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Crib safety: Is your baby’s sleep space safe?

Christina Holt is a blogger and freelance writer who lives in Southern California with her husband and three boys. Christina uses her love of design, adventures in parenting and teaching background as inspiration for her writing on numer...

Important information about crib safety

With more than 46 recalls of over 11 million cribs since 2007, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) decided to take action in December 2010. The action? New safety standards for all cribs effective June 2011.

According to a study published in March 2011 by Pediatrics, approximately 26 U.S. children under the age of 2 are harmed daily by or in a crib. Find out how you can ensure your child’s sleep space is safe and what you can do to keep it that way.

Practice crib safety at all times

In June 2011, the Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) new requirements for crib safety standards required that all crib manufacturers and distributors provide a safer environment for babies. These requirements were to increase structural stability and integrity — both vertically and horizontally, improve crib-slat stability and integrity, eliminated drop-side cribs, eliminate structural pieces made of wood, reduction of toehold exposure and better visibility and wording of all labeling.

Safety precautions

According to the CPSC, these safety practices should be followed for children under 12 months of age. These crib safety practices help to reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and prevent suffocation.

  • A crib manufactured after June 2011 — or a crib that meets CPSC safety requirements — must still provide adequate ventilation, have tall enough sides for risks of falls and be designed so parents can see inside the crib to avoid other potential injuries and hazards.
    Do not place comforters, quilts, pillows, sheepskins, sleep positioners, bumper pads or stuffed toys inside the crib.
  • Consider using a sleeper or wearable blanket instead of a blanket.
  • If you do opt to use a blanket, place Baby’s feet closer to the end of the crib, and tuck the blanket around the crib mattress, covering the baby only to his or her abdomen or chest.
  • Place Baby on his or her back while sleeping.
  • Only use a firm, tight-fitting mattress inside the crib.
  • Use only fitted bottom sheets made specifically for a crib mattress.
  • Keep a baby monitor in the baby’s room or leave the nursery door open to hear Baby at all times.
  • Keep Baby’s crib away from windows, curtains and window coverings with cords and keep all electrical cords (including cords from baby monitors) at least 3 to 4 feet from the crib.

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Checking your baby’s crib for safety

Many changes have been made recently and all cribs manufactured after June 2011 meet all current safety requirements. But it is best to periodically check your child’s crib to ensure it’s the safest it can be for your child. If you purchase, borrow or obtain a used crib, checking the safety of the crib — and checking for potential recalls — is essential.

“Cribs that are incorrectly assembled, have missing, loose or broken hardware or broken slats can result in entrapment or suffocation deaths. Infants can become strangled when their head and neck become entrapped in gaps created by missing, loose or broken hardware or broken slats.” – CPSC.gov

How to safety-check your baby’s crib:

  • All cribs are required by law to have two fixed sides — for cribs manufactured prior to June 2011, contact your manufacturer for the hardware to fix the drop-side in place. These pieces are supplied free of charge directly from the manufacturer.
  • The crib mattress should be firm and tight-fitting to prevent the baby from getting trapped between the mattress and the crib.
  • There should be no broken, loose, missing or improperly installed screws or hardware anywhere on the crib or the mattress support.
  • No more than 2-3/8 inches between the crib slats and no missing or cracked crib slats.
  • Do not use a crib with headboard or footboard cutouts as Baby could get trapped inside them.
  • The corner posts on the crib should be no more than 1/16-inches high so Baby’s clothing cannot catch or get stuck. Avoid cribs with decorative finials and knobs for this reason.

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What can Parent safely use inside a crib?

Both the CPSC and the AAP have essentially banned crib bumpers due to potential suffocation and entrapment risks. In some states, like Illinois, they are banned. It’s only a matter of time before more and more states follow suit. But with the obvious hard crib slats, parents want an option to keep baby comfortable and free from bumps and bruises — while following crib safety standards and requirements. There are safer options available to parents.

Wonder Bumpers are vertical crib bumpers that attach to each crib slat, making the crib environment more breathable for Baby while protecting his head, face and body without compromising airflow, which prevents all risks of suffocation. Breathable bumpers help to keep a child's limbs from getting trapped between crib slats, but do so without the unsafe padding like that of a standard crib bumper. While these options are available, it’s best that parents consider their child’s age and stage before using such items. Even though the breathable bumper is considered a safer option, a toddler can use it as a step to leverage a climb or a fall from the crib.

More baby safety

Child safety checklist for the home
Surprising dangers to children in your home
Child safety devices: Tips for childproofing your home

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