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How to paint a crib (safely and beautifully!)

So you've decided you want to paint your crib! I personally love the look of painted cribs and both of my babies have slept in them over the years.

oh be still my heart. Sleeping babies are the sweetest. Of course, this one is mine so I'm a bit biased.

Now, I'm digging way back into the archives for these photos, most taken on a very old iphone so pardon some of the images quality. But you'll get the idea!

Anyway. I'm here to tell you that painting your crib can be done and is totally safe when you use our paints. I'm here to walk you through the steps.

I'm about to go into a lot of detail about which crib we bought and why and the same for the mattress, but if you want to skip right to the painting steps, scroll down to step 1.

So back when we bought our first crib, budgets were tight, but we knew we wanted a non-toxic environment for our sleeping girl. The thought was to keep a space she would be spending so much time in as clean and fresh as possible. Little did we know that she would spend far less time sleeping in her crib than we'd imagined!

But we sure loved knowing that when she was in her crib she wasn't breathing in anything toxic.

We researched a lot of cribs and finally settled on the plain wooden crib from IKEA, which sadly is no longer available. Such a bummer as it was super affordable and a great option for painting. As you may know, VOCs are in just about everything we buy when it comes to furniture and one of the biggest culprits is the glue used. This crib fit our budget and does not use wood glue on the frame. We did have to compromise, because the mattress support piece does contain some glue. When the crib came, we let that piece sit outside for a good while but we also know that VOCs can be off gassed for a long, long time so we just had to be satisfied that we were doing the best we could within our budget. I'd recommend talking to the manufacturer of whatever crib you choose (it's easier to paint unfinished wood cribs FYI) and ask about the glue and make sure they didn't use particle board.

Next, we needed to find a mattress. This was even more important to me as I kept picturing my little babe's face snuggled into her mattress breathing deep while sleeping and knew I wouldn't sleep well if I knew she was breathing in junk with every inhale. We splurged a bit here and bought this mattress. Other good options exist so do some research. I've listed some resources at the end here.

Next we got to work painting it.

Step 1: Sand

So we sanding the crib in pieces and then assembled it to paint. Some might suggest painting it before assembly but I find then you run into having to flip the pieces and manage drips and this just works better for me. But either would work.

Give all wood a nice sand with rough sand paper. This will give the primer something to grab onto.

Step 2: Wipe down

Using a dry, clean cloth wipe the sanded wood to remove any dust.

Step 3: Prime!

Open Quiet Home Paints wood primer and give it a stir. Using an angled brush, apply the primer. Try to paint in the direction of the wood (horizontal strokes on the horizontal pieces, vertical strokes on pieces that run vertically).

The primer will look a little streaky at times and that's ok.

Cover the whole thing in one coat of primer and allow to dry.

Step 4: Sand (again)

This time using fine sand paper give the whole thing a light sand. This is called "giving it a tooth" and just makes the color stick nice and well for the next coat.

Step 5: Wipe down (again)

Using a dry, clean cloth re-wipe to remove any dust.

Step 6: Paint!

Using Quiet Home Paints Satin Finish paint (you only need a quart) in a color of your choosing, get to painting. We used blush. Just let when you primed, brush in the direction of the wood. It won't cover completely on the first coat, so don't apply it too thick in effort to skip the second coat.

Try to catch drips and brush them out, but its ok if you miss a few. They can be sanded before the next coat.

Allow the paint to dry completely.


Check the first coat for drips. Sand any down and wipe down with a cloth. You can lightly sand the whole thing if you'd prefer.

Step 6: Paint again!

Apply the second coat. Go over the whole thing again paying attention to brush strokes and drips.


Allow to dry and then assemble with your bedding of choice and watch your baby sleep peacefully (good luck!!)

We repainted our crib when our next little one was due. Because the crib was already painted we could skip the priming and jump right to painting after a quick rough up with some sand paper.

and ta da! Two custom cribs for two custom babes:

which do you prefer??

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