Decorating the nursery is part of the fun of being pregnant and preparing for a new baby. The crib is often the focal point of the whole room, but it’s important to set up and decorate your crib with safety in mind. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises parents that a baby’s crib should only have a firm mattress and a fitted crib sheet for at least the baby’s first year of life. Accidental suffocations from loose items in a baby’s crib can be prevented by following a few safety precautions. Here are some common items parents place in their baby’s crib, and some alternatives that safely serve the same purpose.
Many assume that sleeping with a blanket is always a part of life, but not for babies. Loose blankets can easily cover a baby’s face or become wrapped around the head and neck, and should not be used. Instead of using loose blankets to keep baby warm at night, use wearable blankets, warm sleepers, or sleep sacks that allow baby’s feet and legs to move around.
Once babies are old enough to pull themselves to standing, many parents panic that now they can climb out of the crib. Some parents have purchased crib tents with the intention of keeping baby in the crib, but these are also a hazard and should not be used. Be sure to adjust the height of the mattress as your baby grows. Once your baby is old enough to climb out of the crib, it is time to transition to a toddler bed or mattress on the floor.
Padded bumpers should be avoided to prevent suffocation from rolling face-first into them, and later to prevent baby from climbing out of the crib.
Of course, cords are never intentionally placed in baby’s crib, but they often find their way there from baby monitors, mobiles, or lamps. Be sure that a corded baby monitor is placed a safe distance away from the crib so baby can’t grab it. A mobile can be used safely while baby is little, but once baby can sit and stand, a mobile should be removed out of reach. Similarly, lamps should be out of baby’s reach, and baby’s crib should also be placed a safe distance from windows so the cords from the blinds are not accessible.
A comforting, soft stuffed animal may be a tempting addition to add to the crib, but resist. They pose the same hazard as loose pillows and blankets and often have small parts that could be loosened and become a choking hazard. Stuffed animals should be kept with the toys or used to snuggle as you rock together, read books, or have tummy time, but then placed safely away while baby sleeps.
Sleep positioners, wedges, and other special pillows have been deemed unsafe to use in babies’ cribs, and the CPSC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have issued firm warnings to parents against the use of them. Sometimes it is necessary to elevate the head of the baby’s mattress as advised by a doctor, but this must be done according to their instructions and as safely as possible.