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My Embarrassing Story

Not too long ago my wife invited her friend, Ada to come over to our house to hang out. My wife haven’t known this person for too long, but the thing they had in common brought them together. They both had children roughly around the same age. My daughter was around twelve months and her friend’s daughter was around a month and a half older.

As a fellow parent, you probably know this already. Once your children are born, the only friends you will truly have, are those who have children roughly the same age. There are simply more common conversation topics that way.

When Ada came over, she had a little tour of our little apartment. She was a bit surprised when she saw our bassinet. She asked, “why didn’t you get a convertible baby crib with a changing table instead?” I was a bit embarrassed because I honestly didn’t know such a thing existed. I thought I would simply purchase a baby crib after my daughter outgrew the bassinet. After meeting Ada, my wife and I both realized that we almost missed out on such a valuable thing.

What Exactly Is A Convertible Baby Crib?

A convertible baby crib is exactly what it sounds like. It is a baby crib that almost literally “grows with your child”. As your child grows older from being a newborn, to toddler, to a teenager you can rearrange the crib to fit your child’s needs at these different stages.

What Are The Advantages Of Owning One?

The first advantage is the cost. Obviously, if you can reuse the same bed over and over for your child as she grows, then theoretically it saves you a lot of money. However, this advantage is only apparent if you have never purchased a bassinet(a special bed meant for newborns that are one year and younger). However, if you have already purchased a bassinet, like I have, then most of the advantages disappear.( I will explain later why)

The second advantage is that there is less garbage. For those who are environment conscious, this is probably important, because you have less stuff to throw away while reusing the same bed.

The third advantage is familiarity. Even though when a child grows, she might develop different needs, but some comfort zones still stay intact. If your child is used to a specific bed, then that might be the only bed she can fall asleep in. Any “stranger” or “foreign” bed might not work for her. My daughter is a great example. She has a blanket that she is very attached to. If there is one day in which the blanket is not available (because it is at the laundromat) then she would be cranky and be unable to fall asleep. Using the same bed from newborn to toddlerhood decreases the chance for your child to have trouble sleeping at night.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Buying It?

Another name for a convertible baby crib is known as the “three-in-one baby crib”, or sometimes, “four-in-one baby crib”. The reason they call it that is because the crib can be converted into four modes:

  • crib
  • toddler bed
  • day bed
  • full size adult bed

However, do not be fooled by the fancy wording and apparently convenient features. The parts required to convert the crib into different “modes” are not completely included. You have to purchase them separately. This is why I mentioned earlier that the “cost effective” advantage disappears the moment you purchased a bassinet.

If you are confused, then let me explain why that is the case. Let’s say for example, that you already purchased a bassinet. I will list the steps of what happens to your money.

  1. You purchase a bassinet (one purchase)
  2. You purchase a convertible baby crib (second purchase)
  3. You convert your convertible baby crib into a day bed (free)</li)
  4. You want to install toddler rail guards. I will explain what this is later. (third purchase, could be optional)
  5. Your toddler grows into a tall teenager, you have to convert your toddler bed into an adult bed (final purchase)

In the end, by using the convertible baby crib, you made around two to three extra purchases for the parts used to convert the crib into a toddler bed and an adult mattress.

To be fair, converting the crib to a toddler bed only requires and extra toddler rail, which is not really that expensive. It costs around $20 to $30 for a high quality one. However, the problem occurs when you try to convert your toddler bed into an adult size bed.

You have to purchase the adult size bed railings, and the mattress separately. That can come out to be roughly $100 to $200 depending on what you bought. In the end, it would cost the same to purchase an adult size bed separately.

This is why, in my opinion, even though the title for the convertible crib is “three-in-one” convertible crib, it should literally be called “two-in-one” crib. That is because converting from the crib to the toddler bed is the only thing that is truly “included”. Some sellers don’t even include the toddler rail guard. You have to purchase it separately, but it is not expensive.

What is a toddler rail guard? It is a fancy name for a rail guard that blocks your toddler from rolling off the bed. There is a difference between this rail guard and a regular crib rail guard.

A regular crib rail guard completely blocks off the crib so that your newborn baby doesn’t fall off the crib when you are not supervising them. However, for toddler rail guard, it only blocks a portion of the toddler’s body on the bed. The reason this is important is because the toddler can freely climb up and down the bed without being hindered by a rail guard. When the toddler is sleeping, the special rail guard also prevents their taller bodies from rolling right off.

However, you don’t literally have to purchase a fancy toddler rail guard. When the toddler bed is adjusted to toddler setting, it is not that high from the floor. I really doubt that the toddler will literally sustain any injuries if she falls off. If that is still concerning to you, you can always stack a couple of chairs next to the bed, with the seats facing the bed. That way, your toddler will be safe no matter how she rolls at night.

What About The Changing Table?

For the changing table. It is literally an extra dresser looking thing that is meant to make changing your baby’s diaper much easier. Even though a lot of convertible cribs include this changing table, you can purchase it separately or not purchase it at all. It simply exists to make your life easier.

The changing table addition is more than just a table. It usually has several common parts to it. From top to bottom it is like this:

  • changing table with waterproof padding on top for your baby to comfortably lay there while you change her. It is meant to be a slightly tight fit so she can’t roll around while you are wiping her butt
  • there are two to three drawers in which you can store extra stuff like diapers, ointments, lotions, clothes, or whatever you want

Do you really need a changing table? No, you can almost change your baby’s diaper anywhere.

Does having a changing table make your life easier? Yes it does. This is especially true when you are dealing with a wiggly baby. Let’s face it here. Babies in general don’t like to have their diaper changed. This becomes frustrating when your baby has a blowout (especially the diarrhea type). Sigh… anyway, if your baby is “secured” in place by the changing table, then even if there is a blowout, then at least it would be contained in a single waterproof area.

Some convertible cribs include the changing table as a one piece attachment. Let me explain what that actually means. After you purchase a convertible crib, you actually get it in parts and pieces. You usually have to assemble it yourself unless the seller include installation services with a fee.

Many convertible cribs has their changing table built on one foundation so it is impossible to separate the crib from the changing table, because they are both attached to the same piece of wood. This is not that important if you are deciding on which one to buy. If you want, you can always purchase a changing table separately. Of course, the colors, and designs wouldn’t match your crib.

How To Choose The Right Convertible Baby Crib

First thing to think about is the purity of the wood. The processed used to convert the wood into your baby crib is extremely important. This is especially true when you are considering a convertible crib. You have to use it for many years after all. If it does not last, then there is really no chance for it to “convert”.

When you choose your crib, make sure you choose the type that is made of solid wood. When you are purchasing your crib online, and if the description doesn’t say solid, then it is most probably made of crappy engineered wood, or veneered (thin layer of quality wood glued on top to hide crappy wood). Let me explain what solid wood is first.

Solid wood means that the wood is not made of wood scraps glued together. Selecting solid wood is important for the following reasons:

  • It is stronger and deteriorate slower because it doesn’t have air gaps like engineered wood
  • It does not have chemicals mixed into the interior of the wood
  • It most likely won’t have chemicals that gets released into the air for your baby to breath in
  • Your teething child won’t be biting into chemically treated wood and get intoxicated in the process

If you are purchasing your crib at the local store, they don’t always explicitly state whether their crib is made of solid or engineered wood. You have to learn to judge it yourself. If a crib is made of good and solid wood it should have the following:

  • It should have no splinters (other than the fact that splinters can hurt your little one, splinters usually indicated scrap wood glued together)
  • It should not be lumpy. It should be smooth. Don’t settle for lumpy wood. Lumpiness indicates that it is scrapped wood that is painted over to hide it.
  • The paint should not chip. Other than the fact that your child will eat the paint, chipping paint means that the wood grain is uneven, and most likely scrap wood.
  • Also watch out for veneered wood. That means that a thin layer of high quality wood is glued on top to hide crappy wood. Some people argue that the crib could still be sturdy even if it is veneered. However, crappy engineered wood most likely has a lot of chemicals mixed into it so be careful.
  • Solid wood should not feel light. Pick up the crib. If it feels almost like you can lift it like a cardboard box, then you know you are dealing with engineered wood. Strong wood can feel light compared to other strong wood, but it should not feel too light.
  • If the joints are made with dovetail construction (looks like jigsaw puzzle pieces joined together) then it has to be solid wood.

The second thing you have to think about is the hardness of the wood. We mentioned earlier that there’s a difference between solid and engineer wood. There’s also another classification for wood.

Wood can also be classified as hard wood or soft wood.

This classification is based on the nature of the wood itself. For example, woods like oak, maple and cherry wood are naturally hard. Woods like pine wood are naturally “soft”. This difference is important because obviously hard wood is tougher and lasts much longer. This is why antique furniture can last for decades without deteriorating. Another advantage is that some hardwood is actually lighter in weight compared to softwood.

I know what you are thinking. It seems to be the obvious choice to run out there and choose the best hardwood convertible crib right? Here comes the bad news. Cribs made of hardwood is much more expensive. The reason for that is because hard wood is so tough, it is really difficult to cut and design it. Companies have to dedicate extra powerful work tools to be able to manufacture it.

This is the reason why almost all common cribs in the market are made of pine wood (a type of soft wood).

Cribs made of pine wood has a price range around $150 – $400. If you really want a custom made crib that is made of hardwood, then be prepared to at least shell out at least $1000.

Of course, whether you choose hardwood or softwood, it really comes down to preferences and your budget. If you want your crib to last through several kids, then by all means consider hardwood. However, life is unpredictable. You might actually have a second child before the first child is done using the crib.

So, in the end you might end up purchasing two or more cribs. If you buy a hardwood crib for all of your children, the costs can really add up. Softwood cribs might sound very flimsy, but they usually do a pretty good job if you get a quality one.

As I mentioned earlier. even though convertible cribs are marketed as “three-in-one” or sometimes “four-in-one”, they really boil down to “two-in-one”. When you purchased the convertible crib, only the newborn crib, and the toddler bed conversion are truly included. You have to spend at least $100 extra to convert your crib into an adult size bed, which is supposedly “included”.

Let’s have a more solid example here so you can see why purchasing a pine-wood convertible crib is a bit more advantageous. Let’s say that you purchased a medium quality pine-wood convertible crib for roughly $200, and it started to show signs of “wear-and-tear” after your toddler used it for a few years.

Your toddler is eventually growing into a teenager soon anyway, at that point, simply purchase a new adult bed. The new bed will cost roughly the same as converting your crib to an adult size bed. It simply makes more sense than to purchase a hardwood convertible crib and increase your financial burdens.

Another reason for purchasing a pine wood convertible crib is because teenagers tend to be very sensitive to trends and style changes. They might not appreciate the expensive hardwood bed that you put so much effort into choosing for them. So, at that point, you will most likely purchase a new bed anyway, and leave your expensive convertible crib in the dust, despite how high quality it is.

Third thing you have to think about is whether the conversion materials actually fit. If you are a perfectionist, and you really want to reuse the same crib from beginning to end without purchasing a new bed then you will have to think about purchasing the “conversion materials now”. In other words, you will have to purchase the:

  • toddler rails (explained earlier)
  • adult bed rails
  • adult bed mattress (this can wait or it will eat up space for a few years)

If you really purchase the conversion materials now, make sure they actually fit. Don’t store them away for the next five to six years without checking. Open the package and check them now. It would horrible if you are ready to convert your crib a few years from now just to find that they don’t fit.

Fourth thing you have to consider is whether your convertible crib is easy to assemble.  As I mentioned earlier, no matter what kind of crib you are purchasing, you have to assemble it yourself. Some sellers offers to assemble it for you at a price, but most cribs will require you to do the handiwork.

Unfortunately, some companies can be a little sloppy when it comes to writing the instructions for the assembly. Your best friend would be YouTube. Usually some kind people will upload a video showing you how they assembled their cribs. Of course, that is not a guarantee. For some cribs, you might be entirely on your own because nobody uploaded instructions on how to assemble it.

The fifth thing to think about is whether the mattress for the crib can be adjusted high enough. This would be important for parents or guardians who are short. Quite often, you might not necessarily want to open and close the rail of the crib and cause unnecessary noise. You simply want to gently drop or pick up the baby especially when she is sleeping.

The sixth thing to think about is whether you truly want an attached changing table or not. The only reason you would want to purchase a convertible crib and a changing table as a single set is because they match in style and color.

The problem with this is that cribs that come with changing tables often have low quality changing tables. The crib itself might be made with nice solid wood, but the drawers under the changing table is made of engineered wood.

This is fine as long you don’t use the drawers too much, and you don’t put too many heavy things in there. However, instead of compromising for a crappy changing table, you might as well purchase your crib and changing table separately. Not to mention, you might not necessarily put the changing table in the same room as the crib, so the matching colors don’t necessarily matter.

The seventh thing to consider is the size of the changing table. As your child grow from a newborn to a toddler, the changing table will have to fit until she is completely potty trained. Make you don’t get one that will eventually be too tight for your child.

Safety Standards You Should Keep In Mind

Some convertible baby cribs come with teething rails, and some don’t. Even though it is not required, if the crib you chose doesn’t come with teething rails, buy them yourself.

What these teething rails does is that they go on top of the crib rails itself and stops your baby from directly gnawing at the crib. High quality ones can be made of plastic or cloth.

Some cribs come with wheels, so make sure that they can actually be locked. This is especially important for convertible cribs, because once your newborn becomes a toddler, she would be able to move the crib and hurt herself if it is not locked properly.

Also make sure that the release mechanism (rail opening method of the baby crib) is not drop side type. This is where the side of the crib completely slides down like a sliding door. Drop side cribs has already been banned illegal in the United States because of they caused deaths of many babies. If you have a relative that wants to give you one of these, throw them out right away. They already outdated and proven unsafe. Don’t use them.

Also make sure that the crib you get is certified by the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association (JPMA). They are currently the standard of child product safety. If you have any more questions, please leave it in the comment section below.