Babies spend a lot of time sleeping, so it is important to provide a safe sleep environment for them. Any parent is anxious to make their baby as comfortable during sleep as possible. However, some common steps for a cozy bed may increase the chance of serious problems.

Certain items in and around the crib can be a suffocation hazard to infants. These items may be harmless to older children but infants have smaller airways and less head control. This means they may not be able to reposition themselves if their access to air is blocked, even by something as simple as a blanket. Fortunately, there are a few easy steps to make your baby's sleep environment much safer without disturbing your baby's sleep.

Infant Sleep Hazards

All parents and caregivers should be aware of the possible hazards associated with sleeping.

  • Getting trapped between the mattress and another object.
  • Getting trapped between the mattress and the wall.
  • Getting baby's head trapped in headboard or footboard rails.
  • Suffocation from soft items like clothing, blankets, pillows, and thick bedding.

Problems have been caused by all of the above as well as the following:

  • Sleeping on the stomach, a position that has been associated with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Soft bedding, such as pillows, quilts, comforters, and sheepskins
  • Sleep positioners. They are unnecessary and pose a danger.

Making Your Baby’s Bed Safe

Here are some tips to making your baby's sleep safer from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

When putting a baby less than one year of age to sleep, make sure that you:

  • Place the baby on his back.
  • Keep the baby’s head uncovered during sleep.
  • Consider offering the baby a pacifier during nap time and bedtime.

Note: When your child is awake, it is okay for your baby to have supervised play time on their belly. This will help your baby develop some posture muscles.

Steps for safe bedding include:

  • Do not use loose bedding.
  • Consider using a sleeper or other sleep clothing instead of blankets.
  • If a blanket is used, it should be thin and tucked under the mattress at the bottom of the crib. This will keep it from covering the baby's head or face during sleep.
  • Use only a fitted bottom sheet specifically made for the mattress.

Do not place the baby to sleep on a soft surface such as:

  • Waterbed
  • Sofa
  • Soft mattress
  • Pillow

Your baby can sleep in the same room as you, but do not share the bed.

A safe crib will have:

  • No missing or broken hardware, and slats no more than 2-3/8" apart
  • No corner posts over 1/16" high
  • No cutout designs in the headboard or footboard
  • Use the firm, tight-fitting mattress
  • A safety certification seal

Remove soft products from the baby’s crib such as:

  • Loose blankets or sheets
  • Pillows
  • Quilts
  • Comforters
  • Sheepskins
  • Bumper pads
  • Stuffed toys

For mesh-sided cribs or playpens, look for:

  • Mesh less than 1/4 inch in size, smaller than the tiny buttons on a baby's clothing
  • Mesh with no tears, holes, or loose threads that could entangle a baby
  • Mesh that is securely attached to top rail and floor plate
  • Top rail cover with no tears or holes
  • If staples are used, make sure they are not missing, loose, or exposed
  • Use the firm, tight-fitting mattress that came from the manufacturer