If you’re expecting, you may have already begun decorating your baby’s room with a crib, rocking chair, mobile and changing table. While it’s tempting to fill your newborn’s crib with stuffed animals, blankets, pillows or toys - bare is the safest route to go.
The Consumer Protection and Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends removing pillows, quilts, comforters or cushions from your baby’s crib, bassinet or play yard.
Many times cribs are handed down from friends and family members. It’s a good idea to give a second hand crib a thorough inspection. Always use a crib that meets current CPSC standards. Newer standards have stringent requirements for various parts of the crib, such as mattress supports, slats, and hardware.
CPSC offers a three minute video on their website outlining safe sleep tips for infants. You can watch the video at http://www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/Multimedia/?vid=61784.
A few of the tips included in the video are:
- Never place your crib up against a window with blinds. A window can create a fall hazard and blind cords can cause strangulation.
- To prevent suffocation, remove pillows and thick quilts. A baby’s face can become pressed into these items and stop the flow of air into his or her lungs.
- Make sure there are no gaps larger than two fingers between the sides of the crib and the mattress.
- Make sure your crib has a firm mattress and fits tightly into the crib on all four sides.
- Do not use cribs older than 10 years or broken or modified cribs. Infants can strangle to death if their bodies pass through gaps between loose components or broken slats while their heads remain entrapped.
Many new parents worry about sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). There can be numerous contributors to the cause of SIDS, but in 1992 doctors discovered the key reason was stomach sleeping. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) launched the “Back to Sleep” campaign to educate parents on the dangers of placing their baby on their stomach or side to sleep.
- Place your baby on his or her back to help prevent suffocation. Baby’s placed on their side tend to roll over onto their stomach – pressing their face into the mattress.
- Never place your baby on top of pillows or comforters.
- Never fall asleep with your baby in bed with you. A parent who is sleeping may unknowingly roll over on their infant and cause their baby to suffocate.
- Overheating is a known cause of SIDS. Make sure your infant is not over-wrapped or dressed in clothing that is too heavy for the temperature in the room. Your baby may be too hot if you notice sweating, damp hair, flushed cheeks, heat rash or rapid breathing.
- Place your baby’s crib in a cigarette smoke-free room.
- Don’t place your baby on a chair, sofa, waterbed or an adult mattress to sleep alone.
A large number of cribs are recalled due to faulty parts. Often these cribs are imported. Make sure your crib hasn’t been recalled by checking the CPSC website. Parents and caregivers can sign up to receive emails on recalls pertaining to infants and children at cpsc.gov, keepingbabiessafe.org, or aap.org.
To keep your baby warm, dress him or her in footed pajamas. If your baby needs more warmth, use a baby “sleeping bag.” Infant sleeping bags remove the need for blankets and can help prevent baby from rolling onto his tummy during sleep. They can be used from birth for babies who don't like being wrapped. Or they can be used from the time when baby resists wrapping or becomes too old for it (usually around 4 months or as soon as he can roll onto his tummy).
Look for sleeping bags that have a fitted neck, armholes or sleeves and no hood.
In warmer months, a lightweight footed-sleeper is good or a “Onesie,” a one-piece shirt that snaps over a diaper.
Talk to your pediatrician or family doctor if you have any questions about caring for your infant. It’s a new experience for parents and you don’t receive a baby manual when you leave the hospital. Doctors have heard any question you may have, so there are no silly or stupid questions when it comes to your baby’s safety!