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Safety Guide on Baby Cribs


Now that you have a baby on the way, you have a seemingly endless checklist of preparations to get through. One of the most important is choosing a crib. This will be your baby's sleeping area for the first few years of life, so you want to be certain you select one that is both beautiful and safe.

New parents may be surprised by the number of crib-shopping guidelines that exist. Slat spacing, mattress size, blanket or no blanket - the number of details to consider are seemingly endless. Yet it's important to understand that these guides are there for a reason: to keep your baby safe and reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. 

SIDS, in short, is when a healthy baby dies unexpectedly. According to Mayo Clinic, SIDS often occurs during sleep - so often, in fact, that some people call it "crib death". Crib safety guidelines exist to reduce your baby's risk of SIDS and other injury.

Luckily, although safety rules are numerous, they're also very simple to follow. Here's what you need to look for to find the safest baby cribs:

Crib safety guidelines

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has several regulations dictating the structure of modern cribs. To put that in plain speak, manufacturers are legally required to make sure their cribs meet certain rules. Although all new cribs will adhere to these standards, it's good to know them in case you choose to buy used or inherit a vintage crib. Modern crib safety standards are listed below:

Slats should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart. That's about the width of a soda can. Any wider and your baby may be able to squeeze her head or body through.

Cribs that have head- or footboards shouldn't have any decorative cutouts on these areas.

Crib corners should align completely, and any fancy extensions shouldn't exceed 1/16 inch in height.

Cribs should not have drop sides. These could strangle your baby or cause serious damage to his fingers, arms or legs.

As with all baby products, any paint used should not contain lead.

Soft-sided cribs should be made with mesh that has openings no larger than 1/4 inch wide. This way, the buttons on baby's clothes can't get caught. The top rail should be completely covered with fabric, and the mesh should be fully attached.

a baby girl standing in her crib

Tips for assembling a crib

Of course, the above guidelines are mostly for companies that manufacture cribs (though feel free to measure the distance between slats and repaint the crib if that makes you feel safer!). A crib that's manufactured properly can still be a dangerous structure if you don't assemble it correctly. Use the following tips to make sure you construct your crib the right way:

Open the box and make sure you have all necessary materials and a complete copy of the instructions. If not, either return to the retailer or contact the manufacturer.

Follow the assembly instructions as written. They were created according to federal regulation to provide the safest structure for your little one. Don't improvise! 

If the fully assembled crib doesn't seem sturdy, contact the manufacturer. You may have gotten a faulty product, or a different model might make you feel safer. Regardless, don't let your baby sleep in a broken or wobbly crib.

Keeping your baby safe and sound in the crib

Alright, we've talked about crib regulations and assembly. Now it's time for the important day-to-day information. Using the following tips is the best thing you can do to keep your baby safe in the crib and avoid SIDS.

Remember, bare is best! Keep your baby's crib free of blankets, soft toys, clothes or anything else that could cause suffocation. If you really need proof that blankets can be hazardous, check out this interview with People Magazine. One mother put her baby to sleep with a blanket made by his great-great grandmother, only to wake up the next morning and find her little one had strangled himself during the night. 

Choose a firm mattress; soft ones can block your baby's airway. A mattress that fits flush against the crib is best, but any space shouldn't exceed the width of two fingers.

For the best peace of mind, purchase a crib less than 10 years old. If you have your eye on a vintage model or simply can't afford a new one, refurbish the crib to meet modern standards. This may mean adding slats, stripping old paint and sanding away splinters. Also, always buy a new mattress. Old ones have been softened by the weight of their former inhabitants, creating a suffocation hazard.

Crib safety is nothing to take lightly. Each of these tips could be the difference between a happy, healthy baby and an accident resulting in SIDS.

Ready to take the next step in your baby preparations? We've got all the insight you need right here!

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