Baby Crib Safety: What to Buy and How to Put Your Baby to Sleep
After you have your baby, you’ll be watching her like a hawk throughout the day. However, anxiety may settle in when your baby is napping in the other room or when you’re both sleeping separately at night. After all, it’s the only time when you’ll leave your baby unattended.
Although a little bit of anxiety is normal for new mothers, knowing crib safety tips will help you feel more prepared and minimize your worries.
In this post, we’ll cover the tips you need to know to buy a safe crib, where to place it, and how to keep your baby safe in one.
Do I Need to Use a Crib?
If you’re a new mother, you may be wondering if the safest option is for your baby to sleep in a crib or in your bed. Here are a few tips you should know:
- The safest place to put your baby to sleep is in a crib, cradle or bassinet.
- A bassinet can be used until your baby can roll over or until they reach the maximum weight specified in the instruction manual, whichever comes sooner. Past this point, they should be put in a cradle or crib.
- A baby can sleep in a cradle until they can push up on their hands and knees, or until they reach the maximum weight specified in the instruction manual, whichever comes sooner. Past this point, your baby should sleep in a crib.
- The safest place for a baby to sleep is in a crib. They can begin sleeping in the crib as a newborn. When a child reaches about 35 inches or is able to climb out, they should be moved to a toddler or standard bed.
- Babies should never sleep on standard beds, air mattresses, water beds, couches, futons or chairs. Babies may suffocate on these surfaces.
- If your baby falls asleep in a car seat or stroller, it can be tempting to leave him there to rest peacefully. However, he should be moved to a crib since it’s not safe for your baby to sleep long periods in a semi-reclined position.
- Your baby should also not sleep in a playpen, bouncer or swing.
Why Can’t My Baby Sleep in the Bed With Me?
Most experts do not recommend bed sharing. This is because suffocation can occur in a number of ways. The baby can get trapped between the sleeping surface, walls, parents’ bodies, etc. Soft bedding material, such as comforters can also cause suffocation. In addition, the parents may accidentally roll over onto the baby or the baby may roll off the bed.
Some people believe that sleeping with their baby will reduce the risk of SIDS. However, there is no evidence to support this claim. In fact, the chances of SIDS can become higher if the baby is sleeping beside a person who is a smoker, who is very tired or who is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
Alternatively, to keep an eye on your baby, experts recommend that you share a room until they are 6 months old. Research shows that it may reduce the risk of SIDs. For this reason, make sure you choose a crib that fits into your bedroom. For easy checking throughout the night, if it’s safe, place your baby’s crib beside your bed.
Baby Crib Safety: Which Crib Should I Buy?
Cribs sold in the U.S. and Canada must meet federal requirements. However, to be sure, there are some general tips you should keep in mind when buying a crib:
- Exercise caution when buying used. Cribs made before September 1986 do not meet today’s safety standards. Cribs older than 10 years are likely to have damage and missing warnings and instructions.
- Do not buy drop-side cribs. While these are now illegal to sell in the U.S. and Canada, they may still be found if you’re buying used. Due to numerous recalls and safety hazards, these cribs are now banned.
- Only purchase a crib that comes with instructions.
- Use the crib’s instructions to assemble the product. It should not be modified in any way.
- Make sure the crib posts are not higher than 1/16 inches.
- Make sure the crib bars are no more than 2 3/8 inches apart.
- Purchase a mattress or make sure the mattress it comes with is firm. Ones that are worn down could create a dip where a baby’s face can get stuck, causing suffocation.
- The crib mattress should not be thicker than 6 inches and should be firm.
- The gap between the mattress and any part of the crib’s sides should not be more than 1 3/16 inches.
- The mattress support system should hold the mattress firmly in place.
Is it Safe to Paint a Baby Crib?
If you’re buying a used crib, you may consider painting it to match your décor. However, the type of paint you use matters.
Be sure to use non-toxic, water-based, Zero VOCs and no-odor paint. Although some cautious parents may choose to buy paint from a company that specifically makes baby-safe paint, it can be found in many paint stores. When you go to a paint store, ask a sales associate which brands meet the above requirements and are baby-safe. If you purchase a paint that doesn’t require a primer, you’ll also be using fewer chemicals.
If you are already pregnant, it’s probably best to get someone else to paint the crib for you. You should also allow the room to fully air out as the paint dries.
In addition, make sure that the paint doesn’t interfere with any of the assembly hardware. Ensure the parts can still be assembled securely and safely.
How to Put Baby to Sleep in Crib Safely
Whether your baby is going for a nap or going to bed, you should place them on their back. A simple way to remember this is to follow the ABC’s for a safe sleep:
B— On the Back
C— In a Bare Crib
What Can I Put in a Crib?
Your baby crib should be empty except for the mattress and a fitted sheet. Loose bedding and objects can be suffocation hazards. For this reason, you should avoid putting the following in the crib:
- Heavy blankets
- Sleep positioners
- Bumper pads
- Foam padding
- Stuffed toys
- Any type of pillow
Since blankets can cover a baby’s head and cause suffocation, you may be wondering how you’re supposed to keep your baby warm. Instead, dress your baby in something light that covers their body, such as a onesie. If a blanket is absolutely necessary, choose one that is thin, breathable and lightweight.
Many experts do not recommend bumper pads because they can cause suffocation if the baby’s face gets pressed against the fabric or stuck between the pad and the side of the crib. There are also strangulation hazards due to the long strings or ribbons.
Sleep positioners are used by some to keep babies on their back. These are usually recommended against because they also pose suffocation hazards. In the same way, make-shift positioners, such as rolled up towels, are also not recommended.
Other General Safety Tips
- Overheating— Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is increased if your baby overheats. Don’t overheat a room thinking that your baby is cold because he is small. If you are comfortable with the temperature, it’s likely your baby is too.
- Crib placement— Do not place the crib near window blind cords, shades or curtains since they can strangle a baby. Tie cords out of your baby’s reach.
- Wearable hazards— Never leave your baby in the crib with a scarf, a pacifier on a cord or anything else that could cause strangulation.
- Other Hazards— Your baby should also not be able to reach doors, lamps, plugs, the cord for your baby monitor or any other object.
- Do a visit scan— If you’re staying the night somewhere other than your home, scan the room for safety hazards and make any necessary adjustments.
- Check— Do frequent checks to make sure that the crib’s hardware is secure and undamaged.
- Fitted sheets— Make sure the fitted sheet you use for the crib is the proper size for the mattress.
- Mobile toys— As soon as your baby begins to push up on their hands or knees, remove mobiles and toy bars.
- Broken crib— If a crib is broken, do not play handyman and try to fix it. Instead, buy a new crib. Your baby’s safety isn’t worth risking.
- Baby Crib Recalls— You can check for baby crib recalls in the S. here and here for Canadian recalls.
If you want to view all these tips interactively, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has created a clickable visual to help you.
Do you have any tips for keeping your baby safe in a crib? If so, comment them below! If you have any pregnant friends, be sure to share this post with them to help keep their baby safe, too!
P.S. You don’t need to wait until your baby is born to bond with her. Fetal dopplers are handheld devices that you can use to listen to your baby’s heartbeat while she is still in the womb—pretty amazing, right? You can check them out here.