If you thought picking out a bed for yourself was hard, try selecting one for your baby. There are seemingly endless choices in baby cribs. While aesthetics may be important, the top priority when you consider what to look for in a crib is your baby’s safety. Today we’re sharing the biggest safety features and concerns you should keep in mind as you go crib shopping.
Safety Certification: Crib safety is regulated in the U.S. by the federal government. However, there is an independent organization called the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) that certifies the safety and quality of cribs. Most experts recommend purchasing cribs that are JPMA approved.
Safety Standards: The latest safety standards were issued by the Consumer Products Safety Commission on June 28, 2011. Cribs manufactured before that date may not meet the current safety standards. These include slats that are no wider than 2 3/8 inches due to concerns that your baby may get stuck between them. Additionally, drop-side cribs are now considered a safety hazard and are not approved by government or JPMA standards.
Only Buy New: For most of your baby’s gear you should consider buying gently used items or accepting hand-me-downs. But for cribs, new is best. This is the only way you can be sure of the date of manufacture and the condition of the product.
Check Construction: If you are building the crib yourself, follow the directions implicitly. Your crib should feel extremely sturdy once it is complete and you should not have extra pieces remaining unless they are designated as spare parts. Cribs with stabilizer bars are usually safest. Also, make sure no sharp pieces are exposed such as bolts, nuts, screws, or uneven edges. If you are unsure about your own ability to assemble the crib, hire someone to do it properly.
Keep it Simple: Although they may look nice, decorative knobs, posts and adornments can be dangerous for your baby as they could scratch or cut your tot. Also, clothing may get caught on these features and create a choking hazard.
Adjust the Mattress: Most cribs have adjustable mattress heights that allow you to raise it for younger infants that cannot move much and then lower it later as your baby begins to pull up. Be sure your mattress is at the right height for your baby’s stage. Also, be sure your mattress fits snugly in the crib you select.
Bottom Sheet and Nothing Else: Your baby’s crib should only have a fitted bottom sheet and nothing else. Top sheets, blankets, comforters, bumpers, sleep positioners, toys or any other objects in the crib can be a suffocation risk. Make sure the fitted sheet is the appropriate size for the mattress too.
Crib Placement: Keep your baby’s crib away from dressers, bookshelves and windows. As your baby grows and is able to pull-up, stand and crawl, her adventurous and inquisitive nature may entice her to pull down objects around her or attempt an escape. If your baby does climb out of her crib, it’s time to move to a different bed.
Convertible Cribs: Many families opt for convertible cribs that transition from a regular crib into a toddler bed and sometimes on to a full size bed. This can save money down the road but be sure you like the way it looks once it is converted before committing to a convertible crib.
Stay Informed: Consumer Reports and other online resources can be good references for crib safety guidelines and finding the best value. Do your research on what to look for in a crib. This is a big purchase and one that you’ll have for several years. The safety of your baby is worth the extra time.