There is so much information out there on baby cribs it is OVERWHELMING. And it’s overwhelming even if you are NOT concerned with toxicity. Throw chemicals from wood, paint, and glue in there, and you have information overload. I’m not going to run through 800 different types of cribs and all of the toxins in each. I created this blog to make things easier for others. And if you’re like me, you’ll probably read 100 different blog posts and then settle on the few you feel is your best fit for guidance.
So, the absolute least toxic (nontoxic) cribs out there seem to cost quite a bit of money. If you have $600 plus to spend on a crib, they would be worth it. I’m not trying to cut corners by not reviewing all these options, but they’ve been written about a lot, and it is relatively easy to find a nontoxic crib at that price-point.
Crib & Bassinet
My choice was the Babymod’s Parklane Crib. I also purchased the Babyletto Bowery Bassinet. Babymod and Babyletto are both part of the Million Dollar Baby company (MDB). Neither the crib nor the bassinet is entirely nontoxic, but they appear less toxic than others. For their price point (about $300 for the crib and what came to $250 for the bassinet), these were the best options for us.
The crib is made of solid wood – New Zealand pine – except for a thin piece of MDF (medium density fiberboard) on the bottom panel of the pull-out drawer. People caution against MDF because it contains formaldehyde. I was not overly concerned with this, since it’s a small piece and my little one is not sleeping directly on the MDF. If you wanted a crib without the MDF, you can check out the Olivia model.
The bassinet also has MDF on the bottom. While the babe is closer to this MDF (with only the mattress in between) than the MDF in the under-drawer of the crib, I still went with it given MDB’s assurances that their formaldehyde levels are undetectable.
One thing that REALLY irked me about the bassinet is that it came with a polyurethane foam mattress, compliant with CA TB 117, and had a sticker on it that something to the effect of “while we try to make safe products, there are chemicals in this mattress, known to the state of California, to cause harm.” They listed the types of harm; I just don’t remember. I wish I had taken a picture of the sticker. Anyway, after ALL my research on them, after all the emails with the company to ensure I’d be happy with their product, I ended up with a mattress that had been treated with flame retardants. I wrote them a scathing email, and I custom ordered a mattress and sheets from Naturepedic (which ended up doubling the price of the bassinet). MDB actually discusses this topic in a post on their Q&A forum. Not sure their response makes me feel any better, but thought it was worth noting.
I do love the bassinet, though. It is quite large and very sturdy. Initially, I thought it too large, but it turned out to be perfect because our little one could sleep in it for much longer.
Info regarding the crib and bassinet (from MDB website, MDB’s Q&A site, and emails to me):
- The same finish is used on the bassinet and the Parklane Crib. All elements for these products are within maximum allowance. The test results for the lead levels are less than 1 mg/kg while the limits ranges are from 25 to 1000 mg/kg.
- The cribs are lead, formaldehyde, and phthalate SAFE (not free of these substances). The formaldehyde levels are undetectable.
- Paint is considered safe when it has toxic materials under 300 parts per million (ppm). In order to claim low toxicity, products must have no more than 90 ppm. Our products come in at less than 10ppm
- In order for Latex and Flat finish paints to be considered Low-VOC paint, the paint would need to be <250 g/l, for an Oil-based and All Other Paint it would need to be <380 g/l. In order for all paints to be VOC-Free paint, they would need to be <5 g/l. We use these numbers as reference for Low or Zero-VOC, published by US EPA for the VOC emissions standards for architectural coatings. So far there are no standards set for VOC amounts. With that being said, any manufacturers could state that their paint is Low-VOC or even Zero-VOC. The VOC amounts are different due to different manufacturers, different paint suppliers/formula. The majority of our products’ test results were under 380 g/l. Due to the sensitivity of our supplier’s info, please note that unfortunately we will not be able to provide the actual test reports. But the overall test results are as mentioned.
I went with the least expensive Naturepedic mattress, and that still rang in about $270. Their mattresses don’t contain any flame retardants at all, but still meet all flammability requirements because they choose less flammable materials (organic cotton) and do not use polyurethane foam. Their mattresses are certified to GOTS and Greenguard Select. Another reason I went with them is because I read great reviews about their customer service. I personally experienced this when ordering the custom-made bassinet mattress, and although I haven’t had any issues with our mattress yet, it’s nice to know if I have any, I’ll be working with a great company.
NaturalBabyMama recommends Lifekind mattresses as well. (See her “Things I wish I registered for…” post.) I looked briefly into their mattresses, but they are really expensive – about $500 a pop, and that’s the sale price. Check out her post, though, for why she wishes she had gone with Lifekind.
I ordered Coyuchi crib sheets. Nearly all of their cotton products are GOTS certified. (A note on their FAQs page says that some unique items, like the Cozy Blanket, are not GOTS certified but Okeo-Tex certified.) Their cotton is sourced from India and Turkey and their cotton products made in India, Turkey, Germany, and Portugal. As mentioned, for the bassinet, I went with Naturepedic sheets because I needed them custom sized. Their custom sizing for the sheets did not cost anything more than their regularly sized sheets, which I found pretty impressive.
I also bought organic QuickZip sheets for the crib. I don’t think they are GOTS certified, but I’ve emailed the company. I haven’t used them yet since I’m not sure about the quality of the cotton, but if it turns out it’s solid, I will look forward to it. They look like they are the easiest sheets everrrrr to use!
Okay, maybe not a nursery essential, but we are on the topic of cribs! I originally registered for a Graco Pack N’ Play. Then I realized it was made with polyurethane foam that had been treated with flame retardants, so I returned it. That said, CA TB 117 changed in December 2013, and when I emailed Graco asking if their play yards contain flame retardants, they told me that if you get one that was manufactured after January 1, 2014 and does NOT have the CA TB 117 tag, there will NOT be flame retardants in the play yard. Hooray! (But too late for us, since I needed the travel crib before then.)
We went with the Baby Bjorn Lite Travel Crib. It does have a mattress made of polyurethane foam. This kinda freaked me out so I went online to check it out. Baby Bjorn is clear that all of their products are certified to the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 Class 1 (baby product class – most stringent). This standard prohibits the use of flame retardant chemicals (e.g., Tris, PBB, TEPA, TCEP9, etc.) in products made for children and prohibits harmful substances. So, I feel okay about the polyurethane mattress. Also, their newer models have the mesh material all the way down the crib, instead of just half-way. When we got ours, the bottom piece of the crib was not mesh and not breathable. I remember thinking: “Why isn’t this whole thing mesh?!” Apparently, others thought the same and Baby Bjorn made the change.
I later found out that Nuna has something similar, so for my parent’s home, we went with the Nuna Sena. Nuna’s fabrics are also certified to the Oeko-Tex Standard, and they also just started making these products without flame retardants. If you want one without flame retardants, though, be sure to email the company. (Their customer service is AWESOME.)