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Nursery safety

  • Plan ahead for your baby's safety. Most accidents happen during times of stress, fatigue or upset in the family routine. When you are tired and rushed, you may more easily overlook dangerous situations.

    Please take a few moments to review the following safety tips. Understanding what you can do for your baby's physical safety now can help prevent an accident later.

    Warning

    Using cribs, playpens, gates and walkers without the most recent safety measures puts your baby's safety at risk.

    Crib

    Your baby's crib is an investment because your baby will be sleeping in it for several years. In 2011, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) required new crib safety standards for all cribs made and sold in the U.S.

    The five requirements are:

    • Drop-side rail cribs can no longer be made or sold.
    • Wood slats must be made of stronger wood.
    • Crib hardware must have anti-loosening devices.
    • Mattress supports must be stronger.
    • Safety testing must be more rigorous.

    If you are using an older crib:

    • Make sure the slats are no more than 2 3/8 inches apart. This is the width of a soda can.
    • Make sure the corner posts are no more than one-sixteenth inch higher than the top of the end panel.
    • Make sure there are no cutout designs in the headboard or foot board.
    • Make sure the mattress is firm and fits snugly in the crib. There shouldn't be a gap between the mattress and the sides of the crib.
    • Make sure that the distance between the top of the crib side rails in the raised position are at least 26 inches above the mattress when it is in the lowest position.
    • Make sure the locks and latches are secure and do not slip.
    • Make sure the crib has no missing or broken hardware.
    • If you refinish a crib made before 1978, remove all the old paint. It may contain lead. Repaint with a high quality, lead-free paint.

    If you have a crib that was made or bought before the improved federal safety standards went into effect on June 28, 2011, the CPSC encourages people to:

    • check the CPSC crib recall list (cpsc.gov)
    • check the crib often to make sure the hardware is secured tightly and that there are no loose, missing or broken parts
    • avoid using the drop-down rail

    Pacifier

    If you are going to use a pacifier, here are some guidelines:

    • Choose a style that is one piece. That way the nipple won't separate from the shield.
    • If you are breastfeeding, wait to introduce a pacifier until breastfeeding is well established (after one month).
    • A silicone nipple lasts longer than a latex one. It also doesn't carry the risk of a latex allergy.
    • To prevent choking, make sure the pacifier is at least 1 ½ inches wide. That way your baby can't suck the pacifier into his mouth.
    • Make sure the shield has vent holes. This allows air to get to your baby's skin and also prevents choking.
    • Avoid nipples that are filled with liquid or gel.
    • Pacifiers come in different sizes. Start with one that is a newborn or infant size.
    • Buy several nipple styles and use the one your baby prefers.
    • Before giving the pacifier to your baby for the first time, boil it for five minutes to sterilize it and remove any chemical residue.
    • Wash a pacifier often in the dishwasher or in warm, soapy water.
    • Check a pacifier often for holes or tears.
    • Never tie a string, cord, yarn or ribbon around your baby's neck to hold the pacifier.

    Changing table

    If you are going to use a changing table, choose one that is wide and sturdy. If you are getting a used one, check it carefully for exposed nails and splinters. Consider buying a new pad if the old one is cracked.

  • Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5 Years Old, fifth edition. To avoid awkward sentences, instead of referring to your child as "he/she" or "him/her," this guide will alternate between "he" or she" and "him" or "her."
    Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts, including the Pediatric Department of Allina Health Coon Rapids Clinic
    First published: 02/01/2010
    Last reviewed: 01/01/2016