Creating a nursery for your baby involves more than just picking out paint colors, hanging pictures, and decorating with dinosaurs or butterflies. Parents can easily incorporate safety features that will help keep their little bundle of joy out of harm’s way. So from cradles and cribs, to gates and playpens, here are a few tips to help make your baby’s room safe and sound.
Bassinets and cradles should have a sturdy bottom and wide, stable base. Cradles that swing need to have a way to keep them still once the baby is asleep. Select a mattress that fits snugly into the frame and is firm and smooth.
Cribs should not have corner posts that extend more than 1/16 of an inch above the end panel. Avoid cut out designs on end panels and select a crib with slats not more than 2 3/8 inches apart (about the width of a soda can). Regularly check screws and bolts to make sure they are securely fastened. Lock the side rail in the raised position when the baby is in the crib.
If using bumper pads, make sure they fit around the entire crib and tie or snap into each corner, in the middle of the long side of the crib, and on the top and bottom edges. Remove bumpers when the baby can pull up to a standing position. Do not place the crib next to a window, and keep window cords short or out of reach to prevent strangulation.
Avoid using plastic bags to cover the mattress. Do not place pillows, stuffed animals or other toys in a crib to safeguard against suffocation. Mobiles, crib gyms or toys strung across a crib should be removed when the baby is about five months old or starts pushing up on hands and knees.
Changing tables should have a safety strap to help prevent the baby from falling to the floor. Never leave a baby unattended on a changing table. Keep all ointments, lotions, powders and diapers within your reach but out of the baby’s.
Select a baby gate that has a straight-top edge and strong bars or mesh screen. Make sure it is securely fastened to the doorway so it cannot be pushed over. The Consumer Product Safety Commission advises parents not to use accordion-style expandable enclosures that have V-shaped or diamond-shaped openings. Do not leave a baby in a playpen with sides in the down position.
Install latches on lower dresser drawers to prevent young children from climbing on them and attach angle braces to shelving units to secure them to the wall. Toy chests should have ventilation holes as well as spring-loaded lid supports to prevent the lid from falling on a child. Use plug protectors that cover the entire plate of unused electrical outlets. Keep electrical cords out of the reach of children by tucking them behind furniture or using cord shorteners. For more information about making your baby’s nursery safe, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission website at www.cpsc.gov.