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The safety rules for baby sleepwear and for baby furniture are always changing. The design of cribs and playpens and lots of other baby furniture has become much more aware of safety, especially after so many babies have died over the years of SIDS. It is now known that babies are at risk when sleeping on their tummies and when they become entangled in clothing or blankets. Let’s take a look at the newest thinking in safety for our precious little ones. For further information you can go to the website of the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission.)or see BSEN716 in the UK.

The Crib Itself should be purchased new. Although it may be tempting to use an antique passed down through the family, or buy a used crib to save money, most experts agree that this one item should be new. The design of new cribs follows stringent laws in terms of measurements of space between slats, simple design devoid of gaps, holes, splinters on wood, loose screws, or even too much space for a standard baby mattress. Another issue is the possibility of lead-based paint on an older crib. Be safe and buy a new one and keep your ears open for any crib recalls.

Slats on new cribs may not be more than 2 3/8” apart to prevent baby’s head from getting stuck. Older cribs often have larger spaces than that. While some suggest weaving a bumper pad between the slats to prevent bumps and reduce the gaps between slats, most experts stay firm on the current guideline.

Toys and Décor is one area where parents may want to “fudge” on the rules. Aunt Mildred sent a lovely comforter that has to be used, or you can’t resist following a theme for the nursery that includes matching bedding. Here are the rules. Baby should be put into the bottom of the crib on his or her back for safe breathing. If a blanket is used it should be snugly wrapped around the baby and go no higher than its chest. There should be no toys or stuffed animals in the crib to prevent suffocation. There should not be any hanging objects above baby when he or she is old enough to reach them and possibly become entangled in them. As hard as it is to follow these rules, it is best for baby. Those lovely quilts, comforters and the like may be used as wall hangings or made into draperies but should not be covering baby.

Bedding, likewise should be simple. There should be a fitted bottom sheet and no top sheet. The sheet should fit snugly. There should be a mattress made to fit exactly into the crib space. If two fingers can be put in between crib and mattress, the mattress is too small for safe sleeping. There should not be a pillow or a sleep positioned in the crib. Crib bumpers are not recommended as they have been linked to some infant deaths.

For some, these rules seem to be overly cautious. However, it has been documented that babies have suffocated in many cases because of improper bedding which causes them to be oxygen deprived resulting in death. In addition babies are easily overheated and often need little more than their sleeper or pajamas to keep them warm while they sleep. It goes without saying that older cribs can have loose screws, splinters and other safety concerns. Remember that the crib is the one place we leave babies unattended so it has to provide a completely safe environment.