When you're getting the nursery ready for a new baby, the costs can quickly add up. It's tempting to buy the cheapest crib you can find, to try and cut a few corners. But remember - a good crib may be pricey, but your baby is irreplaceable. It's important to remember, though, that you can't just assume that paying more for a crib will ensure it's safe - keep in mind the following safety tips just to be sure.
Dimensions and Measurements
When you go shopping for a crib, take a tape measure along with you. A couple of things you should check include:
- distance between side slats should be less than 2.38 inches to prevent head entrapment
- top rail should be at least 26 inches above the lowest mattress level
- any decorative cutouts should be less than 2.38 inches but make sure they're big enough not to trap fingers
It's helpful if the crib you choose has an adjustable base so that you can lower the mattress level as your baby becomes more mobile. If your child can pull himself up to the standing position, then the mattress should be at the lowest possible setting. It's also important to measure the crib against the height of your child. Once the top rail is lower than 3/4 of his height, then the crib is too small.
Choosing a Mattress
It's always best to choose a firm mattress. When the mattress is in position, there shouldn't be any gaps between the mattress and the side of the crib. Try to slide two fingers down between them - if you can fit your fingers in between the crib and mattress, the mattress is too small. Avoid using any sort of plastic packaging materials in the crib, which can include mattress covers, packaging or dry cleaning bags. If the bedding becomes dislodged, it's possible the plastic could stick to your baby's face and cause breathing difficulties.
The Right Bedding
Avoid the temptation to buy lots of cute and cuddly bedding. You should never put soft bedding underneath your baby, and it's best to choose blankets that are breathable rather than thick quilts or covers. Babies shouldn't be given a pillow, because of the risk of suffocation. Never place stuffed animals or toys in the crib with your baby. Baby should be placed on his back, feet near the bottom of the crib, with bedding firmly tucked in.
Be very wary of buying old or antique cribs, as it's possible they might have been decorated with lead based paint. If your crib has a drop side, make sure the latch is working properly. You need to take two separate actions to drop the side, or at least have to exert a force of over ten pounds to release the latch. Never place your baby in the crib until you're sure the side is latched properly.
Regularly inspect your baby's crib for any damage or wear, including sharp edges or surfaces. Make sure the crib is positioned well away from windows, curtains or any type of window furnishing cords.
Most of these tips are purely common sense, and you will undoubtedly have already checked for these types of things to ensure your baby's safety. But it never hurts to double check - after all, it's your baby you're protecting.
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