How to Choose a Baby Crib

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Babies sleep for at least 16 hours a day. Whether it’s a nap after a good baby massage or through the night, baby’s sleep has to be safe and comforting for both child and parents. This is why choosing a safe baby crib is important.

Crib safety

The most important thing to look at when choosing a baby crib is safety. Most new cribs now follow basic safety standards, but check, just in case. If you are offered a used crib from friends or family, make sure that the crib follows the current safety standards as well.

The slats on the side of the crib must be at most 2 3/8 inches apart—any larger and a baby could get caught in between them, causing injury or even strangulation. Make sure the latches for opening and closing the crib are secure and that your baby cannot accidentally open them. It should be high enough that your baby can’t climb out of it.

Mattress safety

Safe mattresses are an essential part of baby crib safety. Mattresses used to be too loose, causing babies to slip in between the mattress and the crib frame and suffocate. Crib mattresses are now snug and fit, and shouldn’t be more than 6 inches thick.

Foam mattresses are the best choice because they do not contain potentially dangerous coils. Coil mattresses also use much more quickly and tend to be thicker, which means a higher chance of your baby climbing out of the crib. Of course, make sure that the mattress follows the standard fire protection codes.

General characteristics

Good quality cribs have a few things in common. You want a crib that has at least one stabilization bar under the base; two are better. This makes for a sturdier crib. The side railings should also be solid and without jagged edges and corners.

The finish of the crib should be smooth and feel safe for baby’s hands. If it is painted, make sure the paint is lead-free (that’s especially important for older or repainted cribs). Lead can enter your baby’s bloodstream through gnawing and cause brain damage or even death.

For extra safety, think about getting bumper pads to protect the sides between the frame and the mattress. Despite mattresses now fitting snuggly, there’s still a chance for your baby to slide between them. Bumper pads need to be removed as soon as your baby starts using them to pull itself up. Make sure all snaps or tie cords are secure and away from baby’s reach. A soft, washable fabric cover is preferable to the cheap vinyl ones.

There are also rules surrounding the choice of baby bed linen and accessories in the crib. As a rule, avoid pillows (they can smother babies) and heavy comforters (equally smothering). Use a combination of lighter linen and keep baby’s room warmer. Quilts are an especially good choice. Remove any stuffed animals in the crib before sleep and make sure that your baby sleeps on its back.

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