It is a parent’s responsibility to only use the safest baby cribs with the necessary safe features. Baby crib safety standards were revised by the US government in 2009, and again in 2011 because of frequent crib accidents and injuries, some of which have been fatal, and almost all of them could have been avoided. Things that parents have been practicing innocently for generations are now recognized to be hazards responsible for numerous infant deaths. Products that good parents have trusted for years have been proven to hold real dangers.
A child’s first year is the most dangerous time of his life. In the United States every day about 26 children are brought to emergency rooms with injuries caused by crib accidents. Over a period of 15 years, 181,000 crib injuries have been reported. Each year about 60 deaths are reported due to crib accidents. Don’t let your baby be one of these statistics. Following a few very simple steps can make all the difference between dying as an infant or living to a ripe old age.
Use A Fixed Side Crib
A fixed side crib is much safer for your baby than a drop side crib. Drop side cribs have been popular since long before most of us were born. They made it easy and convenient for parents to take care of their babies in their cribs. Many of us as infants were put to sleep in drop side cribs. We are the fortunate survivors. Not all babies have been so fortunate.
Since 2011, the production and sale of drop side cribs has been banned in the United States because of a strangulation hazard. The drop rails have been known to come loose, and a space opens where a baby can slide through, catching him at the neck, and suffocating him. About 32 such deaths have been reported. Although the new production of these drop side cribs has been banned, many families receive them as hand-me-downs from their parents or other families. Be warned. They are not safe. It’s best to use solid, fixed-sided cribs and think about the baby’s safety more than the parent’s convenience. Visit the Buy Baby Bed page for more tips on selecting a baby bed that is safe for your child.
Keep Baby Crib Away From Choking Hazards
Even before they are born, babies are learning and exploring. After birth, that adventure of exploration brings thousands of hazards near to the baby. Some of these dangers are inside the nursery itself. It’s the parents full-time duty to keep those dangers out of the child’s reach. More than half of the newborn baby’s time is spent in his crib, so here are some tips to keep the baby bed safe.
1) Keep the baby’s crib at least 3 feet away from any window. A baby’s attention is attracted toward sunlight. When he looks toward the window, the source of that sunlight, he sees many interesting things to explore, including curtains and blinds. When the baby is able to reach for things, and especially when he is able to pull himself up into a standing position, he is likely to try to grab the strings and cords that hang with the blinds and drapes and try to play with them. The game can turn deadly. Some babies have wound these around their necks and have chocked themselves.
2) Make sure that there is at least a foot between the infant crib and any other furniture. Eventually the baby will attempt to escape from the crib, and he may succeed sooner than you think. If other furniture is too close, the child could slide into the gap between and injure himself. Have a soft rug under the crib just in case he does fall out. You might want to consider investing in a dresser, crib and changer combo which has all three pieces of furnature built into one solid unit, so that there is no danger of falling into the gaps between.
3) If you use a mobile to entertain your baby, always make sure that any strings or figurines are well out of his reach. Take the mobile away before he is able to pull himself up into a standing position. And make sure there are no shelves or heavy objects of any kind above the crib. Even if the baby can’t pull it down himself, somebody else might knock it down on him.
Measure Slat Space
Since 2011, an important baby crib safety standard has been that the slats on the sides of baby cribs must not have spaces wider than 2 3/8 inches. That’s about the width of a soda can, so you can use a soft drink can to measure it. If the soda can fit’s through between the slats, the spaces are too wide and the crib should not be used.
The reason is obvious. A newborn can slip his head through a wide space and be strangled. If you use a crib made since June of 2011 it will have this safety feature. Unfortunately, there is still the hand-me-down problem. If you are not using a brand new crib, measure the spaces. If the spaces are too wide, get rid of that crib. The money you would save is not worth risking your baby’s life.
How High Should A Baby Bed Mattress Be Adjusted?
Baby crib mattresses can be left at a high adjustment until the newborn learns how to travel. A high adjustment makes things easy on the parents when they reach into the crib to take care of the infant. Government standards regulate that the minimum depth from the top of the mattress to the rail of the crib should be at least 20 inches. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is safe to keep the mattress at this height till about 5 months, or until the infant is capable of sitting up without support. Lower the height of the mattress when the baby is able to sit on his own, and lower it again when he is able to pull himself up into a standing position.
According to government regulations, when the child is 35 inches tall, it is time to move him out of the crib and into a toddler bed. By that time the child will be an expert escape artist. There is no keeping him in the crib. He will find his way out when the parents are not looking. It’s much safer to have him in a toddler bed which has a safety rail so that he won’t fall out in his sleep, and it is also close enough to the floor so that he can climb out without hurting himself.
Practice Simple Baby Crib Safety
Consider swaddling your infant. During the first couple of weeks, rolling over and moving around in the crib isn’t a problem. The position and place where you lay your baby is the same place where you expect to find him a few hours later. As the child grows, movement can be a problem, even when he is asleep. A firm swaddle can prevent a dangerous roll over accident with tragic results.
If you do swaddle, as this site recommends, make sure that the infant is wrapped tightly around the arms and chest, but loosely around the hips and legs so that his hips do not become dislocated. And start early. When the baby is new, a tight swaddle will remind him of the snug comfort he felt in his mother’s womb.
There is a big disagreement about crib bumpers. Some parents think they are a must to keep a baby from getting his limbs stuck through the slats and hurting himself. However, babies have been suffocated by wedging their faces between the mattress and the crib bumper. Also, as the child grows, he can use the crib bumper to step on in order to escape out of the crib, causing serious or fatal injury. Again, swaddling can save an infant from rolling or crawling into a dangerous position.
If you insist on a bumper, this website recommends a product called a Breathable Bumper. Even if an infant does push his face against it he can still breath through the mesh. If you have been using a bumper for your newborn, by the time a child is able to pull himself up into a standing position, it’s probably best to take away the bumper.
Use only a tight-fitting, firm, spring-supported mattress. Many parents like the foam mattresses because they are so much lighter and easier to change. Most experts recommend a very firm mattress for a newborn. Some crib mattresses are designed to be firm on one side for new babies and softer on the other side for toddlers. Whatever you do, make sure you use only a mattress made of organic materials so that you don’t risk exposing your baby to dangerous chemicals. For more information about choosing the best baby mattress, visit the baby bed mattress safety page.
New government standards require that manufacturers equip their cribs with mattresses that leave a gap of not more than one inch between the crib and the side of the mattress. If you’re using a crib that was built before 2009, before these safety standards were in place, test it to make sure. If you can fit more than two adult fingers anywhere between the mattress and the sides of the crib, then that mattress is not safe for your baby. Infants have suffocated by wedging their faces into that gap.
Use Only Organic Materials
Today’s world is full of products made with unnatural, synthetic, man-made chemicals, and some of them are linked to serious diseases like cancer and leukemia and birth defects. Even products that we assume to be safe, like plastics, may affect us in ways that we don’t understand, and a new infant may be more susceptible than an adult.
A baby explores things by tasting them and putting them in his mouth. Especially when he starts to cut teeth, he might chew on things like the wooden frame of a bed, so nothing in the mattress, bedding or frame of the bed should have any chemicals that could harm the child by being ingested or by skin contact.
Some common materials, we know, are dangerous, and should be kept far away from any child. Since 1978 it has been illegal to use lead paint in a baby’s crib because even one flake of paint can cause serious brain damage if ingested. Crib finishes and mattresses should also not contain unnatural chemicals like phthalates, which are used to soften plastics. Avoid a crib or mattress that is labeled “Eco” or “Green,” since these titles are not regulated, and the products may contain toxic chemicals. Foams are also chemically treated, and latex is allergy-prone.
Cribs, mattresses, and all other child products should be should be certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). This site recommends using an organic cotton mattress, which is made out of the purest form of cotton, grown without GMO’s, fertilizer, or synthetic pesticides. One of the best mattresses recommended by this site would be the Naturepedic Organic Crib Mattress for infants and toddlers. One side of this mattress is firm for newborns, and the other side is a bit softer for toddlers.
Learn How To Prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
Infant sudden unexplained death syndrome is also called crib death because the crib is where it almost always happens. Everything may seem safe and secure, but he baby goes down for a nap, and he never wakes up. Sudden crib death is not fully understood. That’s why it is called a syndrome. Much has been studied and written about the subject at the American SIDS Institute. The most common opinion among pediatricians is that SIDS has something to do with suffocation.
This article is not meant to be taken as medical advice. However, having said that, this website does not completely agree with the common opinion that SIDS is caused by the weight of a child’s own body on his lungs when he is he is put to sleep on his stomach. The opinion of this website is that SIDS has much more to do with the dangerous synthetic chemicals used in bedding and mattresses. You can read more about the research behind the importance of an organic baby mattress if you visit the Organic Baby Bedding page.