Keeping Your Baby Safe at Night
by Alan Riley
With as many things as a new parent has to worry about, crib safety for your baby is a high priority. Following these helpful hints will help to allay these common fears and provide a safe, comfy and cozy place for your new baby to sleep.
Don’t be tempted by the money-saving idea of using a crib that is already in the family unless it is still new. Older cribs are much more likely to contain toxic lead paint, or paint that is chipping. Even a gently used crib could have developed some structural problems through its use and gaps or holes are potential hazards. The safest cribs are those with stationary sides, as there is no danger of the side becoming loose or of your baby accidentally pushing it down. The American Pediatric Association recommends a height of at least 26” between the mattress and the top of the railing and suggests a distance of no more than 2 3/8” between slats. At that distance, babies are unable to fit their heads through the slats but limbs will still become free easily.
Use the firmest mattress you can find to place in the crib. Firm mattresses will keep the bedding taut and decrease the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The mattress should also fit snugly within the confines of the crib; if you can fit two or more fingers between the crib and mattress, you will need to use a larger mattress. The gap that is created could lead to pinching or trapping of your baby’s limbs. Many styles of sheet sets are available to keep the crib a safe place. Those with elastic on all four sides provide a tight fit over the mattress and are unlikely to be pulled out of place during the night. Some fitted sheets slip over the mattress like a pillowcase and there are even sheets that you can affix directly to the mattress itself.
While the use of bumpers helps prevent babies from getting limbs stuck between the slats of the crib and provide a soft environment for your baby, organizations such as The American Pediatric Association, SIDS First Candle Alliance and Health Canada advocate against their use due to risks of smothering, entanglement or strangulation. Some manufacturers such as BreathableBaby have designed mesh bumpers that allow air to circulate even if the bumper falls. Others, like Go Mama Go Designs, have bumpers that attach to individual slats on the crib. Since most crib sets still include a traditional bumper, you will have to decide what to do. If you do use the bumper, make sure you follow these tips:
1. Keep ties 7-9” in length allowing enough to firmly secure the bumper without much excess to provide a choking hazard.
2. Use bumpers like those included in the Ladybug Crib Sets by JoJo Designs with 12-16 ties at the top and bottom of the crib to ensure it is tightly attached to the crib.
3. Do not use the bumper if it overlaps or gaps, as this could lead to entanglement.
4. Use a sturdy, firm bumper pad instead of one that is pillow-like to avoid rebreathing of stale air.
Cribs should always be set up in a room that is and has been smoke-free. Tobacco smoke near infants has been shown to significantly increase the likelihood of SIDS. Be sure that the crib is far from windows, drapes or other items. As your baby gets older, he or she is likely to try to climb and will reach for any item nearby. Keep the crib in a space near where you sleep, but you should always avoid sleeping with your baby in the bed. Although it could make late-night feedings simpler, you will avoid accidental smothering or crushing. Keeping the baby in the crib through the night also lessens the trauma associated with the transition to separate rooms and a new bed.
With everything else in place, there are still some risks to manage when you put your baby to sleep. Always be sure to place your baby on his or her back. Sleeping on the stomach could lead to rebreathing stale air due to the bunching of material on the mattress. Place your baby as far down the crib as possible to prevent him or her from moving further under the covers at night. Many manufacturers have designed adorable and functional alternatives to covers, too. You might want to consider the baby sleeping bag that keeps the baby warm without the threat of accidental covering of the face. Another option that eliminates the need for covering at all is the sleeping suit. These keep your baby warm throughout the night regardless of movement. Overheating can also be an issue since infants are unable to regulate their own temperatures. Modern bedding sets come with Tog ratings to estimate the heat emitted from layers of clothing and sheets. A rating of 8 Togs, including clothing, is ideal for a baby in a room that is approximately 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Always keep the crib clear of any excess item such as toys and pillows. These are potential threats that could inhibit the flow of fresh air throughout the night.
About the Author
Alan Riley is the publisher of www.beautifulbeddingsets.com, a site devoted to helping people find the perfect bedding for their needs, including an array of baby crib bedding sets. Among those featured on the site are the JoJo crib bedding. The Riley family lives in leafy Melbourne, which is in the far South East corner of Australia. Alan loves to spend his leisure time out sailing, an activity that is very conducive to sleep by the end of the day! He and his family are also active members of their local church.