Should You Put Baby in an Antique Crib?

baby crib with pink bedding

It’s a family heirloom. Your great-grandmother slept in it, as did you grandmother, and mother. It’s been offered by your parents, and the look in their eyes suggests that they would be very hurt if you didn’t use it. The question you have to face is, “Is the crib safe for your baby?” Statistically, the answer is “No!” Babies have died when left unattended in older cribs that do not meet current government standards, particularly because of the spacing between the upright slats, and the possibility of the sliding side mechanism allowing the side to drop unintentionally. What is a new parent to do?

The Consumer Product Safety Commission Guidelines
For a crib to be considered safe for use by the Consumer Product Safety Commission it must conform to the following guidelines:

  1.  The mattress must fit tightly within the crib frame;
  2.  There must be no broken, damaged, or missing slats or hardware;
  3.  No cutouts are permitted in the headboard or footboard;
  4. Corner posts cannot exceed a height of 1/16 of an inch;
  5. Slats cannot be spaced at more than 2-3/8 inches.

In addition to the risks listed above, there is additional concern about the safety of drop side cribs in general. Some drop-side cribs have been recalled in the past because the latching mechanisms do not work properly, or can be accessed by the baby. Most of the danger, however, is due to the age of the crib and the number of times that the mechanism has been used and the number of times that the crib has been disassembled and reassembled during its lifetime.

Your Personal Inspection
Let’s assume that you have studied the dangers and understand the risks to your baby. You find the crib conforms to all of the guidelines. Should you be satisfied at that result? No, you shouldn’t. There are additional considerations not mentioned by the guidelines.

Is the crib sturdy? Does it sway back and forth distorting is shape as it’s rocked? How long does the original glue last? Are all of the joints secured? What chemicals are embedded in the finish? After you complete your inspection and consider the additional risks, do you still think it’s worth using? My advice is a firm “No!” But, that does not mean that you can’t use the crib in a way to keep the baby safe while satisfying your parents’ wish to see the crib used in the nursery.

Using the Antique Crib Safely
My husband and I found a way to use my parent’s antique crib safely. I’d like to say that the idea was mine, but I learned it from an acquaintance who used her antique crib in an innovative way. She bought a new crib for the baby, and refitted the antique to serve as a changing table.

She lowered the crib side and secured it permanently with screws. She raised the mattress spring, placed a plywood board under the mattress to firm it up, and used that surface as a changing table. The crib now stands proudly in the nursery with its sides supporting an assortment of stuffed animals, a mobile, and a pouch where rattles are stored. The crib is now being used and the family heirloom graces another nursery. The baby is safe; the parents are happy, and the grandparents are honored that the family treasure is being used by another generation.

Christine Allen is an editor for www.livesnet.com, a site devoted to helping people find the perfect baby gear for their needs, and offer tips on daily problems. She’s very willing to share her own experience with new parents. You can find her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/livesnet or read her hot review on Davinci Kalani crib.

Earnest Parenting: helping parents keep baby safe.

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  • Betsy September 10, 2015, 5:01 am

    I agree, if you’re going to use an antique crib, it needs to be done safely. In addition to antique cribs, I see more and more parents using crib numbers for all cribs (antique and new). These could be a great option to help make the antique crib a safe place.
    Betsy´s last blog post ..Best Nursery Rockers & Gliders

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