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Crib 101: How to Buy The Right One For You

09/01/2008 at 02:00 PM ET

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Bonavita Metro Collection

During your pregnancy, you will probably make three major purchases for your baby — choosing a stroller, car seat and a crib — and you will probably feel overwhelmed. We’ve been there, done that, and want to help guide you through this process. The first thing most parents think about buying is the crib. It’s also the purchase requiring the most lead time so it’s wise to start thinking about in your second trimester. Here are some tips to help make sure the one you buy is the one you love.

1. Look for a design style that matches the rest of your house. f you like country, go country in the nursery. Make sure the scale of the pieces you are selecting will fit into the room.

2. Convertible cribs are a great way to really extend a budget. When a crib converts to a toddler bed, day bed and full-size bed, you’re getting a lifetime of investment. (Just be sure your child’s room is large enough for a full size bed!)

3. Do you want drop-side or fixed? The trend in the industry is moving away from drop-side cribs due to safety issues (mostly caused by user error or incorrect installation). You can still find them, but you may have to look harder. A drop-side crib allows you to lower the side so you don’t have to bend over. This was a feature that was important to me since I’m petite — it’s harder to lower a sleeping baby into a crib that doesn’t have a drop-side.

4. The furniture does not have to line the walls of the nursery. Today’s crib styles allow for placement in the middle of the room as a focal point. Armoires can be placed in corners and dressers can be used as changing areas as long as you put the proper safety strap on your changing pad.

5. If your goal is to have the nursery set up by the time your babyis born, shop early, not all stores keep stock of items for deliveryand you may be surprised by the 6-12 week delivery window. Make sureyou have your nursery ready a month before your baby is due so you don’t haveany extra stress. This will give you plenty of time to decorate!

6. However, if you are planning to move after your baby is born, think you may have your baby sleep with you, or plan to use abassinet/co-sleeper, it’s okay to wait to set up the nursery. I often joke that your baby can sleep ina laundry basket or drawer for the first few months because they don’t care. I also have a friend whoseson never slept in his crib because he only wanted to sleep with her.She ended up selling it to another friend!

7. Another crib surprise — the mattress is not included! You’ll need to buy one and we advise investing in a healthy mattress to go along with your crib — after all, it’s where your child will spend a third of his life!

8. If you can’t afford it or don’t have the room, don’t feel pressured bythe sales person to buy all of the matching furniture. However, keep inmind that when you’re looking to turn the nursery into a child’s room,you may have a hard time finding matching pieces several years later. Good investment pieces to consider are a dresser (which you can change your baby on), bookcase, and possibly a nightstand.

See our all-time favorite cribs the TEN BEST: Cribs Gallery.

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