Check Your Crib for Safety
Source: United States Consumer Product Safety Commission
Older cribs may not meet current safety standards and may be on the recall list at the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC at www.cpsc.gov). Always follow these crib safety standards:
- Always use a firm, tight-fitting mattress as infants can suffocate in gaps between a poorly-fitting mattress and the crib sides or ends.
- Inspect the crib to be sure there are no missing, loose, or broken parts.
- There should be no more than 2 3⁄8″ (about the width of a soda can) between crib slats.
- Do not use a crib with corner posts over 1⁄16″ high to prevent baby’s clothes from catching.
- Do not use a crib with any cutouts in the headboard or footboard, as babies can get trapped in the openings.
- Make sure crib sheets fit snugly on a crib mattress so they cannot be dislodged by pulling on the corner of the sheet.
- Do not place crib near a window or close to blind cords, which are a strangulation risk.
Choosing a Crib
Source: Adapted from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations
The crib you choose for your baby is one of the more important furniture buying choices you will have to make. With your baby sleeping in a crib until it’s time to move on to a full sized bed around the age of 2 or 3, you should take your time in choosing a crib. Be sure that you are satisfied with the safety features, style, finish and quality.
What to Look for When Shopping for a Crib
Crib slats. The slats should be no more than 2-3/8 inches apart. All new cribs must meet this standard, but older cribs may not.
Posts and cutouts. Steer clear of bedposts taller than 1/16th of an inch and/or cutouts in the headboard (or any other parts of the crib) where a baby’s or toddler’s body parts could get stuck.
Crib toys. They may seem harmless, entertaining, cute, and cuddly, but it’s considered wise to keep all stuffed animals (and most toys) out of your newborn’s crib because they can pose a small but nevertheless real safety risk. The exceptions are the types of toys that strap securely to the side of the crib. Some babies like mirrors or toys with parts they can play with (such as spinners, rattles, and music), but your newborn probably won’t be terribly interested in them for at least a few weeks.
Mobiles. Mobiles are special hanging toys designed to entertain your baby and can be attached to the crib, ceiling, or wall. Some are even adorned with lights or play music. They are fun but definitely optional. If you do choose to use mobiles, make sure they do not hang low enough to entangle your baby, especially once she begins to roll. In fact, once your baby is able to sit up, it will definitely be time for her mobile to come down.
Crib placement. Unless you don’t mind a bit of redecorating and rearranging when your baby starts to get around, we suggest you place your crib well away from any windows and no less than an arm’s reach away from any nearby dressers or table-tops. Knowing that it won’t be long before anything and everything within reach will be fair game, we also recommend limiting your over-the-crib wall decorations to painted walls and wallpaper. Picture frames and mirrors over cribs are often an accident waiting to happen. Be forewarned that even paper borders placed within reach of the crib, while safe, don’t often stand up well to prying fingers.
Firm-fitting mattress/fitted sheet. While they seem to be mostly standardized, cribs and mattresses can and do come in more than one size, so be sure to double-check measurements and read labels to make sure you end up with a mattress that fits snugly into your chosen crib. Any extra space between the mattress and crib frame has the potential to trap a baby’s arm, leg, or head. Also make sure your fitted sheets are tight enough that they don’t slip off easily, thus posing a serious safety hazard.
Tooth-resistant rails. Some railings are covered by a special plastic to prevent teething babies from gnawing on the paint or wood.
Adjustable mattress height. Many cribs have adjustable heights so you can lower the mattress as your baby gets taller, making it more difficult for him to climb out. You will likely want to keep it at the highest level while your newborn is relatively immobile and you are coming and going frequently because it will allow you to save a good deal of strain on your back. Remember that by the time your baby is able to sit or stand up, you’ll want to lower the level of the crib mattress accordingly.
Help Keep Your Baby Sleeping Safely
Source: First Candle/SIDS Alliance
- Maintain good prenatal care for you and your unborn baby.
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol while pregnant.
- Do not allow anyone to smoke near your baby.
- Put your baby to sleep on his or her back.
- Do not dress your baby too warm for sleep; keep room temperature 65-71º F; overheating may be a contributing factor in SIDS.
- Take your baby for scheduled well child check-ups, and talk to your pediatrician about changes in your baby’s behavior and health.
- Follow immunization schedules for your baby.
- Breastfeeding has been shown to be good for babies, as it builds their immunity against illness and infection.