How to Paint a Crib – Customize Your Baby’s Crib Like a Pro

Father and son showing their room

Thinking of sprucing up your baby’s crib? Maybe you’ve noticed the paint is starting to flake. It suddenly hits you that a DIY project is worth a shot. After all, it’s certainly cheaper than buying a new crib altogether!

Wondering how to paint a crib? I can assure you it’s not rocket science. But there are a couple of things you need to know first besides the actual painting process. You must know which paint to use, which equipment you need, and how to go about actually painting the crib.

I’ve done the research and even found some tips from the pros. Keep reading, you’re about to become a painting pro yourself!

What’s the Best Baby Safe Paint to Use for Cribs?

First, you need to pick the right paint. By right paint, I mean baby safe paint that won’t cause your baby harm. I’ve covered this topic in detail in a previous post.

Some paints contain toxic chemicals which when inhaled by your little one may cause serious harm. That’s why it’s important to buy baby safe paint which is free from toxins, lead, VOC, and odors.

You can even take it a step further by looking for paint that contains hypoallergenic and antimicrobial properties. The aforementioned will come in handy if your child suffers from underlying breathing issues. The latter will minimize the growth of bacteria on your little one’s crib making it extra safe.

For baby safe paint I would recommend using any of the following:

What Do I Need to Paint a Baby Crib?

Now you know the type of paint to pick, you can go ahead and pick a color. Not sure which color to go with? Feel free to get some inspiration online. The internet is literally a haven of inspiration for the 21st parent! Take advantage of it.

Pick your desired paint color. But also pay attention to the coverage it offers, the quantity it comes in, and if it gives you your desired finish. Are you looking for a matte, chalky or glossy finish?

Now it’s time to get prepping. The preparation process is in two parts. There are safety tips you need to keep in mind before you start. Also, preparing for the task at hand means gathering the correct equipment for the job.

Safety Tips for Painting Your Crib

Yes, painting a crib doesn’t really sound like a big deal when compared to painting an entire house. But painting is painting. The same risks such as inhaling toxic fumes or accidental spills are involved. So you need to follow the necessary precautions as follows:

  • Keep the area well ventilated especially if you’ll be painting indoors. Keep windows and doors open. Fumes produced by paint can be flammable.
  • Speaking of flames, if you love smoking, you might want to save that for later. Under no circumstances should you smoke while painting.
  • Wear protective gear such as gloves, face shields, and coveralls.

Which Items are Required?

Next, you must gather together the following items for the task.


The sandpaper is necessary to prepare the surface before applying paint. It’s used to remove imperfections on the crib if you want to end up with that smooth finish. Also, sanding increases adhesion for your paint to stick properly upon application.

But not just any sandpaper will do. Pick quality brands to make the task faster and easier like the Miady Assorted Grit Sandpaper. This is a premium product that can be used on different materials including wood.

400 to 3000 Assorted Grit Sandpaper for Wood Furniture Finishing, Metal Sanding and Automotive Polishing, Dry or Wet Sanding, 9 x 3.6 Inch, 36-Sheet


Given the fact that most wooden cribs feature slats, brush painting is your best option. Again, look for high-quality brushes that’ll make the job easier. Paintbrushes either come with natural or synthetic bristles. I recommend you pick synthetic brushes for the task. Why?

Baby safe paint should ideally be water-based than oil-based. Water-based paints are generally safer and healthier for kids. And synthetic brushes work well with water-based paint.

ProGrade Paint Brushes are a good example of synthetic brushes. You’ll get a set of five quality brushes available in different sizes. Alternatively, you can opt for the Purdy Nylon Series Paintbrush. This brush is made up of 100% nylon. It’s easy to handle and use and perfect for large strokes. It’ll leave fine lines making your final job looking like a professional masterpiece!

Pro Grade Paint Brush Set - 5-Piece Flat and Angle Brushes for All Latex and Oil Paints & Stains - Home Improvement - Interior & Exterior Use

Cleaning Material

Painting can get pretty messy. Be sure to keep a clean cloth and water nearby to wipe off any accidental spills as they happen.

Also, keep a furniture cleaner in the vicinity in case the paint spills are a lot more stubborn than you anticipated.

How to Paint a Baby Crib – A Step by Step Guide

Now that you’ve secured your paint, gathered your painting items, and taken the necessary precautions, let’s get to work!

1. Clean the Crib

Your crib is likely to have accumulated some dust and debris even if you’ve been dusting it on a regular. Make sure you remove any dust, dirt, or grime that may be present. Wipe down the crib with a clean cloth to remove dust particles. Dip your cloth in water or use a furniture cleaner if you notice stubborn stains or spots on the crib.

Painting over any sort of dirt will negatively impact the entire job later. Failure to remove dust specks will result in a pimple-like appearance of your paint. Also, dirt keeps paint from bonding and drying properly. That’s if it dries at all.

2. Prepare the Surface – sanding

The next step is to prepare the surface by sanding down the wood. You don’t have to necessarily strip the existing paint to bare. Just a general sand down is necessary to expose the rough surface to increase adhesion. In other words, sanding gives the paint something to ‘hold on to”. This allows the paint to penetrate the wood easily to help you create a smooth nice finish.

Besides, not removing all the paint means the task will take way longer and you’ll need to invest in quality primer. That means spending more money.

3. Clean Off Sawdust

Sanding leaves behind sanding dust. When a coat of paint is applied over sanding dust, that could potentially ruin the final appearance of your crib. These remnants will just mix with the paint causing a rough finish. Wipe off the sawdust with a microfiber cloth.

4. Apply the Paint

Go ahead and apply the first coat. If your paint offers full coverage, then one coat is all you need. But most paints require more than one coat. You want to prevent paint running or dripping down the surface so make sure you don’t overload the brush with too much paint. Be sure to use slow strokes paying attention to the edges.

Leave the paint to dry for 2-4 hours and apply the second coat. The second layer usually makes the color look more solid. Leave your crib to dry overnight and you’re done!

A quick tip (before getting to the pro tips!): Always read the instructions on the paint tin. Different types of paints use different methods of prep and painting. And, the drying period differs. The steps mentioned above are best for the baby safe paints I referenced earlier in this article.

7 Painting Tips from the Pros

I’ll leave you with these 7 painting tips that I’ve come across from painting pros. These will make your painting job easier and also make your final product look more attractive.

  • Rather wait for a nice and sunny day to embark on your project. The paint will dry faster under such conditions as opposed to humid temperatures.
  • Paint from top to bottom in an upward and downward movement for a flawless finish.
  • Cover anything you don’t want to be painted. It’s wise to place your crib on top of canvas drop cloths to cut the cleaning process down in half.
  • Use a sponge as opposed to a brush for the crib railings for a smooth and flawless finish.
  • Use sealant if you want to further protect the painting so it lasts longer.
  • If you decide to use primer, make sure that it’s a water-based primer to hide imperfections
  • Use latex gloves. They’ll keep your hands’ clean while painting

Watch some videos to increase your confidence and painting skills.


Is priming necessary?

Priming is only necessary if you’re drastically changing the color of your baby’s crib from black to white. In this case, you’ll need to sand off all the existing color till the crib is bare and then add primer. Alternatively, you can buy paint that comes with built-in primers.

Can I paint a crib without sanding?

Sanding is an integral part of any painting process. Painting directly on top of an existing layer of paint results in premature peeling and flaking especially if the existing finish is glossy.

Final Thoughts

Even if you’ve never painted anything in your life before, following these steps will have you nailing the task like a pro! Make sure you use quality baby safe paint, superior brushes, and wear protective gear and you simply can’t go wrong.

Last update on 2024-07-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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