Any new baby crib manufactured is required to meet minimum government requirements. If you assemble your crib to the manufacturer's instructions and use the crib properly, even the least expensive crib should be safe for your baby. A safe crib should have a firm, tight-fitting mattress, no missing/broken hardware or slats and no cutouts in the head- or foot-boards. Slats should be no more than 2 3/8" apart (the width of a soda can). Corner posts should not be higher than 1/16".
Types of crib sides
Baby cribs come with stationary sides or single-drop or double-drop sides that slide down. Another option is a drop-gate crib with a fold-down side. While drop sides are convenient and popular, new warnings from Consumer Product Safety Commission indicate that they could present serious safety issues. New crib safety standards may not allow manufacturers to make new drop-side cribs. Drop-gates are less common, as the horizontal bar created by the fold creates a possible foothold for older babies to climb out. Your best bet is to stick with a stationary side crib.
Crib Mattress Height and Support
Adjustable mattress height is available on all but the most inexpensive cribs. It allows the mattress to be higher in the crib so you can gently lay down a sleeping newborn, then lowered for babies who can pull themselves up. At least a two-mattress height is nice, but three is even better. Check for the way the mattress is held up. Some cheaper cribs use vinyl straps that could wear out and break. Baby cribs with metal bars are a better choice. The best choice is a metal spring system to support the mattress.
Convertible Cribs to Beds
Some baby cribs are convertible to toddler beds, others to full-size beds. You should ask yourself whether you'll want to convert the crib or reuse the crib for siblings.
Tips for safe sleeping
Let your baby sleep unencumbered. Pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, stuffed animals, or dolls don't belong in the bassinet or crib. And remember that babies can quickly overheat. Put yours to sleep in lightweight clothes and set the thermostat at a comfortable 70 degrees. Infant sleepwear should fit snugly and be made of flame-resistant fabric, with no drawstrings, ribbons, or anything else that might catch on something. Buttons and snaps should be firmly attached to avoid becoming a choking hazard. Always put your baby to sleep on his or her back to minimize breathing risks.