When picking out a crib for your newborn, be sure to factor in safety regulations that will give you and your child a sense of security.

Preparing your home for a newborn involves planning for a variety of different measures. One of the most important steps new parents will take is the purchase of a crib. And since babies will spend so many hours in their crib, it is vital that it’s not only comfortable, but safe as well. When deciding on a crib, a number of necessary questions related to safety standards need to be addressed. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulates all safety standards for cribs. CPSC has been active in changing the longtime voluntary standards into strong federal safety standards. The goals of these mandatory standards include improving product safety and giving parents more confidence when shopping for their newborn or young child.

Setting standards

Since June 28, 2011, all cribs must comply with new and improved federal safety standards meant to address potentially deadly hazards found with traditional drop-rails. These rules apply to full-size and non full-size cribs, prohibit the manufacture or sale of traditional drop-side rail cribs, strengthen crib slats and mattress supports, improve the quality of hardware and require more stringent testing.
A few other facts to know:

  • Immobilizing the drop-side rails in your current crib wont make it compliant.
  • Compliance can’t be determined by simply viewing the product.
  • Standards for full-size and non full-size cribs apply to wood, metal and stackable cribs.

Bare is best

The first step parents should take to create a safe sleeping environment is to place their babies on their backs on a flat, firm, tight-fitting mattress that meets current safety standards. Do not place your child on a water-bed, soft mattress, pillow, or other soft surface to sleep. Babies can also get their faces stuck in or pinned against pillows, thick blankets, and large stuffed animals, all of which lead to a danger of suffocation. Cribs should be free of clutter never add pillows, quilts, or comforters to any crib, play yard, bassinet or cradle. Positioning devices are unnecessary and can also be deadly. If you are afraid of your baby getting too cold during the night, dress them in footed pajamas for warmth. In addition, the following crib safety tips should be observed:

  • No missing, loose, broken or improperly installed screws, brackets or other hardware on the crib or mattress support.
  • No more than 2 3/8 inches (about the width of a soda can) between crib slats so a baby’s body cannot fit through the slats: no missing or cracked slats.
  • No corner posts over 1/16th inch high so a baby’s clothing cannot get trapped.
  • Check your crib regularly for broken, loose or missing pieces, and report any incidents to SaferProducts.gov.

Stay informed

Now that you have purchased your crib and adjusted to life with a newborn, it’s also important to stay educated on the products you use. Consumers should visit CPSC.gov regularly or sign up to get free, direct e-mail notifications on product details.

Nikki Fleming has worked at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for the past 22 years as a Public Affairs Specialist in the Office of Communications, specializing in children’s product safety. She has served as Team Lead for CPSCs Safe Sleep campaign for the past four years. In addition to producing press releases, safety alerts/videos and warnings for CPSC, Fleming serves as a lead spokesperson and appears regularly on national and local media.