If you have a newborn or infant in the house, chances are the only time they’re ever left alone is while they sleep in their bedroom. Make sure your crib and nursery are completely free from hazards and dangers before you put your baby to sleep by removing these danger zones.
Buy the right crib. It’s almost always worth purchasing a new crib for your child to ensure that it’s safe and undamaged. Old, hand-me-down cribs might have sentimental value, but they may not have been built according to modern safety regulations. To determine if your crib is safe, make sure that the space between the crib slats is no larger than 2-3/8 inches and the corner posts do not extend higher than 1/16 inch above the end panels.
Assemble the crib correctly. A lot of cribs require some assembly. Be sure to follow the instructions to a tee. Also tighten all the hardware twice and make sure there are no sharp edges poking out anywhere that your baby’s clothing could get snagged on. It’s also important to make sure that the mattress fits snugly inside the crib so that your baby can’t get trapped between the mattress and the crib slats.
Mobiles and toys. Make sure that any mobiles you hang above your crib are out of reach and tightly secured. They’re to be seen and not touched! Once your child is capable of getting up on his or her hands, it’s time to remove your mobile – it’s a choking hazard! It’s also best to keep pillows, quilts, comforters and toys out of the crib except during supervised playtime because they’re potential choking hazards as well. If you do want to give them a blanket while they sleep, make sure it’s extremely lightweight.
Sleep position. Doctors recommend that you place your baby on their back when putting them to sleep. Since pediatricians first started suggesting this in 1992, incidents of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome have dropped by more than 50 percent!
Bedding. Once a week, wash your baby’s bedding in hot water (over 130 degrees F). A typical mattress can harbor between 100,000 to 10 million dust mites, which are a common cause of eye irritation and allergies in infants.
Changing table. Your changing table is going to get a lot of use, so be sure to get a good one! A few important elements are: a low level guardrail, a waterproof pad and a safety strap to secure around your baby’s middle to keep them in place when you reach for changing supplies. Also, be sure to set your changing table up in an area where there aren’t any drapes or blind cords within reach.
Nightlights If you use a nightlight, make sure it’s a cool-burning nightlight, which doesn’t get hot and won’t create a fire hazard. Even if you have a cool-burning nightlight, make sure that it isn’t touching any bedding or draperies that could ignite.
Wall color. Babies can’t detect complex patterns and details until they’re about nine months old, so if you’re not partial to ornate patterns, it’s best to choose simple, high-contrast colors like black and white because they’re more soothing (be sure to avoid yellow, which can make babies cry). Another great option is to choose a pattern with two large dots and a curve within a circle, which soothes babies because it reminds them of a smiling human face.
Radon. If you haven’t done so in the past year or so, it’s also a good idea to check the radon levels in your house to make sure they aren’t hazardous.