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20 Crib Safety Tips
When a little one is on the way, your mind is going bonkers trying to pick the perfect nursery theme, decor, and the perfect little crib to match.
While that’s all fun and good, safety always needs to come first.
If you’re looking for a safe, well reviewed, and tested crib, head over to What To Expect’s “Buying a Crib 101” for their top recommendations.
Once you finally pick out a crib and complete the glorious task of assembling it, there are a ton of safety matters to consider.
By this time, you’ve had your pants scared off of you reading about SIDS. Being told about it at your OB, pediatrician appointments, birthing classes, and by random strangers.
Time to make your crib as safe as possible so you can put the SIDS nightmares behind you!
Mattress Fit – 2 Finger Rule
If you are purchasing your crib and mattress separately, be sure to take a look at the recommended mattress size! The crib mattress should fit snug in the crib with no gaps around the edge. No more than 2 fingers of a gap should be present on any side. (Mom’s fingers, not dad’s burly man hand fingers)
If it’s hard for you to make the bed, it’s safe for baby. I pull my mattress all the way out to change sheets and drop it back in there nice and snug.
While you may think your little one wants to sleep on a fluffy pillow top, crib mattresses are made firm for a reason. Babies are more than happy to sleep on a nice flat surface.
Most mattresses come with a double sided feature now. They have a firm side for the “infant mattress top” and a softer side for the “toddler mattress top”.
After assembling your crib, give it a good shake and make sure it’s not wobbly. You should be looking it over every month or two to make sure all screws and bolts are staying tight.
Bumpers have become illegal to sell in some places around the world because of their contribution to rising SIDS numbers. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against bumpers of any kind.
If your little one tends to push their arms and legs out and get stuck, or you’d like a bumper, go with a breathable mesh bumper like this one so baby can still breathe easily even if they get wedged into a corner.
No Sleep Positioners
As much as you’d like your swaddled up baby to have the full spa experience, the best place for them is in an empty crib. Sleep positioners have had a similar contribution to SIDS deaths in infants and are, therefore, strongly advised against.
The best way to put your baby to sleep (currently) is on their back. Swaddled before they can roll over, free after they can roll over.
Avoid any nursery decor hanging on the wall above the crib or on any tables or bookshelves surrounding the crib.
Those curious little hands can stretch farther than you think!
Slats – Soda Can Rule
If you have purchased a vintage crib, make sure it’s up to modern standards. Slats should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart. The general rule is that a soda can should not be able to fit between the slats.
Splinters & Toxins
Wooden cribs should be properly sanded and sealed with a baby-safe sealant. Check closely once your baby pops teeth as they may start chewing on the crib and splinters could appear.
Be sure to do your research if you’re painting your crib so as to not have an unsafe, toxic paint where baby can chip at it or chew on it.
Consider a gummi teething crib rail when baby sprouts teeth to protect them from any potential dangers.
Once baby is sitting up, mobiles attached to cribs should be removed. If yours is hanging from the ceiling, make sure the cord is shortened and kept far above the crib and secured.
Remove Cords & Wires – 3 foot rule
If baby’s crib is near a window or you have a monitor mounted on the wall, make sure all window cords and electrical wires are kept at least 3 feet away from the crib. Those curious little arms like to reach out and cords and wires can so easily get wrapped around those precious little ones.
The 3 foot rule should be used for all furniture, decor, windows, window coverings, and wires if possible.
We have our monitor mounted on the wall and use a sturdy command hook to keep the cord at least 3 feet away.
Empty Crib – Bare is Best
The only thing that should be in the crib is a fitted sheet that fits the mattress well & tight. No blankets, no toys, no bottles. “Bare is Best”
Toasty & Safe
Heaters & Fans
For those of you that do not have a ceiling fan or central heat/air. If you are using room heaters or fans, be sure they are not close to the crib or pointing directly at it.
A heater pointed at a baby’s crib can overheat your little one very quickly.
Fans have been proven to reduce the risk of SIDS but should be kept at a safe distance.
Drop Down Sides
Cribs with drop down sides were outlawed in most of the world in 2011. If you’re planning on using a hand-me-down crib, double check that this feature is not included.
(Look for your hand me down crib model online to see if a conversion kit is available to make the drop down inaccessible.)
Once your little one is 3 feet tall, it’s time for a big kid bed. At this point, your child’s armpits are typically above the crib rail and they’re coordinated enough to climb out.
Portable Cribs & Play Yards
If you’re using a pack-n-play bassinet or play yard when on the road, for naps, or in your room until you move baby to a crib in their room, be sure to read all safety instructions. Assembling this product incorrectly can lead to serious infant injuries or deaths.
Never add extra padding to the bottom of the play yard. It may seem like it’s not a thick, comfy mattress, but it is built with sleeping in mind so leave it as it is!
If you or a close family member are a smoker, be sure to wash hands and put on a clean shirt before going to sit in baby’s room.
Smoke and it’s carcinogens will be absorbed by baby’s crib bedding. They will linger there for baby to breathe in all night, every night.
You know those cards that come with every product you buy that you always throw away? If you just take a minute to fill out your address and information, the manufacturer will automatically update you on any recalls.
It only takes a moment and if you’re planning on using a crib for another baby or two in the future, might as well make sure it’s going to be safe down the road.
Once your kiddo is able to pull themselves to standing, you may want to consider adding a furniture strap to secure the crib to the wall. For lighter cribs or top heavy cribs, this can be essential to keeping your kiddo from knocking their crib down.
You can always check CPSC.gov for any recalls that may have happened on a product you own to make sure it’s safe and up to date. This is a great asset to use not only for cribs but for all products. Swings, strollers, toys, etc. all have listed recalls available on the site.
I hope you can sleep soundly with this guide!
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