Best Crib for Twins
This Low-Cost, Portable Crib Is Ideal For Families Of Multiples
What To Consider When Buying A Crib
From size to convertibility to safety certifications, there’s a lot to think about when choosing the best crib for your family. Consider the following factors to help you narrow down decide.
Cribs are available in several different sizes, from convenient minis to larger convertible models. You need to think about what works for your home. “Consider the size of your space and whether you’ll be room-sharing with your new baby,” says Murray. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends having your baby sleep in the same room with you for the first six months, and Murray advises that “some parents may use a bassinet at first and then move their infant to a full-size crib in a different room, or they may opt to use a mini version that can be rolled between rooms.”
Some cribs can be converted into toddler beds (others also morph into twin-size beds) so they can be used for more than just the first few years of a child’s life. This can be a convenient and cost-effective option for parents who don’t want to pick out another piece of furniture once their child is ready to move out of the crib.
If you want a convertible crib, check whether the model you choose comes with conversion parts or if you need to purchase a conversion kit separately. If the kit is separate, it’s a smart idea to pick it up when you buy your crib (instead of waiting until you need it) in case your crib model is discontinued.
Safety is the most important factor to consider when choosing a crib. All cribs sold in the United States must be compliant with regulations as laid out by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which focuses on the structural safety of a crib. Other seals to look for include the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association (JPMA) certification, which means the crib has met the highest safety requirements as determined by a third party. When it comes to materials, a crib that’s Greenguard Gold–Certified has been tested to possess negligibly low amounts of volatile organic compounds, meaning there is a low risk of pollution and chemical exposure.
Consider other features that might make your life a little easier. Some cribs offer built-in drawers for added storage, which is great for organization but can make them bulkier and larger. Some smaller cribs are on wheels so that they’re easier to move around the house, making it a breeze to get your sleeping baby from one room to the next. Built-in changing tables simplify middle-of-the-night changes and foldable cribs can be a great way to save on storage space.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cribs
Do You Need A Crib?
Simply put: Yes. Even if you intend to co-sleep, a crib is essential in creating the right resting environment for your baby. When choosing a crib, consider whether your child will be sleeping in their own room or in your bedroom. Will your child have a dedicated sleep space, or will the crib will need to be moved on occasion? Because a crib is often an investment piece, you should also factor in if you intend to have more children or if you’d like the crib to convert into a toddler bed and eventually a twin- or day-bed.
Is A Crib Safe For A Newborn?
Yes, cribs are safe for newborn use. Bu t’s important to remember that there should not be anything in the crib other than the mattress and fitted sheet. Until your baby can roll over, they may enjoy a swaddle. Some parents opt for sleep sacks until their child is old enough for a pillow and blanket (this happens around 2 years of age, but be sure to consult your pediatrician).
What Should I Look For In A Crib?
Just like purchasing an investment piece of furniture such as a bed or couch, there are a number of things to consider when buying a crib. For one, will your child have their own room or share with you or a sibling? This will determine whether you invest in a standard size crib (usually 28 x 52 inches) or a mini one, like the Babyletto model. Construction, material, aesthetics and convertible features are also important factors.
It’s certainly worth investigating how difficult assembly will be and if it’s Greenguard Gold–Certified. Greenguard Gold certification means the crib has been independently tested for over 10,000 chemicals and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). This ensures your family isn’t breathing in anything that’s harmful to their health.
It’s also a good idea to make sure that the crib slats are not far enough apart that your child could slip through and that the mattress doesn’t sag under their weight or have any extra space along the sides. Ideally, you’ll want a crib with an adjustable mattress frame so you can lower it as your child grows taller. Avoid crib bumpers, drop sides and cribs with embellishment that could snag on their clothing or cause injury. A crib should be sturdy, safe and, if it has wheels, please be sure they lock.
How Long Should My Child Sleep In A Crib?
Every child is different, so while some kids are ready for the freedom of a toddler bed at 18 months, others won’t be ready until they’re around 3. The idea is that once your child is able to climb out of the crib, it’s no longer safe for them. So, many families opt to transition to a toddler bed so their little one can get out at their leisure. The downside is that depending on temperament and maturity, your child may not be able to resist getting out of bed at all hours. As with many parenting decisions, you should talk to a pediatrician and do what feels best for you and your child.
What’s The Difference Between A Crib And A Playpen?
A crib is traditionally crafted from wood, acrylic or metal and is typically a stationary, long-term option for your child’s sleep. A playpen or travel crib, is better suited to on-the-go sleep at the grandparents’ house, for instance, or while traveling. Playpens can also be used in your household as safe playtime areas or for naps, but it’s a good idea to invest in a true crib for regular sleep.
Is A Crib Better Than A Bassinet?
While they fulfill the same need, a bassinet is best suited for newborns and infants up to six months old. Typically, they’re used for a minimum of three months and a maximum of six months of age, depending on the size and comfort of your child. A crib, however, can be used from day one of baby’s life up until they’re ready to transition to a toddler bed.
For some, that transition happens around 18 months, but most parents try to keep their little ones in a crib until they have the emotional maturity to understand when it’s playtime and when it’s time to sleep (that’s around 3 years old). That said, a bassinet is more of a temporary sleep solution and often is easier to have in a caretakers room, while a crib is an essential for much longer. It really depends on each family’s specific needs.
Is A Convertible Crib Worth It?
It depends. Since convertible cribs (those that become a toddler bed, day bed or twin bed when the need presents itself) are generally more expensive, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons. If you plan to have only one child or intend to space siblings apart by several years, a convertible crib is likely worth the investment. If you intend to have children only a year or two apart, it might make more sense to purchase a single crib and pass it down to your younger child once their elder sibling ages out of it.
Also consider whether you’ll want siblings to eventually use bunk beds or if you intend to redecorate down the road. While the long-term utility of a convertible crib is important to some families, a more short-term solution (like a traditional crib) might be a better choice for others. No matter what crib you choose for your infant, remember that as long as its safe and suitable for your family’s lifestyle and unique set of needs, it’s the right one for you.