Make Your Baby’s Crib Safe For Sleep

4-16 months

Mar 22, 2022

For the first three years of your baby’s life, your child is going to be in a crib. And there are a lot of rules that we need to cover for your child’s safety in the nursery! In this video and blog post, I am going to share all the do’s and don’ts when it comes to the crib and nursery safety!

Whenever I tell parents that their child will be in the crib until they are close to three years old as possible, I definitely get shocked looks from my clients. I know you’ve seen plenty of younger toddlers in an open bed, but here at Little Z’s, we teach families how to make sleep a thing and we don’t always feel like those toddlers are ready for separate beds.

The longer we can have them in the crib, the better. As a pediatric sleep consultant, I’m going to share all my tips and strategies to crib safety.

How to make a safe sleep environment for your baby

Keep your child in the crib until three years old

When it comes to your child’s crib space, there are a lot of things we need to make sure we do to ensure safe sleep practices.

The very first recommendation is to keep your child in their crib until as close to three years old as possible.

The reason is simple! Cribs have four wonderful sides that keep your child contained. This is great news because until three years old, children really don’t understand the idea of “invisible” boundaries with an open bed, rules for staying in bed, or expectations that they cannot leave.

When you take a toddler and invite them to an open bed, they will escape easily and ultimately, fight sleep.

So first recommendation? Put your toddler back in the crib!

If you’ve already made the move to an open bed for you toddler, and wondering if going back will feel like a punishment, it won’t! Ultimately, they are young, and putting them back in the crib will give them more security to sleep more soundly.

Boundaries like crib walls are good and your toddler needs them!

Keep the crib mattress lowered

Cribs have different levels that allow you to move the mattress up and down. Often when you install the crib, you are putting the mattress on the highest setting because it’s easy to pick baby up and lay them down.

Pretty soon you may be looking at your 3-4 month old baby thinking, “There is no way they can sit up or crawl!” And most of the time, that’s a correct assumption. HOWEVER, the moment you think your baby cannot do _____ is the moment they often try that skill!

Keep things safe as your baby grows by lowering the crib mattress well before you think they can do the next skill.

This peace of mind will keep you sleeping more soundly at night!

Room sharing? Try this!

If you are room sharing with your child, try to keep the crib in the furthest space from your bed. If you can place that crib on the farthest corner, away from you, this is going to help everyone sleep better.

Keep your child’s crib free from clutter

The crib is a place for sleep, not distractions or Pinterest perfect moments. So, please avoid keeping any decorative pillows, blankets, or stuffed animals in your baby’s crib.

Maybe you have an heirloom quilt or a perfectly matching pom-pom pillow for baby’s crib, but these items don’t below in a crib with a baby under 12 months old.

Babies under 12 months don’t need anything in their crib. Additions to the crib are dangerous and not a safe sleep practice recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

As your child grows, they are able to have some items with them as close comforts.

When your child hits 12 months, you can introduce 1-2 comfort items like a stuffed animal and a small blanket.

Introducing a stuffed animal or blanket is perfectly fine after 12 months of age, while adding a pillow does not happen until after 2 years of age.

Remember to avoid using crib tents and mosquito netting around the crib as they are dangerous and there have been unfortunately linked to many strangulations and deaths.

As an aside—you’ve seen me talk about my love for the SlumberPod (what is the SlumberPod? Check out this post here), which is completely different. It is not a crib tent that attaches to the crib itself. It goes outside of the crib, and it is not a structure that can fall on top of your child.

Keep your child’s crib away from distractions

Take a look around your child’s crib. Is there anything within 3 feet of their space that could be harmful or a distraction?

I’ve often been into a family’s home and seen the monitor perched on top of the crib frame. It’s easy to just set it there when baby is young and immobile, but let’s set it up well from the beginning!

Check around your child’s crib and please avoid any wires, cords, baskets, and distractions that they can reach within three feet of your child’s crib.

I also want to make sure that there are no baskets of books, bookshelves, toys, or stuffed animals that a sneaky young toddler could just pull into their bed during nap time or bedtime…trust me, I have experienced that!

Which crib safety tip surprised you the most?

I would love to know in the comments which one of these surprised you the most. You might disagree with me, but the beauty of parenting is that we get to make decisions that we believe are best for our family! These are tried and tested strategies and you can count on me to be here to help you make sleep a thing!

Looking for more sleep and nursery safety strategies? Check our our Sleep E-Coaching™ programs!


How to practice safe sleep crib practices for your baby | Little Z Sleep


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