Best Baby Crib
After researching and reviewing 87 different crib brands, we pick the Union 2-in-1 crib, sold online and made by Davinci) part of Million Dollar Baby’s empire) as the Best Baby Crib (full-size).
Scroll down for our picks for Best Budget-Friendly Cribs, Best Crib for City Dwellers and Best Eco Baby Crib.
New to crib shopping? Read our 7 Things No One Tells You About Buying a Baby Crib for advice and tips.
The basic crib is made of New Zealand pine and style-wise echoes the simple IKEA Guillver crib.
Fans of this crib love the easy assembly and metal spring mattress support. The value, of course, goes without saying—especially with most other cribs running 200 to 300 bucks or more.
As for drawbacks, the crib isn’t convertible. It used to be called the 3-in-1 because it converted to a toddler bed with rail (the rail was sold separately for ). They still sell the rails but they aren’t available in all the colors in the line. Hence DaVinci felt it was not quite kosher to refer to the crib as a 3-in-1. If you get one of their unusual colors, like Lagoon blue, you won’t be able to find a matching toddler rail. But for a typical color like white, toddler rails are available.
FYI: If you really want a convertible crib, the DaVinci Kalani might be a better bet as it has a headboard that is higher than the footboard.
Another negative: the Union crib has exposed screws and screw holes. That doesn’t compromise safety; it’s just an aesthetic issue. More expensive cribs hide this hardware, but that is the trade-off to get the price so low.
A final drawback: this crib is made from New Zealand pine, which is soft and can easily scratch. Hence, take great care when unpacking and assembling this crib. Even rubbing a buckle against the crib rail will scratch it (when you lean into the crib to pick up baby, for example).
Also: if your teething baby decides to munch on the crib rail, the finish will most likely come off. It isn’t a health hazard (the paint is non-toxic), but this has alarmed more than a few parents. (If teething is an issue, you can use a cloth rail cover).
We realize a chewed-on crib doesn’t look perfect, but having a baby in your house means everything will now be scratched, scuffed and chewed on—your crib will simply match the rest of your furniture. (“You can either have children or nice stuff!”—Dennis Miller).
FYI: The Union crib comes in five finishes, including blue (lagoon) and natural, which is unusual at this price point. Typically, affordable cribs are offered in only one or two colors. The caveat to this is that we’ve noticed that some finishes are more popular than others and may run out at times. So if you have your heart set on a particular finish and see it in stock, we wouldn’t wait to order it.
Best Crib For City Dwellers (and those with little space)
Best Crib For City Dwellers (and those with little space). If you live in the city, space may be at a premium. We have a solution here, albeit with caveats.
Our best pick for cribs for city dwellers is the Stokke Sleepi. Norwegian juvenile gear maker Stokke pitches its oval crib as a “system” that grows with your child: the Sleepi morphs from a bassinet to a crib, then a toddler bed and finally two chairs. You can buy just the crib without the toddler bed conversion kit.
The Sleepi’s oval shape and wheels makes it easier to move through narrow doors. The Sleepi is 29” wide; standard full-size cribs are 30” and more. That may not sound like much, but it can make the difference between fitting in a doorway or not. Plus few cribs come with wheels these days, as the Stokke does.
Also: you can use the Sleepi in bassinet mode for up to six months. The bassinet mode takes up just 26” in width.
And the bassinet’s simple style wins fans for its minimalist aesthetic.
We also noted that Stokke has struggled with quality control issues in recent years, as expressed by our readers as well as customer reviews posted online. As a result, we gave them an overall grade of B-.
If the price and concerns about the Stokke Sleepi have you wishing for another alternative, consider plan B: a portable crib.
About 10% of all cribs sold in North America are these cribs, sometimes called portable cribs, mini cribs, folding cribs and so on.
As you can guess from the name, these cribs are narrower in both width (25” width versus 30” or more for full-size cribs) and length (about 39” vs 52”).
Our top pick for portable crib is the Babyletto’s Origami Mini Crib. This simple crib folds away when not in use and comes with wheels to move it about a small apartment or condo. (Using the wheels is optional). Overall, we found the construction quality to be above average for this crib. The downside to the Babyletto Origami Mini Crib? Well, it does take a while to assemble (a few users complained it was over an hour).
And the crib only comes with a one-inch pad; you can replace this with standard mini crib mattress from BabyLetto. FYI: never use more than one mattress or pad in a portable crib; it is always best to use the mattress pad supplied by the manufacturer or an approved alternative from the same crib maker.
Here’s the biggest drawback to the Origami mini crib—and it’s the same drawback that affects nearly ALL mini crib: babies often outgrow them before they are old enough to go into a toddler or big kid bed. Babyletto says the Origami crib can’t be used “when a child begins to climb.” Well, a typical child will hit that milestone around six to ten months when they can pull themselves up to a standing position. Some mini cribs (but not all) have lower rails than a standard size crib—and that makes climbing out easy for infants under a year old. Hence, mini cribs are more like bassinet replacements.
Keep in mind that most babies will use a crib for two or three years (and sometimes up to age four). And a crib is the safest place for babies to sleep. Yes, there are stories floating around out there that a small baby can make it in a mini crib to age 3, but that is the exception. So what happens when your baby outgrows a mini crib before their first birthday? Well, then you have to move to a full-size crib. Hence, you can use a mini crib as a bridge until you have more room in your apartment or condo . . . or you find living accommodations with more space! Bottom line: a mini crib can make do for a while, but you’ll be finding yourself purchasing a full-size crib as your baby nears one year of age.
Best Eco-Friendly Baby Crib. Karla DuBois’s OSLO crib is our pick for top eco friendly crib. This crib ticks all the boxes for our eco-friendly pick: GREENGUARD GOLD certified and made by an established nursery furniture company with a good quality track record.
Karla DuBois is part of the Baby Appleseed family of nursery furniture brands. The company’s mojo is to combine eco-friendliness and elegant design. The eco-pitch: when you buy one of their cribs, the company will plant ten trees in your baby’s name, thanks to a partnership with the non-profit American Forests.
GREENGUARD GOLD is an independent third-party certification that the nursery furniture item is low-emission—that is, emission of volatile compounds (VOC’s) which can contribute to bad indoor air quality. The OSLO is made of American poplar wood, which is more durable than pine (commonly seen in cheaper cribs). We consider poplar wood to be sustainable—and since it is harvested in the U.S., this process must meet American environmental standards.
So what’s not to like? Well, the OSLO just converts into a toddler and day bed—it doesn’t convert into a full-size bed for older kiddos. And the toddler rail us extra.
So now you’ve spent a pretty hefty sum on a crib that doesn’t convert to a regular bed. And Karla Dubois doesn’t have lots of accessories available—just three dresser configurations. The colors of the OSLO are also limited—five finishes are available as of this writing. Despite these drawbacks, we think the Karla DuBois’s OSLO crib is the best eco-friendly crib option out there today!
Best High-Style Crib. Ubabub’s Pod crib is a futuristic show stopper—yes, it’s insanely expensive but wins our pick for best high style crib with its curved wood panels and acrylic sides with funky cut-outs. The detail and craftsmanship on this crib is something to behold.
The Pod comes with a custom-fitted mattress and the conversion kit to turn into a toddler bed that looks like something out of a movie set in 2093.
Distributed in the US by the Million Dollar Baby family of nursery brands, Ubabub (pronounced “uber-bub”) is actually based in Australia and sells its goods in both Oz and New Zealand. Ubabub has a good reputation for quality and a solid track record for safety.
Best Travel/Portable Baby Crib. After evaluating and testing 17 portable baby cribs, we pick the BabyBjorn’s Travel Crib Light for Best Travel/Portable Baby Crib. While not the cheapest option out there, we judged this ultra-light play yard (which folds up like an umbrella and fits in a small carry case) to be worth the investment.
Parent feedback has been universally positive. At 11 pounds, it is half the weight of a standard Graco Pack N Play.
The Travel Crib Light (13 lbs.) has breathable mesh sides with exterior metal poles and comes with an organic fitted sheet and mattress. The top edge includes a padded cover and it folds into a 19” x 23.5” x 5.5” bag. You’ll note that the shape is rather different from a traditional play yard and it uses poles like you’d see on a camping tent. Here are some photos of the folding system used by the Travel Crib Light:
Overall, readers like the Travel Crib Light. Fans love the easy set up and break down, and note that the fabric is nicer than other similar travel cribs. The mattress is pretty thick for a travel crib and the light weight makes it easy to lug around.
The only complaints: short parents may have a tougher time lowering baby into the crib and the exterior poles jut out at an angle, creating a tripping hazard. Yes, it is pricey, but if you plan to travel frequently with your baby it may be worth the expense.
- Best Crib for Short Parents. If you are under 5’5”, you may find reaching into a standard-size stationary crib challenging. Since most cribs sit a foot or two off the floor and drop-side cribs were phased out in 2011, shorter parents may find it difficult putting baby in a standard crib when the mattress in its lowest position.
For those parents, a lower profile crib may be just the ticket. A good bet: babyletto’s Hudson 3-in-1 crib is made from New Zealand pine and is relatively affordable. At only 34” tall, the Hudson sits low to the ground making it much easier to put baby in and out of the crib.
The Hudson is available in nine colors including two-tone options that gives it a modern spin.
We like the Hundson’s GREENGUARD Gold certification that means the crib is low in VOC emission, as well as the four mattress levels.
While Babyletto touts the Hudson’s “3-in-1” conversion feature, the Hudson only converts into a toddler bed (the toddler rail is included, which is a nice touch). Hence, the Hudson doesn’t convert into a full-size bed for older kids.
Best Crib for Grandma’s House. The best crib for grandparents must be easy to set up and take down.
We suggest one of two options here: a portable crib like the Dream On Me 2 in 1 Portable Folding Stationary Side Crib hits all the right notes—affordable, easy to assemble, and folds away for storage.
The biggest drawback: the Dream on Me crib is actually a mini crib that is only 38” long (versus 52” for a full-size crib). That means babies older than one year of age or larger infants may outgrow this crib before they are old enough to sleep in a toddler bed. One solution: go for one of our travel crib picks.
(FYI: Babies typically stay in a crib to age three or later. Once a child regularly climbs out of a crib, it is time for a big kid bed.)
Hence the key issue with any mini crib is safety—older babies (younger toddlers) can easily escape a mini crib. Not so easily in a full-size crib.
Therefore, our second option here is a full-size crib that is easily to assemble. Yes, such cribs do exist. Our pick for this would be the Delta Canton crib —Delta includes all the tools (allen wrench) to make assembly easy.
Why Trust Us
We evaluated cribs with hands on inspections, checking for quality and durability. We look for easy-to-follow instructions as well. We also gather significant reader feedback, tracking cribs on quality and durability. Besides interviewing parents, we also talk with furniture experts with years of experience with wood furniture.
We’ve been rating and reviewing cribs since 1994. During that time, we have also visited manufacturer facilities and watched cribs during testing. While we don’t personally test cribs, we compare our reader feedback with tests done by organizations like the Greenguard and Consumer Reports.
How we picked a winner
We evaluate cribs with in-depth inspections, checking models for overall quality and ease of use—for example, adjusting the mattress height. We analyze both the wood products used to construct cribs as well as the hardware. We also gather significant reader feedback (our book, Baby Bargains has over 1 million copies in print), on long term quality and durability.
Besides interviewing parents, we also regularly talk with retailers of nursery furniture to see which brands are most trustworthy and other key quality metrics. The reliability of nursery furniture companies is another key factor—we meet with key company executives at least once a year and occasionally visit factories as well (on our dime, by the way). Since we’ve been doing this since 1994, we have developed detailed profiles of major crib brands that help guide our recommendations.
7 Things No One Tells You About Buying A Crib!
1. Whether they cost $70 or $700, all cribs sold in the U.S. and Canada meet mandatory safety rules.
Yes, you read that right—that crib for under $100 is just as safe as the European import designer model from a fancy boutique that runs $2000.
Do cheap cribs have dangerous designs? No. Long gone are the days when you had to measure slats to make sure they were the correct distance. If a crib is sold in a major store or reputable online site, you can rest assured it meets current safety standards. Unlike other baby gear, safety standards for cribs are mandatory in the US and Canada.
That said, we would suggest buying from an established brand name (our site BabyBargains.com reviews and rates 50 crib brands). Yes, some dark corners of the web sell cribs from obscure brands with little or no history in the U.S. The concern here is whether you’d be able to contact them to buy replacement parts. Or how would they handle a safety recall?
2. Almost all cribs sold today are imported from Asia. Yes, even those with Italian-sounding names.
China and Vietnam are the two biggest exporters of cribs to North America. In fact, we’d estimate that 97% of the cribs sold in the U.S. are imported from Asia. The rest are imported from Eastern Europe (Latvia, Romania) with a smattering from Italy and Canada. And yes, there is a company or two left in the U.S. that makes cribs domestically (El Greco).
We realize some parents are concerned about products from China, which has suffered various product safety scandals. For those folks, we recommend a crib made in North America. Fair warning: this will cost you much more than an imported crib.
3. Cribs are sold a la carte. And require assembly.
When you shop for cribs, you often will find pictures like this:
But when you buy a crib, what you get is actually this:
Yep, that is it. Crib mattress? Extra. Sheets? Extra. Fancy bedding decor? Extra. You get the picture.
Obviously, some of these are required (mattress) and most are optional (besides sheets, just about everything else). And those extras (crib mattresses) can sometimes cost more than the crib itself. Just a heads up as you plan that nursery room budget!
4. Size matters.
Not the size of the crib, but the size of your baby’s bedroom. Full-size cribs are all the same size: about 29” wide and 53” long. That’s the INTERIOR dimension of the crib. Cribs with fancy headboards or curved sides can be several inches wider/longer.
Fitting a full-size crib into a tiny secondary bedroom (or urban condo) can sometimes be a challenge. We recommend some options for those who are space-challenged above.
And remember that the crib is just the start of your nursery furniture saga—most nurseries also have a dresser to store clothes. And perhaps a place to sit and nurse baby. Later you might want a desk and chair. Plan out space considerations before shopping.
Where the baby’s crib should go in a nursery is another factor. The safest place for a crib is away from any heating or cooling source (ducts, radiators, etc). And you’ll want to keep baby’s crib away from windows and window coverings/blinds (cords are a strangulation hazard). Got a baby monitor as a gift? Keep the cord at least three feet from the crib.
We should note that not all cribs are your standard rectangle. There are some funky cribs out there—round cribs, for example:
But remember this equation: more funky = more money. A round crib needs a special round mattress, round bedding, and so on . . . at prices typically much more than standard size crib accessories.
5. To convert? Or not to convert?
Full-size cribs today come in two basic flavors: convertible cribs or not convertible.
Non-convertible cribs (we call them basic cribs) are just, well, cribs. They don’t morph into other piece of furniture. As such, they are typically less expensive than convertible cribs.
As the name implies, convertible cribs . . . well, convert into several different stages as your child grows. Many “4-in-1” cribs are first cribs, then toddler beds (with a toddler rail replacing one side), “day beds” (no toddler rail) and then full-size beds. The different configurations look like this:
In the latter use, the headboard of the crib becomes the headboard of a child’s full-size bed. In order to do all this presto-change, you need (you guessed it) an extra “conversion kit” which includes bed rails to make a full-size bed, connecting the headboard and footboard. These kits range from $100 to $200 extra. And convertible cribs are more pricey than basic cribs—convertibles start around $250 and can easily soar into the $500’s.
You could argue that even with this extra expense, you would save money in the long run because you are not buying a separate bed when a child outgrows a crib. But basic (non-convertible) cribs start around $100 and you can buy a twin bed for under two hundred bucks.
The take home message: convertible cribs aren’t really money savers, but more of a choice in aesthetics.
Confusingly, there are several variations on convertible cribs. Some manufactures say they are “convertible” when all they mean is you can take the side rail off and then have a toddler bed. Doh! That doesn’t count as convertible in our book. On the other hand, some crib makers include a toddler rail for free (the rail keeps a toddler from rolling out of the crib once the side rail is removed).
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to whether to buy a basic or convertible crib. Some considerations: if space is tight, remember that using a standard crib and then buying a twin size bed may make much more sense than a convertible that morphs into a full size bed (full size beds are 15” wider than a twin).
Think about how the crib will look when converted. Is the headboard higher than the footboard? Most folks think that looks better than converted cribs where the headboard and footboard are similar in height, which is more common in lower price convertible cribs. Your choice, of course!
Some convertible cribs (like the affordable and popular Fisher-Price models) don’t require special conversion kits or rails—you can use standard bed frames like this:
These rails are around 50 bucks . If you plan to have more than one child, it might make sense to buy an affordable basic crib you can re-use from child to child. Then as each one outgrows the crib, you can move then into a twin bed (headboard or footboard optional, of course).
6. It may take 14 weeks to special order that fancy crib. Yes, we said 14 weeks. Not days. Weeks.
There are three basic places to buy a crib: online, chain stores and specialty boutiques. Most online sites deliver in about a week.
Chain stores stock many cribs, while some styles require two to four week lead times (to ship in from a distribution center).
Specialty boutiques, however, are a mixed bag. Some do stock cribs for immediate purchase. Most, however, require you to special order. And that is where the 14 week wait can come in.
Most specialty stores carry upper-end crib brands that cost $500 to $1500. Some of these brands require a wait of 8-12 weeks for delivery, with a few up to 14 weeks. And sometimes deliveries can be delayed (port strike? earthquake? Chinese new year?), causing your furniture to go on back order for, say, 20 weeks. Plan accordingly!
7. Say no to . . . .
. . . used or hand-me-down cribs. Buy a brand-new crib to make sure it meets current standards. The picture below is an example of an antique iron baby crib. Does it meet current safety standard? Absolutely not.
Crib safety standards have changed over the years—not more than a few years ago, cribs had drop-sides which were implicated in safety issues (sides detached, resulting in injuries and in some cases, death). These cribs were outlawed in 2011.
We know well-meaning family members want to help you by dusting off that family heirloom your grandfather used in the “old days.” Or a friend has a crib in the attic from 1998 they are dying to
pawn off graciously give you.
Just say no—even a late-model crib can be dangerous if it is missing hardware or instructions. Buying new insures your crib meets current safety standards and has all its parts.