Keep your child safe with these tips on crib safety.
WORDS CHERYLENE RENEE
Your first baby is almost here, and you’re busy preparing for his arrival. You’ll need to stock up on baby clothes, accessories, bottles, pacifiers, teething toys, strollers… the list seems endless! But there is one item that is crucial to your baby’s safety and development in his early years – his first crib. There are many types of cribs and cradles on the market, but there are quite a few factors that you should scrutinise carefully before making your decision. What are the structural attributes you should consider when choosing your baby’s crib, and what features should it have to make sleep time safe for your little one? Motherhood goes through everything you need to know about picking the right crib for your little bundle of joy.
Buying Your Baby’s First Crib
Do your homework
Before you head out to shop for a crib, do a little bit of homework first. Check out the size of your new nursery, and measure the dimensions of the spot in which the crib will be placed. Keep in mind these dimensions when shopping for the crib – it should fit comfortably in this spot, with enough room for you to manoeuvre around it. Next, measure the width of the room’s door and your front door. Don’t neglect this step, or you might end up with a crib that can’t even fit through your front door! Pack a measuring tape in your bag before you go shopping – this is perfectly okay, and in fact, imperative in your process of crib selection. This allows you to select a crib that is of the correct size for your home and the nursery.
The crib should ideally be one that grows with your baby. Some cribs can be converted into toddler beds and can be used even until your baby is a kindergartener or preschooler. Cribs like these are a tad more expensive, but a good investment in the long run.
Safety First for Your Baby
First off, the height of the crib should be easily adjustable – this allows you to raise or lower the mattress wherever necessary. You will likely use the crib at its highest height when your baby first arrives so that you can carry your little one in and out without causing too much strain to your back.
By the time your baby is able to sit up and stand on his own, the height of the crib should be lowered accordingly for his safety. This will keep your baby from tiptoeing over the edge, falling over, and hurting himself.
Cribs may also either have stationary sides or drop sides; the former requires you to bend over and reach into the cot to pick your baby up, whilst the latter slides down, allowing you to quickly carry your baby. Drop sides are that much more convenient but also present a potential safety risk for your little one, who might accidentally push the sides down during playtime.
You may be considering cribs of certain hues to match the colour scheme or theme of your new nursery. When selecting a crib, however, be careful to check that the paint on the crib (if any) does not contain any lead or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – these can prove toxic to infants. If you’re purchasing a pre-loved crib from the second-hand market, check for any peeling or cracked paintwork – these should be stripped and refinished with high-quality, lead-free, and non-toxic paint.
Wood, steel, or even plastic are often used when manufacturing baby cribs, but the most important factor to consider when shopping for a crib is its durability. While you’re inspecting a crib that you think could potentially be a good fit for your nursery, nudge it a little to see if it wobbles or rattles. If it does, then cross it off your shortlist, and hunt for a sturdier one instead. A crib should be stable, and should not tremble or sway easily.
A safe crib should have its bolts, screws, and joints tightly and securely fastened. All surfaces must not possess any rough patches, jagged edges, or any tiny gaps that could pinch your fragile baby, and should also be free from any forms of cracks, splits, or splinters.
Most cribs come with a tailored baby mattress that fits the crib’s dimensions perfectly. Check that there is no more than two fingers’ worth of excess space between the mattress and crib bars – any more than this and your baby could get stuck and injure his limbs. The bedding should also be
firm and sturdy; studies have shown that extra soft bedding (which you might think would make your infant more comfortable) can actually increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Assembling the Crib
If the crib you’ve purchased needs to be assembled at home, make sure you follow the instructions to a T. Once you’re done, try shaking the frame as well to make sure that it does not jiggle unsteadily – any signs of a wobble show that the crib was not properly put together. Once the bed frame is properly assembled, it’s time to place the crib in its spot in your new nursery. Make sure that your crib is located a safe distance away from any dangling objects, like curtains, blinds, or wiring, so that you eliminate any risk of your baby becoming entangled.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises that an infant’s cot should have only two things within it – a firm mattress, and a fitted crib sheet, and nothing more. Experts recommend not placing any blankets, pillows, or plushies in the crib either. Your baby has little muscle control at his tender age, and these items are potential suffocation hazards as he rolls over and around the crib. Use warmer pyjamas while your baby is in the crib instead of bulky blankets if you are concerned about him getting cold. You may also line the crib with bumper pads, but do remove them once your little one has learned how to stand up on his own. At the right angle, these bumper pads can be utilised as a step, and your little one could climb (and fall) out of the crib. To calm or entertain your baby while he’s in the crib, you can consider hanging a mobile above the crib as well – as long as the accessory is out of reach from your infant’s curious hands.