The Hand Me DownHand me down cribs are fine. However, you need to be sure that cribs manufacturered prior to 1974 meet today's safety standards.
SlatsThe slats on your baby's bed should be no further apart than 2 3/8 inches apart. This is to prevent your baby's head from becoming trapped between the slats.
PaintBe sure that any paint used on your crib is not made with lead paint. This is not usually a problem with newer crib models that you buy in stores. But you will want to check out and older cribs or cribs that have been painted by previous owners.
DesignsWatch out for the decorative cutouts on the head board and foot board of the crib. It can actually trap your baby's head. It is best to avoid these.
Convertible CribsSome cribs currently on the market go from being cribs to toddler bed. These can be very handy but may require certain tools or extra kits. Be sure to ask when buying a convertible crib. This is great if you buy a whole nursery worth of furniture, it gives you a lot more use with a room that still looks like it goes together.
Portable CribsPortable cribs are great for families with not a lot of space or for a temporary place for baby to sleep whether that be at grandma's house or on vacation. They sure beat baby beds in hotels!
Co-SleepersMaybe baby will sleep best in your bed? Try the co-sleeper! It's been very handy as a crib alternative. It's a great happy medium to have baby very close by for night time feedings and yet not right in our bed. These come in a wooden variety that later makes a desk or bench or a fabric/plastic variety.
More on SafetyThe top rails of the sides of the crib, when raised, should be at least 26 inches above the top of the mattress in the lowest position. When your child can pull up to a standing position drop the mattress to its lowest position. Once your child is more than a a few inches taller than the crib or can easily climb out of the crib, it's time to move to a toddler bed.
Drop side cribs, those who have sides that lower, have been made illegal due to several infant deaths. Some cities are also outlawing crib bumpers.