Since babies spend many hours per day in their cribs alone and unsupervised, it’s important that a crib meet or exceed current crib safety standards. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, as of June 28, 2011, all cribs manufactured and sold (including resale) must comply with new and improved federal safety standards. The new rules, which apply to full-size and non full-size cribs, prohibit the manufacture or sale of traditional drop-side rail cribs, strengthen crib slats and mattress supports, improve the quality of hardware and require more rigorous testing.
Many families opt to use second hand cribs, either used by other family members or purchased at a thrift store. Since older cribs may not meet current safety standards, it’s important that each crib is evaluated for safety. Older cribs may have lead paint or have drop sides, both which can be a safety risk to children. Cribs should have slats that are no wider than 2 3/8 inches apart. This ensures that a baby’s head cannot become wedged between them. Cribs with decorative cut outs in the head or footboards and higher corner posts should also not be used because of the risk of entrapment.
When choosing a crib mattress it should be firm and there should be no more than one finger’s width between the mattress and the sides of the crib. A fitted sheet should be used and it should tuck well under the sides of the mattress so that the child cannot pull it up.
Loose bedding, blankets and crib bumpers should not be used as they pose a suffocation risk. Blanket sleepers or sleep sacks are a good alternative. Avoid putting toys and other soft objects in the crib as well, as these too can cause suffocation.