Light up the month with an energy-efficient light bulb. See how your frugal month results stack up against those of our reporter.
Our search for the best cheap cribs was hampered by the paucity of expert baby crib reviews and the limited number of consumer reviews of models introduced after the 2011 regulations took effect. We also noticed that parents typically post crib reviews either before the baby is born or soon thereafter, so assessments of durability and real-world performance are few and far between.
That said, the consensus opinion about our top picks is that they're excellent buys, sturdy, easy to set up, and attractive. Best baby bed reviews note, however, that the woods and finishes used in these models are easily damaged (scratches and dings) and some unassembled units arrive at home with missing and/or damaged parts.
Baby Cribs Durability.Cribs reviews aren't particularly useful in assessing durability of the models on our list primarily because they're written at the moment of assembly or shortly thereafter. Parents can get some assurance about their investment, however, by knowing that cribs certified by the CPSC have survived more than 75,000 testing cycles that involve shaking, battering, and beating to see how well the frame, slats, mattress supports, screws and other hardware can take the abuse.
What the tests don't measure, though, is the effect of hard, sharp objects, like the metal of a belt buckle or a baby's emerging teeth. While the cribs reviews we read don't complain about cribs falling apart, they do gripe about dings and scratches and finishes that lift or seem off-color. Most cheap cribs are made with relatively soft wood, such as pine, that easily shows signs of wear and tear -- the hidden cost of using softer woods that help to keep prices in the budget zone. Crib manufacturers aren't always forthcoming about the wood and may advertise a "cherry" or "walnut" crib that merely means a cherry or walnut finish. Some parents and experts suggest performing a "scratch test" on a display model in the store to determine how tough the wood, or at least the finish, is. (Again, retailers probably won't welcome this.) If you know in advance that the sight of nicks and scrapes will upset you, consider moving up the price ladder to models made with harder wood.
Specs for the DaVinci Emily and Parker 4-in-1 models and for the Baby Mod Cadence 4-in-1 (starting at $240) identify the wood as pine. The biggest knock against the DaVinci Emily is how easily the surface is marred. It may stand its ground if shaken, assert cribs reviews on Target, but every mark shows. Tell-tale teeth marks and wood stain that shows up in the baby's mouth are the bane of the DaVinci Parker, say some cribs reviews on Amazon, and nicks and scrapes also afflict the Baby Mod Cadence, according to some postings at Walmart.
Like the other cribs we researched, the Graco Lauren and Graco Charleston take a few hits in cribs reviews on the denting and scratching front. A cribs review of a Charleston bought several years ago, however, says this model has held its own through two occupants. The Baby Relax My First Nursery crib is described by parents as sturdy and strong, although some are disappointed in the build quality of the dresser.
Some parents also say the stain on the crib that arrives at your home may not match the color you see online. Several cribs reviews on Toys R Us of the DaVinci Parker say the crib looks more orange than oak and the espresso finish on the Graco Lauren has strong red undertones, assert some cribs reviews.
Our reporter took the frugal month challenge and saved $328 during February by forgoing haircuts and new clothes and finding free entertainment.
Women who think they may be pregnant can choose a free test at a clinic or doctor's office or cheap at-home tests.