Are Iron Cribs Safe?

Iron cribs can look wonderful in a baby nursery. But are they safe?

It's understandable that parents would worry about the safety of their child's crib. After all, infants are often in cribs unmonitored; if something was to go wrong, the parents might not even know about the problem until it was too late. To make matters worse, crib death is real, and it's a problem. The last thing you want as a parent is to put your child at risk accidentally by purchasing a dangerous crib.

But are iron cribs really dangerous? The short answer is not usually, and we recommend Bratt Decor Iron Cribs to safety-conscious (and design-conscious) parents. But there are some things you as a parent should probably know before going on the hunt for an iron baby crib.

A Safe Baby Crib

Crib shopping can be scary, but in the United States, it is hard to buy a new crib that is not safe. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has a number of regulations in place to ensure that your baby crib is safe. These regulations include dynamic impact testing of the mattress support system, impact testing of side rails and slat strength, latching mechanism tests, and requirements for fasteners. Each of these regulations is designed to force manufacturers to only produce and sell cribs that you can trust. 

And these regulations are very stringent. Crib slats, for example, need to withstand at least 80 pound of force in impact testing before they can be sold. That’s a lot of strength for a crib slat.

The regulations are also updated regularly. For instance, in 2011, the CPSC updated its regulations about drop-sides on cribs. This was in reaction to 32 infant deaths from drop-sides between 2001 and 2010. The CPSC decided drop-sides added unnecessary risk and adjusted their regulations accordingly. Cribs are constantly getting safer, and the average crib bought today is likely safer than average crib from ten years ago.

Avoid Used Cribs

Unlike new cribs, used baby cribs can potentially pose a danger to infants. For example, you might find a pre-2011 crib with drop-down sides at a yard sale. The drop-sides may seem nice to some parents (after all, they were originally designed to allow parents to have easier access to the crib), but the CPSC banned the feature for a reason.

Used cribs are also problematic because you don’t know how they were treated by the previous owner. The federal government monitors the cribs sold by companies (and those companies risk large lawsuits if they fail to treat their cribs well). But no one monitors consumers. This uncertainty leads many (including us) to recommend avoiding used cribs altogether, even if you know the cribs were manufactured fairly recently.

Another danger of old cribs is lead paint. A used crib may have still have lead paint, even if the crib has been repainted. The paint underneath might reveal itself over time (or still be visible in hard-to-reach areas of the crib). Babies love to chew; and if they chew on the crib they could strip new paint off and begin eating the lead beneath. This can result in permanent neurological damage. Again, we suggest avoiding used cribs entirely.

Iron Crib Safety 

New iron cribs must meet all CPSC safety standards, just like any other crib. And the CPSC has no regulations banning iron cribs. The department specifically notes: “the crib standards do not dictate the type of material from which a crib must be made.” Thus, there appears to be no reason to think new iron cribs are anything but safe.

In fact, iron might be safer for your baby in some ways. Wood can change over time; often wood responds to moisture in the air and contracts, expands, or cracks. Iron doesn’t change if it has been properly sealed. Iron also tends to endure longer than wood. Oddly enough, iron crib safety is sometimes thought to be an issue because the cribs are so durable. These cribs tend to last, so you still see some vintage iron cribs floating around from many years ago (before the new regulations for cribs were enacted). 

Things to Look Out For

Even though the CPSC keeps a tight leash on crib manufacturers, you may feel better doing some checking yourself. To be honest, we did too. So here are some warning signs to look out for if you are shopping for an iron crib or setting up your baby's crib:

  • Tall Crib Posts. Tall posts may not appear risky, but one day your baby will be able to stand. And at that point a tall post may pose a strangulation risk if the infant's clothing gets caught on the post.
  • Large gaps between the sides of the crib and the mattress. You want a mattress that fits snugly in the crib. If you can fit more than two fingers between the side of the crib and the crib mattress, the gap is too large and poses a suffocation risk.
  • Difficult assembly. If you are not confident that you can properly assemble the crib, then you may want to either call the manufacturer for help, hire a professional, or buy a different crib. 
  • Extra padding. Stick with the materials that have been created in accordance to CPSC regulations. Extra padding may create large gaps and result in suffocation. And too much padding also correlates with crib death.
  • Slat problems. Slats and corner posts of a crib should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart.
  • Baby bumpers. There are multiple pieces of research that indicate baby bumpers can and do cause infant death .

Our Recommendation

We have found no better iron cribs than those at Bratt Decor. The company make gorgeous cribs, but more importantly it makes safe cribs. The company’s cribs either meet or exceed every U.S. safety standard, and the company has never had to recall its cribs (which is absolutely phenonenal). The cribs are “powder coated and sealed to resist chipping, rusting, and changes.” And the finish on the cribs is silky smooth. If you are looking for an iron crib, we highly recommend that you consider Bratt Decor.

Bratt Decor’s Amazon store can be found here.