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How to Use Your New Baby Crib Safely

By Sarah Holmes, Ph.D.

Once you have selected the best baby crib for you new baby, there are several issues to be aware of that will help you to use your new baby crib safely over time. This article reviews the important safety issues involved in safely using your new baby crib.

how-to-use-your-new-crib-safely.jpgWhere to Put Your Baby Crib: Location, Location, and Location
Carefully choose a location for your baby’s crib. It is best to avoid placing the baby crib near any windows, drapery fixtures, or furniture. The baby crib should be at least 3 feet from any window with drapery or blinds. If you have drapery cords hanging down, be sure to tie them up or cut them in half. They are a huge safety hazard for little ones. For more information on making your windows safe for children, please visit the Window Covering Safety Council website at They will provide free cord-repair kits that will make your windows safe. You may also reach them toll at 1-800-506-4636. As your baby gets older, it is important to make sure that the baby crib is at least 1 foot away from any furniture or walls. The danger is that your toddler could climb out of the baby crib and get wedged in the space between the baby crib and the furniture or wall.

Using Crib Bedding Safely: The Bumper Pad Debate
There seems to be some debate about crib bedding in terms of using bumper pads. Some believe that this type of crib bedding poses a suffocation and choking hazard. Others recommend bumper pads because they prevent your baby from sticking an arm or leg through the railings. This will not become an issue until around 4 months of age. If you decide to use a bumper pads, follow these simple guidelines to make sure that you are using the bumper pads safely.

  1. Make sure the bumper pad fits around the entire inside of the baby crib. There should be no area inside of the baby crib where the baby could wedge his head between the bumper and the inside of the baby crib.
  2. If the bumper pad ties onto a standard baby crib, it should have a tie for each of the four corners and a tie in the middle of each long side. Ideally, the bumper pad should tie at the top and bottom edge. After securely tying the bumper pad to the baby crib, trim off the excess strings. They can pose a potential safety and choking hazard. Be sure to check to make sure it remains securely tied to the baby crib. Once your child can pull up to a standing position, it is time to remove the bumper pad. Your child could use it to try to climb out of the baby crib.

Say “No” to fluffy Crib Bedding
Even though it is tempting to put fluffy crib bedding, pillows and stuffed toys in the baby crib, it is important that you remove these items when you put your baby in the baby crib. An infant can suffocate on fluffy crib bedding like quilts and sheepskin as well as from stuffed toys and pillows. These products may cause infants to re-breathe exhaled air and suffocate. To prevent deaths from soft crib bedding, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) recommends the following:

  1. Place baby on her/her back on a firm, tight-fitting mattress in a baby crib that meets current safety standards.
  2. Remove crib bedding such as pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, stuffed toys and other soft products from the baby crib.
  3. Consider using a sleeper as an alternative to blankets, with no other covering.
  4. If using a blanket, put baby with the feet at the foot of the baby crib. Tuck a thin blanket around the baby crib mattress, only as far as the baby’s chest.
  5. Make sure your baby’s head remains uncovered during sleep.
  6. Do not place baby on a waterbed, sofa, soft mattress, pillow or other soft surface to sleep.

Check Your Baby Crib’s Hardware for Loose Screws
It is imperative that you regularly check the baby crib’s hardware to make sure the screws and slates haven’t come loose. As you baby begins to jump and bounce around in the baby crib, the hardware could become loose. Keep in mind that most baby crib injuries come from baby cribs coming a part. At the time that I wrote this article, I had never checked my baby’s crib for loose screws (she was 20 months old at the time). When I did check it for the first time, I found several loose screws caused from her favorite activity: jumping as high as possible in her baby crib! I had never thought about the importance of checking her baby crib. Now I check her baby crib for loose hardware on a monthly basis.

Using Crib Mobiles and Other Baby Crib Toys Safely
In general, never hang anything on the baby crib or near it so that you baby could reach it. For example, never hang a toy, diaper holder, or clothing on the baby crib. If you hang a crib mobile above the baby crib, make sure that the crib mobile is completely out of reach of your baby. If you are going to use baby crib gyms, make sure they are secured at both ends of the baby crib so that it can not be pulled into the baby crib. You will need to remove the baby crib gym when you baby is 5 months old or is able to get on his/her hands and knees. It is important to remove all baby toys from the baby crib when you put your baby to sleep. Any toys left in the baby crib pose a suffocation risk.

When to Adjust the Baby Crib Mattress Height
Once your baby is able to sit up by himself, move the baby crib mattress to a lower position. When your baby can stand, be sure to lower it to its lowest position.. It will be important to remove any toys and bedding that will help your baby climb out of the baby crib. Keep in mind that parents aren’t aware that their child can climb out of the baby crib until they do it. My sister was very surprised when her 24 month old son started crying during his nap. She went in his room and found him on the floor. He had used a stuffed teddy bear to help him climb out of the baby crib. She had no idea that he was even close to being able to climb out. Luckily, he wasn’t hurt. Not all children are us lucky when they climb out of the baby crib.

The Right Time to Switch from a Baby crib to a Bed
It is time to move your child to a bed when your child is 35 inches or higher or when the side rail is less than three-quarters of his or her height. . Some children are better climbers than others. If you have a good climber on your hands, you may need to move your child to a bed when your child begins to try to climb out of the baby crib. A lot of baby crib injuries happen when a child climbs out of the baby crib and falls to the floor.

A Couple of Other Remaining Safety Issues to Consider
Never use plastic bags as mattress covers. The plastic could cling to a baby’s face and cause suffocation.

Make sure that you raise the baby crib sides to their fullest height and lock them when your infant is in the baby crib.

With all of these tips in mind, you should be able to use your new baby crib safely with your little one. It can be a fun and stimulating environment as well as a safe place to play and sleep for your child.

About the Author
Sarah Holmes, Ph.D. quit her full-time job in order to stay home with her baby girl. She created as a free resource to other new moms and dads. Her site compares prices on hundreds of baby cribs from more than 20 online stores allowing you to find the beset price with a click of a button. Her site also offers lots of information about the different types of cribs as well as all sorts of safety information about how to buy and use your new crib safely.

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