Secondhand Cribs–Are They Safe? Are They Green?

 In the March issue of ShopSmart, put out by the publisher of Consumer Reports, experts analyzed used baby gear to determine “when you can gratefully say yes and when you should gracefully say no thanks.”  I am devoting several  posts to discussing their findings.  I’ve already written about baby bath tubs and car seats.

ShopSmart discusses secondhand cribs:

Safe: Any crib that was manufactured after the year 2000 should be fine, as long as it is not broken or missing any pieces.

Not Safe:  Prior to 2000, cribs were held to different safety standards, and will not be acceptable for your baby, even if you slept soundly in them. Any crib with cutouts in the headboard, and corner posts over sixteen inches pose serious risks for a child’s safety.

My sister, daughter, first cousin once removed, and I all slept in this crib (not at the same time!). 

Wow, I’ve got to say that I find this advice rather extreme.   I do think child safety is important, but it’s hard for me to think that every crib manufactured before the year 2000 needs to go straight to a landfill.  I used my own crib (from the seventies!) for my daughter.   It meets all the safety standards set by the American Academy of Pediatrics, so I felt fine about using it.  Almost everyone I know with kids–which, admittedly, is not that many people–has a hand-me-down crib, too.  Are we just nuts?  Would you consider a used crib (if your baby slept in a crib)?

I have to say that using my old crib for my daughter worked for me and her.  For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, go to We are THAT Family, the new WFMW host!


  1. If it met the safety standards, wasn’t painted and was in good working order? I’d definitely consider it. I understand that they changed the standards in 2000, but surely that can’t mean that none of the pre-2000 cribs conformed.

    It looks like your crib aged quite gracefully!

  2. I have a beautiful crib that retailed for over $400. It met all safety standards and was gently used. By gently, I mean not a scratch anywhere. I bought it for $50 at a yard sale. Their daughter had used it for just a few months. Rock On! Now my daughter has a designer crib that I never would have bought her. I’m picky about my second hand things though.
    My crib that I slept in as a baby was second hand when my mom got it. My two nephews and niece also used it years later. It finally died under one such nephew who was just a demolition boy.

  3. This is something we’ve been debating over as well. It’s probably worthwhile to compare the pre- and post-200 safety standards.

  4. We’re using a second hand crib. My daughter who is at this moment sleeping in it is actually the 5th baby to use it. I’m not sure what I will do when she out grows it because it’s not really sellable anymore. It’s still safe but it’s a bear to take apart because we haven’t been very gentle when we’ve moved it and have bent some of the metal parts of the spring that attach to the frame. I’m sure that makes no sense and sounds much worse than it is. I don’t really just want to dump it but I also don’t really just want to pass on a not really great crib. I wonder if there are any crib recycling programs!

  5. My daughter is currently sleeping in the crib that my sisters and I slept in as babies.

  6. My dad built me a cradle as a baby. Both my son & daughter slept in it until they grew too big. It is a unique & precious family heirloom, reminding me how my dad was excited for my birth and planned ahead, meticulously crafting a cradle for his little baby!
    For my daughter I bought a $400+ crib second-hand for $75, which included 2 very expensive crib mattresses. It had been used for one baby, so I felt it was a great deal on a beautiful piece of furniture! It was exactly the crib I wanted, but didn’t think I could afford.
    My son is only 17 months younger than my daughter, so I was given a crib for him by someone who no longer needed it. It was probably a $250 crib–for free–so not bad, although I would have preferred a darker wood for a boy. 🙂 But I’m so thankful! . . . And I will pass it on too, if it has any life left after we are finished having kids. 🙂

  7. My son is currently sleeping in my crib from 1979. It was also used by several of my family members over the years. Even though it is 30 years old, it does meet all the current safety standards. I’m thrilled to have such a precious family heirloom, and wouldn’t trade it for a new one if someone gave one to me! Do measure and check for safety, but certainly don’t discount a crib just because it was made before 2000.


    According to these sites, used cribs are safer because they have already offgassed. Cribs made with particle board can release formaldehyde, and apparently even wood is sometimes treated with offgassing finish.

  9. We bought a solid oak crib from our best friends. It was a few years old, but I did the soda can test (a can of soda did not fit through the bars, so theoretically neither could a baby’s head).

    The real wood crib is so much more solid and sturdy than a lot of those I see for sale today.

    It’s being used by our second child right now and I don’t see why it would have to go to the landfill when we are done.

  10. Thank you, everyone, for your replies. You’ve brought up a lot of good points. Abby, you said, “surely that can’t mean that none of the pre-2000 cribs conformed.” This is what bothers be about the pre-2000 ban on used cribs! SOME of them might not meet the new safety standards (whatever those may be–you’re right, Kiwi, that we need to look into that!)–but most will! This reminds me of when I was pregnant and heard, “You can’t drink coffee or eat soft cheeses,” only to find later that you can drink a certain amount of coffee–2 cups!–every day and that you can eat soft cheeses if they’re made from pasturized milk. These safety regulations are just trying to cover their bases. The problem with this is that it leads to a lot of unnecessary waste, both of resources and money.

    When I was researching cribs, I read several places that I should never, ever use a secondhand crib. Those guidelines I linked to above by the AAP made me feel fine about using a crib from the 1970s, because it conforms to current safety standards.

    One more point: New cribs get recalled all the time! Buying a brand new crib does not guarantee its safety. There may be some recent innovation in crib technology that will be viewed as completely unsafe in the future. It sounds like most of us are able to use specific safety standards and common sense to determine whether a used crib is a good option.

  11. I have always wondered about this – with three children I have so many things that are just sitting around not being used. But it’s good to read that since it was made after 2000, I can give it away or sell it and it’s not a safety hazard.

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