“I’m going to be a parent?” I was overjoyed and overwhelmed.

Just when I thought I had my life in perfect order, the obstetrician sent my head swirling and my fingers rushing to my computer. I made list and after list of the million things that I would need to buy for the baby, including some things that I had assumed would be simple – sheets for the crib.

What could be complicated about buying a baby crib sheet? Aren’t they all the same?

I discovered that baby crib sheets are not universal. They come in many sizes and styles and materials.

Are all crib sheets the same size?

I was naive enough to think that crib sheets would all be the same size – just walk into the baby store and pick up a set. But they aren’t. That would make parenting too simple, wouldn’t it?

I learned that baby crib mattresses come in different sizes, so of course, there have to be different sizes of crib sheets. I also learned that it’s critically important that the sheets in the crib fit nice and tight to the mattress so that the baby doesn’t get tangled up in them. Consequently, size matters.

I had my eye on a standard crib. I learned that there are also mini-cribs and bassinets with their own sheet size requirements because the mattress sizes are different. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has special guidelines for non-standard cribs.

Almost all baby crib mattresses are rectangular, but I learned that there are also “designer” cribs that are round, hexagonal, and other shapes that are required by law to come with their own specially-fitted mattresses and, of course, will require you to buy specially-shaped crib sheets. I didn’t even consider these options because I just assumed they’d cost an arm and a leg. 

Are crib sheets a standard size?

Yes, sort of. There is a standard crib sheet size, but for the reasons I mentioned earlier, you first have to ascertain that you are buying a standard crib mattress. I found that because I was buying a standard, rectangular mattress for the crib I could easily find and reasonably afford to buy sets of standard size crib sheets.

What is the size of a baby crib sheet?

I learned that the size of the baby crib sheet depends on the type of crib. Here are three examples:

Standard Crib

The standard-sized, rectangular baby crib sheet is 52 inches long, 28 inches wide, and between 4 inches and 6 inches deep. I found them in most stores with a variety of happy baby designs. The reason for the range in depth is the type of mattress – an innerspring mattress is usually between 5 inches and 6 inches, whereas a foam mattress might be 4 inches to 6 inches.

Mini-Crib

I also looked into buying a mini-crib for what I anticipated would be frequent trips to grandma’s house or to the homes of unsuspecting friends. I found a variety of these handy cribs that typically fold up and have wheels for easy transport.

These cribs have smaller mattresses and therefore the typical sheets around 24 inches wide and 38 inches long. You will want to measure the mattress if you get a mini-crib before you buy sheets, though, because unlike standard-size mattresses there are no universal regulations regarding the specific sizes. The good news is that mini-cribs always come with their mattresses included.

I saw that there was a good selection of sheets for mini-cribs, so if you buy one of these you don’t have to worry about finding sheets that fit snugly.

Bassinet

I was surprised to see that there was such variety in the size and shape of bassinets. The good news, however, was that most bassinets use sheets that are available everywhere and usually come to 20 inches wide by 28 inches long. There are other sizes out there, so measure your bassinet to avoid multiple trips to the store.

Are twin sheets the same size as crib sheets?

crib sheets

I was thinking ahead while shopping. My baby was going to outgrow the crib one day, so I’d have to plan on getting a twin bed in the future. What about the sheets? Would they move along with my bundle of joy? It didn’t take me long to figure out the baby’s can be expensive, so of course, the answer was an emphatic “no.”

Twin sheets fit twin mattresses, which are larger than baby crib mattresses. Twin sheets measure 39 inches wide by 75 inches long, so I realized that by the time my baby would be moving into a twin bed the crib sheets would be moving to Goodwill.

Should crib sheets be fitted?

Yes, indeed – it’s safest when your crib sheets fit snugly on the mattress. I know that I have fitted sheets on my bed because when I didn’t I was always getting all tangled up in them when I tossed and turned during the night. Tangled sheets were an inconvenience for me. Tangled sheets can be life-threatening for your baby if they make it difficult for your baby to breathe.

I figured out that it isn’t good enough to just have the sheets fitted at the corners. It is best to have them snug all around the mattress so that they never cause a problem.

What are the different types of material for crib sheets?

My head was already spinning from all the things I had to think about when considering baby crib sheets. Then, I learned that they were available in several different materials. Which to choose? I narrowed it down to four choices:

Cotton

It didn’t take me long to learn why cotton crib sheets were the most popular.

Cotton sheets are considered the best choice for baby cribs because the material is breathable, meaning that it can help keep my baby warm in the cooler months and cooler in the warmer months. 

I was pleased to learn that cotton is naturally hypoallergenic, which means that the materials causes fewer allergic reactions than other materials.

Cotton is also easy to clean and remove those little dust mites so that it’s easier for my baby to get a good night’s sleep with less congestion, itching, or sneezing.

Cotton sheets can be a little rough when they first come out of the package. I learned that they got softer and comfier with each washing. They are also very durable, which is nice because with a new baby the washing machine became one of my best friends.

Fitted cotton crib sheets cost from $10 to $55 per sheet, depending on the weave and whether they are plain or designer.

Polyester

Polyester crib sheets aren’t breathable like cotton, but you shouldn’t immediately rule them out. Higher-quality polyester baby sheets can have the feel and look of silk, and they aren’t prone to getting wrinkled or shrinking. I also learned that they are usually more durable than other materials.

One thing I didn’t like about polyester is that because it isn’t a breathable it can trap body heat, which can become uncomfortable.

Fitted polyester crib sheets cost between $14 and $27 per sheet, depending on whether the sheet is 100% polyester or a blend, and whether it is plain or designer.

Flannel

I found out that my baby loves the luxurious softness of flannel crib sheets when it’s cold outside. Flannel is made from cotton, wool, and synthetic fibers, so it isn’t quite as breathable as cotton. Although it keeps my baby as warm as toast on winter nights, it lets enough heat escape to keep my baby comfortable without overheating.

Flannel is easy to clean and it doesn’t wrinkle or shrink as much as cotton might.

Fitted flannel crib sheets are affordable, too. You will usually have to pay between $10 and $50 per sheet. Price depends on quality and whether or not it’s a designer brand.

Bamboo

I was surprised to learn that bamboo was an excellent crib sheet choice, especially if my baby had very sensitive skin and frequently suffered with skin infections, rashes, or allergic reactions. (Thank heavens, my baby didn’t suffer from these things.)

I found out that bamboo sheets are downright fantastic. Your baby doesn’t have to have problem skin to benefit from bamboo crib sheets. There are a lot of reasons that bamboo has been becoming more popular with each passing year. Unlike any other sheets that you can buy, they are sustainable and naturally hypoallergenic.

Bamboo is softer and more breathable than cotton, so these sheets can keep your baby warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Bamboo is more absorbent than cotton, too, so it wicks away moisture to help keep your baby dry and comfortable.

Fitted bamboo crib sheets will set you back quite a bit. They range from $28 to over $100 per sheet depending on the weave and whether it is plain or has an elaborate design.

For additional perspective on different types of crib sheets, see here.

References

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