How to Make Sure Your Baby Crib Is Safe

baby hands on the edge of a white crib
  • 1-3 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-500
What You'll Need
Ruler or measuring tape
Spare parts and screws, if needed
Non-VOC paint
What You'll Need
Ruler or measuring tape
Spare parts and screws, if needed
Non-VOC paint

A baby crib is one of the most important purchases a new or expecting parent makes. Babies sleep heavily in their first few years of life, so they spend a lot of time in their cozy little beds. To avoid dangerous accidents, it is crucial to ensure that your baby’s crib meets all the safety requirements.

Antique Cribs

You might have an antique crib that's been in the family for many years, giving it a sentimental appeal, but safety experts recommend being very careful about old cribs. You're probably better off using old baby furniture for ornamental purposes. Crib safety guidelines have been significantly tightened in recent years, which means cribs built before around 2011 can be dangerous.

If you do decide to use an older crib for your baby, check it thoroughly for any broken or missing parts. If any parts or hardware are missing, the crib may come apart or fall down when your baby is in it. Check, too, that the corner slats of the crib are smooth and that you can't fit your fingers between the side of the crib and the mattress.

child crawling through the space from a missing piece in the side of a brown crib

Space Requirements

The slats in cribs keep babies from falling or rolling out of the crib. Ensure that all the slats on your crib are in the correct place and are tightly fit in place. The space between neighboring slats must be no more than 2.375 inches. A crib that has a bigger gap between the slats is dangerous because a baby’s little head or body can become trapped in between.

Another thing to look for is the gap between the crib and the mattress. Ensure that mattress is firm and tightly fitting inside the crib, and that you cannot squeeze in more than one finger in the gap. Again, if the gap is too large, the baby can get trapped in between the mattress and the crib wall.

A soft mattress increases the chances of suffocation, as can a loose-fitting sheet or a blanket. It is best to cover the baby in a sleeper instead of a blanket. Blankets shouldn't be used until your child is much older. In an effort to remain safe, you should also refrain from using crib bumpers.

Also, ensure that the corner posts are flush with the corners of the crib so that the baby cannot get clothing entangled in it. If the mattress is supported by hangers, check them frequently.

Avoid Decorative Openings and Threads

small child crawling through the hole in the side of a crib

Some older cribs have decorative openings on the side. These openings can be dangerous and must be avoided because the baby’s head can get trapped.

Remove any decorative threads or ribbons you see on the crib, as they pose a strangulation risk. For the same reason, avoid tying toys to the crib with strings. Never place the crib close to curtains or blinds. The cords in blinds pose a significant danger, as do curtains that may suffocate the baby. Ensure that the crib side stays firmly in place when latched. Also, check regularly for loose screws or parts.

Any mobile placed about the crib should be CPSP approved mobile and should be removed once your baby can sit or stand on their own.

You should also avoid hanging any wall art above or around the crib.

Minimize Toxic Elements

To avoid chemicals in the nursery, use an organic mattress, organic sheets, and blankets in your baby’s crib. If the crib is old, it is best to strip away the paint as it may contain lead. Repaint with a paint that has no VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds).

Babies have a tendency to bite the crib as their teeth come in, so make sure that everything used on and around the crib is safe for a chewing child.

Because safety recommendations for children and infants regularly update, be sure to check regularly. Online research or a chat with your child's pediatrician will help you stay in the loop.