“Goodnight, Sleep Tight”… Or… “Goodnight, Sleep Safe”

Decorating the nursery is one of the most exciting things you can do while waiting for your baby to arrive. But beware, just because something appears to be colorful and attractive, it doesn’t mean it is completely safe for your baby. While aesthetics are important, safety is even more important when a baby is involved. Consider these ideas to create a safe and beautiful sleeping environment for your baby.

The right crib for a safe sleep…
It is better to buy a modern crib that is certified to current safety standards than risk your baby’s health in an old crib. Older cribs often have problems such as toxic lead paint, gaps that can entrap a baby, and low sides that and older baby may be able to climb over. Also of importance is there should be no gaps between the edges of the crib and the mattress, so that baby’s head and limbs are safe from being caught in these gaps.

Where to keep the crib?
Avoid placing the crib near windows or furniture that may encourage your baby to try to climb out of the crib and suffer a serious fall. Similarly, dangling items such as curtain draw cords have resulted in accidental strangulation, so do not place the crib within reach of such hazards.

No co-sleeping?
Many mothers like to sleep in the same bed as their baby. While this makes night time feeds easier, it can result in accidental crushing or suffocating your baby when you move in your sleep. Moreover, once the baby is used to co-sleeping, it will get more difficult to make him/her sleep in a separate bed later on. Instead, place your baby in a crib that is close to you, but separate from your own bed.

Thank you for not smoking…
Tobacco smoke has been shown to be a major factor in the incidence of SIDS deaths. Therefore, make sure no one smokes anywhere near your baby’s sleeping area.

Laying the baby as you whisper a lullaby…
Research has shown that babies put to sleep on their sides or tummy have an increased risk of SIDS. Therefore it is important to lay baby down on his/her back to sleep.

Another leading cause in the incidence of SIDS is covering of baby’s face and head, since this can result in suffocation. To ensure the safety, leave all soft toys, comforters, pillows, duvets and blankets out of the crib. For even greater safety avoid using sheets and blankets as coverings and instead use a sleeping bag or sleeping suit. These also have the advantage that baby cannot kick them off while sleeping. If you use blankets and a top sheet, make sure you lay the baby at the foot of the crib so there is little room to wriggle down under the covers.

Sheets, bumpers, and mattresses… Ensuring comfort with safety
That colorful ladybug nursery bedding you have fallen in love with may be attractive, but when you are buying these items, do not only go for the physical appearance. For example, sheets should fit tightly onto the mattress to avoid any danger of suffocation or entanglement should the sheet come loose. This can be achieved by using a fitted sheet with elastic all the way around the perimeter, or buying sheets that slip onto the mattress like a pillowcase. Since babies have soft and sensitive skin, you may consider buying sheets made from organically grown cotton to remove the possibility of exposure to traces of pesticides remaining in the material.

Most bedding manufacturers include a traditional style bumper with their crib bedding sets. However, many organizations such as The American Academy of Pediatrics, SIDS First Candle Alliance, and Health Canada have discourage the use of bumpers due to the risk of suffocation and entanglement. So what should you do with the bumper? There are 4 options:

  • don’t use any bumper at all
  • use a a breathable mesh bumpers instead, like those produced by BreathableBaby
  • use a bumper that surrounds the individual slats, such as those from Go Mama Go designs
  • use a well designed and constructed traditional bumper.

A well designed traditional bumper pad has the following characteristics:

  • it uses 12-16 ties or velcro tabs on both the top and bottom of the bumper to ensure it is securely fastened to the crib.
  • The ties are between 7-9 inches long. If they are longer, they pose a strangulation or choking risk. If they are shorter, they may come undone.
  • there are no overlaps or gaps in the padding once the bumper is installed. Gaps and overlaps increase the risk of baby being entrapped by the padding.
  • The bumper is not made of fluffy pillow like padding. Such bumpers can cause suffocation and re-breathing of air.

Are you sure you’re not overheating the baby?
Infants cannot regulate their own temperature, so it is up to the parents to ensure their baby is not to hot or too cold. Overheating, in particular, has been linked with SIDS. One of the best ways to ensure the correct temperature is to use the tog value of the bedding. Tog is an international measurement standard of thermal effectiveness. As a guide, the recommended tog value in a room at 65 degrees Fahrenheit is 8 togs. Note that the tog value of bedding is the sum of the individual tog values of the layers, including clothing.

Alan Riley publishes BeautifulBeddingSets.com, a web site helping people to find the right bedding for their needs. The site features many baby crib bedding sets including those by top brands such as JoJo bedding. Alan comes from Melbourne, Australia, and loves to spend time out sailing. He and his family are also active members of the local church.

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