Bringing Baby Home

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8 Crucial Ways to make Baby’s Room Safe

I know that, for me, one of the most fun aspects of being pregnant was planning my baby’s nursery. My friends had created beautiful rooms with plush cribs with matching bumpers and blankets and teddy bears…

But stop right there. Ann Marie Buerkle, the acting chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission Safety Commission tells new parents, “Bare is best,” when it comes to your baby’s nursery, “That means no pillow, blankets, extra padding or other soft bedding. Nearly half of the infant crib deaths …reported to the CPSC each year are suffocations cause by placing infants to sleep on top of pillows, thick quilts and/or overcrowding in the baby’s sleeping space.”

Her warning brings to mind a woman I worked with who placed her newborn boy on top of a soft fake-fur blanket to nap, only to find when she checked on him later that he had stopped breathing. Rescuers could not resuscitate her baby, a tragic mistake that she would never recover from.

So how do you create a safe nursery?

Make Sure the crib was made AFTER June 2011

Cribs are responsible for more infant deaths than from any other nursery product, so consider this the most important purchase you will make for your baby. New safety standards that got rid of the drop-down sides and improved slats became mandatory in 2011. Back then, over 12,200 children were taken to emergency rooms with crib related injuries. But in 2015, only three cribs recalls were made, a stunning and welcome decrease in accidents.

Make sure there are NO gaps in the mattress pad

It must fit snugly in the crib. If you can fit two fingers in between the mattress and the crib, then it could be a danger to your baby, who could become stuck in between the two. Remember: your baby will begin to move and roll over before you realize. Also look for a crib mattress certified by the nonprofit CertiPUR-US, which means it is made without harmful chemicals and has low emissions.

Do not put anything in the crib

Don’t put in stuffed animals (even if they are really, really cute). The only thing that goes into the crib is a fitted sheet and your baby. Consider using a sleeper instead of a blanket for colder weather. If you do choose a blanket, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends you put your baby with her feet to foot of the crib, then tuck a thin blanket around the crib mattress, covering baby only as high as her chest.

And those cute bumpers you see in ads in new parent magazines? The American Academy of Pediatrics advise you forgo them, warning there is a potential for suffocation or entrapment, and no evidence that they protect babies at all.

Always put your baby to bed on his/her back

Keep your baby far from windows, cords, or blinds.

Every year, children fall to their deaths through window screens. The CPSC recommends installing window guards and/or window stops to prevent falls. The government estimates a child was strangled by window blind cords every two weeks in the United States. You can buy cordless blinds for as little as $3, a cheap and worthwhile investment. Consider using cordless blinds for your entire home.

And then there are the cords from baby monitors or white noise machines, lamps and other things – make sure they are at least three feet from baby’s crib. And once your baby begins to crawl, consider tucking cords away under a rug or in a cord box.

Put artwork and mobiles where they belong – away from baby

As soon as your baby can get up, usually around 5 months, it’s time to remove the mobile or any hanging artwork from the wall of the crib, and that includes glass encased pictures from the wall near the crib and the changing table.

Lessen the chemical load on your baby

It’s tough to protect your baby from every chemical, but you don’t have to expose her to any more than necessary. If you’re going to paint your baby’s room, find a formula that offers low-VOC, all major paint brands have them. Be sure to complete painting projects and air out your nursery long before you bring your baby home.

Look for carpeting, rugs and pads that emit low levels of organic compounds. Some rugs and carpets emit levels of volatile organic compounds that can cause eye, nose and throat irritation. Look for Greenguard, which is part of testing organization UL, certifies products that have low emissions and look for the Carpet and Rug Institute’s

“Green Label Plus.”

Make sure furniture can’t tip over

This is such a tragic, and easily avoided, risk. Furniture makers are not required to ensure their products won’t tip over on toddlers who are looking to climb. It’s vital that you anchor top-heavy furniture to the wall in your child’s room and, really, any room your child will play in. This includes televisions and any piece of furniture taller than 30 inches and this includes toy chests as well.

Install smoke detectors anywhere someone sleeps in your home

If your husband falls asleep watching television, put one in that room. If you fall asleep in the rocker in your baby’s room, put one in there. And you should install a smoke detector outside of every room someone sleeps in as well, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Your best bet is to buy one of those wireless interconnected smoke alarms. That way, if one goes off, they all do. It’s loud, and that’s exactly what you want.

Bringing baby home is one of the momentous moments in any parent, and child’s, life. And yes, you want your baby’s room to be beautiful, but you also want it to be safe. And as every parent soon discovers, safety is most important.

For more information, here are some sites we think are just awesome:

Sign up for Consumer Product Safety Alerts at

National Fire Protection Association

Consumer Reports

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