cheapism

Rock-a-bye cheaply -- the best cribs for under $200

Feb. 22, 2012 at 11:37 AM ET

Convertible cribs like the DaVinci Emily can be turned into toddler beds, daybeds, and full-size beds as a child grows.

By Kara Reinhardt, Cheapism.com

Celebrity watchers crave even the slightest bit of news on the baby girl born last month to music moguls Beyonce and Jay-Z. No detail is too small, down to reports that she sleeps in an ultramodern Lucite crib with a $3,500 price tag. Lucky for parents without endorsement deals and top-grossing world tours, high-quality cribs can be had for less than $200.

Whether they’re made of transparent acrylic or regular old wood, new cribs must conform to standards set in 2011 by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The CPSC requires all models to undergo rigorous safety testing and has outlawed traditional drop-side cribs, which let parents lower one of the rails and lift the baby out. On cribs with fixed sides, the height of the mattress can typically be adjusted depending on the age of the child, so it sits highest for a newborn and lowest for an active toddler. If you’re short or have a bad back, more mattress levels can help ensure you’ll be able to reach over the rail to pick up the child.

These days, convertible cribs dominate the market. These 2-in-1, 3-in-1, or 4-in-1 models can be transformed into a toddler bed, daybed, and/or full-size bed as a child grows. They generally don’t cost any more than standard cribs, but most require a separate conversion kit priced at $100 or more. Traditional cribs are becoming far less common, although some parents still prefer them. Maybe you have a nursery that’s too small for a bulky bed or plan to have another child right away. You may prefer to hand down a standard crib and buy the older child a conventional bed.

Few cribs come with mattresses, which can add anywhere from $40 to $150 to the total cost. The standard mattress size of 27 1/4 by 51 5/8 inches works for most cribs, but it’s important to make sure the mattress you choose fits snugly. Test it in a display model at the store or in the assembled crib at home (just be sure you can return it). If two fingers fit in any gaps between the mattress and the sides of the crib, you could be compromising your child’s safety.

Below are Cheapism’s top picks for affordable cribs.

  • The DaVinci Emily crib (starting at $180) is a 4-in-1 convertible model with a toddler guardrail and sides that serve as a headboard and a footboard when the crib is turned into a full-size bed. Consumers report that it’s sturdy and easy to put together. It comes with four mattress levels and a one-year warranty. (Where to buy)
  • The Baby Relax crib (starting at $169) is a standard crib that’s exclusive to Walmart and comes with a matching dresser. Parents posting reviews like the look of the set and say it’s solidly built. The mattress can be set at four different heights. (Where to buy)
  • The Graco Lauren crib (starting at $135) is a 4-in-1 convertible design with three mattress levels. Reviewers praise its stability and easy assembly and appreciate the bargain price from a leading brand. (Where to buy)

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