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Keeping Baby Safe in the Crib

If you’re the parent of a newborn or even a soon-to-be-parent, there’s no doubt you’ve been given plenty of advice about your baby’s sleep. For instance, you’ve probably already heard that you should place your baby on his or her back to sleep. But do you know how to ensure the crib itself is safe?

“Here’s a simple message to remember: bare is best,” said Ginger Parsons, patient health and safety information educator at Children’s of Alabama. The “bare is best” message was developed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to bring attention to the suffocation potential. “A tight-fitting crib sheet is all that’s recommended.  Soft bedding items like blankets, stuffed toys and even crib bumpers could be hazardous. It is best to keep the crib bare when you lay your baby down to sleep.”

You may be tempted to buy crib bumpers to complete your nursery’s look, but they really aren’t necessary and could be harmful to your baby. A baby is unable to roll over with such force, therefore crib bumpers really don’t offer any protection in that regard. Concerned about your baby getting cold while sleeping? Wearable blankets are a safer alternative than a loose blanket placed in the crib.

A study released in November 2015 by “The Journal of Pediatrics” shows the number of deaths blamed on crib bumpers continues to increase. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that 23 babies died between 2006-2012 from suffocation attributed to a crib bumper. That’s triple the average number of such deaths in three previous seven-year periods. In all, there were 48 deaths blamed on crib bumpers from 1985-2012. An additional 146 infants sustained injuries – choking on the ties, nearly suffocating – from crib bumpers.

“Anything other than a tight-fitting crib sheet on a firm mattress is just not worth the suffocation risk,” Parsons said.

The CPSC’s “bare” advice also applies to any item you may attach to or place near baby’s crib, such as baby monitors, noise machines, mobiles and humidifiers. Cords from these items, including the cords from window treatments or other wall-mounted accessories, could pose a strangulation hazard.

And if baby falls asleep in a swing, car seat or even the parent’s bed, it may be tempting to leave him or her sleep there. “The crib is the safest place for baby to sleep, and always remember to place baby on his or her back to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS),” Parsons said.

To ensure your crib is safe:

  • Check that it meets the safety standards of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). You can also check with Recalls.gov for any safety recalls if you are using a secondhand crib.
  • Any replacement parts for your crib should come only from the original manufacturer.
  • The space between crib slats should be no wider than 2 3/8 inches. If a soda can fits easily through the slats, the spaces between the slats are too wide. Corner posts should not stick up any higher than 1/16-th of an inch.
  • When your baby can push up, it’s time to lower the crib mattress.
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