Non-Toxic Crib Buying Guide – Buying A Truly Non-Toxic Crib

Non-Toxic Crib

Crib can release harmful Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

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I had never thought a baby crib can off-gas toxic chemicals. It had never crossed my mind that I should look for a non-toxic crib. However, while researching organic and non-toxic baby products one day, I came across non-toxic cribs. Looking through all available cribs was pretty confusing to me. There were many cribs that say they were non-toxic cribs but their price difference was a lot from each other. For example, a Million Dollar crib was stated as a non-toxic crib and their price was $350. Then Green Cradle crib was also indicated as a non-toxic crib but their price was $1395. So why is there so much price difference? I learned through research that just because the crib is labelled as non-toxic, that doesn’t mean they are truly non-toxic. Some cribs still off-gas toxic chemicals even though they say they are non-toxic cribs. So I broke down cribs that are labelled as non-toxic cribs into three categories below. You will see which non-toxic cribs are truly non-toxic and which non-toxic cribs can still emit unsafe chemicals. However, let’s look at how cribs can be toxic and why you may want to get a non-toxic crib in the first place.

 

How Cribs Can Be Toxic To Your Baby

Baby crib can off-gas toxic chemicals. Depending on the type of wood, type of glue and type of finish the crib used, the crib can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are chemicals used in products and they can easily be emitted as gases in to the air. Products containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) will release toxic chemicals into the air during use or even in storage. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are up to 10 times more harmful in indoors, especially for babies. Common toxic ingredients include benzene, formaldehyde, phenol, toluene, 2-ethylhexanoic acid, etc. Baby can breathe in these toxins during sleeping. Chronic exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can cause asthma, lung infections, allergies, central nervous system damage,  liver & kidney damage or cancer. (Read Volatile Organic Compounds Impact On Indoor Air Quality.)

 

Type of Wood  For Cribs

One of the places Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) will be emitted from is wood. Cribs will have either hard solid wood, soft solid wood or manufactured wood. Hard solid wood is the most expensive wood but a lot more durable so it will last longer. It also has a lot higher fire resistance than soft solid wood.  Beech, Birch, Cherry or Oak are some of the examples of hard solid wood used to make cribs. Many cribs in the market are also made of soft solid wood. An example of soft solid wood is pine wood which is less expensive. Manufactured woods are plywood, chipboard or Medium Density Fibreboard (MPF). Manufactured woods used in furniture can be layers of pressed board or wood composite such as plywood with real wood (wood veneer) top coated to protect the top surface. Manufactured wood will release Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) the most.

 

Problem With Manufactured Wood And Glue

Formaldehyde is a naturally occurring chemical in solid wood (but only a trace amount). It is a toxic chemical, known to cause cancer and a variety of other health problems. At normal state, a very tiny amount of formaldehyde is released from solid wood. However, processing wood to manufactured wood such as plywood, chipboard or Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) will increase levels of emission. For example, when wood is treated with hot temperature or prolonged heating, it will increase emission of formaldehyde level from the wood. Also certain conditions during processing such as wood species, moisture content, outside temperature, and time of storage will attribute to higher level of formaldehyde. (read more about Understanding of Formaldehyde Emissions from Solid Wood)

The problem also lies with adhesives used for manufactured wood.  Some level of glue is used for all cribs to join the pieces when constructing a baby crib. If a crib is made of all solid wood, the use of glue will be minimal compared to a crib made with manufactured wood. When manufactured wood is made, formaldehyde-based glue is used to put the layers or wood composites together.  Therefore, the amount of glue present in the crib will be a lot higher. Most manufactured wood products use one of two types of formaldehyde-based adhesives: Phenol-formaldehyde (PF) or Urea-formaldehyde (UF).  The Healthy House Institute stated as the following regarding formaldehyde emission levels of these glues.

In its natural state, softwood lumber emits a tiny amount of formaldehyde. While PF-glued products typically emit 10 times the formaldehyde outgassed by softwood, UF resins can release at least 100 times more formaldehyde than the natural wood….With these factors in mind, a conservative recommendation would be to avoid manufactured wood products containing either PF or UF glue. 

When selecting a crib, avoid manufactured wood since it will already have higher amount of formaldehyde emission compared to solid wood. Otherwise, at least seek a better alternative to the toxic glue that is used to make those manufactured wood.

 

Alternative To Formaldehyde Adhesive

So what better alternative is there for manufactured wood? Some manufacturers say their product is formaldehyde-free because formaldehyde is not included in the adhesives. However, what people don’t know is that Isocyanates, a common replacement for Formaldehyde is just as toxic. (Read dangers of Isocyanates.) Not only that, manufactured wood also emits other toxic chemicals such as toluene, benzene which is very harmful to health. The manufactured wood using this formaldehyde-free adhesive will still emit toxic chemicals such as Isocyanates, benzene, toluene, etc. Therefore, just because formaldehyde-free adhesive is used for manufactured wood, it doesn’t mean it is safe. 

There is a better alternative to adhesives used with composite wood. Soy-based glue emits less Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) than formaldehyde-based or formaldehyde-free adhesives. Columbia Forest Products, North America’s largest manufacturer of hardwood plywood and hardwood veneer uses soy-based glue for their hardwood plywood called ‘PureBond‘. PureBond panels have been used in making cabinetry, closet systems, fine furniture, architectural millwork, etc.  They have been used for consumers who don’t have the budget for a solid-wood but who want to avoid VOC emissions. However, is soy-based glue completely safe?

Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) conducted a study on soy-based glue. The study concluded that soy-based glue does decrease formaldehyde exposures and it doesn’t have health impacts as significant as formaldehyde or other alternative adhesives.  Soy-based glue significantly reduces user
exposure to hazardous chemicals. However, the study also concluded that soy-based glue does raise some concerns for occupational health and safety for those making resin binders. In their study, Alternative Resin Binders for Particleboard, Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) and Wheatboard, they stated that,

While it eliminates potential formaldehyde exposures, it does introduce a new potential hazard, epichlorohydrin, into the lifecycle of wood panels. This hazard is unlikely to threaten workers exposed to the Kymene resin, but is a potential (although low) worker and environmental hazard in the manufacture of the intermediates.

Soy-based glue is not a definite answer to replacing formaldehyde-based glue. However, it is the safest option for the glue used in composite wood. When choosing the frame of the crib, solid wood will be the best choice. Manufactured wood should be avoided when selecting a crib due to high exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). However, if you decided to choose the crib with a manufactured wood as a part of the crib, go for the composite wood made with soy-based glue.

 

Toxicity of Wood Finish

Wood finish of a crib can also release harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  Polyurethane is a very common wood finish. Polyurethane can be either water-based or oil-based. Water-based polyurethane finish costs twice more than oil-based one. It also has less volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than oil-based one. Water-based is often considered as non-toxic, however, most water-based polyurethane still contains some level of harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The level of harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is just less. According to The U.S. Green Building Council, oil-based finish has a high VOCs amount, up to 450 grams of VOCs per liter where as water-based finish has a lot lower VOCs amount, 50 to 250 grams of VOCs per liter. Oil-based finish also will release toxins for months or years but water-based finish will release toxins largely within a few days. However, water-based finish emits toxins in large amount within a few days but we don’t know how long it takes for  the rest of toxins to off-gas. (read more about how long VOCs last.)

With this water-based finish, many crib manufacturers claim that their wood finish is non-toxic. ‘Non-toxic’ finish (water-based finish) means they have met the federal standard for volatile organic compounds (VOCs). However, the federal government does not have strict standards to regulate the amount of toxic chemicals found in children’s furniture. Although water-based finish will be a healthier alternative to toxic oil-based finish, it can still emit some level of unsafe chemicals. On top of that, all polyurethane coating contain isocyanates.  (Read Toxicity Information on Polyurethane.) Isocyanates is a toxic chemical as I have mentioned before. (Read dangers of Isocyanates.)  It is just as dangerous as a toxic chemical, formaldehyde.

A safe alternative, most non-toxic finish would be a food-grade oil finish. Food-grade oil includes shellac, beeswax, tung oil, and linseed oil (flax seed oil). If they don’t contain any additives, they will be the safest option. (Read Pros and Cons of Finish Options)

 

A Truly Non-Toxic Crib

The truly non-toxic crib is made of a 100% solid wood with food-grade oil finish and soy-based or water-based glue.  With a solid wood crib, ensure all parts of the crib is made of solid wood. Often a solid wood crib has manufactured wood in the crib. For example, a crib can have solid wood all around but its support board for the mattress is made of plywood.  Ask the manufacturer what type of wood they used for their mattress support board. If the crib has drawers or a changing table connected to the crib, find out if those parts are made of solid wood. If those parts are made with composite wood that includes a formaldehyde-based glue, that will increase formaldehyde emission. Try to avoid manufactured wood as much as possible since it is toxic.

The safest wood finish is food-grade oil finish. Food-grade oil finish includes shellac, beeswax, linseed oil (flax seed oil) and tung oil. These food-grade oils are safe if no additives are used with them. For example,  “Boiled,” “heat treated,” or “polymerized” linseed oil contains a metallic drying agent to cut drying time shorter.  Some drying agents used with natural oils can be toxic.  (Read Pros and Cons of Finish Options)

Lastly, the most non-toxic glue is a water-based, soy-based, organic glue. When baby crib is constructed, all parts are joined together with a glue. If the crib is made with 100% solid wood, the amount of glue present will be minimal. However, most cribs do not mention glues used with their crib.  Ask manufacturer what type of glue is used with their cribs. It is even more important to find out the type of glue used if the crib has manufactured wood in it.

Now, I have broke down cribs into three categories below. In this way you will get an idea of what kind of a crib you can get based on different wood and wood finish.

 

Cribs with Hard Solid Wood and Food-Grade Oil Finish

The most non-toxic crib is made of 100% solid wood with food-grade oil finish and soy-based or water-based glue. Cribs in this category are the most non-toxic cribs available out there. They are made of 100% solid wood and use organic glues or food -grade oil finish. This type of non-toxic crib is a lot more pricey. They are usually more than $1000.  Keep in mind that when more non-toxic material is used for the crib, usually the price will reflect that.  An alternative will be to get a solid wood crib with no finish then put food-grade oil finish yourself. I listed baby crib companies that are the most non-toxic below.

  • Green Cradle -cribs made of 100% solid hard wood, option to get a crib unfinished or finished with linseed oil

Get $20 discount at Green Cradle using coupon code ‘gonewmommy‘ at check out
other website. ($500 minimum purchase)

  • Romina – cribs made of 100% solid hardwood, organic glues,  non-toxic, water-based, organic finishes (free of VOC, lead, formaldehyde, and some other toxins), made in Romania

 

Cribs with Hard Solid Wood and Non-toxic, Water-Based Finish

These baby cribs do not have all three non-toxic requirements. (solid wood, food-grade oil finish and soy-based or water-based glue) Also, they are often not made with 100% solid wood. They will include manufactured wood at some part of the crib. If you decided to go with a crib that has a composite wood, look for composite wood using a soy-based glue. Composite wood using a soy-based glue will release less formaldehyde and hazardous chemicals than composite wood made with a formaldehyde-based glue. (Read more about soy-based glue.)

In this category, find a crib that is non-toxic as possible and also fits your budget. These cribs are little cheaper than the cribs with 100% solid hard wood and food-grade oil finish. Non-toxic, water-based finish will still emit some levels of VOCs but a lot less than oil-based finish. If you decide to get any of these cribs, try to air out the crib as much as possible before using it. Also, air out your house or baby’s room as much as possible whenever you can.

 

Oeuf Sparrow Crib​

Wood: This crib is made from solid birch with the exception of bottom rail and legs. Bottom rail and legs are made of Baltic birch plywood. This crib is made in Latvia, a nation with a strong woodworking heritage, from locally sourced wood. Manufacturing facility is Forest Stewardship Certified. Wood wastes and finishing materials are recycled.
Finish: Non-toxic and water-based
Certification: Greenguard certified. Made in a Forest Stewardship Certified facility.

This crib converts to Sparrow Toddler Bed with purchase of conversion kit. This crib is made in Europe.

More Info

 

Oeuf Classic Crib

Wood: This crib is made from solid birch with the exception of bottom rail and legs. Bottom rail and legs are made of Baltic birch plywood. This crib is made in Latvia, a nation with a strong woodworking heritage, from locally sourced wood. Manufacturing facility is Forest Stewardship Certified. Wood wastes and finishing materials are recycled.

Finish: Non-toxic and water-based
Certification: Greenguard certified. Made in a Forest Stewardship Certified facility.

This crib can convert into a toddler bed with the purchase of a conversion kit (to last up to age 5). This crib is made in Europe.

​​More Info

 

 

Stokke Sleepi Crib

Wood: Side-sections/Stretchers/Spacers/Rods: Solid Beech Wood, Curved Elements: Beech Laminate (Laminate is a multi-layer synthetic wood.) , Plates: Beech Plywood (Plywood is thin layers of wood veneer glued together)

This crib is designed to grow with the child and can be used from birth to 10 years old with additional parts.

More Info

 

Karla Dubois Baby Oslo Convertible with Drawer Crib

Wood: FSC-certified American poplar wood (most inexpensive hard wood)
Finish: non-toxic, water-based topcoat
Certification: Green-guard gold certified. FSC-certified American poplar wood and certified carb board build

This crib converts to a toddler bed with the purchase of a Karla Dubois toddler conversion rail kit. There are two compartments under the crib.

More Info

 

Kalon Studios Caravan Crib In Raw

 

Wood: 100% Solid FSC Certified Maple (sustainably harvested)/ Mattress support is made from solid wood veneer plywood.
Finish: You can choose to have a Raw option (non-finish) for the crib. For the rails of the colored cribs, a water-based GreenGuard certified finish is used.
Certification: Wood is FSC certified wood and also finish is Green guard certified. Oil-wax finish of the coloured cribs’ exposed wood parts are IBN certified.

This crib converts to platform style toddler bed without an additional kit.

 

 

Cribs with Soft Solid Wood and Non-Toxic Finish

These baby cribs do not have all three non-toxic requirements. (solid wood, food-grade oil finish and soy-based or water-based glue) In this category, find a crib that is non-toxic as possible and also fits your budget. The cribs below are a lot more cheaper than Non-toxic cribs with solid hard wood or food-grade oil finish. Non-toxic, water-based finish will still emit some level of VOCs but a lot less than oil-based finish. These cribs are also made of soft solid wood so it will be less durable than the hardwood cribs. However, the price is a lot more affordable. Be sure to ask manufacturer if any part of the crib is made of manufactured wood.  Also, if you are getting one of these cribs, buy early as possible so you can air out the crib as much as you can before using. In addition, air out your house and baby room whenever you can after starting to use the crib.

 

Stork Craft Portofino 4-in-1 Fixed Side Convertible Crib and Changer

 

Wood: Solid wood
Finish: Non-toxic finish

​This crib converts from a full size crib to a toddler bed, a daybed and a full size bed. Changing table can be detached and used as a nightstand when converting the crib.

More Info

 

DaVinci Kalani 4-in-1 Convertible Crib with Toddler Rail

Wood: 100% sustainable New Zealand pine wood
Finish: Non-toxic multi-step painting
Certification: Greenguard Gold

This crib can be converted to toddler bed, daybed and full-size bed.

More Info

 

​Babyletto Hudson 3-in-1 Convertible Crib with Toddler Rail

Wood: Sustainable New Zealand pine wood
Finish: Non-toxic finish
Certification: Greenguard Gold

This crib can be converted to toddler bed and daybed. Toddler bed conversion kit is included.

More Info

 

Babyletto Gelato 4-in-1 Convertible Crib

Wood: Sustainable New Zealand pine wood
Finish: Non-toxic finish
Certification: Greenguard Gold

​This crib includes toddler bed conversion kit.​

More Info

Pali Imperia Forever Crib

Wood: Rubber wood, pine solids and birch veneer
Finish: Non-toxic finish

This crib has nice Italian design and it converts to toddler bed (toddler rail sold separatelly), a child’s day bed and full-size bed. (full bed rail sold separately)

More Info

 

Million Dollar Baby Classic Ashbury 4-in-1 Convertible Crib With Toddler Rail

Wood: Solid New Zealand pine wood
Finish: Non-toxic finish

This crib converts to toddler bed, day bed and full size bed. Toddler bed conversion kit is included and full-size bed conversion kit is sold separately. There is also under-crib drawer for additional storage.​

More Info

 

Million Dollar Baby Classic Foothill 4-in-1 Convertible Crib With Toddler Rail

Wood: Solid New Zealand pine wood and CARB II compliant MDF (CARB Phase 1 and Phase 2 are a part of California’s Composite Wood Products Regulation (CWP Regulation). CARB Phase 2 has much lower formaldehyde emissions than the previous phase 1. – Read ‘What is CARB Phase II?‘)
Finish: Non-toxic finish

This crib converts to toddler bed, day bed and full size bed. Toddler bed conversion kit is included and full-size bed conversion kit is sold separately.

More Info

 

Check out my other post ‘‘Best Organic Crib Mattresses Buying Guide 2017‘! 😀

 


2 Comments

  1. Jen December 21, 2017
    • go_new_mommy December 24, 2017

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