In this series on eco-friendly, non-toxic cribs, I’ve already looked at the best hardwood crib options. Sadly, for many, these hardwood cribs are either out of range due to price or simply inaccessible due to location. Thankfully, there are some fantastic softwood cribs available, so in this article I’ll offer my recommendations for mid-range and budget non-toxic cribs that don’t break the bank, including the one I plan on purchasing in the (hopefully) near future!
There are pluses and minuses to cribs made with softwood. Pine, poplar, beech, and other softwoods are lighter and make for a cheaper crib than hardwoods. However, they are more easily dinged and scratched and may not be robust enough to be reused, making them less eco-friendly and less cost-effective than a durable hardwood crib. Still, if you’re on a budget and only planning on having one child, a cheaper softwood crib might be perfect for you.
Let’s take a look at some of the best companies making softwood cribs, and my top picks for eco-friendly, non-toxic, safe cribs that won’t break the bank. You can read about our unique research process here.
If I was a little taller, Ikea’s Sniglar would be my favorite budget crib option. It costs just $79 or so and can easily be converted into a toddler bed. The Sniglar used to be made with a combination of beechwood and a pesky MDF mattress base. Thankfully, Ikea responded well to customer concerns and now make the entire crib with unfinished beechwood – no nasty toxic finishes or stains.
One downside to the Sniglar is that it only has two mattress level options, so it may not be ideal if you’re shorter than around 5’3” or have difficulty reaching down to lift out an infant. One other downside to this crib is that it’s so popular, it frequently goes out of stock at Ikea! So, don’t rely on this as a last minute option if your more expensive crib hasn’t shown up in time. Instead, if you’re worried that baby might arrive before your fancier crib, consider getting a Sniglar when it’s in stock, leaving it in its packaging, and simply returning it if you don’t have cause to use it.
The Ikea Sundvik and Gulliver cribs are very similar to the Sniglar, but these are made with beech and fiberboard, so beware.
DaVinci’s Kalani 4-in-1 Crib (View Price on Walmart) is my top pick overall of these softwood cribs and costs around $179 by itself and around $220 with the toddler rail conversion kit. It is made with sustainably sourced New Zealand pine wood, is Greenguard Gold Certified to have low formaldehyde and lead, is relatively inexpensive, fairly easy to assemble, looks great, and performs well over many years. It’s a Wirecutter and Consumer Reports top pick, so I’m not alone in extolling the virtues of the DaVinci Kalani, especially as it can be converted into a toddler bed, day bed, and full bed with relative ease.
Babyletto’s 3-in-1 Lolly Crib is my favorite crib in terms of design, thanks to its contrasting spindles and frame (the spindles are always natural pine, while the rest of the crib can be white, black, or grey), rounded edges, and tapered, peg-like feet. Like the Kalani, the Lolly is made with pine, is Greenguard Gold Certified, has four adjustable mattress positions, and can be converted into a toddler bed and a day bed, but not a full size bed. At around $400 (which includes the conversion toddler rail), the Lolly is quite a bit more than the DaVinci Kalani, though.
Babyletto’s 3-in-1 Hudson Crib is another good option for a softwood crib and is also available in two-tones, as well as white, grey, and a blush pink. This design has angled legs and round spindles, is also made with pine, has four adjustable mattress positions, and can be converted into a toddler bed and a day bed, but not a full size bed. It costs around $379 at Target currently (including the toddler conversion rail), again making it quite a bit more than the DaVinci Kalani but with less longevity as your child grows.
Babyletto’s Modo 3-in-1 Crib is similar in price to the Kalani, ranging from $359-$379 on Amazon currently, depending on your color choices (this includes the toddler rail for conversion). This model is, again, Greenguard Gold Certified, made with New Zealand Pine and can be converted to a toddler bed or day bed. It has four adjustable mattress positions and has a more ‘blocky’ appearance, with straight legs and bars instead of spindles.
Pottery Barn’s Kendall Convertible Crib is also Greenguard Gold Certified and ranges in price from around $568-$599, although I’ve seen it on sale recently for less than $400. This is a Craftsman-style crib made with solid poplar wood, which is a little harder than pine. Mortise and tenon joints and tongue and groove joinery are used, which minimizes the need for glue and makes for a more robust crib. This crib is also made in a Fair Trade Certified™ factory, has three adjustable mattress positions, and it can be converted into a toddler bed (you’ll have to buy a separate conversion kit).
Unfortunately, the Kendall has in-built plastic teething rails, although Pottery Barn don’t list this in their materials, which seems rather disingenuous. For around the same price, Pottery Barn also make a Low Profile version of the Kendall Crib that is four inches shorter, making it much easier for folks like me to pick up an infant from the crib.
Being softwood, all of these cribs can get easily dinged and chewed, but with care they could be used for several babies. Other companies to consider for softwood cribs include:
- David Colby – Carter’s Crib
- Crate and Kids (formerly Land of Nod) – Carousel Crib
The David Colby Carter’s Crib is Greenguard Gold Certified but is made with a combination of solid pine and recycled wood fiberboard (which, presumably, given the certification, is formaldehyde-safe). It is very quick to assemble but by many accounts isn’t all that sturdy, which may be why it’s a little cheaper than some other options (at around $250). If you’re considering this one, I’d urge you to look again at the DaVinci Kalani, which is about the same price and made of solid wood.
The Carousel Crib is made with solid poplar and has a variety of non-toxic color options available, but it is made in China and is more expensive than many other options (at around $799, without the toddler conversion rail). There are also several reports of paint easily chipping off when chewed by teething toddlers and it isn’t all that easy to track down. All in all, this is a decent option if you’re looking for a particular color not offered by DaVinci or Babyletto, or the other companies already mentioned, but isn’t a top choice overall.
One crib option I’d stay away from is the Fisher Price Newbury 4-in-1 Convertible Crib. While it’s made of solid pine, this model is manufactured by a third-party and seems to be plagued with issues such as missing parts. And, while it’s convertible, it seems rather difficult to track down the conversion components, which may make this budget (circa $150) crib a lot less cost effective compared to, say, the Sniglar or Sundvik in the long run. The Sniglar and Sundvik also seem to be sturdier than the Fisher Price model.
For a little extra fun, you might want to check out Micuna’s Life Crib (View Price on Amazon). This crib is made with solid beechwood and uses water-based paints for the spindles, which you can customize with three different colors. It is also convertible to a toddler bed and a day bed.
Non-toxic, water-based finishes may still emit some VOCs, but generally at a much lower level than oil-based finishes. You may also be able to order a crib with unfinished wood and treat it at home with a linseed oil finish.
You’ll want to ask manufacturers if any part of the crib is made with engineered or composite wood and ask about how the wood is treated and any finishes, glues, or stains used as standard. And, if your chosen crib does have the potential for off-gassing VOCs, order it early, so you have a good chance to air it out before use. Continue to air out a baby’s room whenever you can.
The best mini cribs
DaVinci also offer the Kalani in a Mini Crib size (View Price on Walmart), which is perfect if you have a smaller space. This crib is Greenguard Gold Certified, but it’s made with a combination of solid pine and CARB II compliant MDF.
My favorite mini crib option is the Bloom Mini Crib (View Price on Amazon), which is made with solid wood, low VOC baby safe finishes, is MDF-free, lead-free, BPA-free, phthalate-free, and formaldehyde-free. This crib is also foldable, easily stored, requires no tools for set-up (which takes just 5 minutes), and can turn your hallway closet into a convenient nursery if you’re pushed for space. It’s also available in a really lovely green color, perfect for any eco-friendly nursery aesthetic.
The best softwood cribs with storage
If you’re looking for cribs with in-built storage or add-ons like change tables, you might want to consider the following:
- West Elm + Pottery Barn Kids Modern Convertible Storage Crib
- Babyletto’s Bingo 3-in-1 Convertible Crib and Storage Combination
Babyletto’s Bingo crib is made with both pine and composite wood, but this model is at least Greenguard Gold Certified and the MDF is CARB II compliant, offering decent assurance of low-VOC emissions.
West Elm + Pottery Barn Kids Modern Convertible Storage Crib is a little more pricy than the other options at around $799 but it is Greenguard Gold Certified, is made using solid poplar and ash, and is made in a Fair Trade factory, so it has some pretty solid eco-credentials in addition to safety certification.
Unfortunately, two other popular cribs with storage, the Graco Tatum 4-in-1 Convertible Crib and Changer Combo with Storage and Graco Remi 3-in-1 Convertible Crib and Changer Combo are made with pine wood and wood composites. As such, I can’t recommend these, especially as they don’t have Greenguard Gold Certification or CARB II certification.
In terms of travel cribs, the two options you might want to look into are:
- Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light (View Price on Amazon)
- Guava Family – Lotus Everywhere Travel Crib (View Price on Amazon)
I’ve listed a lot of brands and products in this article, which I hope means there’s something to suit every growing family. For a super budget option, Ikea’s Sniglar crib is the clear winner. And, in the mid-range, marrying cost, design, and safety, DaVinci’s Kalani 4-in-1 gets my seal of approval.
When it comes time for me to buy a new crib, I confess that I’ll probably let my frugal nature win out and go with the Sniglar. That way, I can finish the crib myself with linseed oil and spend the savings on a really nice organic crib mattress and other essentials where it’s harder to find budget options. But, if I’m feeling flush and can find a good sale, I’d jump at the Babyletto Lolly or the DaVinci Kalani. And, if I win the lottery and don’t care to donate my winnings to charities, I’d snap up the beautiful maple wood Gradient Crib from Nursery Works for a cool $10k.
If you’re on the hunt for more information on eco-friendly and sustainable cribs, the following posts may help: