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Baby & child.

Updated: 19 Jan 2022

Baby cribs pros and cons

A baby crib is a smaller sleeping alternative to a cot for young babies from birth to around six months old. We look at their pros and cons, as well as how to use one safely
Sabrina Sahota

A baby crib allows you to keep your baby nearby while they sleep, but in their own separate and safe space. 

Baby cribs can come in the form of bedside cribs or swinging cribs, which offer benefits such as rocking to soothe your baby or drop sides to easily access your baby during the night. We’ve summed up their pros and cons in our guide, so you can decide what’s best for you and your baby.

Like Moses baskets, baby cribs tend to have a limited lifespan, with most only lasting until approximately six months. If, after reading the pros and cons below, you decide not to buy a baby crib, check out the how to buy the best cot bed advice guide instead. The main advantage of cot beds is that they last a long time: they can be used as a cot from birth and as a junior bed as your child gets older.

What is the difference between a crib and a Moses basket?

A Moses basket provides a smaller sleep space for your baby compared with a crib. It's likely to last your baby until they are around three to four months old, whereas a crib should last up to approximately six months old. 

Many cribs can be rocked, tilted and come with a drop side, whereas a Moses basket won't have these extra features. Your Moses basket may fit on a rocking stand but this will come at an additional cost. However, a Moses basket is portable, thanks to its carry handles. A crib is larger and heavier, so will likely stay in a fixed position in your bedroom. 

Do I need a baby crib?

Pros

  • Smaller than a cot, so more compact for placing in small bedrooms. 
  • A crib creates a cosier sleeping environment for smaller babies than a cot. 
  • Some cribs come with a rocking motion that can help to soothe your baby. 
  • Most bedside cribs have a drop side, which allows you to easily access your baby from your bed. 
  • Some baby cribs can be tilted to help with reflux and digestive issues.

Cons

  • Unlike a cot, they only last until approximately six months. 
  • Tend to be more expensive than Moses baskets.
  • Most are not portable, unlike Moses baskets and carrycots.

How to use a baby crib safely?

1. Drop side

Check your crib conforms to the latest safety standard: BS EN 1130:2019. 

An important update to the safety standard means that all bedside cribs manufactured from November 2020 will need a 12cm-high barrier when in bedside mode. You’ll still be able to soothe or reach for your baby by having them close by to you, but the barrier stops them from potentially rolling over on to your mattress.  

2. Tilting and rocking

Some cribs come with a tilting function, which slightly elevates the head. This can help with digestive issues like reflux; however, we’d recommend consulting your GP for advice on this before doing so. 

You may also find you can switch your crib from a fixed position to a rocking position, which gently sways to help your little one sleep. You should not leave the baby crib unattended while it's set to rock.

If your bedside crib comes with a drop side, remember to only use the tilting or rocking functions when the side is up. This is to ensure your baby stays secure inside the crib.

3. Mattress

Your crib will most likely come with a mattress specifically designed for its dimensions. It should fit the crib snugly, with no gaps between the side of the mattress and the frame of the crib where your baby could potentially trap a limb.

Safe sleep charity The Lullaby Trust advises that your baby’s mattress should be firm, flat and protected with a waterproof cover.


Cot mattress reviews


4. Sleep position

The Lullaby Trust charity recommends the following safe sleep tips, which can help to reduce the risk of SIDS:

  • The recommended room temperature for a baby to sleep in is 16-20ºC, or 61-68ºF, with light bedding or a lightweight and suitable size of baby sleeping bag. Use a room thermometer to check the temperature before putting your baby to bed. 
  • The safest position for your baby to sleep is on their back, not on their front or side.
  • Your baby should be positioned with their feet at the foot of the crib. 
  • Baby bedding should be firmly tucked in and come no higher than your baby's shoulders.

Can I use a second-hand baby crib?

A second-hand bedside crib or swinging crib is usually safe to use, but avoid using an antique crib, as they won't meet appropriate safety standards and may be dangerous. 

We’d also always recommend buying a brand-new mattress designed to fit the dimensions of your crib. 

Second-hand mattresses can lose their firmness after prolonged use. A mattress that has sagged or shrunk won’t provide a supportive sleep surface for your baby and could increase the risk of suffocation. 

According to The Lullaby Trust, there is some research that shows an increased risk of SIDS when using a second-hand mattress from outside of the family home, although the link is not yet proven.


Find out more about the baby products that you should avoid buying second-hand