If your baby sleeps in a crib, follow these safety suggestions:
- Look for a Consumer Product Safety Commission label or a Juvenile Products Manufacturer’s Association (JPMA) label stating that the crib conforms to safety standards.
- Check the space between the bars of the crib rail. The bars should be no more than 2-3/8 inches (6 centimeters) apart, so that babies can’t get their heads caught between them. The bars of cribs made prior to 1979 may have wider spacing that does not conform to these standards.
- Be sure the mattress fits the crib perfectly. An undersized mattress will leave a gap along the side or end of the crib where an infant’s head can get caught, causing suffocation. To check the fit of a crib mattress, push it to one corner. There should be no more than a 1½ inch (4 centimeter) gap between it and the side or end of the crib. If you can fit more than two fingers between the mattress and the crib, the mattress is too small. Remember, the firmer the mattress, the safer. Beware of hand-me-down or secondhand cribs in which the mattress may be different from the one designed to fit the crib.
- Don’t use loose-fitting plastic mattress covers or waterproof sheets that can wrap around a baby’s head and cause suffocation.
- Frequently check the mattress support system by rattling the metal hangers and by pushing the mattress on top and then from the bottom. If the hanger support dislodges, it needs to be fixed or replaced. Be sure the four metal hangers supporting the mattress and support board are secured into their notches by safety clips.
- To prevent choking, check crib toys, mobiles, pacifiers, and clothing worn in the crib to make sure they have strings no longer than 8 inches (20 centimeters).
- Make sure crib bumpers fit snugly around the entire perimeter of the crib and are secured by at least six ties or snaps. To prevent your baby from chewing on the ties and becoming entangled in them, trim off excess length. Remove bumpers and toys from the crib as soon as the child begins to pull himself or herself up on the crib rails, because they can be used as steps for climbing over the rail.
- Don’t place breathing blockers in baby’s crib (or baby’s sleeping environment). These include anything that could obstruct baby’s breathing passages or collect dust (which is an irritant that can lead to stuffy little noses). Breathing hazards include: decorative pillows, fuzzy stuffed animals and toys, string-toys, tiny chokable toys, straps or ties on bumper pads.
- Don’t place the crib in an unsafe area in the room. It should not be near a heater, against a window, near any dangling cords from blinds or draperies, or close to furniture that the infant can use to climb out of the crib. When the baby gets older, give some thought to what could happen if your baby did climb out. The crib should be placed so that your baby will not fall against any sharp object or become entrapped, or possibly strangled, between the crib and an adjacent wall or piece of furniture.
- Don’t use crib toys that are fastened between the side rails and hang over the crib, giving baby something to look at and reach for. These toys are recommended only from birth to five months and should be removed when baby is old enough to push up on his hands and knees.
- If your baby’s crib is not in your bedroom or within hearing distance of every room in the house, put a portable monitor nearby.