7 Tips for Restoring an Old Baby Crib

baby's crib in nursery
What You'll Need
Eco-friendly paint stripper
Baby-safe paint
Paint tester
Wooden slats
Chew guard and other crib hardware

Preparing for a new baby, especially a first baby, means acquiring a crib. Many parents-to-be will find or inherit one that needs to be restored from friends or family. Since your crib will be holding special cargo, you will want to take precaution in the products you use in the restoration.

These six tips will give you a safe, beautiful crib for your new baby.

1. Test for Lead

If the old baby crib is painted, you need to test the paint already on it. Buy a kit to test for the presence of lead in the paint. If there is lead in the existing paint, you can’t strip it and reuse it because the lead will be ingrained deep into the wood. The paint itself is dangerous for children and even for pets. Instead, you should contact the EPA or your local municipality to learn how to dispose of the baby crib properly.

2. Check Current Safety Guidelines

Safety guidelines for cribs are constantly changing and evolving. A crib that was safe 20 years ago might not be deemed safe any more, and often, this is for good reasons. To ensure that your baby's crib is safe, you need to obtain a copy of the latest safety guidelines and make sure your hand-me-down is either up to current standards or that you can easily adapt to meet the necessary requirements.

3. Add More Slats

One important area to pay attention to is the distance between the struts on the side of the crib. If they’re too wide, your baby could end up with his head stuck between them. Test the slat distance using a soda can. If it can fit through horizontally, you’ll need to add more slats as you restore your old baby crib.

4. Use a Non-toxic Paint Stripper

Before you paint the baby crib, you’ll need to strip it in preparation. Since this is for your baby, you should use an environmentally friendly paint stripper where no toxic materials can remain in the wood. Make sure the wood is smooth with no sharp edges or splinters after you’ve finished stripping the wood.

TIP: To be on the safe side, wear a respirator mask while applying the paint stripper and make sure the room has proper ventilation before starting work. Even if the paint stripper's environmentally friendly, you don't want to take the chance of breathing in something you shouldn't.

5. Paint the Crib

There are paints that are specifically made for children’s furniture. These are free of lead and all other toxic materials. You can find them at home improvement and hardware stores, and the colors will most likely match those already in your nursery. Take the time to seek these out. If there are carved surfaces, you can push the paint into these areas of the wood with a rag. Give the paint ample time to dry before you use the baby crib.

6. Replace the Mattress

It’s important that the mattress you choose for your restored baby crib is a good fit, but you should never use an old mattress. Buy a new mattress that fits the frame. It needs to butt up against all the sides and should also have ties to keep it in place. This will prevent the baby from ending up trapped between the mattress and the crib.

7. Install Hardware

Make sure that all the hardware is safe and operational in accordance with current standards. You can’t risk a baby’s finger becoming trapped in the hardware. You should also install a chew guard all around the top guards of the baby crib when you restore it. This can prevent a baby from biting into the wood.