October is SIDS Awareness Month and a very important month here on The Baby Sleep Site™. We will have several articles about SIDS prevention to raise awareness among parents and parents-to-be. We will also have a giveaway! Today, we have a guest post with great tips on nursery safety.
According to SIDS.org, “SIDS is the sudden death of an infant under one year of age which remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation, including performance of a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and review of the clinical history.” (Willinger et al, 1991). This must be one of the most difficult things a person can ever go through. 🙁 This article will cover 5 tips on how to keep your baby’s nursery safe. As the month rolls buy, we will share additional SIDS facts as well.
Five Nursery Safety Tips
A new baby can bring overwhelming joy to new parents. Equally, designing a new nursery should be a fun experience. However, keeping your baby safe is as important as creating a beautiful nursery. Although the task might seem daunting, there are a few easy steps for ensuring a safe environment for your baby.
Place the crib near where you sleep, but avoid sleeping with your newborn. Although being in the same bed might make late night feedings easier, there is the high risk the baby could be smothered or crushed during the night. Additionally, introducing the baby to his or her own crib from the start will be easier than trying to convince baby to use the crib later. (Nicole’s note: If you do want to co-sleep, read more information on Co-sleeping here.)
Consider the area around the crib. As your baby gets older and starts to climb, keep the crib far from windows or other enticing items, since babies have not yet developed the concept of falling and injury. Remove anything hanging nearby, such as curtain cords to avoid the risk of entanglement or choking.
An absolute necessity is to ensure that the entire room is smoke-free even before you bring your baby home. The use of tobacco products around babies has been strongly linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Crib (or Cot) Style
With a plethora of crib styles from which to choose, and the high prices of some of them, you might be tempted to simply use an older crib from your childhood. Many older cribs, though, are potential hazards to your baby. Modern cribs typically do not contain lead paint, whereas antique and aged cribs are more likely to contain this highly toxic material.
Make sure that the crib is sturdy and constructed with relatively high sides and close slats. Older cribs may have gaps in which baby can get stuck, or worse, escape! The American Association of Pediatrics recommends a distance of no more than 2 3/8” between slats on the crib, and the distance from the mattress to the top rail should be at least 26”. The safest style of crib is one where the sides are stationary, avoiding any possibility of your baby falling out of the crib.
Mattresses and Sheets
For a crib mattress, the firmer, the better. A soft mattress makes it difficult to keep the bedding tight and prevent your baby from re-breathing stale air. The mattress should fit snugly against all four sides of the crib with no room for your baby’s limbs to get pinched or trapped. You should not be able to fit more than two fingers between the mattress and the crib.
Sheet sets for your newborn should be constructed with elastic running along the entire fitted sheet. Fitted sheets with this edging, like those in the JoJo Ladybug Crib Bedding Set, provide a secure and safe fit over the mattress making it almost impossible for the baby to pull the sheet off the mattress. Other alternatives include sheets that slip onto the mattress like a pillowcase, while still others attach directly to the mattress. For babies with sensitive skin, use sheets made with 100% organic cotton to avoid any trace of residual pesticides.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, SIDS First Candle Alliance, and Health Canada argue against the use of bumper, saying they increase the risk of smothering, and entanglement. Since many crib sets include bumpers, you need to decide what to do with them.
The first solution is to simply not use the bumper. If you want to use the bumper, make sure that it’s well-constructed, there are 12 – 16 ties on both the top and bottom, the ties are between 7 – 9 inches in length, and there are no gaps or overlaps in the bumper.
Another option is a mesh bumper, like those from BreatheableBaby. This style prevents possible re-breathing of air while keeping limbs safe within the crib.
Finally, a common fear is that babies will hit their heads on the solid rails of the crib. To avoid this, opt for bumpers similar to those produced by Go Mama Go Designs that surround each slat from top to bottom.
At bedtime, always place your newborn on his or her back. Stomach sleeping increases the risk that the baby will breathe stale air though the bunching of material from the sheets. Infants who sleep on their sides or stomachs are at a higher risk of SIDS.
Placing your baby at the bottom of the crib ensures that he or she won’t scoot down further under the covers. A baby sleeping bag or sleeping suit eliminates the need for any sort of covering in the crib. The sleeping suit also prevents covers from being kicked off during the night. Be sure that the crib is free of toys, pillows, and comforters, as well.
Infants cannot regulate their own temperature, so it’s important to create an environment that is warm without being hot. Crib bedding sets in some countries like the UK include a Tog rating to determine how warm your baby will be. Keep in mind that Tog ratings for bedding do not include the Tog rating of bedtime clothing. The recommended Tog total is 8 Togs in a nursery that is 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
About the Author
Alan Riley is the publisher of www.beautifulbeddingsets.com, a site devoted to helping people find the perfect bedding for their needs. This site features a variety of beautiful crib bedding sets, many of which are from the JoJo Designs Crib Bedding Collection. The Riley family lives in leafy Melbourne, which is in the far South East corner of Australia. Alan loves to spend his leisure time out sailing, an activity that is very conducive to sleep by the end of the day! He and his family are also active members of their local church.