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Baby Sleep Safety: Bedding Sheets for Cribs

Katlyn Joy |28, December 2011


When planning your infant's nursery, you consider color schemes and comfort. It seems natural to think of wanting to surround your child with soft, comfy materials. However, soft bedding is a true danger to babies. As many as one third of infant suffocation deaths may be attributed to soft bedding, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The dangers of soft bedding are not limited to cribs but also to bassinets, co-sleepers, playpens or play yards. Anywhere an infant sleeps needs to be free of such bedding because the soft materials can become molded around baby's face and suffocate the child. Soft bedding has been associated with deaths from SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. SIDS is defined as any unexplained death after investigation, in infants one year of age or younger. SIDS deaths number around 2,500 annually.

When purchasing items for your baby's nursery, you should begin with a crib that is approved by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association and not involved in a recall by the CPSC. You'll want to make certain that the crib mattress fits snugly in the crib, bassinet or play yard.

Items that should not be used in areas where infants sleep include pillows, blankets, bumper pads particularly puffy or stuffed ones, soft mobiles within baby's reach, and stuffed animals. Any of these items may block air flow to a baby's mouth or nose and must be avoided until at least the first birthday.

While it may seem barren and Spartan, a baby's crib should be bare of anything except a well-fitted crib sheet. If the weather is chilly, put baby down in a sleeper blanket, swaddled in a blanket if a newborn, but not use a blanket or comforter. Sheepskin products are also not advised.

Also avoid the sleeping positioners used to keep baby on his side or back. These products have been implicated in 13 baby deaths since 1997.

Other hazards during baby's sleep time include waterbeds, memory foam, quilts or bean bags. You also need to understand that sleep time doesn't mean only overnight hours. This includes places where baby naps as well.

Co-sleepers or bedside sleepers are not among the recommended sleeping areas noted by the American Academy of Pediatricians but has not been banned by the CPSC either. Some models have been recalled and they have been cited in some cases where the baby got trapped between the bed and the co-sleeper.

Some newer crib bumpers have been introduced as safer versions of older soft or puffy types of bumpers. However, their use is controversial. While they may be made of mesh, it still poses some danger according to some. AAP doesn't see a benefit although some parents use the newer bumper pads to prevent bumps, bruises and having the child get their arms trapped between crib slats.

Another danger is the crib tent. These products create a dome over the crib and are intended to keep baby from falling or crawling out of the crib or a play yard. Consumer Reports advises parents to never use these products as they are a strangulation hazard and instead instructs parents to take child out of the crib and begin using a toddler bed if baby is crawling out.

A 2007 report in the Journal of Pediatrics concluded that 27 infant deaths were caused by bumper pads.

However, blankets and stuffed toys may be used for tummy time play on the floor when an adult is supervising. When a baby becomes a toddler, having a special blanket or stuffed animal is safe. The risk of SIDS has overwhelmingly passed at that point.

Other Tips:

- Keep all cords out of baby's reach. This includes blind cords, cords from baby video monitors, or mobile strings or ties from bumpers or other items placed near or on the crib.

- Keep crib away from windows.

- Secure all heavy or tall furniture to the wall with hardware designed for this purpose.

- Wall hangings should be out of reach or substitute stencils painted on the wall.

Related Articles

Baby Crib Safety Standards

Baby Wearing Safety Guidelines From the CPSC

Baby Proofing Your Home

Baby Proofing Checklist

Is Your Baby Safe With the New Car Seat Guidelines?


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