Baby safe: Avoiding crib dangers

January 20, 2016 Providence Health Team

When you decorate your baby’s nursery, safety is as important as choosing the cutest pink paint or the sweetest blue bumpers. In fact, take bumper pads off your shopping list. Bumpers are one of the most dangerous baby bedding items, according to experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), who say you should never use them in your child’s crib.

A new study reported in the Journal of Pediatrics says bumper pads were involved in 48 accidental suffocations over the last seven years. Consumer Reports responded by putting bumpers on their “13 dangerous baby products to avoid” list.

Even though stores still carry an abundance of baby bumper pads, you can’t assume everything in the market for baby is safe. Here are five of the most important things to avoid when creating the safest sleep environment for your baby.

Bumpers are one of the most dangerous baby bedding items, according to experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics, who say you should never use them in your child’s crib.

No bumpers

Bumpers increase the risk of death. Infants can smother between the bumper and the crib or choke on bumper ties; and older children climbing out of the crib can fall on their heads. The AAP also advises against the thinner bumpers and mesh bumpers.

What if baby bumps against bumper-less crib sides or wedges an arm or leg between the slats? The AAP says infants usually don’t have the muscle strength to cause significant injury against the crib sides. Also, regulations since the 1970s mandate slats be 2⅜ inches apart, which generally is too narrow to cause a life-threatening injury.

No sleep positioners

When the AAP began recommending infants sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, the market responded with foam pads and wedges to help keep babies from rolling onto their tummies and to prevent issues with spitting up.

But the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) says sleep positioners have caused 13 deaths in 13 years. Both the CPSC and the Food and Drug Administration want the products banned. If stomach acid reflux is a concern, talk with your pediatrician.

No blankets or pillows

Your infant’s crib environment needs to be as free from suffocation dangers as possible. According to a Consumer Reports article, pillows or extra bedding contributed to 92 suffocation deaths between 2006 and 2008.

So how do you keep your baby warm in a bare crib during the colder months? One way is to use clothing designed and approved for infant sleeping, including sack-type gowns, footed pajamas and blanket sleepers.

All those soft blankets you received as gifts can be spread on the floor during playtime, or save them for when your baby is older.

No drop-side or older cribs

If you’re buying a new crib for your baby’s room, a drop-side crib won’t be a concern. They were banned in 2011 after contributing to at least 32 deaths in the previous ten years.

That family heirloom crib with the fancy finials? Just say no. Many older cribs have potentially life-threatening issues. Knobs or other protrusions can catch clothing, baby can get wedged between slats that are too far apart and movable crib sides can drop unexpectedly – and all these hazards can increase the risk of suffocation or strangulation.

No bedside sleepers

Oh, the convenience of having your baby within arm’s reach for 3 a.m. feedings! Bedside sleepers have various designs, but in general, these are bassinet-sized infant beds that attach to your bed or are placed right next to it.

But no matter the appeal of not having to get out of bed to pick up a crying infant, avoid the temptation to use a bedside sleeper. The AAP does not include them on their list of recommended places for a baby to sleep.

In fact, some models have been involved in cases of infant death. Safety regulations are not well-established and experts feel bedside sleepers – and co-sleeping or family-bed sleeping – could increase the risk of your baby suffocating.

To reduce the risk of SIDS, today’s safe-sleep recommendations say to keep your baby in your bedroom for the first six months after birth.

That does NOT mean having your baby sleep in your bed with you.

Instead, get a crib that meets modern safety standards and create a space for it in your room. You’ll have the convenience of having your baby close by for feedings, you’ll know when the room is too hot or too cold, and you’ll be close by and easily alerted to any distress your baby may have.

Overwhelmed by the potential dangers?

If even a blanket can be a possible death trap, you might feel a little overcome with anxiety for your baby’s safety. Common sense and being aware of potential threats and eliminating them are some of your best assets for keeping your child safe. So is talking to your child’s pediatrician. Ask questions and seek advice. Often your provider can help relieve your worries and give you some welcome peace of mind.

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