A new crib can be one of the biggest investments involved in preparing for a new baby. With brand-new cribs routinely carrying a price tag of several thousand dollars or more, savvy parents-to-be often err on the side of thrift and choose to purchase second-hand furniture instead. On the surface, this can seem like a great plan. Gently used cribs often look and seem brand-new, and the savings for new parents can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
Unfortunately, there are some major drawbacks to getting a used crib. Since 1995, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a blanket warning against all used cribs, citing the deaths of about fifty babies every year as a result of secondhand beds. Still, that’s not necessarily a reason to eschew gently used cribs altogether. You can still safely make use of a used crib by following these important safety precautions.
1. Don’t get a used crib that is too old. The crib that your neighbor bought five years ago is probably safe, but the crib that you or your parents slept in needs to be off-limits. Any crib made in the last ten or twenty years is likely safe, since products for babies have been held to very strict safety standards since the 1990s, but old family heirlooms were likely made using outdated standards and materials. You’ll especially want to avoid cribs made before 1978, the year lead paint was banned from the U.S., since cribs made before this time could still carry this poisonous metal.
2. Make sure you know the make, model, and serial number of the used crib. If you’re getting a secondhand crib, you need to verify that it wasn’t involved in a recall at any point, that it is properly assembled, and that you’re not missing any parts. Fortunately, all this information is widely available on the internet– but you’ll need to know the exact product information for access it. If you can’t find detailed information about the used crib, don’t buy it. It’s not worth the risk of possibly owning a defective, recalled, or improperly assembled item.
3. Check for recalls. Make sure you do a thorough search through the Consumer Product Safety Commission to make sure that your used crib was never subjected to a recall. Bear in mind that parents may give away or sell a crib without knowing that it had been recalled due to damages or defects that made it unsafe. Recent use by another child isn’t a guarantee that the crib is safe or suitable.
4. Make sure everything is properly fitted and installed. The CSPC recommends inspecting used cribs to make sure that everything is fitted and installed properly, especially if you’ve gotten new or replacement parts for it. It should have a firm mattress that fits snugly into the crib, so that there’s no room whatsoever for a baby to slip between the mattress and the slats of the crib. You should also be able to look up the assembly instructions to confirm that you’ve put the crib together properly and used the right tools and parts to do so. If there are any loose, missing, or broken pieces, it’s best to ditch the crib entirely.
5. Watch out for other safety hazards. Whether you’ve gotten your crib new or used, you’ll need to look out for some of the most common dangers associated with cribs. To avoid serious injuries and death, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to avoid using bumper pads in cribs, which can cause a baby to suffocate or become entrapped. The crib should also be far out of reach from any blind cords or windows and should not include any pillows, blankets, or plush animals. Ideally, it’s best for your baby’s crib to be near your bed, or at least in your bedroom, since most sleep-related deaths in babies happen in other rooms. These universal safety precautions apply regardless of how new or old your baby’s crib is.
Used cribs can be an excellent way to save money when confronted with the enormous cost of a new baby, but it’s important to be cautious when buying or accepting a used crib, since they can pose an unacceptable risk to your baby’s health and safety. By staying smart and following expert guidelines for crib safety, you can make use of a secondhand crib without unintentionally jeopardizing your little one’s health.