As excited expectant parents prepare for a new baby, getting a crib goes to the top of the list of things to get. But with space and money as an issue, parents often wonder if you need to get a crib right away?
Your baby does not need a crib available as long as you have a safe sleeping place prepared. Alternatives such as a bassinet or a pack-n-play are acceptable. Whatever your baby sleeps in should have a firm sleep surface without any loose or soft objects near them. Babies should not bed-share, but they should sleep in the same room as their parents.
Read on to learn more about when to buy a crib for your baby.
When do you need to buy a crib?
Many parents have a crib ready and set up when bringing home baby, but it’s not uncommon to wait to buy a crib until you have the space for it ready, the money to make such a large purchase, or even a better idea of your baby’s personality.
If you are planning to use a crib alternative, the best time to get a crib is when your child is about to outgrow their sleeping space or can’t stay in it safely. For a lot of babies that is often between 3 to 6 months of age, although many are moved earlier or later.
Cribs are also no longer considered a necessity as long as you have a safe crib alternative for sleeping. These alternatives need to have a firm sleep surface without soft objects or loose bedding, preferably in the same room as the parents. There are several crib alternatives you can choose from if you choose to go that route:
- Bassinet – A bassinet is a popular option because it is smaller than a crib and takes up less space especially in a smaller room; some can even be used as sidecars so baby can sleep close to mom without bed sharing. Most bassinets are safe until babies are around 15-20 pounds or when the baby begins to roll over. At that point, it is important to get a crib or a longer-lasting alternative.
- Pack-n-play – Designed as a safe area for playing, your pack-n-play can double as a sleeping space and has additional options such as a bassinet and changing table. These can save on space since it can be folded up and put away when not in use. Parents with limited space often opt to use this in lieu of a crib as their baby’s permanent bed.
- Travel crib – These are lightweight, portable, and designed for parents who are traveling with their babies. Just like the pack-n-play, many parents might use this instead of buying a crib, especially if space is limited or baby spends a lot of time sleeping away from home (at grandparents’ house, for example).
I’ve covered crib alternatives in more detail if you want to look at more options!
Reasons to buy a crib right away
Many parents are excited and see getting a crib as a stepping stone in preparing for a new baby.
Reasons to have the crib ready when you bring your little one home include:
Baby needs its own space
Many parents find it easier to sleep with their baby in their own crib, in their own bedroom immediately after coming home from the hospital. They find that they get more sleep and it’s a better fit for them.
“My babies sleep in their own room,” said Lauren from Arkansas in a recent Facebook poll. “We all got more sleep that way because I would jump at each of the baby’s movements, and wake my husband up. We had a good monitor set up and were able to sleep easier that way.”
Parents may also choose to put the crib in the bedroom so that the baby is room sharing, and within reach, but still in their crib. Many parents will opt for this if they have space in their bedroom. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that your baby room shares with you until at least 6 months old in order to help prevent SIDS.
The transition will be easier
By having the baby in their crib from the beginning, there will be no need to transition to another bed. They are already in their beds, sometimes in their own room.
If you start with your baby in your room, the move to their room will be easier since the baby is already used to their bed.
Jennifer from Nevada said, “When we moved our daughter from our room to her own room, it wasn’t that big of a deal. She was already used to being in her crib so it was the same sleeping area, just in her room.”
Fewer items to have around the house
By using a crib immediately, parents would not need to get a bassinet or potentially a pack-n-play.
These items become optional and there would not be a need to store them once the baby outgrows it.
“I never got a pack-n-play for my babies,” said Julie from Massachusetts in a Facebook poll. “I had them in the crib from the get-go and just had a safe area for them to play in. I didn’t want to spend the money for extra items that were not necessary.”
Having it done
Many parents choose to get their baby’s crib ready before birth simply so it’s already taken care of.
Once your baby is born, there is very little time for assembling cribs and decorating nurseries. Sometimes there isn’t time for a shower! Even if you don’t plan on using it immediately, having the crib already set up is one less thing you have to worry about.
Even better – having it already done means there’s little to no risk of exposing your newborn to potentially dangerous gases once you do start setting the crib up.
Reasons to wait to buy a crib
There are a variety of reasons parents will choose to wait to get a crib as well.
Here are some reasons parents may opt to buy a crib or even skip getting one completely.
Many families live in small apartments and just do not have the space to set up a crib.
Even if the baby is in the master bedroom, there may not be space to have a crib there. Using a safe crib-alternative can be useful to help save on that space.
Gina, who lives with her family in Southern California, lives in a two-bedroom apartment. She had given away everything from her second child, including the crib so when she found out she was pregnant with her third, she and her husband decided to use a pack-n-play as their new baby’s sleeping space. “We knew that we couldn’t put him in with our older children so having him in our room in a pack-n-play was a good, safe alternative.”
Wanting baby to sleep in the same room
Many parents may feel that it’s unnecessary to have a crib set up when it won’t be in use for a while.
Since the current recommendation is to have the baby stay in the same room for the first 6 months to a year, parents may just opt to wait to buy a crib until they are ready for that transition.
Amanda from North Carolina had her first in their bedroom. “I was extremely nervous about him being across the house so we opted for the pack-n-play and waited to get a crib until he was older and I was ready for that transition. He was about 15 months when he finally moved to his own room!”
Cost is another factor when looking at using a pack-n-play first.
You can get a pack-n-play for around $60 whereas a cheaper crib will start at $100 on Amazon without the mattress which is at least another $50. For just over a third of the price you can get a pack-n-play, providing a safe sleeping space for your baby.
Whichever way you decide, the most important thing is to make sure your baby has a safe space to sleep.