My mother thinks I should put crib bumpers in my baby’s crib so he doesn’t hit his head on the wooden slats and hurt himself. Is she right? Answer:
While using crib bumpers was once the prevailing wisdom, that’s no longer the case. It turns out that safety guidelines for snoozing infants have changed a lot over the years. For example, we now know that rather than protecting children, crib bumpers actually put them at risk.
To keep your sleeping baby safe from suffocation, strangulation, and entrapment, remember the following:
- Always put your baby to sleep on his back.
- Choose a firm, tight-fitting mattress. There should be no gaps between the mattress and the sides of the crib.
- Keep your baby’s crib free of clutter. That means no pillows, stuffed toys, positioning devices, quilts, or comforters — and no crib bumpers. Consider dressing your little one in a sleeper and skipping the blanket.
- Make sure any hanging crib toys are out of your baby’s reach and are not in danger of falling. If your baby has started pushing himself up on his hands and knees, or if he is 5 months or older, remove hanging toys completely.
- Keep cords away from your baby’s crib. You may need to move his crib away from window coverings that open and close with cords. Also keep baby monitors with cords out of reach from your snoozing infant.
- Inspect the crib regularly to make sure all its parts are in good shape and nothing has broken, come loose, or separated. Check for splintered wood and cracked or peeling paint. Make a point of tightening hardware.
- If the crib has a drop-side rail, consider replacing it, as these types of cribs were banned in 2011. If replacing it is not an option, contact the store or manufacturer to see if you can get free hardware to immobilize the side that drops.
- Avoid cribs with openings in which your baby could get stuck. This includes crib slats that are more than 2 3/8 inches apart and end panels with decorative cutouts.
If you’ve been dreaming of fluffy or frilly nursery décor, don’t worry: When your child is older, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to lay out the cute pillows and stuffed animals on his big-boy bed. In the meantime, sit back and watch your baby dream, safe and snug in his crib, secure in the knowledge that you’re doing everything you can for your baby’s safety.