Life with a baby is full of lots of wonderful moments and seasons, but there are definitely difficult moments and events along the way that you have to deal with and adjust to as they come up. Teething is one of those challenges that we are dealing with now at our house. For a baby that’s pushing through five teeth at once (!!!), Lola is still such a good-natured baby overall. But she is chewing on everything and I realized that also includes her crib this past week, too. Ugh! Not all babies do that but it’s relatively common, so I knew that you can buy/make a rail cover to both protect the crib from the baby and give the baby something softer and safer to chomp on as needed. I also wanted something that was relatively sleek looking and I think that what I came up with is the perfect solution for my problem!Supplies:
–cotton flannel fabric (enough to cut 2 10″ wide strips for each side of the crib you want to cover)*
–cotton batting (enough to cut a 10″ wide strip for each side of the crib you want to cover)*
-1″ wide grosgrain ribbon (I like grosgrain ribbon for baby items because it’s super strong)
-plastic snaps and snap setter meant for baby items (that one is the brand I recommend and I used size 20 snaps) Snaps are optional as buttons or just extra ribbon can also be used.
-fabric scissors and pins
–no-sew velcro tape
–cutting mat, ruler, and rotary cutter (optional but so helpful and on our must-have craft tool list)
*Organic fabric would be ideal since Baby may have it in their mouth.So this is what her crib looks like (it’s sold out from Land of Nod but this is a similar one). I love the simplicity of the design, so I chose to make a white rail that would blend in a bit more. But I see a lot of decorative fabric crib rails out there, so do whatever works best for your crib and nursery design!
It also looks like a lot people have crib rails on just the front or back rail, or only on select sides if their baby can only reach certain areas (or just prefers to gnaw on one particular spot). But since Lola was chewing on the side rails, I decided to go all the way around the top to cover everything. If you just want to make a version for part of your crib or just the front and back rails, adjust your measurements and you’ll make smaller sections with the same steps instead of one long one like I did.
To find the length for my cover, I started by measuring all the way around the outside of the crib rail and then added 1″ (for the 1/2″ seam allowance all the way around) and another 3″ so there would be some overlap where the ends meet (so 172″ + 1″ + 3″ = 176″). To find the width of the cover, I measured how wide a strip would need to be to cover the front and back rails and still hang down about 1″ below the rail. That number plus 1″ for the 1/2″ seam allowance was my width (9″ + 1″ = 10″).
So, since it’s not that easy to show a 176″ long piece of fabric for each step, I made a mini version so you can see more easily what to do! Start by pre-washing your fabrics so it will shrink up all that it wants to before you make your project. Cut out two flannel strips that are the correct length and width for your crib rail. Then cut a piece of cotton batting the same size and place the batting on top of your two layers of flannel. If you’re doing one long piece like me, you can either buy enough yards of flannel to cut your full length out in one long strip or you can sew together a few shorter pieces to get to your final length. The cotton batting can be in sections as well and you can just place them next to each other on top of the flannel if you want since they are going on the inside. You don’t have to sew them together into one long piece.
Once your three layers are cut, pin them together and sew all the way around the outside with a 1/2″ seam allowance, leaving a 4-5″ opening so you can turn your fabric right side out. Clip the four-corner excess with scissors so there’s less bulk when you turn it around.
Turn your fabric strip right side out and press flat with an iron. Sew all the way around the edge with a 1/4″ seam allowance (that will help your fabric lay flat and close that opening you left to turn your fabric through).
To also help keep the three layers of fabric in place, you’ll sew across the fabric in a few places to quilt it a bit. I divided my long strip into eight even sections and ran a line down at each section mark. You can do as many or as few of these lines as you want (they can also be decorative the more you do!), but I would do one at least every 2′ of fabric.
Ok, enough with the mini version, let’s move to the real thing! After quilting a few sections, I draped my long strip over the crib rail (with the overlapping ends positioned in the middle of the back rail where I wanted them to end up) and lightly pinned the cover in place so I could start to make some fit adjustments. You’ll want to drape it upside down for this part if you have a pattern or color on one side, but since both of my sides are white, either one could be the top or bottom.
Now it’s time to fit it to the corner sections of the rail cover if you made your cover one long piece. I gathered the extra corner fabric and pinned it until it fit more snugly in each corner (I pulled it away from the crib a bit in the pic above so you could see better). Once you have the excess of all four corners pinned, sew down that line and either trim the excess off (I would suggest a re-fitting with the right side up before trimming though) or leave it and it will just make that corner a bit more padded.See? Fits pretty well in the corner once I turned it around and I didn’t even have to trim the excess—just tucked it to one side and you don’t even notice it. It’s really starting to look like a crib rail now, huh? Ok, next decide how many straps you want to use to keep your cover in place (this will probably depend on how many vertical slats you have and their placement, etc.). I’ve seen rail covers that just use snaps to attach the front to the back (one snap attached to each side of the cover so they snap together through a slat opening) and while honestly I think that’s a totally fine way to go, I just decided to use a strong ribbon as a strap instead so that I could put all the snaps on the outside of the cover just to be extra safe.
Take your grosgrain ribbon and cut as many pieces of ribbon as you want straps and cut them a few inches longer than you think you’ll need. Use a lighter to seal one end of the ribbon (just hold the cut end 1″ or so above the flame and it will melt a bit, which keeps it from fraying) and pin that side of the ribbon on the inside of the rail cover at each spot where you want a strap to be. I don’t have any straps on the side rails since there are no openings there, but you’ll want to have some there if yours isn’t a solid panel. To keep the side sections from moving, I just placed a strap location right next to each corner to help keep that section down.
Take your cover off and fold each ribbon down 1/2″ towards the cover and pin it 1″ from the bottom of the cover. Sew in place about 1/4″ from the top so you get both layers of the ribbon fold.
You can also just sew it in place without folding the top in, but I thought the fold helped it look a bit more finished, so that’s up to you.Put the cover back on the crib and decide how tight you want your ribbon straps to be and where you want your snap location on the outside of your cover (lower on the fabric will help keep the cover in place better). To make it easier, you can use one strap location to figure it out and then use those measurements as a guide for all the other straps once you take it off again. Just fold your ribbon and pin it to mark how high you want the ribbon top to be and use the awl (sharp-pointy-metal-stick-thing that comes with your snap setter) to poke through the ribbon and front side of the cover to mark where both sides of your snap should go.Take off the cover again (I know, I know, there’s a lot of on and off with this DIY!) and make note of your guide strap measurements so you can make all the other ones the same. I cut each ribbon to be 3 1/2″ long (use a lighter to seal each of those cut ends too), folded down each ribbon 1″, and then added a snap about 1/2″ from the top of the fold. I set the corresponding side of the snap on the front of the cover 2cm from the bottom edge. Once I had those measurements, I just did the same for each strap section so they were all uniform. Before I took the cover off again to finish the straps, I also marked where the cover ends overlapped and then used this to keep those pieces together.Put your cover back on for the last time (finally!) and snap all your straps in place! Congrats! You’ve got a crib rail! It looks great and I love that I can throw it in the wash as needed as well! The flannel with the batting in the middle is super soft and I like that the simple design doesn’t distract from the cool parts of the crib (also, how awesome are those organic banana sheets!).
Now, when it comes to the strap sections of this project, I know that different Moms have different feelings on what they consider safest for Baby. So you can also just use a ribbon strip on each side and tie them together through the slat, or you could try velcro on the inside of the cover at the openings (may not be quite as strong depending on how big the sections of velcro are though), or you could secure a button where the snap is on the strap and put a corresponding button hole on the outside of the cover (where I placed the other end of the snap) and do it that way instead. Whichever way you decide to do it, just make sure all your pieces are secure and properly attached!
So now that we have the cover on her crib, I definitely sleep better at night knowing she can now chew away at the top of it if she wants to. I’ll probably be lifting up the cover frequently in the beginning just to check and make sure I don’t need to secure another spot she found her way into, but overall I think we have a pretty great setup now. Hope this DIY helps make teething a little easier in your house!