Do Cribs and Bassinets Expire? To Use or Not to Use a Second Hand Crib

Cribs in a room

When looking at your grandmother’s antique baby crib you can’t help but wonder: do cribs expire? How about the bassinet your firstborn used two years ago? Do bassinets expire?

As a father myself, I understand these kinds of questions posed by many parents. Especially if you’re looking at using a crib again for your second child. Or, grandmother is insisting you use the crib that’s been stored for years in her attic.

Giving away clothes and old blankets is a no-brainer. But when the time comes for your baby to outgrow their crib or bassinet you may be more hesitant about giving it away. And not only because it cost you a bit, but you’ve grown attached to the piece of furniture. After all, a lot of precious memories can be associated with your baby’s crib.

The goal of this article is to explain what the manufacturers and authorities have to say. This is because the decision to reuse cribs is more of a safety issue than anything else. Let’s unpack the information I found.

Do Baby Cribs Expire? What About Bassinets?

According to the manufacturer of cribs, they don’t really expire. This answer is purely based on the fact that they don’t come with an official expiration date from the manufacturer’s side. 

When you look at products such as car seats, car seat bases, manufacturers explicitly include expiry dates on their products. And since cribs don’t come with an expiry date, you can only assume they don’t expire. The same applies to bassinets.

But does this mean you can reuse an old crib to infinity? Industry authorities such as the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) beg to differ. This body is responsible for reducing injuries and deaths from consumer products by enforcing safety standards manufacturers must adhere to. This organization also has the right to ban certain products which they deem unfit for public use whenever safety is compromised or better standards are introduced.

With that said, as soon as cribs cease to meet the latest safety standards, they’re automatically a safety risk. In essence, this makes the crib outdated or expired.

What Does CPSC Have to Say About Old Baby Cribs?

Seeing that the decision to continue reusing your baby crib rests with CPSC standards, it’s worth finding out what exactly they have to say about using old cribs.

CPSC highly recommends against using second-hand cribs. This is because CPSC believes that most second-hand cribs no longer meet the current safety standards. And as a result, they may present numerous safety issues. 

The reasoning behind this recommendation is pretty simple. Over time the crib undergoes wear and tear. This can be because of a combination of time, constant use, and repeated assembly and reassembly in the case of foldable cribs.

The hardware is compromised and so is the overall structure and integrity of the frame. Screws loosen or in some cases fall out. If the crib is made of plastic, it may break. What about wood? Wood tends to shrink and warp as time goes on. Glue becomes brittle leading to joint or slat failure.

If you do decide to use a second-hand crib, CPSC recommends the crib not be older than 10 years. Even so, before making a decision to reuse the crib, first ensure the following:

  • No recalls have been made on the product.
  • The date of manufacture and model number must be present. This is the information you use to check for recalls.
  • All its parts are present and the crib isn’t damaged in any way. Are there any missing screws, slats or rails?
  • The assembly instructions are present. If not, visit the manufacturer’s website to get this information. Incorrect assembly can result in crib-related injuries. If it’s already assembled, make sure it’s sturdy and there are no missing parts.

General Crib Standard Requirements

Over and above taking the above factors into consideration, it’s important to know what the general crib standard requirements are. This information will come in handy whether you’re looking to buy a new crib, second-hand crib online, or receiving a used one as a gift from a friend.

I’ll summarize the information by putting it in the form of the following comparison table, Make sure your crib meets the following legal requirements.

Part of Crib
Measurement RequirementsDangers of Not Meeting Standards
SlatsSpaces should be less than 2 ⅜ inches apartYour baby's legs, arms or even torso can get stuck between the spaces.
Top rails26 inches or more above the top of the mattressRisk of falling out especially when your child is now old enough to stand.
Corner postsLess than 1/16 inches above the headboard unless the crib has a canopyRisk of strangulation if your baby’s clothing gets stuck on the posts.
MattressFit well in the crib without leaving gaps around the edgesYour baby’s fingers can get stuck in the gaps and risk breaking.

What Do I Need to Know About the JPMA Certification Program?

Being a parent requires you to familiarize yourself with certain safety boards such as the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. JPMA is on your side when it comes to prioritizing your baby’s safety. JPMA has been in the business of helping parents choose baby-safe products for their little ones for over 40 years.

According to the JPMA certification program, products must meet the necessary ASTM safety standards. The only difference between JPMA and CPSC is that the former is a voluntary program where manufacturers offer up their products for independent testing using more stringent measures. The end result is ensuring their products meet the highest safety and performance standards.

In short, it’s a good idea to ensure the crib you’re using is JPMA certified. Here you’re guaranteed that the manufacturer is extremely concerned about designing products that are safe for your child. 

Below are examples of JPMA certified cribs:

What Do I Need to Know About Drop Side Cribs?

Among the popular crib designs that garnered a lot of support from parents were the drop-side cribs. Most parents found them convenient, making it easier to reach and access your baby whenever you needed to.

But convenience aside, this crib is now considered a huge safety risk because of the faulty structural design. Due to the drop-down design, a gap is created between the drop sides and the mattress. As a result, your baby’s head can get stuck in the gaps leading to suffocation. Aside from the faulty design, drop-side cribs presented the following challenges:

  • They featured a complex mechanism that required frequent assembly and reassembly making the crib damage easily.
  • Screws or pegs on the drop sides warped or broke easily.
  • Proper installation of the drop-side rails wasn’t easy resulting in functionality error.
  • Materials used to make the hardware became loose.

Overall, the structure and integrity of the crib was significantly compromised and simply wasn’t sound. For this reason and the fact that 32 infants died because of these cribs, CPSC banned the manufacturing of this product and recalled more than 11 million drop-side cribs between 2007 and 2011.

Do Crib Mattresses Expire?

And what of mattresses: do they expire? Much like cribs, mattresses also don’t come with an expiry date.

However, like most products, their overall quality diminishes over time. Either the mattress gets damaged, stained, loses its shape, firmness, and starts to sag. If it’s not that, the mattress would have had its fair share of soiling. When this happens it’s time to get a new one.

Generally, you can expect a crib mattress to last you a good 3 to 5 years depending on the following factors;

  • Type: Is it made of spring or memory foam? Spring mattresses tend to last longer than foam mattresses. The latter lose their shape quicker.
  • Mattress cover: What material is the cover made of? A thin cover will wear out quicker than a thick one made up of strong material such as nylon.
  • Waterproof: Besides sleeping, a lot else happens in a baby’s crib. Blowouts, spit-ups, urine leakages, or even vomit can significantly shorten the mattress’s life span. This is more apparent if the mattress isn’t waterproof or mold resistant.

Is it Safe to Use Old Baby Cribs or Bassinets?

Generally, it isn’t safe to use old cribs and bassinets. Simply because their safety features may now be outdated. But if you decide to use an old crib or bassinet at least make sure the products haven’t been recalled. And inspect the product for the following problem areas:

  • Lead paint (this is SO toxic)
  • Slats that are too far apart
  • Splintered wood
  • Missing screws or bolts
  • Unsafe corner posts
  • Ill-fitting or soft mattress
  • Design cutouts on the headboard or footboard
  • Drop sides

What Can I Do with an Old Baby Crib?

What do you do if you notice your crib is no longer fit to use for your baby or any other baby for that matter? The first thought may be to toss it in the trash. Or, you can get creative and use it to build any of the following:

  • An activity or art table
  • Bookshelf
  • Garden bench
  • Turn one side of the crib into a magazine rack
  • Drying rack
  • Porch swing
  • Toy chest
  • Crib bench for your child’s room

Watch this video showing you how to convert an old crib into a pretty garden bench.

Your options are endless. And repurposing your baby’s crib allows you to treasure a phase of your child’s baby years while creating something else your older kid or the entire family can enjoy.

Final Thoughts

While cribs and bassinets don’t come with an official expiry date, take heed of CPSC recommendations.

Cribs and bassinets will wear out over time. Also, they may no longer meet the necessary safety standards. If you have to use a second-hand crib, make sure it’s not more than 10 years old. Also, ensure it hasn’t been recalled and all its hardware is intact with no missing parts.

If you can at least change the mattress that’d be ideal. You don’t want your little one lying on a stained or mold-ridden mattress. Besides aesthetics, it may now be too soft. And you know babies need to sleep on a firm mattress to encourage healthy bone formation as they grow.

So to reuse or not to reuse an old baby crib? Are you ready to make a decision?

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