As a Mom with paraplegia, I was worried about being able to safely use a baby crib
to take care of my new baby.
I am fortunate to have an uncle and cousin who are very handy. After explaining my needs they came up with a design that worked for me. I purchased a standard crib at Kmart. They took off the front panel, added some footers and a bunch of other fancy attributes.
DISCLAIMER: This bed HAS NOT been reviewed, tested, certified, recommended or endorsed by any qualified or authoritative agency and is offered only as an example of a modified standard crib. It is offered unqualified and with no guarantees, warranties, or certifications as to suitability and/or safety. Its use is strictly at the user's discretion. The information as provided is incomplete and should only be used as a suggested outline by qualified and experienced furniture/woodwork/cabinetmaker professionals.
1. Start with a sturdy, modern, certified crib. Acquire the mattress; (thick and firm is best so the sides don't bend) and assemble the bed.
2. Determine how low you can lower the spring-set to allow just an inch and one-half (1.5 inch) of overlay between the top of the mattress and the lower edge of the sideboards. You don't want a baby arm, foot, or leg to become caught between the mattress and the lower edges of the sideboards, as the baby stands in his/her crib, jumping up and down and screaming its little head off. But the deeper the mattress from the top edge of the crib, the longer the growing baby can stay on board.
Of course if the baby can pull up and get his/her little arm over the top of the top rail, its just a matter of time before - out he comes, and the fall is a long one. So, if the child is ready to climb out, but not yet ready for a trumble-bed, to keep him grounded you could add an all-around four-panel-set fastened to the top edges of the crib's sideboards (not shown in the pictures).
You may have to abandon the spring-set brackets to gain the lowest possible position (keep the brackets). It's easy to fabricate custom attachment hardware. In fact all the hardware you need is available at any hardware store, including the cupboard window ¼ inch aluminum spring-pin-slider-rails.
3. The crib's wooden front slider rail will be destroyed in this modification. Instead I suggest you store it in the attic and purchase an old crib from a yard sale. Be sure to strip and sand all the old lead-based paint from its front slider rail. Junk the rest of the old bed.
4. Just look at the pictures and go to it. Note the four 4x4 inch raw posts sitting inside the fist several pictures of the crib. You will slot and bolt each post to a crib leg, after cutting to length (of course allowing for the nesting of each leg in its slot). Trim and glue back the square vertical plugs cut from the slots. Make each slot as deep as possible and if possible double-bolt both sides (four bolts) to insure stability.
If the crib design does not provide enough depth for stability, you may have to add some flat metal braces around (at least on the inside) edges of the posts. Router-half-round and sand all edges of all your work, stain, seal and polish. Lots of folks are going to want to look at baby's new bed.
5. The clearance height of the crib, from the lower edge of the spring-set to the floor, should allow an inch or two from the lower edge of the spring-set to Mommy's lap. Therefore, Mommy and her wheelchair must be known. The idea is to allow Mommy to pull all the way up under the crib, so she can reach baby and pull him out of the furthest corners, to change him right there in the bed, to place him in the middle of the crib for his nap, etc. If Mommy gets a higher wheelchair, you may have to fabricate four new posts, or add some screw levelers. A lower chair, get out the hand saw.
6. Router-groove one edge each of the new top and bottom lateral front rails to accommodate a ¼ inch aluminum track. Allow space at each end for a spring-pin-hinge-base. The double-cupboard shutter rail-panels should be self evident. We used some of the members from the old discarded baby crib to fabricate the side edges of each cupboard panel.
The four panels allow Mommy to open one or both sides with baby in her lap, or in a front harness, at arm's length from the crib. Then she pulls forward fully under the crib and puts him to bed. The inside-edge white plastic pins in the top and bottom of the two meeting inside-rail panels provide stability as the panels are slid open and closed.
Note the locks. They must be baby tamper-proof and also capable of one-handed operation by Mommy. You may consider some type of slide bolt with locking pin, as baby gets older, more curious and clever. Just don't make it impossible for Mommy's access.
7. Lastly use bronze furniture bolts with flat-head inset hex-sockets in all fasteners. Make it look nice, capable of breakdown and storage, and re-sellable, as Mommy's family clears the baby phase of her blessed life.
8. God Bless her and all her support team.