Baby Crib Safety - Frequently Asked Questions

The crib is where your baby will spend a lot of their time and you want to be sure they are safe. Below are some of the questions (with the answers) that are asked about crib safety. Topics such as mattress position, how to place your baby in the crib, and general safety standards are discussed, as are other issues. If you need further information you can search the Internet and visit baby furniture stores.

Q. Are there safety standards for baby cribs?

Yes there are some very exact standards for your baby's crib. In 1974 it was made law that cribs should no longer be painted with lead based paint. It was discovered that the ingestion of lead (from any source) could cause learning disabilities and other difficulties in young children. The slats of the crib must be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart, this is to prevent your baby from getting his body or head stuck between the bars causing injury or strangulation. The side bar should be 26 inches above the mattress when it is in its lowest position. If your child is more than an inch taller than the sidebar it is time to move him into a regular bed.

Q. Are there some hazards in my baby's crib that I need to be aware of?

Your mattress must fit snugly in the crib; an ill-fitting mattress could cause your baby to slip between the mattress and the side bar causing suffocation. The mattress height should be able to be adjusted into at least three different levels. When your baby becomes more mobile you will want to put the mattress in the lowest position to prevent your baby from climbing or falling out. The slats should be tight, loose slats could pinch little fingers. Do not put the crib near a window to prevent your baby from possibly falling out or becoming tangled in Venetian blind cords.

Q. What are some historical facts about the crib?

Here is a short chronological time line of crib facts:

1973 - The standard for crib slats was to be no more than 2 3/8th inches apart to prevent your baby from slipping through or getting their head stuck. Also, double latches for drop-down sidebars were to become the norm.

1976 - The standard for cutouts in the crib end panels are presented. The end panels must not have any decorative cutout designs. Children were getting their limbs or heads caught causing serious injury or death.

1978 - Cribs must now be painted with non-toxic finish.

1981 - Two models of cribs with cutouts are recalled.

1988 - A voluntary standard addresses mattress support hardware, failure of glued or bolted connections, drop-side latch failure and loosened teething rails.

1990 - No corner posts or projections can be more than 1/16th of an inch above the drop-side.

1998 - California and Washington mandate that hotel cribs must meet the same standards set for full-size cribs

1998 - Portable cribs must now meet the same standards as full-sized cribs.

Q. How can I tell when my baby is ready for a regular bed?

When your child stands more than a couple of inches taller than the sidebar with the mattress in the lowest position. If your child is climbing out of the crib, for his safety put him in a regular bed.

Q. How should I put my baby to sleep in his crib?

Place your baby on his back or on his side for sleeping. Use one piece sleepers rather than blankets. Your baby could slip under the blanket and possibly suffocate. Remove all pillows and toys as well, in order to prevent suffocation.

Q. Is it safe to cover my baby with a blanket?

A blanket sleeper will keep your baby sufficiently warm while sleeping. If you absolutely need to use a blanket, tuck it in around the bottom of the mattress. Place your baby with his feet toward the end-panel and the blanket should go no higher than his/her chest.

Q. Is a mesh sided crib safe to use for my baby?

Yes, a mesh crib is safe provided the mesh is less than 1/4 inch in size, smaller than a tiny button on baby's clothes. The should be rips, tears, or loose threads. If staples are used to attach the mesh they must not be exposed and the mesh must be securely attached to the top rail and the floor plate.

Q. Can I safely use bumper pads in my baby's crib?

While bumper pads are not necessary, they can safely be used. They must be very close the edge of the mattress and properly secured. The bumpers must be flat and not puffy, as your baby could get stuck between the bumper and the mattress and suffocate.

Q. What can I do to keep my baby's crib safe?

In order to keep your baby's a safe place, you should make sure to all connections are secure and that there are no broken or missing parts. Regularly, check the teething rail for splits or cracks. Make sure the mattress spring support and your crib will withstand your baby's increasing mobility. The mattress itself should have no splits, tears, or holes.

Q. How can I tell when it's time to lower the mattress?

When your baby becomes more active, when s/he begins to pull himself to a standing position or when he sits up alone it will be time to lower the mattress to prevent your little one from either climbing out or falling out.

Q. Can I hang a mobile over my baby's crib?

Mobiles and crib gyms can be used to entertain your baby but when your child is able to get on to their hands and knees or pull themselves up. This will prevent your baby from becoming entangled in them.

In Conclusion

Making sure your baby's crib is safe, is an ongoing to task. Proper positioning of the mattress, making sure all connections are secure and that there are no loose slats that could pinch little fingers will help to keep your baby's crib a safe place for him to be. Be sure to place him in the crib on his back or side and dress him in a sleeper rather than using a blanket. Keeping these tips in mind will help keep your baby safe and give you some peace of mind.

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