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Household Safety: Preventing Injuries in the Crib

Your baby will spend a lot of time in the crib, napping during the day and sleeping at night. It's very important to make sure it's always a safe environment. Always place your baby to sleep on his or her back to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Here are other important ways to keep your baby safe:

What to Look for

Check any crib for safety before placing your baby in it — whether it's a new crib or a hand-me-down; at home, in a childcare setting, or at a relative's home.

Make sure that:

  • The slats are no more than 2-3/8 inches (6 centimeters) apart and aren't cracked, loose, splintered, or missing.
  • There are no decorative cutouts on the headboard or footboard in which the baby could become caught.
  • There are no sharp or jagged edges.
  • The sides latch securely.
  • Drop-side latches can't be released by the child.
  • There are no screws sticking out and all screws are accounted for.
  • Tightly attached corner posts are no more than 1/16 inch (1.5 millimeters) high.

Inside the crib, make sure that:

  • The crib sheet snugly fits the mattress (never use an adult sheet).
  • the mattress fits snugly against the sides of the crib and there aren't big gaps between the mattress and the crib.
  • The mattress is kept at its lowest position once your child can stand.
  • The mattress is firm, not soft.
  • Soft toys, comforters, blankets, and pillows (adult pillows, throw pillows, or infant donut pillows) are never kept in the crib.
  • There are no bumpers in the crib.
  • There are no mobiles or toys with strings or ribbons longer than 7 inches (18 centimeters) hanging above the crib.
  • Mobiles are removed when the baby begins to push up on his or hands and knees, or by 5 months, whichever comes first.

Also check that:

  • There are no cords from drapes or window shades that could cause strangulation anywhere near the crib or within the baby's reach.
  • The crib isn't subject to a safety recall.

Be Prepared

If you're expecting a baby or you already have a child, it's a good idea to:

  • Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the Heimlich maneuver.
  • Keep important and emergency phone numbers posted where caregivers can see them and add them to your contacts list in your cellphone. These include the toll-free poison-control number (1-800-222-1222), your doctor's number, parents' work and cellphone numbers, neighbor's or nearby relative's number (if you need someone to watch other children in an emergency).
  • Make a first-aid kit and keep emergency instructions inside. Refill it as needed.
  • Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: February 2019