The Hunt for the Perfect Crib

baby cribI naively thought that buying a crib would be as easy as finding a new sweater. You try on a few different styles and colors, check what materials are used, consider the price and make a decision. Right? Not so much.

Sadly, most cribs on the market contain toxic materials. Since infants are especially vulnerable to toxins, this news is quite concerning. Studies have shown that toxins found in baby products can cause hormone disruption, lowered IQ, reduced fertility, immune dysfunction, cancer and more. These learnings are what inspired me to make a carefully-researched decision about our crib purchase since our baby will be spending most of his time in it during his first few years.


First, let’s talk about what to look for in a crib.

Cribs should be:

  • Made of certified sustainable wood and hardwood only (no pressed or engineered wood – including particleboard, plywood, fiberboard and medium density fiberboard, all which typically contain added formaldehyde)
  • Finished or painted with a water-based, non-toxic substance that contains no VOCs (or better yet, get one that’s unfinished)
  • Lead and phthalate free

Seems simple enough, right? Unfortunately, this criteria is harder to find than you’d think.

baby and chemicals

Most cribs on the market are structurally safe due to government regulations. However, the government is doing very little to regulate toxins in furniture, mainly volatile organic compounds (VOCs). There are currently over 80,000 unregulated industrial chemicals on the market in the US; and the regulations that are in place are considered too lenient by many experts.

Scary, isn’t it?


In general, these are the chemicals that should be avoided:

  • VOCs (volatile organic compounds)VOCs are gases emitted from certain solids or liquids, including paints, lacquer and finishes used on cribs. Concentration levels of VOCs are up to 10 times higher indoors than outdoors, and can have both short- and long-term adverse health effects.
  • Lead – Scientists have found that no level of lead is considered “safe” for children. Even small amounts of lead can effect a child’s ability to learn. Lead is commonly found in wood finishes and coatings.
  • Phthalates – Studies show evidence that phthalates could affect the reproductive system. Phthalates are used in in hundreds of consumer and household products, including wood finishes.
  • Formaldehyde – Formaldehyde is often added to engineered wood as a bonding agent and is present in many glues used for crib construction. It has been classified as a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It’s important to note that formaldehyde is a chemical that occurs naturally in the environment. The key is to look for no “added” formaldehyde.
  • Polyurethane – Polyurethane is notoriously toxic. This substance can be found in some wood finishes.

If you do happen to go with a crib that contains some of these chemicals, another option is to set it outside in the open air for several weeks to allow it to off-gas. You could also open the windows of the nursery, turn on some fans, and allow it to off-gas inside for several months. However, avoiding these chemicals altogether is the safest route.


Now let’s get into the common pitfalls of naïve crib shopping. While these claims may sound good, they don’t tell the full story.

  • The “non-toxic” finish claim. Contrary to the claim, non-toxic does not mean “no toxins.” This simply means that the manufacturer has met federal safety standards for the maximum allowable levels of certain toxins. However, those standards don’t prohibit the use of VOCs nor do they adequately regulate heavy metals and other harmful chemicals.
  • The “water-based” claim. Although water-based finishes are better than petroleum-based, they can still emit VOCs and contain carcinogens and heavy metals.
  • Lead and phthalate SAFE. “Safe” does not mean “free.” Again, this only means that the manufacturer has met the federal safety standards, but the product can still contain low levels of these toxins.


Calling the manufacturer is the best way to get the most reliable answers. Product labels and descriptions are often not enough. When calling the manufacturer or a store, be weary of customer service representatives who are trying to please their customers. They often don’t know all the details and will tell you what they think will make you happy. Don’t trust these guys! Instead, you should contact the manufacturer directly and speak to a technical expert.

Information to get from the manufactures:

  • Directly ask if the wood and finish is lead, phthalate and formaldahyde free if it’s not obvious in the product description.
  • If a product claims to use a VOC free finish, ask the manufacturer about their testing protocols for heavy metals before being sold. Make sure they’re using a 3rd party testing lab.
  • Ensure that the manufacturer is testing the finishes on all their production runs. You do not want to end up with a black sheep that’s been contaminated.
  • Find out where they get their lumber and if they follow sustainable practices.
  • If they are using engineered wood or pressed wood, find out how it is manufactured. In some cases, they may be using recycled wood waste and a formaldehyde-free adhesive (this is okay).
  • Ask if their glues are formaldehyde free.

It’s also helpful to read the Q&As on the seller or manufacturer’s site carefully. Many times, you’ll find that other savvy parents have already asked these questions above.


Okay, so now you’re probably wondering what brands meet all of the criteria listed above. I wish I had a simple answer, but unfortunately I learned that finding a crib is a labor-intensive research project. Thankfully, some other diligent bloggers have already done some of the legwork.

A solid wood crib is the best way to go, but it will typically cost at least $500. While this is a big investment, it will be more durable than others made with engineered wood and will carry a higher resale value. You can also rest assured knowing that your baby isn’t surrounded by toxins.

PR crib

The Non-Toxic Nurse recommends the Pacific Rim (starts at $800). This is a pricey proposition, but it’s one of the only cribs that’s made of 100% solid wood with a finish that consists of food-grade tung oil and beeswax.


A popular low-cost option is the Ikea Sniglar ($69.99), which is solid beech wood crib that comes unfinished. Although the mattress platform is made of pressboard, this is preferable to it being used throughout the crib.

The Daily Green also offers some good advice on buying non-toxic cribs, but many of the brands highlighted in the post are over $1,000.


Green Cradle is another brand that was frequently mentioned in many of the sources I came across. It’s made of solid wood and completely chemical free. Their transparency is also quite impressive (which scores them major points!).

Which cribs were our contenders? Here you go:

giggle cribGiggle Better Basics Harper Crib – We liked the style of this crib and it was within our price range ($595). Although the description says it’s made of engineered wood (typically a red flag), the Harper Collection uses only water-based and non-toxic (meaning no-VOC) paints and glues. This collection is also made from sustainably harvested timber and is manufactured in a facility that utilizes timber waste rather than electricity to heat their timber kilns and workshops with remaining waste used to make an eco-friendly alternative to fossil fuels. I was impressed by their answers in the Q&A section. This is a reasonably-priced and attractive option.



Babyletto Skip Crib  – The price and modern look was right ($395), but unfortunately this company was not. This is a popular brand that uses sustainable New Zealand pine wood, but it contains MDF and paints/finishes that are “lead and phthalate SAFE” (not FREE) with “undetectable levels of formaldehyde.” I thought we could do better than this, so our search continued.

Pottery BarnJust out of curiosity, I also contacted Pottery Barn about the Kendall Fixed Gate Crib ($599). While this is a popular choice, I found their answer to my product inquiry a bit suspicious. I asked is the finish was lead and pthalate free, and this was their response:

“All PBK products meet or exceed US, Canadian and recognized industry standards, as well as Williams-Sonoma testing standards, for safety and toxicity (including lead).  All PBK products are tested by an independent laboratory to ensure that your child is using products that meet our high PBK standards. We do not share specific test results, as they are a proprietary part of our development process.”

Really? Their safety test results are proprietary? No thank you.

OUR WINNER (MY RECOMMENDATION)Nest Crib from Room & Board ($699) Nest crib cherry

Not only did we love the solid look of this crib, but it also met all of our standards. El Greco Woodworking was one of the most transparent companies I’ve come across during this process. I spoke with the owner and learned that their cribs have NO lead or phthalates. They buy their lumber from the Appalachian Hardwood Manufactures, Inc, which is a sustainable and carbon negative company (verified by the U.S. Forest Service). All of their coatings are non-toxic and free of lead and phthalates. After their lacquer coating cures, which takes 30 days in warm, moving air, it no longer off-gases because the solvent has dissipated and the coating becomes chemically inert. Even the MDF they use on other cribs is Certified Green, meaning it has no added formaldehyde. Everything is crafted in their factories from rough lumber to the finished product. All made in the USA.


Whatever decision you make, it should be based on your personal preference and needs. There are many factors to consider when buying a crib, including price, style, quality, durability, convertibility into a toddler bed, etc. I hope you find these suggestions helpful as you begin your crib hunting process. Good luck!

All comments are welcome and encouraged. We can all learn from each other.

See more on this topic in How to Create A Healthy, Non-Toxic Baby Registry

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115 Responses to The Hunt for the Perfect Crib

  1. Pingback: Creating a Healthy Home Environment | neuroticallygreenmom

  2. busybee says:

    Thanks so much! I’ve spent countless hours searching and came to similar choices!

  3. amy says:

    This also looks like a good option. Additionally i reached out to Babyletto about lead free vs safe and this was their response :Thank you for bring this to my attention. I have found out our furniture is lead and phthalate free. Our products are compatible with the current requirements that lead does not exceed 0.1% by weight. On our test reports it show the lead levels as Non-detectable and lead free.

    I hope this helps, please let me know if you have any other questions.

    Thanks again,

    Hope that helps.

  4. Veronica says:

    Thanks for the information! Do you have any opinions about the Kalon Caravan Crib?

    • kellytholke says:

      Hi Veronica – I hadn’t initially researched the Kalon Caravan crib, but based on the description, it sounds like a great option. I liked seeing that it’s domestically made with 100% non-toxic and/or food safe materials and finishes. You may want to call the manufacturer and confirm that the materials and finishes don’t contain VOCs, lead or phthalates since “non-toxic” doesn’t always mean “no toxins.”

  5. Kathy says:

    Great info! We too decided the best choice was an American made crib completely free of formaldehyde, lead, phthalates and VOC’s and after much research we bought a crib at We called and emailed back and forth with them and got great service. They sell both finished and unfinished cribs (we got a formaldehyde free finish). My father-in-law is an engineer and he too is very impressed with the quality. I’d recommend them to everyone.

  6. Caroline says:

    Thank you for the great post. I just began my search and was daunted by the complexity of trying to find a crib that wouldn’t poison my baby! One question: What did you find for a crib mattress?
    Thanks in advance.

  7. Pingback: A Simple, Non-Toxic Nursery | Simple Baby

  8. Sarah says:

    Do you know where the karla dubois crib is manufactured? I looked on the website and didn’t see anything about where it’s made.

    • kellytholke says:

      Hi Sarah,

      I don’t know where the Karla Dubois crib is manufactured, but the company will be able to provide you with that information. I would suggest calling them and asking the question. It looks like a great choice!

      • Amy says:

        I know that the company is located in California and part of the Johnny Appleseed company if that helps…

  9. Hi and thank you for this very helpful and beneficial post!! For the Nest Crib from Room & Board, is ‘cherry wood’ the only one that meets your criteria or do they all meet your criteria (including the maple wood painted white version)? Trying to find a white crib but thinking it is impossible if I want a chemical free crib (which obviously is much more important than color!!). Thanks!

    • kellytholke says:

      Hi Brittany,
      Great question. If you like the white painted crib, I would suggest contacting the company or manufacturer to find out if they used a water-based paint with no or low VOCs. I tend to gravitate towards the all wood options because they’re more natural. However, the white adds a nice aesthetic the room. If you like the white crib, getting an organic mattress is another way to help ensure that your baby is surrounded by a healthy environment. I hope that helps!

  10. MicheleRyan says:

    Hi and thanks for the great info! In doing my search for cribs I came across the Baby Appleseed brand and it is Greenguard certified, lead and phatalate free, and says its made from solid American Poplar wood. I was wondering if you have looked at this brand at all in your research and had any concerns. Thanks!

    • kellytholke says:

      Hi Michele,
      The Baby Appleseed brand wasn’t part of my original search, but I just looked at their site and product descriptions. The fact that their products are tested by an independent lab and they meet or exceed all the critical standards (including CPSIA) make it a great choice. Thanks for your question and good luck with your search!

  11. Carla says:

    what are your thoughts on the restoration hardware cribs?

    • kellytholke says:

      Hi Carla,
      I haven’t looked into the Restoration Hardware cribs very closely, but I would suggest contacting the manufacturing and inquiring about the type of paint they use (is it water-based and no or low VOC?) and the type of glue they use to secure the veneers (is it formaldehyde free?). They don’t list any of this information on the website, so it will require some detective work. Good luck!

  12. Stella says:

    Hi Kelly! Thank you for writing this article. I am in search for a new crib for baby #2. For my first, we went with a Munire Echelon crib and we’ve been very happy with it (however, they’ve filed for bankruptcy and going out of business). I’m interested in your thoughts on the Honest Babyletto 4-in-1 convertible crib ( I am also looking into Kidz Decoeur ( I would love to hear your recommendations. Thank you!

    • kellytholke says:

      Hi Stella,
      Congrats on baby #2! Both the Honest Babyletto and Kidz Decoeur look like good options. I was initially skeptical of Babyletto because some of their cribs use MDF (medium density fiberboard) and paints/finishes that are “lead and phthalate SAFE” (not “free). However, another reader mentioned that she contacted Babyletto and learned that their furniture is lead and phthalate free. Regardless, I would call the company and ask about the materials and paints used on the Honest crib. The Kidz Decoeur website does a nice job stating their environmental practices and safety measures. I couldn’t find any info on their paint finishes, so I would contact them to find out if they are water-based and VOC free.

      I hope this helps. Good luck with your search!

    • Jennifer Watts says:

      I’m curious, did you go with the Babyletto Honest crib? I’m considering that crib and curious to read more reviews?

      • kellytholke says:

        Hi Jennifer,

        We decided to go with the Nest crib from Room & Board. The post explains why I chose that one, as well as the reasons why we didn’t go with the Babyletto crib.

        Thanks for your comment. I hope that helps!


  13. Suzanne says:

    Thank you so much for posting this!! This is incredibly helpful. Do you know anything about the Land of Nod “Straight Up Crib?” The manufacturer seems to be El Greco Woodworking, so I’m wondering if it would be another good option and comparable to the “Nest Crib” from Room and Board. Thanks!

    • kellytholke says:

      Hi Suzanne,

      Thanks for your question. I didn’t find the “Straight Up Crib” on Land of Nod’s site, but the Andersen Crib looks identical to Room & Board’s “Nest Crib.” As you mentioned, it’s made by the same manufacturer so it’s probably the same crib sold by a different retailer. I think Land of Nod makes great furniture and I’ve been happy with the few things I’ve ordered from them. They’re transparent with their product descriptions and seem to be committed to making safe, high quality products (like Room & Board). I hope that helps. Good luck finding a crib!

  14. Mika says:

    Thank you for the detailed info about cribs. We have been on the search for toxic free crib. I wondered what were your thoughts on Bloom baby cribs? We were thinking of buying the Bloom Alma Mini Crib. I like the fact that it says: “Our products are CPSIA and ASTM compliant and free of lead, BPA, phthalates, PVC, formaldehyde and MDF.” on their website. Just curious what your thoughts were on this brand.

    • kellytholke says:

      Hi Mika,

      The specs on this crib all sound good, but it looks like their paint and finishes are low VOC (vs. no VOC). I went online and asked them if the manufacturer allows some time for the paint/finished to off-gas and they said this “normally happens at the manufacturing level.” If you go with this one, you may want to let it off-gas before your baby arrives just to be on the safe side. Otherwise, this seems like a great choice.

  15. Lindsey says:

    Thank you so much for sharing those super useful information! I have one question about the Ikea sniglar crib. Do you also recommend it as to the safety side? Since it seems not as sturdy as other cribs.
    Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts!

    • kellytholke says:

      Hi Lindsey,

      I’m glad you found this post helpful! The Ikea Sniglar crib meets US standard 16 CFR 1219 (as most cribs do). It should be just as safe as any other crib that meets those standards. Just make sure you lower the crib as your baby is able to sit up and stand.

      I hope that helps.


      • Lindsey says:

        Hi Kelly,
        Thank you so much for your reply! Would you mind also advising on another Ikea crib which seems very similar to Sniglar, called Gulliver? Do you think this is exactly same healthy as Sniglar but more sturdy? Here is the link for it:

        Thank you so much!!

      • kellytholke says:

        Hi Lindsey,
        Thanks for your comment. I looked at the descriptions of the Gulliver and the Sniglar. I personally think the Sniglar would be a better choice because it’s made out of solid beech whereas the Gulliver’s bed rail is primarily made of fiberboard (engineered wood). I would also like to know more about the acrylic lacquer they use on the crib. They both of have a max weight of 50lb, so it doesn’t seem like the Gulliver is any sturdier. I hope this helps. Good luck with your purchase!

  16. Trish says:

    Thank you so much for your fabulous website and this incredibly helpful review. I have(as I wrote this),a pottery barn crib and dresser waiting to be picked up, because the off gassing was so strong I couldn’t possibly keep it. And while they told me in a phone call that they do not use lead and phylates, they claimed it was instead the plastic covering the furniture items that was producing the odor. Since it has been nearly a week airing out, I think we can assume the plastic covering is a cover up for their poorly made products.
    I am thrilled to have so much information from you and others.
    I considered the Oeuf cribs but they have plywood. They also told me they meet or or exceed some carbon reading/measures(?). I have read very mixed reviews about their products and thus am moving on to one of the fine cribs you researched. Keep writing your blog!!!

  17. Lindsey says:

    Hi, this is so much helpful!!!
    I also read the other of your blogs and have a quick question about the Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat. I saw there are so many different colors in Amazon. Do you know if the material for all of them are the same? The only difference is the color?

    Thank you so much!!!

  18. arthur says:

    This site: “Polyurethane – Polyurethane is notoriously toxic. This substance can be found in some wood finishes.”
    “According to Pacific Rim, their furniture is hand-finished with a custom mixture of tung oil, linseed oil and Varathane—a non-toxic finish that is completely inert after dried. The furniture can also be ordered unfinished so you can have a finish of your choice applied.”
    Q: What is the difference between polyurethane and Varathane?

    A: Varathane is a brand name. Polyurethane is a type of resin used to make finish, and sometimes is used as a descriptor of the finish itself. All the film type coatings sold under the Varathane label are polyurethane based finishes.

    Material Data Sheet for Varathane from the manufacturers website:

    Note, I did not call pacific rim to verify above and they do not specifically mention Varathane
    on their site:

  19. AJ says:

    This has been such a difficult task… finding the right crib that is safe, made of wood, free of toxins (made within or applied) and preferably made in the USA. Then I found your blog. THANK YOU! You’ve made this decision so much easier. We will be going with your recommendation. ❤

  20. goofandchica says:

    Hello! Thank you for writing this post! I recently purchased the Union 4-in-1 convertible crib in white. I felt it was a good choice based on the description, but after seeing on the box that it’s made in China, I’m not sure. What are your thoughts? I listed the product description below. Thank you in advance for any help you can provide!

    “With fixed side rails, non-toxic lead and phthalate-safe finish, and sturdy construction from sustainable New Zealand pine, the Union crib is a safe place for baby to rest easily…. JPMA certified for the utmost safety, meets ASTM international and US CPSC safety standards.”

  21. Shelby says:

    Hi my son is in a hand me down ouef crib I don’t even want to know what’s in it. He’s already 19 months and I’m curious what companies you recommend for once he’s out of the crib? Im thinking of putting him starlight into a full/queen bed. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you

  22. Hi Kelly,

    Lovely guide really helpful in what to look for. I feel like the search for non toxic options is never ending with our first little one on the way. I was comparing a few different cribs include the baby’s dream legendary with safety gate. I found they had some published information but I couldn’t make heads or tails of it:

    What do you think of the baby’s dream line vs appleseed cribs from buybuy baby?

    • kellytholke says:

      Thanks for your question. While the claims about the crib (i.e., non-toxic, lead free finishes, solid wood, etc.) all seem appealing, the recall is concerning. The grey crib did not pass the “lead free” test during inspections. However, the brand’s transparency is respectable and they’ve seemed to addressed the issue. It’s great that they have a third party inspect their cribs to ensure they meet all the safety standards and claims. I’d suggest calling the company and asking how they’ve addressed the lead issue.

  23. Gurbans says:

    Hi Kelly,

    Thank you for putting together such a valuable resource. I know there has been some discussion regarding babyletto products. Their website now states the following:

    “Our full-size cribs are JPMA-certified, and all of our furniture meets voluntary ASTM standards in addition to CPSC regulations.
    Total lead content in paint (CPSIA Section 101) <.009%
    Total lead content in surface coating (CPSIA Section 101) <.009%
    Total lead content in substrate (CPSIA Section 101) <.01%
    Phthalates (CPSIA Section 105) <.1%"

    Is this enough or should we be looking for a statement also regarding VOCs, formaldehyde etc. ?

    • kellytholke says:

      Great question. It’s always wise to get as much information as possible regarding the product’s level of potentially harmful chemicals (including VOCs and formaldehyde).

      Regarding the lead levels, this is a breakdown of what it means:
      Total lead content in paint (CPSIA Section 101) <.009% = 90 parts per million
      Total lead content in surface coating (CPSIA Section 101) <.009% = 90 parts per million
      Total lead content in substrate (CPSIA Section 101) <.01% = 100 parts per million

      The CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) states “beginning on the date that is 3 years after the date of enactment of this Act (2011), subparagraph (B) shall be applied by substituting ‘‘100 parts per million (.01%)’’ for ‘‘300 parts per million (.03%)’’ unless the Commission determines that a limit of 100 parts per million is not technologically feasible for a product or product category.”

      Basically, Babyletto is just barely under the maximum allowable 2011 limit goal (100 parts per million) at 90 parts per million. I’m unable to find any more recent data which may suggest and an even lower limit. If possible, it’s best to go with a lead-free option.

  24. Isabel says:

    Thank you for the information! Could you offer your thoughts on the safety of the Liberty Crib ( The website claims the crib is made of hardwood, and the crib is finished with a non-toxic, multi-step staining and painting process, plus it’s Lead and phthalate-free. At $399.99 it seems like a fair price when compared to the other cribs (minus the Ikea one). I didn’t find any information that addressed if any formaldahydere was used in the crib. Are there any safety factors that I may be missing?

    • kellytholke says:

      Hi Isabel,
      Thanks for your question. This is a reasonably priced and nice-looking crib. I would ask the manufacturer about their painting process and ensure the paint/finish doesn’t contain VOCs or polyurethane. It’s also advisable to ask if the crib contains any engineered wood which may contain formaldehyde.

      I hope this helps – good luck with your search!

      All the best,


  25. Jane says:


    Thank you so much for the wonderful post. This is incredibly helpful and one of the most thorough well-done posts I’ve read on the topic. I’ve been trying to apply these same criteria in my search for a changing table and I’ve struggled to find anything that meets these criteria. Do you have any recommendations? Thanks!

  26. Jackie Roman says:

    Hello Kelly,
    Thank you for the information and all your research. I started searching for a crib and came across that we were like the Sorelle Chandler Crib 3 in 1, its a more modern look and comes in white. I emailed the customer service and was impressed with the response and transparency. I wanted to share it for other moms who would be interested in this crib.I followed your guideline on what questions to ask, and here what they said.
    I was really interested in purchasing a Chandler classic crib 3in1 for my son, however I had a few question I hope you can help me with.
    Is the wood and finish lead, phthalate and formaldehyde free? We are phthalate and Fomaldehyde Free
    Those the product use a VOC free finish? It conforms to greenguard standards
    If not what are your testing protocols for heavy metals? Do you use a 3rd party testing lab? We require ASTMA standards we test with SGS testing labs (top lab in the USA )
    Do you test the finishes on all your production runs? No in the lab once a year ,in our facitlty randam twice a year
    Where do you get your lumber from and do you know if they practice sustainable methods? Chandler wood is New Zealand pine ( Yes they practice sustainable methods )
    Do you use engineered wood or pressed wood?(The crib is solid wood there are is no other type of wood )
    Are the glues used formaldehyde free? Our cribs conform to ASTMA and JPMA as well CPSC ,which give us the requirements to conform from,my knowledge formaldehyde is not used any longer


  27. Anna says:

    Hi, Kelly- I’m a single mom by choice due in April and because I suffer from anxiety, haven’t been able to make a decision about a crib (although she’ll be with me in a co-sleeper to try at the very beginning). I think I’m between Ikea Sniglar and the Better Basics Harper Crib. My concerns are: with the Sniglar, awhile back it was said that the mattress platform was made from pressed wood/particle board? but has perhaps now been switched out for beech wood–the product description on their website says only beech wood. I tried emailing them but never got a response. Not he Better Basics crib, it says low VOC not no VOC–I’m looking at the raw wood version. It also says some of it is engineered wood and that they used water based finishes which I thought you said can also be unhealthy. I’m wanting to get baby’s room ready soon so would greatly appreciate your thoughts. Thank you!

    • kellytholke says:

      Hi Anna,

      Congratulations on your soon arrival! Thanks for your message and questions (I can relate – I also have a difficult time making decisions). Below are a few thoughts:

      Sniglar – Based on the product description, the Sniglar is made of solid beech wood. The positive attributes of beech wood are its strength and hardness; negative is that it can warp. In my opinion, this seems like a viable low-cost option.

      Better Basics – I agree that it’s best to avoid VOCs if possible. When I spoke with Giggle’s customer service rep 2 years ago, they claimed their engineered wood, glues and paints had no VOCs. However, their finishes may have a low level of VOCs. If you do want to go with this option, you should ask if the finishes are off-gased prior to being shipped to the stores. You will probably need to contact the manufacturer directly. Most sales associates don’t know this level of detail.

      I also think that purchasing a quality mattress is a smart investment (equally as important as the crib). Here’s some information to consider when purchasing this:

      I hope this helps! Please let me know if you have any more questions.

      Thanks again,


  28. kellytholke says:

    I’m happy to help! Good luck and feel free to contact me with any other questions.

  29. My word Kelly, the prices on those non toxic cribs are steep! I’d really appreciate if I can have your views on (The DaVinci Kalani 4 in 1) please, which I’ve featured on my blog, it’s available on Amazon for $175 and along with your selection, this is one I really like for its price.

    Another small note for those who’ve already bought a toxic crib – activated charcoal bags are very popular in removing (sucking away) odors of toxic paints etc and I’ve had people writing to me how effective those are. Might be of interest to your users too Kelly. Here’s a complete home set that eliminates toxic smells – – please let me know what you think – Rose.

    • kellytholke says:

      Hi Rose,
      Thanks so much for your comments. Yes, I agree that the prices of the cribs in this post are high. Unfortunately, solid wood cribs are often pricey. The Ikea Sniglar is a great lower-cost option.

      The DaVinci Kalani exceeds past ASTM/CPSC safety standards (from 2011). As of 2014, the requirements for each of the allowable lead limits is now 100 parts per million (.001%). All brands are now required to meet these standards – The DaVinci Kalani is not exceeding any of today’s standards.

      I would suggest asking the manufacturer if the espresso finish on the crib is is lead, phthalate and formaldahyde “free.” If not, ask about their off-gasing process to ensure it is chemically inert.

      Great to know about the charcoal bags. Thanks for sharing that great tip!

      I hope this helps. Please feel free to share any additional info you receive from the manufacturer.

      Thanks again,


  30. Coco says:

    Hi Kelly – thank you for this information! This has been a difficult search for me and I still haven’t made a decision on a crib, but your blog has been very helpful. I’m looking at one at Pottery Barn Kids that’s Greenguard Gold Certified, meaning it’s “independently verified to meet strict emissions levels of pollutants such as VOCs, formaldehyde, and phthalates.” However, I see that it’s constructed using solid wood and MDF, which I’m under the impression can emit VOCs. Any insight on this? What do you make of Greenguard Gold Certification? I see that all Restoration Hardware’s cribs are certified as well.

    Here’s the specific crib:


    • kellytholke says:

      Hi Courtney,

      I’m glad you’ve found this information helpful. Most MDF (medium density fiberboard) contains formaldehyde that is added to the wood fibers during the manufacturing process. I would recommend contacting the manufacturer and asking about their process.

      Greenguard Gold Certified means that the product meets certain guidelines to ensure the product is acceptable for use in environments such as schools and healthcare facilities (see link: From what I understand, this simply means that they meet California’s standards for allowable VOC levels. It is a way for marketers to show consumers that they meet the strictest guidelines.

      I hope this helps.



  31. Elle G says:

    Great information! I am looking at some cribs with acrylic slates (Babyletto Harlow and Land of Nod Panorama). Is there anything I should be looking for with respect to the acrylic? Is this generally non-toxic? Thank you!

    • kellytholke says:

      Hi Elle,

      Thanks for your comment and questions. From what I understand, acrylic is generally viewed as safe because of its moderate properties and absence of BPA. A few thoughts on each:
      Land of Nod Panorama – The crib contains a low emission engineered wood, which typically means that it contains added formaldehyde (red flag). I’d recommend calling the manufacturer to get more information on the way their engineered wood is made.
      Babyletto Harlow – Lead and phthalate “safe” does not mean it’s “free” of these toxins. Again, I suggest contacting the manufacturer to ask about their lead and phthalate levels. According to the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act), the allowable limit for lead should be ‘‘100 parts per million (.01%)’’ (unless the Commission determines that a limit of 100 parts per million is not technologically feasible for a product or product category).

      You can refer to the recommended questions to ask manufacturers in the post.

      I hope this helps. Good luck with your search!

  32. Emily says:

    Could you comment more on the honest company babyletto crib in grey? I love all your reviews and really appreciate any help!!

    • kellytholke says:

      Hi Emily,
      Thanks for your comment. Based on the description of the Babyletto/Honest Company crib, my concern is around the “non-toxic lead and phthalate-SAFE finish.” “Safe” doesn’t mean “free,” which means that there could be traces of lead and phthalates in the finish. I would suggest contacting the manufacturer to ask about their lead and phthalate levels. According to the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act), the allowable limit for lead should be ‘‘100 parts per million (.01%)’’ (unless the Commission determines that a limit of 100 parts per million is not technologically feasible for a product or product category). I would also recommend getting an organic mattress free of harmful chemicals. There are a few suggestions in this post: I hope this helps.

  33. Jaymi says:

    Hey! I was wondering if you knew anything about the Natart brand?

    • kellytholke says:

      Hi Jaymi,

      I’m not very familiar with this brand, but their products appear to be high quality and safe. Great to see that their products are tested by a third party to ensure they meet all safety guidelines and standards.

      They also mention they’re Greenguard Gold Certified. This means that the product meets certain guidelines to ensure the product is acceptable for use in environments such as schools and healthcare facilities (see link: From what I understand, this simply means that they meet California’s standards for allowable VOC levels. It is a way for marketers to show consumers that they meet the strictest guidelines.

      I’d suggest looking into what their finishes contain. Remember that “low VOC” doesn’t meant “VOC free.” You may want to call the manufacturer and inquire about the finishes before purchasing.

      I hope this helps.


  34. D. says:

    I have been searching for quality US-made cribs for nearly seven hours over the last few days, and your blog has been the most helpful–and of course was the last url I clicked on! Always like that. Wish I would’ve found your site earlier, as it would’ve saved me from a headache and sore crossed eyes. It’s amazing how many crib recalls there have been from nearly every manufacturer. Appreciate your vigilance and passion. Thank you SO much for posting this!

  35. Julie says:

    hello! i am loving this post and all others 😉 thanks for being so diligent in your search. did you ever find out anything about the other room and board cribs? is the research you did on the el greco woodworking across the board? let me know your thoughts. thank you again~!!!!!

    • kellytholke says:

      Hi Julie,

      Thank you for your comment! When I was doing my search, I only researched Room & Board’s Nest crib collection. If you have questions about the manufacture, Room & Board can help answer them and/or send you the manufacturer’s contact info (that’s what I did). I was impressed with El Greco’s practices and wouldn’t hesitate to buy another product from them.

      I hope this helps!



  36. Hi! Thank you so much for all of your research!!!! I am driving myself a little crazy with a tight get and all this research I have been doing. I was interested in the Babyletto Hudson in gray originally but based on what you wrote I started looking at the Karla Dubois Copehagen or Oslo. Do you know anything about Karla Dubois and her finishes and stains? Recommended? I love the nest but it’s out of my price range unfortunately.

    • kellytholke says:

      Thanks so much for your comment. I looked into the Karla Dubois cribs (both the Copenhagen and the Oslo) and they seem like great choices. These are the features I love about the Karla Dubois cribs:

      – Green Guard Gold certification, which means they meet the toughest standards for VOC emissions
      – Lead and phthalate free (meet and exceed the safety standards)
      – Independent lab testing ensures all the products are tested by a third party to improve quality control
      – Uses a non-toxic water-based finish
      – Made of solid wood (no MDF or partical board) – but you may want to ask about the material used for base board
      – Beautiful style

      Based on all these features above, I think this crib is a safe choice for your baby.

      I hope this helps. Good luck with your search!


      • amy says:

        we have the crib if you have any specific questiond. we love it!

      • LC says:

        Hi, me again! I just wanted to thank you SO MUCH for your quick response and the information you provided. It is giving us so much peace of mind after all of the research we tried doing on our own! Just wanted to say a quick thank you for your response 🙂

      • kellytholke says:

        I’m so happy to hear that! I’m glad it was helpful. Thanks so much for the follow up.



  37. Mary says:

    Hi there,
    Thank you for all of your research and feedback. Do you have any knowledge of the DaVinci baby cribs? They indicate the following, but I’m not sure how to interpret:

    “Our furniture is made from New Zealand Pine wood from sustainable forests. One of the most renewable wood resources, New Zealand Pine forests are expanding, with wood production increasing annually.

    We perform annual paint tests in order to maintain consistent quality. Paint is considered safe when its toxic materials are under 300 parts per million (ppm). In order to claim low toxicity, products must have no more than 90 ppm. DaVinci Baby products come in at less than 10ppm.

    All our products are formaldehyde and lead safe; the formaldehyde level for all of our furniture is undetectable.”

    • kellytholke says:

      Hi Mary,

      Thanks for your comment. I can help translate what DaVinci is claiming and give you a few other questions to investigate.

      Regarding the wood, DaVinci claims to follow sustainable practices. I would ask them if this particular product is made of solid wood to ensure it contains no fiberboard, particleboard, plywood or medium density fiberboard (MDF), all of which can contain formaldehyde.

      The CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) states “beginning on the date that is 3 years after the date of enactment of this Act (2011), subparagraph (B) shall be applied by substituting ‘‘100 parts per million (.01%)’’ for ‘‘300 parts per million (.03%)’’ unless the Commission determines that a limit of 100 parts per million is not technologically feasible for a product or product category.”

      Regarding the paint, their claim suggests the DaVinci crib exceeds past ASTM/CPSC safety standards (from 2011). As of 2014, the requirements for each of the allowable lead limits is now 100 parts per million (.001%). DaVinci does exceed those standards at 10ppm.

      Many wood products naturally contain small amounts of formaldehyde, so the key is to ensure they’re not adding formaldehyde during the manufacturing process. I would suggest asking the manufacturer how they ensure the levels of formaldehyde and lead are “safe.” (For example, so they allow it to off-gas in an environment with moving air?) Remember that NO level of lead is considered safe.

      I hope this helps. I would ask a few more questions before purchasing the crib.

      Good luck!


      Basically, Babyletto is just barely under the maximum allowable 2011 limit goal (100 parts per million) at 90 parts per million. I’m unable to find any more recent data which may suggest and an even lower limit. If possible, it’s best to go with a lead-free option.

      • Mary says:

        Thank you so much for your reply…I know this thread is from a while back. Do you think your top recommendation is still the nest crib?

  38. kellytholke says:

    Hi Mary,
    Based on the amount of detail and transparency I was able to get from the manufacturer, I would still highly recommend the Nest crib. I’m sure there are other cribs that are just as sustainable, safe and “green” – it just takes time and diligence to get the right information. If there are other cribs you’re interested in, I would suggest using the criteria in this post to narrow down your list and ask the additional questions that may be necessary to get all the info you need to make an informed purchase.

    I hope this helps.

    Thanks for your comment.

  39. sadaf naimi says:

    Hi thank you so much for this post. It has been so helpful!! I had a question about the Ikea Sniglar. That is a recommended crib however you say Although the mattress platform is made of pressboard, Is that a bad thing? I guess I’m not understanding that that part. Could you please clarify?

    • kellytholke says:

      Hi Sadaf,
      Pressboard should be avoided if possible because it often contains added formaldehyde. However, according to the description on the website, the Ikea Sniglar is made of solid beech wood ( If you do opt for a crib that uses pressboard, I would highly recommend getting an organic mattress to reduce any potential additional exposure to chemicals. Naturepedic is an excellent brand to consider for organic mattresses.

      I hope this helps!


      • Heather says:

        Hello! Looking at the link for the Sniglar, now all parts show as solid beech and it’s $10 more. Could this mean no press board anymore?

      • kellytholke says:

        Hi Heather,

        According to the description on the website, the Sniglar is solid beech wood. However, there’s no information about the finish or glues that are used. It may be worth contacting Ikea and asking if their finish or glues contain VOCs.

        I hope that helps. Good luck!

  40. Joanna says:

    Hello, and thank you so much for all your incredible research! I would like to order the Nest crib today, but I have one thing holding me back! On the Room & Board website it says that the Nest crib is made with non-toxic finish. In your “Commons Pitfalls and Misconceptions” you state that the “non-toxic” finish label is something that should be a red flag. Why did you choose to buy the Nest crib despite the fact that is made with a non-toxic finish (for all the colors they offer)? Just wondering. Please let me know at your earliest convenience as I would like to order this as soon as possible. Many thanks!!

  41. kellytholke says:

    Hi Joanna,

    Thanks for your comment – and great question. “Non-toxic” is a term that can be overused by manufacturers. It’s a red flag if the manufacturer isn’t disclosing specific information about the finish.

    In this case, Room & Board backs up this claim in their description: Our non-toxic lacquer is Sherwin Williams Sher-Wood® F3 Hi-Bild PreCat Lacquer, which is GREENGUARD Certified® for low chemical emissions. Free of lead, phthalates and formaldehyde, this clear lacquer is not only safe, it creates a smooth, low-sheen finish that is durable and easy to clean. You can view this in the “See material info” within the “Wood” section.

  42. Tabitha says:

    Thank you very much for all the work you’ve done on this. It’s more than appreciated. Would I be able to email you a copy of a Test Report I received on the Sorelle Finley 4-in-1 crib? It’s confusing. For the lead it states ND but then in the next column it lists the Detection limit and the next column is the Permissible limit. If it shows ND-no detection then how can it list a detection limit. If you could please advise an e-mail I could send this to that would be great. I tried to copy & paste it but it won’t let me.
    Thank you,

  43. Mel says:

    Hi there—

    Thanks so much for this amazing research! I am driving myself crazy trying to find a preemie-safe (ie. not swaddled in a ton of fabric) BASSINET with no polyester, VOCs, lead, pthalates, formaldehyde, etc. I like Arm’s Reach but it has plywood (CARB-II, but still has formaldehyde); Guava Lotus has polyurethane; Baby Bjorn and BabyBay have polyester mattress fabrics. Help!

    • kellytholke says:

      Hi Mel,
      I had the same challenge! We ended up using an Arm’s Reach co-sleeper a friend passed down to us and bought an organic mattress for it. If we were to do it all over again, I would probably get the Baby Bjorn. All of its fabrics are Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified (including its polyester) and does not contain any flame retardants. The cradle/bassinet has received high ratings from review sites ( and the brand received a “good/yellow” rating from the Center of Environmental Health ( Monte is also another good choice. It’s a Canadian-based company that uses Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified microfibers and threads and none of its products contain flame retardants. My only hesitation is their foam “certifications,” which are first- and second-party certifications that could be biased. Here’s a link to their sustainability practices:

      I hope that helps. Good luck!

  44. Cd says:

    Hello- I hve been going crazy trying to justify my crib purchase, as it was pricey and didn’t come with any of the green certifications that some of the other cribs I looked at (after the fact) had. I bought the stokke sleepi bundle. Has anyone purchased this or researched the details of the crib? I’m replacing the mattress with a naturepedic organic, but worried about the crib itself.

    Thanks for your help!

    • kellytholke says:

      Thanks for your comment. I haven’t done much research on the Stokke crib, but I do see that it’s made of beech laminate and beech plywood, both of which probably contain formaldehyde and VOCs. I would suggest contacting the company to get more specifics on their testing results, specifically their formaldehyde levels.

      Getting a “green” mattress is a great idea to help offset any uncertainties you have with the crib. I highly recommend the Naturepedic, as you mentioned. You can help minimize the VOCs in the Stokke by putting in a place with moving air (in a garage with door open, a room with open windows, outside intermittently, etc) for a month or more.

      I hope that helps. Good luck!

  45. brooke cole says:

    I love your site! Ordered a restoration hardware crib and changing table. Smells horrible, even after a year!! My baby is now 4 months and never goes in her nursery. Just sleeps in a mini babyletto crib in our bedroom. Wanted to get rid of the Restoration Hardware crib and changing table. Do you know of any safe “white cribs” or do they all have to be unfinished wood in order to be safe? Love the “BABYLETTO MODO” in white
    I saw you wrote about them earlier. But what are your thoughts? And if not do you know of any others that come sooner. I checked out some of the sights but most take a month or two to ship out 😦

    • kellytholke says:

      Hi Brooke,

      Thanks for your comment. Cribs do not have to be made of unfinished wood to be “safe.” In this case, the description mentions the Babyletto Modo crib is made of sustainable pine wood and earned a Greenguard GOLD certification. Greenguard GOLD certified ( means that it meets stricter standards than the required limits. Note that there may be traces of lead and phthalates in this crib is since it is “lead and phthalate SAFE” instead of “free,” but the levels are most likely low and/or undetectable. I would recommend asking is the paint is low or no VOC. Otherwise, this seems like a solid choice.

      I hope that helps.



      • brooke cole says:

        Thank you:) I just saw that you went with the “nest crib” from Room & Board! Do you like it? Would you say this would be a healthier choice than the “Modo Babyletto” ? Was planning on purchasing one tomorrow morning. We are actually very close to the Room and Board store 🙂

      • kellytholke says:

        We are very happy with our Room & Board Nest crib and I highly recommend it. The choice you make is a personal one. I would suggest asking Babyletto about their lead and phthalate levels before making the purchase (note that the Nest crib is lead, phthalate and formaldehyde FREE). I was impressed by Room & Board’s/El Greco’s (manufacturer) commitment to health and safety.

        Good luck with your search!

      • brooke cole says:

        Thank you! We are going to purchase the Nest crib. I looked into their changing tables, and they all have MDF. What changing table did you go with?

  46. kellytholke says:

    HI Brooke,
    We bought a changing pad that attaches to the top of a dresser. We thought we’d get more longevity out of a dresser vs. a changing table. We have the Naturepedic: It’s made of organic cotton with a 100% polyethylene food grade waterproof coating.

  47. Sharon says:

    Hi I just ordered the naturepedic contour changing pad-whats the difference/benefit of a 2 sided vs a 4 sided one? Also what can you tell me about the million dollar baby Sullivan 4 in one crib. I’m looking for a 4 in one crib so I don’t have to repeat all this research and go through all of this once he outgrows his toddler bed. What about an extra wide dresser. I initially though of the franklin and ben mason dresser because I found a deal on it. If not what can you suggest instead please. What about a bed/adult mattress. I was thinking of putting a bed in his room so I can sleep there some nights. We ordered our baby the naturepedic mattress I believe with springs. Thanks so much.

    • kellytholke says:

      Hi Sharon,

      Thanks for your comment. According to the description, Million Dollar Baby Sullivan crib is made of poplar wood and CARB II compliant MDF (medium density fiberboard), which means that the MDF used meets CARB II low-emissions criteria for formaldehyde. Even though the MDF is CARB II compliant, the crib may still contain formaldehyde. The description also mentions that the crib is “lead and phthalate SAFE” (not “free”), so the crib may still contain traces of lead and phthalates. I would recommend asking the manufacturer for the specific levels of these substances and confirming that the paint is VOC-free.

      This post was focused specifically on cribs’ health/environmental impact, but I’ll try to answer your questions about the changing pad and dressers to the best of my ability. A 4-sided changing pad is contoured so your baby is surrounded by 4 edges, whereas a 2-sided pad has just 2 edges. I’m not able to answer specific questions about dressers, but the same criteria I listed for cribs should be applied when searching for dressers.

      Re: mattresses, I personally believe that Naturepedic’s mattresses are the “cleanest” of any I’ve researched/seen. Naturepedic only uses natural and organic materials in their products to ensure they’re safe and healthy. They’re the most awarded and certified mattresses, including GREENGUARD Gold Standard certified and GOTS.

      I hope that helps.

  48. Mary says:

    Hi Kelly,

    I am so grateful for this post and that you still take the time to respond to everyone! I’m trying hard to take good care of our baby in a way we can afford–and researching every single option anyone here has mentioned!

    It seems baby’s dream isn’t insane, based on price, and I know they came up 2 years ago… I read the reports on their site, but I couldn’t figure out if I just didn’t know how to read them or if there’s not really much information there. Is there anything not accounted for you recommend I ask about, or anything in there that would make you hesitate?

    Pali also seems to have some reasonable options. So, same question there: Based on the information they do provide, is there anything not accounted for I need to ask about, or anything presented to make you hesitate?

    Also, is ‘greenguard gold’ sufficient when it comes to VOCs and other concerns, or just ‘better than most’?

    Thank you so much!!

    • kellytholke says:

      Hi Mary,

      Thanks for your comments and questions. I’m glad this information has been helpful.

      I took a look at Baby’s Dream. Based on the information on their website, they meet the CARB emission standard which are basically the same standards as GREENGUARD (but not GREENGUARD Gold, the highest standard). The crib does contain some MDF wood, so there will be small traces of formaldehyde. Regarding lead, they meet the CPSIA 2008 Section101 requirement which bans “lead-containing paint” and defines it as “paint … containing lead … in excess of 0.06 percent.” They claim their products are lead free, so I would just confirm that all their products have undetectable levels of lead. (In other reports I’ve seen, .02 percent was the undetectable level.) Lastly, I find the section on phthalates confusing. They include a link to their report, but the report just says that they meet the requirement that all manufacturers must abide by. I assume they are claiming their products are phthalate free. You may want to confirm that. One other question I would consider asking the manufacturer is if their finishes contain VOCs.

      Pali seems similar to Baby’s Dream. They do use some composite wood which means they may emit small amounts of formaldehyde. I didn’t see any information on phthalates or VOCs, so I would inquire about those levels. Otherwise, this company seems to be committed to quality and safety. They frequently have their products tested by a 3rd party.

      GREENGUARD Gold sets higher standards than CARB for formaldehyde. If a product doesn’t claim to be free of formaldehyde, lead and phthalates, I personally like to see them at least meet the GREENGUARD or CARB requirements.

      I hope that helps. Good luck with your search!

  49. frank says:

    Thanks for the information and it’s a great article. I would like to mention that not only SAFE doesn’t mean FREE, FREE also doesn’t really mean FREE nowadays (which should mathematically mean zero). For example, as long as lead is under a certain amount of weight, then the product can be claimed and labeled lead free. Secondly, as far as I researched, current VOC standard is made for protecting environment. It doesn’t necessarily means it protect people’s health. For VOCs, the way people get it should be through breathing. I don’t really think focusing on the tiny crib could do much protection, since everybody will put the crib in a painted room with other furniture, which can also emit VOCs. One old way is to unpack furniture ahead of time and allow the VOCs to emit.

  50. C says:

    First, this post is wonderful as are the comments. So incredibly helpful. Just wanted to add some more details on a less expensive alternative to the Nest/Room&Board crib. The Nest is beautiful and certainly a first choice, but the Copenhangen Crib by Karla Dubois that was referenced above can be found for less than half of the cost of the Nest (at least at the time of this email) and appears to provide the same degree of safety. Be careful of some of the other crib options from Karla Dubois, as some appear to contain drawers which may not be solid wood. The Copenhagen, however, has no drawers and is solid wood. I contacted customer support and obtained the below verification when I asked to confirm if the Copenhagen Crib was ENTIRELY solid wood, what was used as the mattress support (can sometimes be engineered wood/MDF), and that the crib was not just phthalate safe and lead safe, but phtalate FREE and lead FREE. Here is their response:

    “That is correct, the Copenhagen Crib does not contain any drawers which makes it complete solid wood.
    The mattress support is a metal spring frame and has 3 adjustable levels.
    And lastly, the Crib is phthalate and lead free”

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