Best Cribs vs Mini Cribs: Buying Furniture For Your Baby

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Every child should have an own bed from day one. Sharing a bed with parents or siblings may increases the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Now comes the hard part, you have to make the right choice- bassinet vs mini crib vs crib, which one should you buy?

Best Cribs And Mini Cribs Reviewed In This Article

Bassinet vs (Mini) Crib

A bassinet (or cradle) is a small bed for babies from birth to about four months. After that babies usually wiggle so much that it’s safer to transfer them to a more stable crib (also known as a cot) or mini crib.

Is Bassinet Needed?

I didn’t buy a bassinet (yes, I said it) as I’m a big fan of lean thinking. Our baby slept in a crib from day one. If you feel more at ease when the baby is right next to you, then a bassinet might be a reliable option.

A lightweight bassinet is also a great option if you have to travel a lot. That said, most hotels provide you with a baby cot.

Playard With A Bassinet

Some parents prefer to buy a pack and play with add-ons like a bassinet. You can read about best playards here. A small bassinet is usually quicker to set up though.

Bedside Sleeper As A Bassinet

You may also want to consider a bedside sleeper. With (usually) higher price you get a more stable (also heavier) bassinet so you can keep your infant there up to about 6 months and you can attach it to a bed.

One wall of a bedside sleeper is usually lower, so it’s easier to reach for your child. It comes especially handy if you have back issues. That said, most cribs have a three to four position mattress height adjustment.

Best Bassinet And Best Bedside Sleeper For DadProgress

Mini Crib vs Standard Crib

In the U.S. there’s a standard size for an infant bed mattress 28 x 52 inches (~71 cm x ~133 cm). Everything smaller is considered a mini crib mattress. The mini crib mattress is usually 24 x 38 inches. The difference between a standard crib and a mini crib lies mainly in mattress size. 

That's the simplified version and I like to keep things that way.

Standard crib mattress 28 x 52 inches (~71 cm x ~133 cm). Everything smaller is considered a mini crib, mini crib mattress is usually 24 x 38 inches.

Technically you should consider the inner dimensions of a crib as explained in the next paragraph (but the mattress does that for you).

The outer measurements of assembled beds can be quite variable.

Mini Crib vs Crib: Standard cribs must adhere to certain size regulations

Inner Dimensions

To be exact, the law states that the inner dimensions of a full-size crib must be: Width: 28 ± 5/8 inches (71cm ± 1.6 cm); Length: 52 3/8 ± 5/8 inches (133 cm ± 1.6 cm). A mini crib is everything smaller.

Side Height

The side height of a crib is regulated so that young toddlers can’t climb out of it. Oh, but they try:)

The side height of a crib is the height from the top of the mattress support in its lowest position, to the lowest part of the top rail. It must be at least 26 inches.

Mattress Of A Standard Crib And Mini Crib

A crib mattress must at least meet two common sense criteria: 

1) To prevent entrapment, it must not be too small for your crib.

As I've already mentioned, the standard crib mattress is usually 28 x 52 inches. According to the CPSC, it should be minimally 27 1/4 x 51 1/4 inches. 

TIP: Although the size of a mini crib mattress can be variable, it's generally 24 x 38 inches. A mini crib must be sold with a mattress (although you usually get a pad). If you wish to make sure that the "mattress" in a package is safe, then test that the gap between it and your child's bed isn't over 1 inch.

2) A standard crib mattress should not be thicker than 6 inches because otherwise the side height is reduced and your little one may fall out of the bed.

TIP: Because the design of a mini crib can be variable, there's no definite "right thickness" for its mattress. That said, CPSC requires that the distance between a top of the mattress and the top of the crib side is at least 20 inches. When you measure the distance, adjust the mattress support to the lowest position. The point is to make sure that your toddler can't climb out and get hurt when you're not watching.

Special Mini Cribs

Certain cribs are considered mini cribs because of their design:

  • Cribs that can be folded
  • If you can remove the legs and make it a playpen, then it's a mini crib
  • If the crib has a special mattress or other particular parts and the shape is unconventional, then it's a mini crib


The apparent advantage of a mini crib vs standard crib is a smaller size, but there are a couple of more good things to consider:

1) A mini crib is perfect if you don't have much room. For example, you may want to have two children sleeping in the same nursery, but you have limited space

2) If you need an extra bed for your little one that he or she can use in a summer house or at grandparents, then a mini crib is a great choice 

3) Mini cribs are often made easily portable. They are usually more lightweight than standard cribs and may have wheels 

There are some disadvantages though: 

1) It may be hard to find suitable bedclothes or a mattress from your favorite manufacturer 

2) Outgrowing is a danger

3) If you buy a mattress, then you have to double check that it's not too small or too thick

TIP: Your newborn should sleep his legs as near the footboard as comfortably possible. Otherwise, she may wiggle herself under the blanket.

Transition From A Crib To A Toddler Bed

The purpose of a crib is to contain children after they start standing. After 2-3 years they are usually able to climb out and should be transferred to a toddler bed. The average height of a three-year-old is about 38 inches. With a mini crib, you may be forced to switch to a toddler bed earlier than you would otherwise.

In the spirit of lean thinking, it’s worth mentioning that many cribs are convertible. You can convert them to toddler beds or even long beds. It may be more fun for a child to get a new suitably designed toddler bed though.

Are Cribs And Mini Cribs Safe?

I suggest you don't overthink it. In 2010 Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) updated standard crib safety standards. The same thing happened to the non-full-size crib standards in 2011.

So if you buy a product that meets CPSC and is produced after 2011, you are all good.

Usually, manufacturers state "meets ASTM and CPSC standards." They have set strict requirements for materials and measurements (to prevent hand and head entrapment). Hardware must be very durable. Drop gates are not permitted.

Some manufacturers go an extra mile and have a GreenGuard certificate. It's a proof that a product meets chemical emission limits in indoors.

3 Popular Cribs Reviewed

  • You can adjust the mattress to three different heights. The mattress is sold separately
  • The Emery crib meets the CPSC and ASTM standards
  • It's convertible (toddler rail is sold separately)
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  • You can adjust the mattress to four different heights. The mattress is sold separately
  • It meets the CPSC and ASTM standards. It's also GreenGuard Gold certified
  • It's convertible (toddler rail is included)
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  • You can adjust the mattress to three different heights. The mattress is sold separately
  • It meets the CPSC and ASTM standards. It's also GreenGuard Gold certified
  • You can choose between three colors
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    It's convertible to a toddler bed. If you want to convert it to a full bed, you need to buy a separate frame though
  • By removing the front, you can convert it into a toddler bed, but you have to use a standard crib size mattress which can be too short for older toddlers

2 Popular Mini Cribs Reviewed

  • You can adjust the mattress to two different heights. A pad is included in the package, but the mattress is sold separately
  • It meets the CPSC and ASTM standards
  • This mini crib has wheels, so it's easy to maneuver
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    It folds flat for easy travel and storage
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  • You can adjust the mattress to three different heights. A changing pad is included in the package, but the mattress is sold separately
  • It meets the CPSC and ASTM standards
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    You can convert this mini crib into a toddler bed or a day bed (then you also need to buy bed rails)
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To Sum Up

Every child should have a bed from day one. Hopefully, this article make’s it easier to make a suitable choice for your situation.

If you prefer a standard crib, then the Babyletto Hudson (check the latest price on Amazon) is probably the best choice. You can adjust the mattress to four different positions, and it's convertible.

If you're searching for the best crib or mini crib for small spaces or a bigger nursery, then click to read my quick guide on mini cribs vs cribs. I also reviewed some of the top cots out there.

If you're looking for a mini crib for your nursery, then the best choice is probably a mini crib by Delta Children (check the latest price on Amazon). It has wheels, so it's easy to move around in your room. The best thing is that it's foldable so you can free that precious space when you need it.