child in crib

© C. Zirkel


U.S. regulations define a full-size crib as one whose inside dimensions are 28 ± 5⁄8 inches (71 ± 1.6 centimeters) in width and 52 3⁄8 ± 5⁄8 inches (133 ± 1.6 centimeters) in length.* Non-full-size cribs may be larger or smaller, but must be rigid and must not have mesh sides. Compact and portable cribs are often 26¼ inches by 39½ inches.

The standard full-size crib mattress is 27¼ inches by 52 inches.

Regulations set by the Consumer Products Safety Commission in 2011 require that the openings between slats be no greater than 2⅜ inches, so that babies' heads can’t be caught. The cornerposts also may not rise more than 1/16 inch above the side unless they rise at least 16 inches. Babies have been hanged by catching clothing on protruding posts.

The regulations ban drop-side cribs—those in which the front side can be slid down to reach the baby. These mechanisms have killed a number of babies; how is graphically illustrated here.

Safety standards for cribs assume a child less than 35 inches high, and under the age of 2. If cribs are used for taller or older babies, the babies run the risk of falling out.

Cribs should not be placed near dangling window cords (to avoid hanging). Mattress covers should not be improvised out of plastic film (to avoid suffocation). Loose teething rails should be replaced.

Crib sheets are 28 inches by 52 inches (because nowadays they are usually fitted sheets), and crib blankets, about 45 inches by 60 inches.

The 30 inches by 54 inches size was established before 1900, but at that time a larger size, 40 inches by 60 inches, was also sold.†

*The actual language allows a bit more tolerance:

"Within a range of ± 5.1 cm (± 2 in.) of the following interior dimensions: The interior dimensions shall be 71 ± 1.6 cm (28 ± 5⁄8 in.) wide as measured between the innermost surfaces of the crib sides and 133 ± 1.6 cm (52 3⁄8 ± 5⁄8 in.) long as measured between the innermost surfaces of the crib end panels, slats, rods, or spindles. Both measurements are to be made at the level of the mattress support spring in each of its adjustable positions and no more than 5 cm (2 in.) from the crib corner posts or from the first spindle to the corresponding point of the first spindle at the other end of the crib."

1895 Montgomery Ward catalog.

for further reading

The Consumer Products Safety Commission has a valuable website on crib safety:


For the United States, the requirements of the Consumer Products Safety Commission:


PART 1220—SAFETY STANDARD FOR NON-FULL-SIZE BABY CRIBS (Eff. June 28, 2011). Online access at pdf.

The CPSC regulations incorporate material from the standards of the ASTM, which were prepared with the help of the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Assn.

ASTM F 1169–10, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Full-Size Baby Cribs.
ASTM F 406–10a, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Non-Full-Size Baby Cribs/Play Yards.


Canada: Health Canada’s crib standard,SOR/2016-152.

Europe: In August 2017 new standards were proposed for cots (cribs): EN 716–1(and 2):2017 Furniture — Children’s cots and folding cots for domestic use.

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