Print, Share, or View Spanish version of this article
As you look at a crib, make sure you check the following, especially if you are using an older crib that may
have been built before current crib safety standards were set.
When purchasing a crib make sure it meets current safety standards. Beginning June 28, 2011, new federal safety standards prohibit the manufacture or sale of drop-side rail cribs. The standards also require stronger parts and hardware. For more information, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission Web site at www.cpsc.gov.
If you have an older crib that was made before the new safety standards were enacted, check with the manufacturer to see if they offer hardware to keep the drop side from moving. Check the crib frequently to make sure the hardware is tight and no parts are broken or missing. Consider purchasing a new crib that meets the stronger standards, if possible.
The slats should be no more than 2⅜ inches apart. Widely spaced slats can allow an infant's torso to fall through but will trap the infant's head, which can result in death.
All joints and parts should fit tightly, and the wood must be smooth and free of splinters.
Check for cracked and peeling paint. All surfaces should be covered with lead-free paint safe for nursery furniture.
The end panels should be solid, without decorative cutouts. Cutout areas on panels can trap an infant's head.
Corner posts should be flush with the end panels or else be very, very tall (such as posts on a canopy bed). Clothing and ribbons can catch on tall corner posts and strangle an infant.
If the crib has a drop side or drop gate, the lowered crib side should be at least 9 inches above the mattress support to prevent the infant from falling out. Raised crib sides should be at least 26 inches above the mattress support in its lowest position.
If the crib has a drop side or drop gate, it should have a locking, hand-operated latch that will not release unintentionally.
All hardware, including screws, bolts, nuts, plastic parts, etc, should be present and original equipment. Never substitute original parts with something from a hardware store.
Do not use the crib if there are any missing, damaged, or broken parts.
The mattress should be the same size as the crib so there are no gaps to trap arms, body, or legs.
If you can fit more than 2 fingers between the mattress and the side of the crib, the crib and mattress combination should not be used.
Check to see if your crib has been recalled at www.cpsc.gov/info/cribs/index.html.
Read and follow the directions to set up, use, and care for the crib.
Never use a crib with loose or missing attachments or support hardware.
If the crib has a drop side or drop gate, never leave it down when the baby is in the crib.
Hanging crib toys (mobiles, crib gyms) should be out of the baby's reach. Any hanging crib toy must be removed when your baby first begins to push up on his or her hands and knees or when the baby is 5 months old, whichever occurs first. These toys can strangle a baby.
The crib mattress should be lowered before the baby can sit unassisted. The mattress should be at its lowest point before the baby can stand.
Children should be taken out of a crib by the time they are 35 inches tall.
Never place a crib near cords from a hanging window blind or drapery. Children can get caught in the cords and strangle.
Be sure to inspect every crib your child uses for safety—those at the grandparent's home, the babysitter's home, or the child care center.
Hammocks and other swinging devices should not be installed onto a crib because the baby may be strangled.
If parts are missing, stop using the crib and contact the crib manufacturer for replacements. Do not attempt to replace them with hardware store parts.
Place your baby on his or her back on a firm, tight-fitting mattress in a crib that meets current safety standards.
Do not use pillows, bumper pads, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, stuffed toys, other soft products, or any objects that could increase the risk of suffocation or strangulation.
Consider using a sleeper or other sleep clothing as an alternative to blankets, with no other covering.
Make sure your baby's head remains uncovered during sleep.
Do not place your baby on a water bed, sofa, soft mattress, pillow, or other soft surface.
Never leave the side of a mesh playpen lowered because a baby can become trapped and suffocate.
When your child is able to sit or get up on all fours (or when he reaches 5 months), remove any toys tied across the top of the playpen.
When your child can pull himself to standing, remove any large toys that could be used as steps.
Check the top rails for tears and holes because teething children often bite off chunks of the covering. If the tears are small, you can fix them with heavy-duty cloth tape. If the tears are large, you may need to replace the product.
Make sure that there are no tears, holes, or loose threads in the mesh and that openings are less than 1/4 inch across.
Make sure the mesh is securely attached to the top rail and the floor plate. If staples are used, make sure they are not missing, loose, or exposed.