Welcoming a newborn into the world can be an exciting yet nervous time. You’ve probably spent months gearing up to the event decorating their new room and buying different baby products. Their baby crib is one of the most important purchases that you’ll make because newborns spend much of their first year sleeping.
Because they spend so much time in their crib you need to make sure that it’s safe as possible especially because when they’re asleep it’s likely they’ll be unsupervised for most of it especially through the night. This is the reason that many parents feel anxious when putting their baby to sleep at night – this feeling is totally normal.
However, this doesn’t have to as worrying as it sounds as there are several precautions you can implement to minimise any potential risks.
We’ve outlined the main steps you can take which will put your mind at ease which will mean that both you and your baby can get quality sleep.
Confirm That Spacing Requirements Are Correct
Cribs have slats which prevent your baby from rolling out of the crib so it’s important to sure that they are correctly in place when you construct it. They should fit securely in place with the spacing between the slats being a maximum of 2.375 inches in width which will prevent a baby’s head or baby becoming trapped in between.
The other spacing guidelines you need to be aware of is the gap between the mattress and crib. You need to buy a mattress that fits the crib so that the gap between is a small as possible.
A simple test you can do is seeing how many fingers you can squeeze between the crib and mattress. You shouldn’t be able to fit more than one finger, because if the gaps too large then the baby can get their body parts trapped between the crib wall and the mattress.
Keep Cot Clear
The crib should be as clear as possible whilst they are in it. Refrain from putting any crib bumpers, loose bedding, toys or other soft objects in with them as well because this can be a suffocation risk especially if they are under the age of 12 months because their face can be easily covered with no way for them to easily remove it.
As adults, we find it difficult to sleep without having a pillow, but babies are perfectly fine. Their small bodies are built differently and are the safest sleeping on their backs without using a pillow.
Ensure It Meets Safety Standards
To ensure your baby is as safe as possible while in their cot, check that it meets the British Safety Standards BS EN 716:2008.
You should avoid second-hand cots because they may have been made before these safety regulations came into place. If these codes aren’t visible on your product then you need to avoid it and keep shopping for an alternative.
The chemicals used to produce your cot products is also important and you should avoid any toxic chemicals. The best way to ensure this is by using organic products. Older cribs may be more toxic such as containing lead in the paint surfaces.
This feature allows you to adjust the height of the cot as your baby grows. This is important because it means you can keep them secure even when they can begin to stand up without assistance.
The distance between the top of the mattress and the top of the cot sides should be a minimum of 50cm. This will stop your baby from being able to climb out which poses another safety hazard.
The surface that your baby is sleeping on is incredibly important, especially in their cot. Their mattress needs to be firm and flat which provides enough support for their young bodies.
If the mattress is too soft then this can cause pain due to not enough support. It can also cause gaps between the mattress and the cot perimeter that the babies body parts can get stuck in.
Ideally, the mattress surface should have a waterproof cover which will help keep it clean and dry whilst also making it easy to clean if any accidents happen. It’s important that the mattress fits the bed and each child you have should get a new mattress.
A second-hand mattress can be ill-fitting and may have significant levels of bacteria, dust mites or bed bugs. Generally speaking, a second-hand mattress will also be less comfortable than a brand new mattress.
Ensure They Have Their Own Crib
Bed sharing is when babies and parents sleep together in the same bed and should be avoided. Bed sharing is one of the most common causes of death in babies who are under the age of three months. If you want to be close to your baby whilst they sleep then keep your baby’s crib in your bedroom close to your bed.
The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics ) recommends that you should sleep in the same room as your baby but not in the same bed within at least the first 6 months of their life, but ideally for the opening year of their life.
Bed sharing also poses another problem that your baby may develop an attachment whereas they grow through their toddler phase that they may find it hard to sleep alone without sleeping next to their parent.
Twins can share a regular sized cot for the first few weeks of their life and you should position their heads at either end of the cot. If they use bedding then they should have their own individual set, but this set up can’t last too long because when they reach around four months of age they begin to roll more frequently it’s recommended by the Lullaby trust that they get separated into different beds.
Complete Repairs Quickly
Cribs are no different from any other consumer product that you buy from a retailer and develop faults or defects. If any parts of the cot stop working or become faulty then always stop using it immediately and return it to the manufacturer or retailer to organise a repair or replacement.
At no point, should you attempt to fix or repair the cot yourself as this can increase the damage to other safety features and components and you may not even realise because they may be internal features.
When you buy your cot, you should aim to purchase it from a reputable manufacturer that offers a warranty or repair service. If you’re in a position where the manufacturer refuses to repair it, then you should dispose of it and purchase a replacement.
We know it can be tempting to continue to use it, even if you feel that it’s only a small defect, but this can cause a serious sleeping hazard for your baby especially if it faults develops over time.
At the end of the day, a crib is going to have a human being in it so it needs to be sturdy and be able to bear the weight of a small baby. For this reason, it’s often better to purchase your crib in store because this means you can see it in its assembled state and test how sturdy it is.
Obviously, you don’t have to use all your strength because it’s designed for a baby but if you shake or push the bars and frame then it should feel solid and sturdy. If when you do this, the crib feels flimsy and loose then it may be for a number of reasons: it’s either poor quality, assembled incorrectly or may just have an unsafe design.
Your crib needs to be sturdy enough that your newborn can move around in their sleep without the potential danger of it collapsing.
Consider Age Of Goods
It’s normal that when you announce you’re expecting a new arrival that your friends and family will start donating different goods to you that were used by their own children from clothes and shoes to cribs and mattresses.
Although these donations can be meant in the kindest way, it may not be the safest option for your baby. Old cribs can have worn components which can make them more susceptible to collapsing or breaking even whilst your baby is sleeping in it.
If the crib is an old heirloom or has been around for generations then it may contain toxic chemicals and substances such as lead-based paint or toxic wood varnish which can cause respiratory issues and other problems for your baby.
This is because older products often don’t adhere to the current safety standards which have been drastically improved over the years.
If you do have a crib that is an heirloom and sentimental purposes, then it may be best to keep it for ornamental reasons only.
Remove Unnecessary Decorative Features
You may be designed conscious and want your babies products to look as nice as possible but it’s important to prioritise functionality over aesthetic looks. If your crib has decorative openings, then these can pose a safety hazard and cause your baby’s head to get trapped causing distress.
If your crib does have decorative elements such as patterns, then you need to ensure that these parts can’t easily break off because this can be a serious choking hazard. It’s a similar risk that threads and ribbons can pose, although they look nice these can cause strangulation if your baby moves in the wrong direction throughout the night.
There are still many other parts of your baby’s room that you can decorate other than their cribs such as the walls and other pieces of furniture. By not decorating the crib this will not take away from the overall look of the room that you’re aiming for.
Where you position the crib often varies from family to family. Some parents choose to have the crib in their master bedroom which means that through the night they don’t have to travels far to tend to them if they wake during the night. It also means that you’re closer to your baby to be alerted if anything goes wrong throughout the night.
A 2013 study, funded by The Lullaby Trust, revealed that 75% of babies who died of SIDS during the day time were sleeping in a room on their own.
Others prefer to create a separate room for their baby to sleep from birth. There is no right or wrong way because it’s whatever works for your individual preferences.
It’s important to ensure that you position the crib away from any windows because the curtains and blind cords can create a choking hazard. In addition, they can also create a way for your baby to stand up and attempt to climb out of the crib which is another serious safety hazard.
You should also keep heaters and other electrical appliances away from the cot as these bring the risk of burns, electrocution or overheating.
Check For Missing Or Incomplete Parts
We live in a world where most furniture and goods come in a flat pack form where we must construct the products ourselves once we get them home. This can pose an added safety risk if you aren’t experienced in assembling these types of products.
It’s important that you first check that all the parts that are in the inventory manual are present in the packaging.
You need to ensure that you follow the instructions line by line so it’s constructed correctly and that you use all the parts that the instructions say to use. If there are any parts missing, don’t try and make your own solutions.
Instead, you need to return it to the retailer or manufacturer for a replacement. It may seem like one screw being missing won’t make a difference, but even this can cause structural deficiencies which can lead to the crib collapsing.
Whether you’re still preparing to welcome your newborn, or they’re already here then safety needs to be one of your main priorities. This is especially important with their cot because of the huge amounts of time they’ll spend sleeping in it so it’s worth the effort and time to make sure it’s as safe as possible.