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Crib Safety

By Michael G. Dawson, M.D.

Crib Safety image

Parents want their child to be safe at all times, especially while sleeping. Each year, nearly 9,000 crib-related accidents are reported in the U.S. Tragically, another 50 crib-related accidents result in the death of an infant.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) enumerates specific regulations that manufacturers of cribs must meet. While these standards have helped to prevent many crib-related accidents and deaths, thousands of infants are still hurt each year. You can reduce your child’s risk of a crib-related accident or death from occurring by following the safety standards set by the CPSC.

Crib Preparation

  • The mattress is firm and tight fitting so that baby cannot get trapped between the mattress and the crib. If you can fit more than two fingers between the mattress and the side rails, the mattress is too small.
  • There are no missing, loose, broken or improperly installed screws, brackets or other hardware on the crib or mattress support.
  • Crib slats are no more than 2 3/8 inches apart (about the width of a soda can) and that there are no missing or cracked slats that might allow a baby's body to fit between them.
  • The corner posts are the same height as the end panels or not more than 1/16th of an inch higher so baby's clothing cannot catch.
  • There are no cutouts in the headboard or footboard that could trap baby’s head.

Crib Safety Measures

  • Do not place a crib near a window. Drapery cords pose a strangulation risk and screens cannot keep a climbing toddler from falling out of an open window.
  • Avoid placing large toys or pillows in a crib. They can boost a toddler up enough to climb out of the crib.
  • Never place cushions, quilts or comforters in the crib. Such items can cause a child to suffocate.
  • Use only a fitted sheet specifically made for crib use. Never use a plastic bag as a mattress cover. The plastic film can suffocate a child.
  • Remove mobiles and crib gyms from the crib once baby reaches 5 months.
  • Once baby can sit without help, lower the floor of the crib.
  • Once baby is able to stand, lower the floor of the crib to its lowest position and remove anything that might aid in climbing out.

Around two years of age (or when your child reaches 32 to 35 inches) transition your child to toddler bed. A crib is not designed to hold a child over age two or to withstand his or her activity level.​​