Decisions, Decisions: A Concerned Mom Searches For The Perfect Crib : The Baby Project Emily Grace Whebbe spent hours researching what crib and baby products to buy for her little one.
NPR logo Decisions, Decisions: A Concerned Mom Searches For The Perfect Crib

Decisions, Decisions: A Concerned Mom Searches For The Perfect Crib

Emily Grace Whebbe spent hours researching what crib to buy before settling on this model by Babyletto. Courtesy of Emily Grace Whebbe hide caption

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Courtesy of Emily Grace Whebbe

Emily Grace Whebbe spent hours researching what crib to buy before settling on this model by Babyletto.

Courtesy of Emily Grace Whebbe

Wow, this week flew by! I'm full term now and it was just my birthday, so there is a lot to celebrate. Let the waiting begin! I usually have a hard time believing that I'm another year older, but this year I simply don't. I feel I need all the years of wisdom I can before this baby is born, and although 27 is just a number, I'm telling myself it means I have 27 years of helpful insight behind me. All I want for my birthday is to be more patient and to have a healthy baby. At this point, I'm almost ready to be done being pregnant and ready to hold her.

A lot of people have been asking about what crib I chose. My hours of research (literally over 10 hours), were exhausting and didn't really turn up any perfect solution. I read reviews, blogs, manufacturers' documentation, etc., and had a really hard time deciding.

Ideally, I'd have a handmade crib from reclaimed wood, finished with linseed oil and designed by me. With my budget, it felt like trying to find a unicorn, and I didn't find any woodworkers willing to tackle the safety regulations of a crib. I did find this one, but it was just a little too expensive after the toddler rail and such.

It wasn't a pressing issue really, because we are going to allow the baby to co-sleep for a while, as I've done countless hours of research on it and feel that we're educated and careful enough to be safe. I'm the lightest sleeper I know. Still, I wanted to have a crib for when she's older. We also have a used cradle found on Craigslist for which I sewed a custom bumper and ordered a reasonably priced organic bassinet mattress from Naturepedic.

About Emily

Emily Grace Whebbe, 26, from St. Paul, Minn., is a first-time mom who gave birth to her daughter, Revira, on Aug. 4. She delivered naturally with a midwife at a birth center, accompanied by her partner, Kai.

So although the crib won't be necessary for a few months, I still wanted to decide while we had time. I wanted a crib with: sustainably harvested solid wood; nontoxic finishes — meaning low or no VOCs (volatile organic compounds); no MDF (medium-density fiberboard that can release formaldehyde); a modern, simple look; maybe a drawer for storage; a metal spring platform (so when baby jumps around it doesn't break, and most non-metal platforms are made of MDF); and an affordable price.

This was a lot to ask for, which surprised me actually. I didn't realize cribs meeting all these requirements would cost at least $1,000! Add the cost of a nice organic mattress and I'd be out of money! I decided there is something sustainable in itself by being frugal.

In the end, I chose the Babyletto Mercer crib, as it had all the things I required, and even came with the toddler rail for a conversion into a toddler bed. Most cribs charge $100+ extra for this. For the nice price of around $400, I felt it was too good to be true! It arrived, and indeed, it was too good to be true. Although the manufacturer claimed none of their products contained MDF, it does.

Since it has a drawer (they make another one without a drawer), the two pieces of wood that make up the drawer bottom are MDF. Tiny, thin, coated MDF. I was a little more than upset, but I didn't want to be overly picky. I could order the one without a drawer, ensuring it wouldn't have any MDF, but it would take a few more weeks, and I felt I needed to have this done before the baby arrives.

I notified the manufacturer that they should be more precise in their descriptions, and although I felt a little cheated, I felt like this was something I had to let go of: The crib was already at my door, it had a lot of good features, the MDF would be far away from the baby's face, and I could coat it with something to prevent off-gassing. Also, MDF is just one of the many toxins I'm probably not going to be able to protect her from forever.

Above all, I chose a really nice mattress and plan to surround it with organic fibers. I chose the Pebble mattress by Nook and absolutely love it. All in all, I feel the baby will be satisfied with my choices, or at least my effort, when she becomes older and I tell her the story of how I agonized about wanting to afford a handmade crib costing $1,000+.

Sure, this crib isn't perfect, but it's everything we need right now, which is all I can really hope for. It will look great in the home we'll make for her — which is another post to come!

What features were important to you when buying a crib? Were you satisfied with your choice?