In the Crib, Less Is More

When it comes to sleep safety for your baby, less is more. It can be tempting to fill baby’s cribs with a legion of cute stuffed bears, bunnies, and puppies, but more and more child safety experts are advocating for an empty crib for your baby. This means no stuffed critters, no ribbons and bows, no bumpers, no pillows and even no blankets (except for the one baby is swaddled in).

It may seem a bit counterintuitive to keep things like stuffed animals out of a baby’s crib. It’s a natural tendency to want to give your baby something to look at or to play with. The problem with having these things in the crib, however, is that they present a choking hazard. Positional asphyxiation, which is the technical term for a baby having her mouth and nose covered by something soft which prevents her from breathing, is one of the leading causes of death amongst infants.

Experts disagree on what age babies can start having stuffed toys or blankets in their cribs. Some suggest it is OK when babies can turn over in either direction, while others suggest that you should not put anything in the crib with your baby until she is at least 18 months old. While we don’t claim to have a definitive answer on this, we would suggest erring to the side of caution. If you do let your older baby fall asleep with a stuffed animal, move it away from her face after she falls asleep.

One of the worst things you can put in your baby’s crib is a sleep positioner. Sleep positioners became popular in the 1990s, and were used to prop a sleeping baby onto her side, lifting the head slightly. The idea was that this was a safer sleeping position.

Of course, we have since discovered that the safest way for babies to sleep is on their backs. The sleep position, which was generally used for infants, often fails to keep babies on their sides. Many babies end up flipping over onto their stomachs, putting them at a greater risk for SIDS. It is believed that baby positioners have been responsible for 13 cases of SIDS.

If you are concerned baby may not be warm enough, consider putting her in warmer pajamas with footies or using a wearable blanket. Be careful not to overheat your baby, though. Babies only need one more thin layer than you do to keep adequately warm.