Our Rating: 4/5 (See: How Leaf Score is calculated)
- Bestseller for DaVinci for more than 10 years
- Inexpensive and sturdy
- Can be converted into a toddler bed, day bed, and full bed with relative ease
|Country of Origin:||China and Taiwan|
|Materials:||New Zealand Pine|
Metal mattress support
Meets ASTM international and U.S. CPSC safety standards
DaVinci’s Kalani 4-in-1 crib (View Price on Walmart) is my top pick overall for a softwood crib and is both inexpensive and sturdy, which is a rare combination. It is made with sustainably sourced New Zealand pine wood, is Greenguard Gold Certified, looks great, and performs well over many years. It has been a bestseller for DaVinci for more than 10 years and is a Wirecutter and Consumer Reports top pick, so I’m not alone in extoling the virtues of the DaVinci Kalani. What’s more, this is one of the few cribs at this price point that can be converted into a toddler bed, day bed, and full bed with relative ease.
As it is Greenguard Gold Certified, this crib has been screened for 360 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and over 10,000 chemicals. It is certified as having low-VOCs, including low formaldehyde and low lead, but it is not necessarily formaldehyde-free or lead-free, and there is no option for an unfinished crib.
The DaVinci Kalani is made with sustainably sourced New Zealand Pine, which is a consistent wood with no knots and has a relatively low environmental footprint. However, the cribs are made in Asia, mainly in Taiwan and China. It would be great if DaVinci moved their manufacturing to the US, Canada, or Europe, where quality control and worker safety are better protected, but this would likely increase the cost of this crib quite significantly.
One other downside to the DaVinci is that it can be a little fiddly to assemble, taking around an hour for someone with a decent degree of Allen key experience. Personally, I like a good furniture challenge, but this may be hard to do when quite pregnant and/or in a rush. This crib has around 14 pieces to fit together, while some other cribs only have four or so (plus mattress support). You’ll need both the Allen key (included) and a Phillips head screwdriver to put this beauty together.
As this crib has a sleigh-like ‘roll’ to the pieces, it’s also likely you’ll have some confusion over which side faces which way as you assemble it. Other cribs are largely symmetrical, making it harder to mess up and have to remove pieces to flip them around. The instructions aren’t always that helpful either, given that they’re largely graphics rather than written instructions. The pieces are all labelled, however, so it’s best to lay out all your pieces, bolts (which come in five lengths), barrel nuts, wood dowels, washers (two types) and all before starting.
The good news is that once it’s assembled, it’s fairly straightforward to adjust the mattress support as your baby grows and can start sitting up and pulling up by themselves. This 4-in-1 crib can also convert to a toddler bed, day bed, and full-sized bed, but you’ll need to buy the toddler conversion rail and the conversion kit for a full-sized bed (View Price on Amazon) separately.
If you think you’ll want to convert the crib as your child grows, my advice is to buy the conversion kits now, just in case they become unavailable later. The front and back of the crib become the headboard and footboard of a bed, meaning the conversion kit includes side rails, but seemingly no central bar for additional mattress support.
The Kalani measures 35 inches from the floor to the top of the front rail, which makes it comparable to low-profile cribs suitable for shorter folks like me. Measured from the floor, the bolt holes for the mattress support are at approximately 10/14/17 and 20 inches. Setting the metal mattress support at the top level (for newborns) means a distance of just 15 or so inches from the mattress to the top of the rail, depending on the height of your mattress. In the lowest position, it would be around 25 inches from the top rail to reach the mattress.
The Kalani is made with a metal mattress support, rather than wooden slats, which could pose some problems for sagging if your child is especially heavy or if you reuse the crib for several babies. However, the crib seems to be well made, so sagging may not be an issue.
The Kalani is Wirecutter’s top choice for a crib, out of ten tested. They note its sturdiness and versatility, which is rare at this price level. Similarly-priced softwood cribs (and those made with composite wood) were far less sturdy, with much thinner legs and smaller feet, and this was the only crib tested that converted to a full-sized bed. This crib is also widely available, and fairly light to ship, given that it is made with softwood rather than heavier hardwood. Despite being softwood, which is easier to ding and nick, the Kalani stood up well in tests. Still, if your baby turns out to be a big gnawer, you’ll probably want to invest in some plush teething guards as this and any other softwood crib would soon incur damage from eager chewers.
The Kalani is available in Rich Cherry, Chestnut, Ebony, Espresso, Grey, Honey Oak, and White, and DaVinci offer additional nursery furniture to match, including a three- and six-drawer dresser. Overall, this design will fit both a traditional and modern aesthetic and is a perennial favorite with families, garnering thousands of happy online reviews. It is the best selling DaVinci crib and comes with a one-year warranty, as does all DaVinci furniture.
DaVinci have been making children’s products for more than 25 years and have a good track record for quality and safety. That said, if you’re looking at buying a DaVinci crib second hand, be sure to check the safety recall data at the CPSC as some models (Emily, Jamie, Jenny Lind, and Reagan) were subject to a safety notice in 2015 due to a problem with the mattress support bracket. No injuries were reported, but customers were advised to stop using the crib and order a free replacement for the potentially unsafe hardware. The DaVinci Kalani has not been subject to any safety recalls, however, so it’s safe to assume that a second hand model with all original parts in good working order should be safe for use.
Overall, this crib is an excellent choice if a hardwood crib just isn’t for you. Unlike many of the companies I recommend at Leaf Score, DaVinci don’t seem to have a charitable arm to their business, which is a real shame. I’d love to see them engage on this front, and to acquire Fair Trade Certification™ or similar for their manufacturing facilities.
Although there aren’t many reports of any chemical-type smell associated with the Kalani, as with all cribs not made exclusively with unfinished wood or wood finished only with food-grade linseed oil, I’d recommend letting this crib air out for a few days or weeks prior to use.
DaVinci vs. Babyletto vs. Pottery Barn Kids
Like the Babyletto Lolly Crib, the Kalani 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. The DaVinci Kalani also converts into a full-size bed, but you’ll need to buy a separate conversion kit for both conversions. With the Lolly, the toddler bed conversion kit is included (View Price on Amazon).
Even with the conversion kit for the toddler bed, though, the Kalani is still cheaper than the Lolly at around $220 compared to around $400. Both cribs are a lot cheaper than the standard price for the similarly low-profile Pottery Barn Kids Kendall Crib, and neither the Kalani nor the Lolly include plastic teething rails, unlike the Kendall.
In terms of reach from the top of the crib to the mattress, the Kendall offers the shortest distance at around 14” on the highest mattress setting. For the Lolly, this is around 20”, with the same for the Kalani, all depending on the height of the crib mattress.
As with all softwood cribs, the Kalani is liable to incur damage from dings and scratches if not treated well, or if gnawed on by a teething child. The DaVinci Kalani appears to be surprisingly robust, however, with online reviews often noting that it is quite a bit sturdier than other softwood cribs. It’s also a lot lighter and less expensive than a hardwood crib but is still robust enough to accommodate several children in succession.
In terms of design, I’m a big fan of the more minimalist Lolly aesthetic. The DaVinci feels like a lot of crib, with a more imposing, ‘thick’ look. This can be minimized with a lighter colored crib, but if you’re looking for a solid central piece of furniture for the nursery, you’ll probably want to go with the Espresso or Dark Cherry colors.