Your baby is going to be spending a lot of her time in her crib, so you want to make it as cozy as possible for her. Babies need a safe place to sleep, and the idea place for your baby to sleep is in her crib.
There is a movement today that encourages parents to have their babies sleep in bed with them. While there are undoubtedly some benefits to such co sleeping, the risk far outweighs them. No only is your mattress likely to be too soft for your baby, but you also face the risk of rolling over on top of your baby or having your baby fall out of bed.
Even a low fall like that is dangerous for infants, and you obviously don’t want to risk rolling over on top of her. The biggest danger to babies sleeping in bed with you, however, actually comes from the mattress itself. Babies sleeping on soft, adult mattresses are believed to be at a greater risk for SIDS.
SIDS, also called crib death, has been reduced significantly in babies, largely because its main causes have been determined and parents have been encouraged to practice safe sleep habits for their babies. These include:
- Having a firm crib mattress.
- Always laying babies down to sleep on their backs.
- Not smoking around baby, especially in the room where baby sleeps.
- Allowing baby to sleep with a pacifier from the time she is one month old until she is 1 year old.
If you have purchased a new crib for your baby, you can be assured that it incorporates the latest safety standards. Of course, you will want to keep your eyes open for any safety recalls, just in case, but generally speaking, new cribs represent the safest option for your baby.
If you do purchase a used crib, especially if you buy an antique, make sure that it meets safety standards. Of course, you’ll want to make sure it doesn’t have lead paint, and you’ll also want to make sure that the slats are no more than 2 3/8” apart. An easy way to tell is to take a twelve ounce soda can and try to pass it through the slats. If the can passes through, the crib slats have too much space between them, and your baby could get hurt. Get a different crib.
Make sure that all sheets fit snugly on the mattress. Babies shouldn’t use pillows until they are ready to move to a toddler bed, generally around age 2. You should also make sure that the mattress itself fits properly into the crib. The mattress should fit tight enough that you can’t fit both hands (when they are flat) between the mattress and the side of the crib.