Your baby will spend a lot of time in the crib, napping during
the day and sleeping at night. It's your job to make sure
it's always a safe environment. In addition to always placing
your baby to sleep on his or her back to prevent sudden infant
death syndrome (SIDS), there are a number of steps you can take to
ensure the safety of your littlest sleeper.
What to look for.
Before placing your baby in any crib - whether a new crib or a
hand-me-down; at home, in a child-care setting, or at a
relative's home - make sure that:
- the slats are no more than 2-3/8 inches (6 centimeters) apart
and aren't cracked, loose, splintered, or missing
- there are no decorative cutouts on the headboard or footboard
in which the baby could become caught
- there are no sharp or jagged edges
- the sides latch securely
- drop-side latches can't be released by the child
- there are no protruding screws and all screws are accounted
- tightly attached corner posts are no more than 1/16 inch (1.5
- the crib sheet snugly fits the mattress (
use an adult sheet)
- the mattress fits snugly against the sides of the crib and
there aren't big gaps between the mattress and the crib
- the mattress is kept at its lowest position once your child
- the mattress is firm, not soft
- soft toys, comforters, blankets, and pillows (adult pillows,
throw pillows, or infant donut pillows) are
kept in the crib. And although bumper pads are widely used, their
safety has been questioned. One study using data from
the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
(CPSC) found a number of accidental deaths appeared to
be related to the use of bumper pads in cribs and
bassinets. The Canadian Pediatric Society has recommended
against using crib bumpers since 2004.
- if crib bumpers are used, it's best to use the kind that
tie at the top and bottom (you can also buy mesh bumpers that
keep the baby's head and limbs inside the crib)
- if crib bumpers are used, remove them once the baby begins to
pull up and stand so he or she does not use bumpers to try to
climb out of cribs
- there are no mobiles or toys with strings or ribbons longer
than 7 inches (18 centimeters) hanging above the crib
- mobiles are removed once the baby begins to push up on his or
hands and knees, or by 5 months, whichever comes first because of
the risk of strangulation once he or she can reach the
- there are no cords from drapes or window shades that could
cause strangulation anywhere near the crib or within the
- the crib hasn't been recalled by the CPSC
If you're expecting a baby or you already have a child,
it's a good idea to:
- Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the Heimlich
- Keep the following numbers near the phone (for yourself and
- toll-free poison-control number
- child's doctor's number
- parents' work and cell phone numbers
- neighbor's or nearby relative's number (if you need
someone to watch other children in an emergency)
- Make a first-aid kit and keep emergency instructions
- Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
Maintaining a Safe, Kid-Friendly Environment
To check your childproofing efforts, get down on your hands and
knees in every room of your home to see things from a child's
perspective. Be aware of your child's surroundings and what
might be potentially dangerous.
Completely childproofing your home can be difficult. If you
can't childproof the entire house, you can shut the doors (and
install doorknob covers) to any room a child shouldn't enter to
prevent wandering into places that haven't been properly
childproofed. For sliding doors, doorknob covers and childproof
locks are also great for keeping little ones from leaving your
home. Of course, how much or how little you childproof your home is
up to you. Supervision is the very best way to help prevent kids
from getting injured. However, even the most vigilant parent
can't keep a child 100% safe at all times.
Whether you have a baby, toddler, or school-age child, your home
should be a haven where your little one can explore safely.
After all, touching, holding, climbing, and exploring are the
activities that develop your child's body and mind.
Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: November 2007
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2009 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.