Many parents-to-be love the idea of using an heirloom crib for their new little bundle. Heirloom cribs tend to hold a lot of sentimental value, and can seem to be the perfect centerpiece of any nursery. However, you need to be very careful when using hand-me-downs, as they often pose safety hazards.
Safety standards for cribs are updated frequently, making it very likely that an heirloom crib will NOT meet current standards. Even if the crib is only a few years old, it is likely to have a drop-side, which is a feature that has been recalled industry-wide (see below for an example of a drop-side crib). However, many manufacturers sell drop-side safety kits that allow you to permanently secure the drop-side, reducing risk to your baby. If you do end up with a drop-side crib, make sure to install a safety kit before placing your baby in the crib.
The older a crib is, the more likely it is to have broken or missing parts. Every piece of hardware used in the construction of a crib is vital to the structure and stability (and therefore, the safety). Even a couple of missing screws can pose a safety hazard. If replacement hardware cannot be obtained, it is best to start fresh with a new crib. Do not use a crib with any broken or missing pieces.
It is very difficult to ensure the safety of an heirloom or hand-me-down crib as you may not even know if it has missing hardware, broken pieces, etc. If you simply like the aesthetic of an heirloom crib, there are many new options in the market today that will give you the vintage style, but without the safety risk. The only way to be 100% confident that your crib is safe and compliant with all current standards is to buy a new, never-used crib.
If you would like to read more on this topic please visit http://www.safeisbeautiful.org/