Nursery safety

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.


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 US: 

  • 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 there are no missing, loose or cracked slats.
  • 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.
  • Check the crib often to make sure the hardware is secured tightly, and that there are no loose, missing or broken parts. Make sure the locks and latches are secure and do not slip.
  • Do not use the drop-down rail.
  • 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.
  • check the CPSC crib recall list (

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


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

  • If you are breastfeeding, wait to introduce a pacifier until breastfeeding is well-established (after 3 to 4 weeks).
  • Pacifiers come in different sizes. Start with one that is a newborn or infant size.
  • Choose a style that is one piece. That way the nipple won't separate from the shield.
  • 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 their 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.
  • 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, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5, sixth edition, ped-ah-91554
First Published: 02/01/2010
Last Reviewed: 11/16/2022