The parental learning curve is a high one. We bring home tiny, defenseless human beings totally dependent on us to know how to take care of them. Many of first time parents don’t have a lot of experience with babies…so how do we know what’s safe?
Cribs: Like many first time parents, our children got “hand me down” cribs. We had no idea what brand they were…it was just a crib. Now there are lists of cribs that have been recalled due to safety issues. It is a good idea to visually inspect any hand me downs for obvious safety concerns and to try to find the manufacturer so you know if it has been recalled.
Pillows: Infants don’t need pillows. In fact, pillows can be dangerous to an infant, especially if the baby can’t roll over or push up yet. An introduction to pillows should wait until the baby is moved from crib to a regular bed. If you strongly feel the need to provide a pillow, use a very small, flat, firm one. It should be about the size of an airplane pillow. Make sure it isn’t a feather pillow. They are too soft and the feathers can create allergy situations.
Bumpers: Yes, the bumpers make the crib look nice and protects a child’s head from the hard railings. However, bumpers can pose the same risks pillows cause: suffocation. Until they can roll around the crib by themselves, a baby is unlikely to be at risk for head bumping.
Blankets: One word: don’t. In fact, I can tell you from experience that it is nearly impossible to keep a baby covered up by a blanket for at least the first 16 months. Sleepers, sleep sacks and other clothing can keep the baby warm without creating a suffocation risk. Once the child is old enough to move away from the blanket or push it aside, you can try. However, be prepared for it not to stay put very long.
Window Dressings: You may wonder why this is in a crib safety article. Cribs that are close to window dressings can be hazardous. The cord shouldn’t be tied or looped together and horizontal blinds should be avoided. Also make sure that a curtain can’t be pulled into the crib.
Bare is Best: This is something a lot of websites that offer instructions on baby safety say. The only thing in the crib should be the baby. If you’re worried about cold, clothing is the way to go. You will also find the safety websites say “back to sleep.” The safest position for an infant to be in while sleeping is on the back.