Your baby’s bedroom and crib or bed should be extra safe. Her crib and—once she’s mobile—her room are where she will first push the boundaries of exploration, without direct supervision much of the time. To keep the path clear, her surroundings should be free of traps and hazards as much as possible.
Safety Check for All Baby Furniture
Check that all furniture complies with up-to-date safety requirements and is appropriate for your baby’s age. This is especially important when you are using previously owned pieces bought or passed on as gifts. Antique cribs, for example, may look pretty, but the spacing between the slats rarely conforms to the current standard of 23/8 inches or less, which is intended to make it impossible for a baby’s head to become caught. In addition, the finish may include old layers of lead‑based paint. You can trust new furniture if it bears the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association safety certification seal. All fabrics used in your baby’s room (for example, sleepwear, sheets, curtains) should be flame retardant.
How to Choose a Safe Crib
- Bars should be spaced no more than 23/8 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.