The most important job for parents is to keep their child safe from harm. Because newborns will spend most of their time sleeping, parents need to make sure the nursery is a safe place. Following a few tips can help keep babies healthy and happy.
- Use a crib manufactured after 2011, which is when safety standards were changed, to make sure you are using the safest model.
- Use a firm mattress that is the correct size for the crib. There should be no gaps.
- If you can fit 2 fingers between the mattress and the side of the crib, it is too loose.
- Cover the mattress with a snug-fitting crib sheet.
- The slats of the crib should be no more than 2 and 3/8 inches apart. A baby’s head could get trapped between widely spaced slats.
- Do not place pillows, blankets, bumper pads or stuffed toys in the crib with the baby. Use sleepers or sleep sacks instead of blankets.
- Remove any hanging toys or mobiles when the baby is able to get up on all fours (usually around 5 months of age).
- Never use a crib with loose or missing pieces.
Portable Cribs and Playpens
- Use a playpen manufactured after 2000, which is when the last safety updates were issued.
- Never leave the side of a mesh playpen down. A baby could become trapped and suffocate in the mesh.
- Once a baby can pull himself up to standing, keep large toys out of the playpen. He might try to use these items as steps.
- Remove all toys and stuffed animals before putting a baby down to sleep.
- Always use the changing table’s safety belt to help prevent your baby from falling.
- Keep at least one hand on the baby at all times, even when using the safety belt.
- Never leave a baby on the changing table unsupervised.
Before bringing nursery products into your home
There are some things families can do to help keep their children safer before even bringing nursery products into their home. We recommend that parents and caregivers follow the 4 Rs - do your research, check for recalls, register the products, and read the manual.
- Do your research: Before bringing a new nursery product into the home, go online and look at information from a trusted organization for what types of products are both useful and safe for your baby. They will have the newest research and the most up-to-date recommendations. Here are a few resources we recommend:
- Check for recalls: Go to www.recalls.gov and search the products you’re considering bringing into your home to see if they have been recalled. While you are there, sign up to receive alerts about future recalls. There is a new recall for a nursery product about every two weeks in the U.S., and up to 80% of recalled children’s products remain in homes following a recall.
- Register your product: When you bring a new product into your home, make sure to register your purchase with the manufacturer. This will ensure you’re notified if the product is recalled. There’s usually a postcard that comes with the product or the packaging might direct you to complete a form on the manufacturer’s website. If you lost the postcard or never registered the product, find links to register many nursery products here: http://www.kidsindanger.org/productregistration.
- Read the manual: Take a few minutes to read the manual before you use it so you can learn how the product works, when to lock it, when to buckle, where to use it, and where not to use it. You also want to confirm that the product is the right one for your child’s age and size.
Nursery Safety Tips
- Cover all electrical outlets with safety covers.
- Place cribs and other nursery furniture away from windows.
- Keep cords from blinds and draperies out of reach. If possible, use cordless window treatments.
- Never place a baby to sleep on a soft surface, such as a waterbed, sofa, soft mattress or pillow. Babies should sleep on their backs on a firm mattress.
- Keep powders and other products out of the baby’s reach.
- Use caution when using secondhand nursery furniture. It may have been recalled or may be missing parts or instructions.
- Check for crib and furniture recalls at www.recalls.gov.
Additional Nursery Safety Information
- A Guide for New Parents - Getting Your Home Ready for Baby (PDF download)
- Crib Safety
- Toy Safety Guide
- Baby Carriers
- Car Seats and Child Passenger Safety
- High Chair and Chair-related Injuries
- PubMed Abstract: Nursery Product-Related Injuries Treated in United States Emergency Departments – March 2017
- Press Release: Nursery Product-Related Injuries on the Rise Among Young Children - March 13, 2017
- Blog: Nursery Product Injuries - What Families Need to Know - March 2017