Checking the Safety of Your Baby's Crib

Newborns sleep a lot – up to 18 hours a day – so creating a safe sleep environment is important. Taking a few moments to educate yourself about crib safety will help ensure that both you and your baby get a good, safe night’s sleep.

Here are 10 simple rules to follow to keep your baby sleeping safely:

  1. Visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission website to verify that the crib you’ve purchased is safety-approved.
  2. Make sure that the crib is properly assembled. Follow the instructions that come with the crib and double-check that every part is installed correctly. If you’re not sure you’ve done it right, call the manufacturer for assistance.
  3. Do not use a hand-me-down crib or a crib that is more than 10 years old. Secondhand cribs may have missing parts or loose components, and many cribs sold prior to 2000 have been recalled. In fact, in 2011, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued five new federal requirements for overall crib safety:
    • Drop-side cribs could no longer be made or sold.
    • Wood slats needed to be made of stronger woods to prevent breakage.
    • Crib hardware had to have anti-loosening devices to keep it from coming loose or falling off.
    • Mattress supports had to be made more durable.
    • Safety testing had to be more rigorous.
  4. Stay away from cribs with decorative cutouts in either the headboard or footboard. These cribs are now prohibited by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  5. Place the crib away from window blinds, baby monitors or anything else with a cord to prevent accidental strangulation.
  6. Choose crib sheets that fit snugly on the crib mattress so they cannot be dislodged by pulling on the corner of the sheet.
  7. Never place bumpers, pillows, plush toys or thick quilts in a baby’s sleep environment as they are a suffocation hazard.
  8. Measure the distance between the slats of the crib. Crib slats should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart (about the width of a soda can) so your baby’s head can’t get trapped.
  9. Check that the mattress fits snugly inside of the crib. If you can fit more than two fingers between the mattress and the side of the crib, then the mattress isn’t a good fit.
  10. Don’t use an inflatable air mattress as babies can suffocate on the mattress or become trapped between the mattress and the crib frame.

According to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, all babies sleep safest on their backs. The back sleep position reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), so remember to place your baby on his or her back for naps and at night.