Your baby is likely to spend a lot of time in the crib, napping during the day and sleeping at night. The crib is the one place where your baby is regularly left unsupervised. It is also the place where your baby will first push the boundaries of exploration without your direct supervision.
As parents, it is your basic duty to place your baby in a safe crib, where he/she can sleep comfortably. If you intend to get a new crib or get an old one, make sure that it meets all the current government safety standards. Whether you use new or old, you should check the crib frequently to make sure that all hardware is secured tightly and that there are no loose, missing, or broken parts. With any crib, bassinet or play yard, follow a few simple rules to keep your baby sleeping safely.
Choosing A Safe Crib
While choosing a crib, ensure the following things:
- Bars should be spaced no more than 2 3/8 inches apart.
- The mattress should be very firm and should not sag under your baby’s weight. It should fit snugly, with no space between it and the crib walls.
- The top of the crib rail should be at least 26 inches from the top of the mattress. Periodically lower the mattress as your child gets taller.
- The headboards and footboards should be solid, with no decorative cutouts. Corner posts that could cause injury or snag clothing should be removed.
- Do not use cribs with drop rails. These are not safe.
- Crib bumpers (or bumper pads) may seem as though they can help protect babies from drafts and bumps, but they should not be used in cribs. There is no evidence that bumper pads can prevent serious injuries, and they pose a risk of suffocation, strangulation, or entrapment. In addition, older babies can use them for
Climbing out of the crib.
- Keep large toys and stuffed animals out of the crib, as your baby may use them to get a leg up and over the rail. Pillows, bulky comforters, and heavy blankets do not belong in a crib; a baby can smother under them.
- Place the crib away from windows, where direct sunlight and drafts can make your baby uncomfortable. A crib can become uncomfortably hot if placed too near a radiator. Also make sure that there are no strings from blinds or curtains close by that can wrap around the baby’s neck.
- Once your child is about 3 feet tall, he should start sleeping in a bed. If you are worried about him falling out of bed, you may want to start with the mattress on the floor.
- Fit your baby’s crib with a firm mattress and make sure there’s no space between the mattress and crib walls. Your baby should never sleep on a water bed, sheepskin, pillow, sofa, armchair, or other soft surface. Thick blankets, duvets, comforters, pillows, and large, soft, stuffed toys should never be used in babies’ cribs; a baby can easily be smothered if trapped under bulky bedding or when his face is pressed up against a pillow.
- Babies do not need extra support, such as from rolled blankets or commercial devices, to keep them on their backs. Cumbersome materials like these clutter up the crib and may be hazardous for a baby.
Setting Up And Using A Crib
Follow the below directions to set up, use, and care for the crib:
- Never use a crib with loose or missing parts or hardware. If parts are missing, stop using the crib and contact the crib maker for the right parts. Don’t replace them with parts from a hardware store.
- Never place a crib near cords from hanging window blinds, curtains, or drapes. Babies can get caught and strangled in the cords.
- Hammocks and other swinging devices should not be put onto a crib because they could strangle a baby.
- Lower the crib mattress before your baby can sit up on his or her own. The mattress should be at the lowest level before the baby can stand up.
- Remove any hanging crib toys, such as mobiles and crib gyms, when your baby first begins to push up on hands and knees or when your baby is 5 months old. These toys can strangle a baby.
- Children should be taken out of a crib by the time they are 35 inches tall.
Baby Bedding Safety
Though it is rare, some babies die in their sleep without any known reason. This is known as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Do the following things to keep your baby safe during sleep and reduce the chance of a SIDS death.
- Place your baby on his or her back on a firm, tight-fitting mattress.
- Don’t use pillows, bumper pads, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, stuffed toys, or any other object that could suffocate or strangle your baby.
- Use a sleeper gown to cover your baby instead of a blanket.
- Make sure your baby's head remains uncovered during sleep.
- Don’t place your baby on a water bed, sofa, soft mattress, pillow, or other soft surface.