Newborn babies may spend up to 16 hours per day sleeping in their first few months of life. Therefore, you want to be sure you create a safe sleep environment in baby’s room even before she arrives. First, remember, nothing should be in the crib except for a firm mattress, a tight fitted sheet, and your baby. Also, research shows that swaddling — a technique that mimics the coziness of the womb — can keep your baby warm and comfortable, and help her sleep better and longer. Additionally, ensure the lighting and temperature in the room is comfortable; some children are even soothed by music or lullabies playing in the room.
Here are a few more items to remember about crib safety:
• In June 2011, new federal safety standards were established by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) which are available at www.cpsc.gov. Be sure to also check their website for crib recalls.
• Cribs with a drop side (one side of the crib that lowers to make it easy to remove your baby from the crib) are no longer recommended. This is important to know when accepting hand-me-down cribs from friends and relatives.
• The vertical crib slats should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart.
• You should not be able to fit more than 2 fingers between the mattress and the side of the crib.
• Be sure to lower the mattress once your child is able to sit unassisted and again when your child can pull up to a stand.
• Make sure all mobiles and hanging toys are out of your child’s reach.
• Double check that all cords from window blinds or nursery monitors are at least 3 feet away from the crib.
• Consider using sleep clothing, such as swaddle wraps rather than a putting a blanket in your child’s crib.
• All babies should be placed on their backs to sleep.
• If using a portable crib or playpen, make sure the mesh is free of tears, the mattress fits snuggly, and that all sides are securely in place.
Once your child is able to climb out of the crib, it’s time to start the transition to a toddler bed. If your toddler surprises you one evening by crawling out of the crib, simply remove the mattress from the crib and place it safely on the floor until you have time to purchase a new bed.