Bonus Material: Additional crib maker reviews that didn’t fit in Chapter 2.
AFG FurnitureCall 323-725-7767 for a dealer. Web: www.afgbabyfurniture.com. AFG Furniture afgbabyfurniture.com This Chinese import line is sold in discount stores and online (WayFair, among others). Cribs run $200 to $350, while dressers are about $200-$400. AFG also sells a couple of convertible cribs, including a model that converts to a full-size bed for $250. If you are looking for a simple Jenny Lind crib for grandma’s house, AFG has one $150. A good example is the Athena Nadia, which includes into a toddler and then full-size bed. Price: $251. What about quality? Frankly, AFG is hardly impressive. Despite descriptions of dressers that claim “solid pine” construction, AFG dressers are heavy on veneers (a think layer of pine wood over particle board). Assembly can take hours—and we saw several reports of drawers that didn’t close properly and other quality woes. Another issues with this line is shipping damage. While these issues aren’t unique to AFG, we see several reports of furniture that arrived with damage, from scratches to more serious issues. Bottom line: the fit, finish and construction of AFG’s dressers pales in comparison to other low-end import lines such as Bivona’s Fisher Price nursery furniture. Of course, you could argue that this furniture is so cheap ($105 for a changing table), that you might be willing to live with the trade-offs. Rating: C
Angel Line Call (800) 889-8158 or (856) 863-8009 for a dealer near you. Web: angelline.com. Angel Line is a low-priced import furniture brand that makes a decent crib for the dollar. No, there’s nothing fancy or high-style about this furniture—an example is their simple Jenny Lind crib for $129 on Amazon. (Watch out for high shipping charges—that Jenny Lind crib has $59 in shipping fees). Other styles included cribs that convert into full size bends and a slat sleigh style crib; there’s even a round crib in the line. In addition to cribs, Angel Line sells cradles, changing tables, rockers an chests. While we thought Angel Line’s cribs are a good value (especially for Grandma’s house), their dressers and rockers were less of a deal. The quality on these items is poor (dressers featured stapled drawers and low-end drawer glides); a reader gave her Angel Line rocker-glider a C+ on our site after it started squeaking after six months, no matter how much oil was applied to the bolts. Bottom line: Angel Line would make for a good, affordable crib for Grandma’s house. But skip the brand’s other offerings. Rating: C+
Caramia (877) 728-0342 or (705) 328-0342. Web: CaramiaFurniture.com. Ontario-based Caramia imports its cribs from Croatia and dressers from Vietnam. The styling is conservative and prices are moderate (most cribs are $400 to $550). The Elena collection is Caramia’s first stab at eco-friendly furniture: the crib is made from FSC-certified wood, water-based finish, natural glue, etc. Delivery is six to eight weeks on average, which is rather zippy in this industry. How about the quality? We consider Caramia to be in the middle of the pack—not the best, but not the worst. The dressers are probably the least-impressive part of this line: while the Elena is made of solid beech, other collections feature more MDF than you’d expect at this price. Rating: B-
Concord For a dealer in Canada, call (905) 738-0084. This Canadian crib maker is on our short list of not recommended manufacturers. Why? A local Pittsburgh TV station reported in 2002 that a mother there discovered the slats on her Concord crib fell apart. “As she was pulling the gate to the crib up, it fell apart with all the slats coming completely out of the side rails,” the report said. This points up a problem with some cribs that the CPSC has moved to correct—in the last eleven years, there have been 138 instances of crib slat disengagements that have resulted in the deaths of 12 children. (Note: the 138 instances were for ALL crib brands, not just Concord). To fix the problem, the U.S. government enacted new standards in 1999 to make sure the slats don’t come out. The Pittsburgh mom bought her crib in 2000 (after the new rules were in effect), yet she still had a problem crib. Making matters worse, when contacted by the parent, Concord refused to help. Instead, they referred her back to the USA Baby store she bought the crib from. Fortunately, USA baby offered to repair the crib and—after the TV station got involved—refund the consumer the price she paid for the crib. Shame on Concord for telling the consumer, in effect, “tough luck.” We contacted Concord about this situation and, while they didn’t deny the basic facts involved in the case, they claimed the crib was much older than the consumer claimed. FYI: Concord is rarely sold in the US, mostly just in Canada—but a reader did spy them at a Wisconsin baby store. And their cribs still pop up on eBay from time to time. Yes, they are cheap ($169 to $229), but we say pass. Rating: D
Ethan Allen (888) EAHELP1; web: ethanallen.com. Ethan Allen exited the crib business in 2010.
Little Miss Liberty 3040 N. Avon St., Burbank, CA 91504. Call (800) RND-CRIB for a dealer near you. Web: www.crib.com.
Update December, 2014: This company’s web site has been down for more than a year; the company’s Facebook page remains active. When we inquired about the web site, the company said they were still in business and is redesigning their web site.
Little Miss Liberty has two claims to fame. First, they are one of the very few companies that make round cribs. Second, they are the only crib maker owned by the wife of the cartoon voice of Shaggy (of Scooby Doo fame). Yes, actress Jean Kasem (who played Loretta Tortelli on “Cheers” and is the wife of Casey “America’s Top 40” Kasem) is the driving force behind this company, which took over the country’s largest round crib maker years ago. The company plays up its Hollywood connection to the hilt, with Jean dropping celebrity client names (Melanie Griffith, Roseanne) on her many talk show appearances to plug the cribs. So, what’s so special about a round crib, except for its price tag? The company points out that the first cribs commissioned for European royalty were round or oval. In press materials, Jean says “those who want the best cribs favor the rounded shape because they don’t restrict the child’s view. They can focus on the whole world and they are the center of it.” Uh huh. Well, we can say one thing about Little Miss Liberty—that unrestricted worldview ain’t cheap. A Little Miss Liberty wood round crib will set you back a cool $1000—and that doesn’t include the bedding. Matching bedding sets can add another $500 to $1500 to the price. Not expensive enough for you? How about a brass or chrome round crib? The “Biker Baby Crib” in chrome is just $2400. Brass will set you back $4400. New this year is the “Crystal Crib” with sterling silver mylar rope spindles for $4800. Of course, you should buy your baby a cradle for those first few weeks. To help with this, Little Miss Liberty offers a “Swan Cradle,” a hand carved replica of a 16th century design, finished in cherry and gold leaf. Your bargain price today, just $3800. It’s apparent the company realized those prices were a wee bit high for those of us non-Hollywood types and has since introduced a low-price crib model (and bedding). The “Dura Crib” is made from molded “poly-plastic” components (the regular round cribs are made of wood) and features a canopy. The original price: $570, but we’ve seen it recently on close-out on Little Miss Liberty’s web site for $200. So, is it worth it? Well, we don’t buy Little Miss Liberty’s argument that round cribs are safer than rectangular ones. We monitor the federal government’s reports on injuries caused by juvenile products and see no evidence that rectangular cribs are a problem. So, if you’re going to go for a round crib, do it because you like the crib’s aesthetics. And save up those pennies—when you add in the bedding, this investment can soar above $1000 quickly. Rating: B
Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard Call (416) 661-8201 for a dealer near you. Web: mhcfurniture.com. Canadian-based furniture maker Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard (MHC) scored a coup a few years ago when they landed their dressers in the Buy Buy Baby chain. Since then, they’ve expanded by adding cribs to their line. MHC has six collections of conservatively designed furniture with different dresser configurations (four or five drawer chests and double dressers, as well as armoires). Cribs run $500 to $600; dressers are $500 to $900. That puts MHC somewhat in the middle of the crib market—more expensive than the stuff you see at Babies R Us, but less than Morigeau or Pali. While the style isn’t cutting edge or overly adult, the emphasis here is on construction (all the case pieces are made in Canada) and finish choices (30 at last count).
So how’s the quality and delivery? Our readers are split on this. Fans of MHC like the fact it is made in Canada instead of China (to be precise, a couple of MHC crib styles are imported from Bulgaria, but finished and painted in Canada). Quality and finish are generally good, but one frustrated dad emailed us a story of a changing table with miss-drilled holes for the handles. After many calls, they got a replacement drawer fronts—but they weren’t pre-drilled. Other parents complain of long waits for delivery (up to 15 weeks), even though others say it took just eight weeks (which is MHC’s goal). And, yes, MHC’s painted pieces are made of MDF (not solid wood), but the overall construction (dove-tailed drawers, etc) is good. FYI: If you live near Toronto, check out the MHC outlet for close-outs at 20% to 60% off retail. Rating: B+
Pacific Rim Woodworking pacificrimwoodworking.com How times have changed—less than 20 years ago, if you wanted nursery furniture that was made in the USA, you didn’t have to look far. There were probably a dozen or more domestic nursery furniture companies sold in stores as recently as the 1990’s. But that was then and now, with the glut of imported furniture from Asia, domestic furniture makers are few and far between. Among the few survivors is Pacific Rim Woodworking, an Oregon-based company that still makes cribs, dressers and twin beds in the U.S. The look here is clean and contemporary. The “Arts & Crafts” crib is made from solid maple (as are all Pacific Rim’s pieces) and has a spring mattress platform. The price? About $1295.
No, the brand isn’t a bargain, but we liked the quality here: all Pacific Rim’s dressers are hard wood (no veneers) and other little details are similarly impressive. Environmentally-inclined parents will probably be more impressed by Pacific Rim’s commitment to use “green certified” lumber. The company has only about 50 retail dealers nationwide, so if you want to take a peek at their offerings, you may have to do a bit of searching. Bottom line: this is a good option if you want a domestically-made crib and nursery furniture. The plain maple finish and look won’t appeal to everyone, but we give Pacific Rim a thumbs up. Rating: B
Relics Furniture607 Washington Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55401. For a dealer near you, call 612-374-0861. Web site: relicsfurniture.com. Minneapolis furniture maker Relics offers one Jenny Lind spindle crib, a far cry from their past offerings. The furniture is made of Bass wood sourced in the Midwest and “responsibly” sourced. The crib sells for $840 while a matching changer is $1500. At those prices, you’d expect these models to be superbly built, but the quality is only OK. If you’re going to drop that much money, we’d go for one of their funky finishes. You can find a white or ivory crib for much less elsewhere. Rating: B
Restore & Restyle Web: target.com. Target’s in-house brand of baby furniture features a single crib ($250) and hi-low combo dresser ($280). The reviews on this brand are mixed—while the very simple crib (made of poplar) features an under-crib drawer, there is one major drawback: the Restore & Restyle crib has a double-trigger drop side release. Rarely seen on the market today, the double-trigger release requires you to use TWO hands to lower the crib rail—not fun if you have a sleeping baby in your arms. Our readers were downright hostile when it came to reviewing the Restore & Restyle combo dresser—many told us of assembly hassles (pre-drilled holes in the wrong location, nothing fitting right, etc), shipping damage and overall poor quality. So this one is a bust—we’re amazed that Target (which generally has a good reputation for their in-house brands) decided to put this on the market. (Note: as of this writing: Target has dropped Restore & Restyle nursery furniture from their web site, so we’re uncertain about the brand’s future). Rating: D
Room Magic Web: roommagic.com. Santa Barbara-based designer Karen Andrea started Room Magic as children’s furniture and accessories company that focuses on whimsical designs. Bucking the trend toward adult furniture, Room Magic makes one design that features a plexiglass heart shaped inserts. The crib runs an affordable $140. This brand so obscure, we’ve had no feedback on it. Rating: Not Yet.
SauderWeb: sauder.com. We mentioned this brand of RTA (ready-to-assemble) furniture in one of our previous books as an inexpensive option for dressers and wanted to include a quick mention here. Some readers were surprised that we’d recommend Sauder, given their past reputation for cheap, particle board/laminate offerings that were poor quality and prone to damage. But they’ve improved the line lately and we do recommend you consider it as an option, especially if you are a do-it-yourselfer who wants to finish the furniture (Sauder offers both finished and unfinished options). Yes, you do have to assemble the furniture and that can be a hassle. But the prices are amazing—you’ll see Sauder at Wal-Mart, Lowe’s and other stores. At Walmart chests start at $99 and go up $430 for a six-drawer option. Lowe’s offers a four-drawer chest for just $222. If you go this route, be sure to get the ALL WOOD Sauder furniture. And see it before you buy to make sure it is what you expect. Rating: A-
Today’s Baby Sold on BabyAge.com, these Chinese-imported cribs sell for $170 to $800. They originally sold inexpensive models but later expanded to designs up to $800. Made in China, they do feature spring mattress platforms and low profile design. The only feedback we’ve had on this brand is that some cribs have arrived with freight damage (indicating poor packaging). There is limited feedback, but parents seem to like them overall. Rating: Not Yet.