Choosing safe baby products: cribs
Before the arrival of the baby, there is much excitement in the family. Most parents start buying baby products before the little one arrives. With a wide range of baby products in the market, parents will want to buy the best for their baby and often consider many top brands. It is important that parents direct their attention towards buying safe baby products. Choosing a safe crib is a good place to start! The number one safety concern when choosing a crib is to prevent a condition called SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
SIDS also known as ‘cot death’ or ‘crib death’ is associated with the sleeping position of the child. It can affect any child between 1 month to 1 year old and around 2500 babies die every year in U.S due to SIDS. Medical practitioners recommend that a child should be placed on his/her back in the baby’s bed and not on the stomach to prevent SIDS. Though the exact cause of SIDS remains unknown, many medical researchers think that a number of factors contribute to the occurrence of SIDS such as the sleeping position of the child, cribs used, the crib mattresses, crib accessories, medications, etc.
Choosing the right crib mattress
Parents should be careful when choosing a crib mattress for their baby. A research study conducted in New Zealand found that ‘used crib mattresses’ increased the incidence of SIDS. Primary research by Dr. Sprott highlighted the fact that fungus and toxic gas, which is eliminated from the mattresses, was associated with SIDS. The study found that toxic bacteria may also be one of the significant factors causing SIDS especially when babies slept on used mattresses. The study concluded that bacteria grows faster in mattresses that contain soaked urine, milk and saliva of the previous child. These researchers propose that wrapping the mattresses with polythene covers reduces the incidence of SIDS. This includes wrapping the crib and other mattresses where the child may be placed. A crib death prevention campaign conducted in New Zealand proved that mattress-wrapping reduced the incidence of SIDS from 810 to zero over a period of 11 years.Whether parents decide to buy a new mattress or use the old one, using a baby safe mattress cover or a polythene cover is of prime importance for the safety of the child.
Choosing the right crib
The U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) provides the following guidelines for parents choosing a safe crib to reduce the incidence of SIDS.
1. The baby mattress should be a firm and tightly fitted into the crib. A soft mattress is not recommended. Parents should make sure that mattress is fit well into the crib leaving no space for the baby to slip between the crib and the mattress. Parents can use a baby safe mattress cover or polythene sheet to cover the mattress. The polythene cover should be made air tight at the top and sides of the mattress while being safely secured beneath the mattress using a duct tape or adhesive. Fleecy pure cotton under blanket can be used on top of the polythene cover which should be tucked in. The baby’s bed should be made with a pure wool or pure cotton over-blanket. Do not use mattress covers which do not carry a cot death logo (campaign against SIDS) nor have labels with information stating that they do not contain phosphorus, lead, arsenic and antimony.
2. Parents should make sure that the slats or bars in the crib are not loose or broken or missing. The distance between the slats should not be more than 6 centimeters (about 2 1/2 inches). The stationery side crib is still the best option when compared to the single-drop or double-drop sides that can slide down. Even if single-drop or double drop-side cribs are used, parents should make sure they have a safe locking and sliding system. Drop-side cribs are not recommended by CPSC due to safety concerns.
3. The corner posts of the crib should be taller than 41 centimeters ( about 16 inches) to ensure safety of the child.
4. The headboards and footboards should not have cutout designs.Apart from the basic standards set by the CPSC for safety cribs, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has formulated additional safety standards. The baby cribs that meet the standards set by ASTM are certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacture’s Association (JPMS). Though all the cribs pass the basic CPSC safety standards, parents can check for JPMS certification if they are considering choosing the best crib for their child.However, if parents still decide to use a previously owned crib, they should check to see if the crib they plan to use has been recalled, by visiting the site www.recalls.gov. They should also check if the crib meets the CPSC’s current minimum safety standards. This will help in ensuring that their baby is safe in the chosen crib.
General tips for using a baby crib
The CPSC suggests other general tips for parents for the safety of the child and for SIDS prevention.
1. It is always better to have the crib in the parents’ room until the baby is 1 year old for regular monitoring. Parents should make sure that the baby is laid on her back in the crib. It is better that the child is put to sleep in the crib rather alongside the parent in their bed.
2. Parents should not place toys (including stuffed toys), pillows, bumper pads, comforters, quilts and sheep skins inside the crib.
3. Rather than blanket, it is best recommended to use a sleeper. When a blanket is used, the baby’s feet should touch the foot of the crib. A thin blanket should be covered around the baby reaching only till the chest, while the blanket is tucked under the crib mattress.
4. Parents should check regularly to see that the baby’s head is not covered during his/her sleep.
5. Parents should not place their baby on a sofa, couch, pillow, soft mattress, water bed, air bed, parent’s bed or any soft surface.
Written by: Irene J
Edited by: Michael K. Davis, MD
- American SIDS Institute, 2009, Welcome to the American SIDS Institute, http://www.sids.org/
- Tappin. D et al, 2002, Used infant mattresses and sudden infant death syndrome in Scotland: case-control study, British Medical Journal, 2002;325:1007, http://www.bmj.com/
- CPSC, U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission, http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/5020.html
Last Updated (Wednesday, 15 September 2010 12:15)