While some baby inventions are newer and have only entered the market in the last century, others have a more storied past. Cribs, in particular, have been documented since at least 1620. With such a long history comes a lot of interesting innovations, from mid-century modern design to new crib safety features. Let’s take a walk down memory lane to understand how we got to today’s designs.
A Quick History of Baby Cribs
We know that early cribs in the 1600s were made of wood – specifically, hollowed-out logs. These cribs looked similar to a food trough and ensured that the baby didn’t climb or fall out of bed. It’s likely that there was some form of cribs even before this – possibly hammock-style beds that would rock the baby to sleep.
By the 1800s, those early basic cribs had transformed into rockers and bassinets made of metal. Bassinets were particularly important for people of this time because they believed the air near the ground contained noxious, dangerous fumes. This new type of bed kept the child raised where there was clean air. In 1871, someone even invented a “sofa bed” that was a 4-in-1 bassinet, rocker, couch, and fold-out bed. Talk about bang for your buck!
Still, early rockers had to be swayed manually, either by foot or hand. This tiresome work led inventors in the 1900s to create cradles that could rock your baby without much assistance from you via spring motors, hand cranks, and cogs. By 1924, when about 50% of Americans had electricity, the first electric rocker made its appearance. Fast forward to the 1990s, and we finally have a convertible crib, which is designed to take a baby from infancy to pre-teen years.
Crib Safety Over the Years
You may not be surprised to hear there was little regulation for crib safety until fairly recent times. In the US, we didn’t see any criteria until 1973, when the Food and Drug Administration created a set of federal crib safety standards for the first time. At the time, regulations required that slats on cribs be no more than 2 ⅜ inches apart. The regulations also stipulated that there couldn’t be excessive space between the crib frame and mattress. Additionally, cribs with drop sides were required to include safety locks. Any mechanical hazards also needed to be eliminated under the standards. These regulations proved to be life-saving – infant deaths caused by cribs dropped from 200 per year to 50.
In 2010 we got new crib safety standards from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The standard introduced new requirements, including that wood slats be made from strong wood that limits breakage and that mattress supports be more durable. They also introduced more intensive safety testing.
Ever-Changing Crib Design
Aside from the standard crib and rocker, the world has seen all kinds of crib designs throughout the years. This includes a half-wooden barrel co-sleeper from Italy, as well as a suspended window bed that was essentially a metal cage that hung outside of a window like an air conditioning unit.
In the 1940s, B.F. Skinner even made an entirely enclosed crib with three walls, a ceiling, and a glass panel in the front. This crib lacked much aesthetic design but was created to make a perfectly temperature-controlled space for the baby. Finally, by the 1960s and 70s, we saw more appealing crib designs thanks to the rise of mid-century modern design.
It’s these original designs that have heavily influenced today’s cribs. In fact, Natart’s Kyoto collection features the same sleek lines and clean color palette that we saw in much of the mid-century modern design in the 1960s – all the way down to Natart’s linen or leather headboard panels.
We can see other examples from other brands, as well. Nest’s Flexx and Lello collections rely heavily on the simple and straightforward structure of mid-century modern design. Likewise, Tulip’s Bjorn, Metro, and Tate all have a similar classic look. Natart has even applied the mid-century modern design to our Matty Changers – the waterproof, easy-to-clean changing mat you can take anywhere. The sage and cappuccino color ways are particularly influenced by the mid-century modern style.
Advanced Crib Safety Is Here to Stay
While early cribs were designed solely to keep the baby in place and off the ground, cribs today are created with safety as a key pillar of design. At Natart, your baby’s health is our number one priority. That’s why all of our products are Greenguard Gold Certified, meaning they’ve undergone extensive testing to ensure that they’re safe for the baby (and you!) to come into contact with. While many other products are made with dangerous chemicals, ours are not.
Additionally, all of Natart’s cribs are tested for safety in a third-party testing facility in the US. Although crib safety is fairly new in our modern times, it’s always been most important for us at Natart. You can read more about our safety measures here.