Whether you are expecting your first child or preparing for baby number three, one of the most fun parts of preparing for baby is setting up their nursery. Personally, I dreamed of a perfectly curated, aesthetically pleasing nursery that my baby (but mostly I) would love! While it is wonderful to have a cutesy nursery, it is so so so important to be sure you are setting up a safe sleep space for your child. Let’s take a look at how you can set up your child’s crib as a safe and sleep inducing space!
Why does crib safety matter?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has identified various risk factors and prevention measures that can help families reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), one of those being taking measures to create a safe sleep space. SIDS affects approximately 3,600 families each year in the United States and is the leading cause of death in infants between the ages of 1 month and 1 year. Creating a safe sleep space will aid in the prevention of SIDS affecting your family and is an easy way to begin building a healthy sleep foundation.
1. The Crib
There are many crib options available. The most important thing to look at when choosing a crib, bassinet, or play yard is that it meets the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Since 2011, all cribs are specifically designed and tested for safe sleep by the CPSC. If you have a used crib or you just want to ensure your crib has not been recalled you can check the CPSC website here.
Other safety measures to consider:
Hardware is secure and no pieces are missing. Do not use a crib with missing hardware.
Avoid cribs with drop-sides. These are no longer considered safe by the CPSC
2. The Mattress
When choosing a mattress, I honestly have no preference for a particular brand. You should, however, look for a mattress that is firm, flat, and there are no gaps larger two fingers between the mattress and crib. Avoid any mattress with a soft surface and never add soft mattress covers to the top. A firm surface is the best and safest way for your child to sleep. Additionally, you want to be sure to use fitted sheets on the mattress. Avoid any sheets that may come loose or bunch up in areas.
3. Do Not Attach or Add Anything to the Crib
Avoid attaching anything to your child’s crib. When bumpers (even the mesh ones) are added to the crib this can increase the risk of entanglement and suffocation. If you notice your child sticking a limb out of the railing, you have two options 1) quietly go in and gently move their limb back in to the crib or 2) let it be. They will not be harmed and will quickly figure it is much more comfortable to sleep with their limbs inside the crib.
We also want to avoid adding anything to your child’s crib or sleep space. Baby loungers, inclined sleeper, and positioners are not approved by the AAP for safe sleep. These products increase the risk of suffocation and carbon dioxide rebreathing. The safest place for sleep is alone, on their back, and on a firm, flat surface.
As for blanket or lovies, it is recommended to wait until 12 months to introduce comfort items. You can use these items outside of sleep times for comfort, but we want to avoid placing these items in their crib when sleeping until after 12 months of age. Sleep sacks are great alternative for blankets and will not get kicked off through the night!
4. Arrange furniture at least 3 feet from the sleep space
In order to create a safe barrier around your child’s sleep space, situate the crib so it is at least 3 feet from any furniture. This will prevent your child from being able to grab objects from those surfaces and pull them in the crib. It will also prevent your child from using furniture as leverage to climb as they get older.
It is likely you will also have a monitor near your child’s crib to keep an eye as they sleep. Arrange monitors at least 3 feet from the sleep space and always mount the monitor AND cords out of reach.
If you are a new Mama or new Mama to be, this may feel like a lot to take in. I don't say any of this to scare you or make you worry about your child’s safety. I am a firm believer that prevention is key and I will always educate on how to create safe sleep spaces for children. My goal is simply to equip you with knowledge so you can move forward with creating a sleep space that is both beautiful and a safe space for your child. You’ve got this, Mama!