Mid-May is the perfect time to hunt for an apartment or a temp job. ...
4-in-1 Convertible Cribs
One of the first and most important crib buying decisions is whether to opt for a traditional or convertible style. The advantage of a convertible crib, also known as a 4-in-1 crib, is its later use as a toddler bed, daybed, and full-size bed; cheap baby convertible cribs also come in 3-in-1 and 2-in-1 versions that provide one or two fewer options.
Despite the surging popularity of 4-in-1 cribs, parents still debate the relative merits of traditional versus convertible cribs. According to a discussion thread on The Bump, the decision usually turns on factors such as: room size (some standard cribs are less bulky and a convertible crib that becomes a full-size bed takes up space); thoughts about the need for a transitional toddler bed (adherents of the crib-to-twin philosophy eschew the convertible crib option); plans for a growing family (traditional cribs are easily handed down while convertible cribs "belong" to the current occupant); and aesthetics (the style of the convertible crib's repurposed sides as headboard and sometimes footboard may not suit a 'tween's evolving fashion sense).
Bear in mind that if you go the convertible crib route, you'll probably need a conversion kit to turn the crib into a full-size bed; the cost of this necessity runs upwards of $100. Consider ordering the kit along with the convertible crib (and keep the assembly directions handy), otherwise, as one parent discovered after putting off the purchase for a while, the parts may not be available when you need them. Some 4-in-1 cribs, including the Baby Mod Cadence and DaVinci Emily and Parker models, come with a guard rail for the toddler bed stage and expand into headboard and footboard for a full-size bed.
Baby Crib Mattress.Even the safest cribs can become danger zones if the mattress doesn't fit snugly. Although most cribs are designed to accept a standard-size mattress, it's a good idea to test the fit by dropping the mattress you're considering into the display model of your traditional or convertible crib choice. (Another reason to do some on-site shopping.) A standard mattress measures 27 1/4 by 51 5/8 inches, with thickness ranging from 4 to 6 inches (experts say 6 inches should be the max). There is, however, slight variation from manufacturer to manufacturer and the exact dimensions should be listed on the packaging. To check the fit, put your fingers in the space between the sides of the crib and the mattress: the gap should be less than two-fingers wide -- extra space poses a potential hazard.
Keep the mattress in its plastic wrapper until you set up the crib just to be sure the fit is right. If the gap is too wide, you may be able to return the mattress. Note that we read some reviews about ill-fitting mattresses for the traditional and convertible cribs we researched. Few cribs of any type come with a mattress, although Walmart is currently offering the Graco Lauren 4-in-1 bundled with a mattress (starting at $175). Mattress prices range from about $40 to $150.
A related issue concerns the level of the mattress in the crib. When babies slept in drop-side cribs, mattress position relative to the top of the rail wasn't a critical factor -- you simply lowered the side to put the baby in or take the baby out. With fixed-side cribs, parents and caregivers must be able to comfortably lift and lower the baby while reaching over the top (never mind trying to do this while a child is sleeping regardless how tall you are).
Traditional and convertible cribs don't come in standard heights, and some models provide more mattress adjustments than others. Cheap cribs generally feature three or four mattress levels that are suitable for babies at different ages (newborns get the highest setting and active toddlers get the lowest). The convertible DaVinci Emily and Parker and Baby Mod Cadence, and the traditional Baby Relax cribs all feature four settings. The three convertible Graco cribs we researched (Lauren, Charleston, and Sarah) sport three.
Sometimes, though, the mattress just doesn't sit high enough. One self-described short mother writes on Amazon that she has to use a stepstool when reaching into the DaVinci Parker, although another parent says the front dip of this design makes it easier to get at the baby. The Baby Mod Cadence convertible crib stands 42 inches high and is a bit lower in front than in back, which, along with the four mattress levels, might make things easier for some parents. With only three mattress settings, the Graco Lauren is the object of some grousing by parents who say the highest level should be higher still for a newborn.
To get around the height issue, the online community at What to Expect is partial to the convertible safety-gate cribs made by Baby's Dream -- the Infinity (starting at $419) being one example. These cribs are priced well above the Cheapism niche, with most falling in the $400 to $500 range, but they might suit shorter parents or those suffering from chronic back problems. The safety gate folds down and effectively lowers the railing height by 6 to 9 inches, depending on the model. Once the gate is back in place, with the mattress set at the lowest level, even active toddlers would have trouble climbing out.
DaVinci Parker Crib Review
Graco Sarah Crib Review
Graco Charleston Crib Review
Graco Lauren Crib Review
DaVinci Emily Crib Review
Baby Relax Crib Review
With Mother's Day upon us, Memorial Day weekend is just around the bend. ...
Find out how to grab bargains on swim attire for the entire family.