Safe Sleep for your Baby
A guide to safe cribs & bedding from The Tot Sleep Expert Lauren Olson
Once you become a parent, you’ll often receive a lot of conflicting advice (sometimes unsolicited) on where your baby should sleep, and for how long. The most important factor to consider is what’s safe for your baby? Where should your baby sleep? And what are the potential dangers?
First, let’s talk the basics of safe sleep: the safest place for a baby to sleep is in a crib or bassinet that meets the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s standards (or the CPSC) and does NOT have any of the following: bumpers, stuffed animals, thick blankets/quilts, infant wedges, or pillows. Nearly half of the infant crib deaths reported each year are suffocations caused by pillows, thick quilts and/or overcrowding in the baby’s sleeping space. Be sure to always place your baby on his/her back in the crib or bassinet on a tight-fitting, firm, flat mattress.
Choosing a crib or bassinet
If you’re lucky, you received that crib you had been eyeing at your bridal shower, right? Choosing a crib sets the entire tone for your baby’s first nursery. I love the Oeuf Rhea Crib, made from solid birch wood and free from harsh toxic finishes. If you’re a family that is on-the-go, opt for the Nuna Sena Aire travel crib that features a one-handed easy fold.
If you’re sharing a smaller room with your infant during the first 0-12 months, choosing a bassinet like the Halo Bassinest is ideal for middle of the night feedings when co-sleeping beside your bed. It’s especially great for cesarean Moms whom have difficulty twisting from side to side after giving birth.
Once you’ve purchased the crib or bassinet, always be sure to read and follow the directions for set-up, use and care. Be sure to also return the included postcard for possible product recalls. Position any mobiles out of your child’s reach, and place the mattress on the lowest setting once your child is able to stand up. It’s really important to ensure that the mattress is sitting against all four corners and that the hardware is in good condition.
If you have inherited a gorgeous antique heirloom crib, this is fine but only if it meets today’s standards (meaning that you’ll want to decline any drop-side cribs that were deemed “illegal to sell or resell” by the CPSC in 2010). Other less obvious potential hazards you’ll want to look for when receiving a second-hand crib include: cribs made before 2011 (when safety standards were increased), crib slats that are more than 2 3/8 inches apart, protruding nuts/bolts, or cracked, peeling paint that could possibly contain a lead base.
When it comes to the crib bedding, TheTot.com has some adorable options that not only meet aesthetic standards, but will also keep your baby safe and comfortable while they sleep. First, start with a mattress, organic if possible, like the Pebble Pure Mattress from Nook Sleep Systems filled with Coconut Coir, Natural Latex Foam & Organic Wool and free of toxins often found in non-organic mattresses. Naturepedic also offer a range of excellent non-toxic mattress for babies right up to big kids. If you’ve already received a mattress as a gift, covering the mattress with non-toxic waterproof protector, like the cover from Naturepedic will also do the trick and is slightly more budget-friendly.
Once your baby’s sleeping area is up to par, you’ll want to decorate (the fun part!) with a soft sheet, like the breathable fitted crib sheet from Little Unicorn that is 100% cotton muslin. The sheet you ultimately choose should have a tight fit with no loose corners, and be purely organic or at least 100% cotton. You’re almost set – now it’s time to think about what your baby should wear to sleep.
Depending on the season, dress baby in one extra layer of clothing than what you wear at night, and keep the room temperature at between 68-72 degrees. For example, your child could wear a short-sleeve onesie underneath the new ‘Los Angeles’ swaddle from Coveted Things, or a pair of bamboo Milkbarn long sleeve pajamas with a Halo Sleep Sack on top for the older infants (once they are rolling you’ll want to drop your swaddle or talk to your pediatrician about options). For more information see my article on How to Dress Baby for Bed.
As a reminder, here are the top tips to keep your baby sleeping safely:
- Always put down baby on his or her back to sleep, not the side or stomach
- Keep your baby in a smoke-free environment
- Provide a separate and safe sleeping environment for naps & night sleep
- Share a room with your infants for at least six months to reduce the risk of SIDS
- Keep your baby’s sleeping area hazard-free – this means no blankets, bumpers, stuffed animals, etc.
For more articles and tips on safe sleep, visit sleepandthecity.com.