Parents, especially first time parents, are often very worried about their baby's safety. I remember when our first was born, the nurse had to tell me to burp harder and that I wasn't going to break him.
Perhaps no other issue occupies soon-to-be parents than crib safety. How to keep their baby safe at night. Exacerbating this fact is probably the thought of all the crib safety recalls that seem to happen all the time. What is a worried parent to do?
Rest assured, the information is here.
Do not buy a used crib, a used seller isn't going to know if the crib has been recalled for safety issues, and it just isn't worth it. By law all cribs must have slats narrow enough so that a baby's head cannot get stuck. Just recently as well, drop side cribs, those cribs with walls that can be lowered to help parents reach in, were banned as well. The drop sides have caused reported lacerations and even amputations. If you have an existing drop side crib the manufacturer can provide you with a kit to permanently secure the drop side, or you can buy a new crib.
It is also wise to buy a convertible crib. As your child grows, gets taller, learns to sit and stand, you will need a crib that allows you to lower the mattress to keep things safe so he cannot eventually climb out and fall.
Do not put the crib in a location where something can fall into it, such as under a shelf. This is especially true in areas with earthquakes, but is a good idea for everywhere because you never know what might happen. The last thing you want is something falling on your baby. Make sure any wall decorations are firmly secured to joists, and not merely hanging off hooks or finishing nails. If you can easily lift it off the wall, it can fall off the wall, and hit your baby in the head.
Your crib mattress should be firm and an appropriate size for your crib. If you can fit two fingers between any side of the mattress and the crib side, it is too small, your baby could be caught, suffocate, and die. Additionally if the mattress is too soft when the baby sleeps on his belly (which he may do as soon as he learns to roll over) his face may sink too far in, causing him to get inadequate oxygen. Both of these issues are suspected causes of SIDs and are very serious. Amazon.com has a great selection of firm baby mattresses, most shipped free, and priced well.
Do not use blankets, do not use pillows, do not use stuffed animals. We all want to protect our babies, and make them comfortable, but a blanket can be pulled up over the baby's head, causing them to suffocate and die. A pillow can do the same thing, babies do not need pillows, it isn't worth the risk to use one. And while everyone thinks it is cute when a baby sleeps with a stuffed animal, imagine the animal ending up smushed up against their face as they slowly get less oxygen with each breath. All three of these things have been linked to SIDs.
Instead of blankets, use baby sleep sacks to keep your baby warm, they are zipped or buttoned around your baby like a large gown or nightshirt, thus securely attached to your baby there is no risk of movement up to the face which can cause suffocation.
Absolutely never use crib bumpers. These were invented back when some cribs had slats that were too wide, but they're nothing more than death traps. Babys can get strangled in the ties, they can get stuck between the bumpers and the slats. Bumpers restrict air flow into the crib, especially if the baby rolls near a side, which results in the baby breathing the same air over and over again, with less oxygen each time, until they suffocate. This has happened to some familes. The American Academy of Pediatrics, Health Canada, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, First Candle/National SIDS Alliance, and the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, have all said you shouldn't use bumpers, so don't do it.
Some parents worry about their child's legs or arms going through the slats. Yes, that happens, no, it isn't a big deal, if it is uncomfortable for them, they will wake up and cry, thankfully because they have enough oxygen to do so. There is almost no risk of serious or permanent injury from a leg sticking out. Other parents worry about heads being hurt, but again, it is almost impossible for a baby to hit their head with enough force on a slat to cause a serious or permanent injury. They may wake up and cry, but be thankful for that and not that you went in and found them unable to wake up.
Of course, in the baby stores, the well stocked cribs with the matching pillows and bumpers and sheets all look so cute, but I get angry every time I see such displays, parents buy these death traps without even thinking.
Cribs have slats for a reason, they are meant to provide air flow and oxygen, otherwise cribs would have solid walls. Don't block the slats.
You'll want your newborn to sleep on his back, or turned slightly to one side or the other. It is a good idea to rotate sleeping positions on newborns from back, to one side (slightly) to the other. To prevent the baby from developing a flat head.
Once your baby is old enough to roll over on his own, he will choose his own sleeping position, and that is fine. Some babies like the fetal position, others their bellies, others their back, some will switch and rotate. So long as the baby is able to move himself it is okay.
SIDS stands for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and it is a nightmare for new parents. This is when parents wake up to find their baby died during the night for no apparent reason, most often during the first 6 months of life. Pediatricians and other experts now believe that most cases of SIDS can be traced to suffocation from poor air quality due to an improper sleeping environment. The recommendations outlined in this article are all designed to help prevent SIDS. Please, keep your baby safe.
DiSCLAIMER: The content of this site is offered as educational material for parents, not as medical advice. If you have a question about a specific condition or symptom your child has then you need to consult a medical professional.