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Last updated on October 4th, 2017
When shopping for a crib for your baby, you probably have a lot of questions.
- Is it that important to buy solid wood cribs?
- A crib manufacturer says their composite cribs are CARB II certified, is that good enough?
- Are all solid wood cribs very expensive?
First of all, if you have these questions, you are way ahead of the majority of parents. You should take a moment to praise yourself. Know that I believe you will be able to choose the right crib for your baby. You have done lots of research already and in a moment you are going to learn even more.
6 years ago, when I was shopping for a crib, I was in your shoes except that I could not find much help either on the Internet or offline. I was so frustrated with shopping for safe healthy baby products that it became my full-time occupation. I have forgone my career in finance to help you protect your family from potentially harmful substances and, ultimately, get the peace of mind that you are making the right decisions for your family.
Now let’s address some questions you might have.
Is it that important to buy solid wood cribs?
To answer this question, let’s look at what non-solid wood cribs are made of. They are made of engineered or composite wood, such as plywood or medium density fiberboard (MDF) or particleboard, made by gluing lots of small pieces of wood together. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of glue to do this. And, you guessed it! The glue usually contains formaldehyde.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified formaldehyde as “carcinogenic to humans,” based on nose and throat cancers in working populations. For more information about formaldehyde, visit here.
True, the amounts of formaldehyde would be small in comparison to occupational exposure; however, babies are much more vulnerable to VOCs because they need much more air per body weight. An infant takes 40-60 breaths per minute, whereas a healthy adult breathes about 12-16 times a minute.
We do not have information if and how much a particular crib may harm your baby but based on the potential harms, I think to be on the safe side, it is best to go for solid wood cribs or cribs with low formaldehyde emissions.
A crib manufacturer says their cribs are CARB II certified, is that good enough?
In 1992, California determined that formaldehyde is a potent toxin. The California Air Resource Board (CARB), a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency, regulates formaldehyde emissions in composite wood.
Recently, the California Environmental Protection Agency came up with a stricter standard, called CARB II, which set forth the following limits on formaldehyde emissions.
For hardwood plywood veneer core and hardwood plywood composite core, the standard prohibits formaldehyde in amounts greater than 0.05 parts per million (“ppm”); for particleboard, it is 0.09 ppm; and for medium density fiberboard (MDF), it is 0.11 ppm. (source)
Often, plywood or MDF is used to make mattress supports in cribs and the bottoms of dresser drawers. By the way, in my experience, you should always double-check with a crib seller if their cribs are 100% solid wood including mattress support and dresser drawers.
Is CARB II good enough?
In the case of non-solid wood cribs, there is a better standard: Greenguard. Greenguard is not a government agency but an independent organization acquired by UL Environment (Underwriters Laboratories) in 2011. GREENGUARD certification helps buyers identify interior products and materials that have low chemical emissions, improving the air quality in which the products are used.
They have two standards: Greenguard Certified and Greenguard Gold (formerly known as “Greenguard Children & Schools”).
The formaldehyde emission limit for Greenguard Certified is 0.05 ppm, which is the same as CARB II’s for plywood veneer core and hardwood plywood composite core; it is better than CARB II’s requirement for particleboard (0.09 ppm), and MDF (0.11 ppm). The Greenguard Gold standard’s limit is only 0.0075 ppm.
You can search for any product in the Greenguard database to learn if it has been certified here.
As you can see, for cribs, CARB II is not the strictest standard. And it is best to look for either a solid wood crib or Greenguard Gold-certified crib. By the way, in addition to formaldehyde, Greenguard tests for VOCs (volatile organic compounds). You can learn more about Greenguard standards here.
Are all solid wood cribs very expensive?
Sometimes yes, but not always.
Over the years, I have looked into lots of cribs sold on the US market. Generally, solid wood is more expensive than pressed wood. However, there are very expensive cribs that are not solid wood cribs. On the other hand, there is a solid wood crib priced as little as $70.
For more tips on how to shop for a non-toxic solid wood crib without breaking the bank, as well as my 10 top non-toxic crib choices, visit here.
Keep in mind that structural safety is always of critical importance, and I make no recommendations for cribs rated on the basis of safety. You will have to do your own research there. You might want to check out Consumer Reports.
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