The crib is an essential item in any nursery design, but not all cribs are created equal. If your heart is set on an iron crib, proceed with caution. While certain iron cribs are safe options, others aren't. Arm yourself with the facts so you can choose a crib that matches your nursery decor but won't pose a safety risk to your infant.
Wrought iron cribs are a high-end alternative to standard wooden cribs, but they can cost several thousands of dollars. Iron cribs are sought out by many parents because they come in a range of colors, such as pewter and antique bronze, and they're available in many shapes, such as oval, round or heart-shaped. As long as you're buying a new wrought iron crib, it must, by law, adhere to safety guidelines, which means an iron crib is usually just as safe as any other new crib.
The safety of an iron crib usually comes into question if you're looking at a used crib. If you have an iron crib passed down from generation to generation, it might not be as safe as a new one. Many older cribs have drop-down sides, which are safety hazards. In fact, the sale of cribs with adjustable side rails have been banned in the United States, according to the website KidsHealth. If you have an old iron crib that's been painted, chipping paint also can pose a safety hazard. Iron is less forgiving than wood, too, which means that if your baby bumps his head on the crib, it could cause a more serious bump or bruise.
Choosing a Safe Crib
If you've decided that an iron crib is the right choice for your baby's nursery, keep a few safety standards in mind, whether you choose a new crib or accept a hand-me-down. Measure the distance between the rails of the crib. Ensure that they're no more than 2 3/8 inches apart, which will prevent your baby's head or other body parts from getting stuck between them. Skip an iron crib that has elaborate cut-outs or designs because they also pose the risk of your baby getting trapped or otherwise injured. If you're buying a used crib, inspect it carefully for sharp, jagged or broken edges and ensure that all of the hardware, such as the screws, are in good condition.
Additional Safety Tips
Whatever crib you choose should be just part of your baby's safe sleeping environment. Outfit your crib with a mattress that fits into the crib without leaving any gaps on the sides. The crib sheet should fit snugly over the crib mattress so it doesn't come loose while your baby is sleeping. Leave soft bedding, pillows, crib bumpers and stuffed animals out of the crib. These items are associated with a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Always place your baby on his back to sleep, which also cuts the risk of SIDS. Hang crib mobiles out of your baby's reach and don't place the crib next to a window or tall furniture such as a dresser.