Here's How To Know Your Crib Has "Expired"

Baby gear is expensive. Between clothes, diapers, bottles, car seats, highchairs, strollers, cribs, and everything else your little one needs, the cost adds up fast. So when you find out you're pregnant with baby number two, you may wonder if you can reuse some of all the baby stuff you've accumulated since becoming parents the first time. But that brings up another question: Do cribs expire or is it safe to use one that you've had for several years, one that your other babies slept in?

Although cribs don't technically expire (unlike car seats, which have an expiration date printed on them, according to Parenting), safety regulations do change and recalls occasionally happen, as well. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published its most recent federal safety guidelines for cribs in June 2011. These updated rules prohibited the sale of any cribs with a side that drops down. Additionally, the regulations call for the slats or spindles of cribs to be made with "stronger woods to prevent breakage," since older babies tend to push and pull on these slats, and improved hardware so that the pieces holding the crib together don't loosen or come apart.

The other potential issue with reusing older cribs, especially if they're much, much older (i.e. the family heirloom you or one of your parents slept in) is that cribs end up with wear and tear over time like anything else. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), peeling paint, wood splinters or rough patches on cribs could be hazardous to the baby sleeping in it. Checking a crib, any crib you're planning to use, really, to make sure that these hazards won't be a danger to your little one can help keep him or her safe.

Additionally, making sure the slats in your desired crib don't feel loose and that mattress fits in the crib snugly can help determine if the crib is safe to use or not, according to the Safe Bee website. One suggestion mentioned on some of the online mommy boards, as well as the CPSC website, is the soda (or pop) can test. Essentially, the test says that if you can fit a soda can through the slats of a crib, the crib isn't safe for a baby because there's a danger that a baby's body could get wedged between the slats.

Taking a crib from a friend or reusing one you already have can without a doubt save you a little bit of money, and it might be money your family needs. But, of course, you also want to do what's best for your family and your baby. Although SheKnows noted that it isn't illegal to use a crib you already have or one that a family member or friend wants to give you, being aware of the dangers that these older, hand-me-down cribs may present is important in order for you and your partner to make the best decision for your family.