Is Your Crib as Safe as You Think?

Is Your Crib as Safe as You Think?

Most of you feel like you’re never going to get your baby to sleep in a crib. Which is probably OK as most cribs are all that aren’t safe anyway. That’s right, I said it. And while the recent kickup about how co-sleeping is a SIDS risk is putting all the emphasis on the hazards of adult beds, there’s plenty of safety hazards in cribs too.

As part of my 4 year old’s birthday shenanigans we moved him from his crib into a big boy bed. So I took the opportunity to take a few pictures of his crib before we dismantled it for good (*sniff*). And I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to take pictures of what a safe crib environment looks like. And I had to make my own since it’s all but impossible to find pictures of one elsewhere.

The world is full of smart caring parents putting unsafe things in their baby’s cribs or putting them down to sleep on their tummies. Most of them don’t even realize it’s a problem as the world is also full of pictures modeling an unsafe sleep environments. A Pediatrics study looked at magazine photos of sleeping babies finding that only 36% of them modeled safe sleep environments consistent with the AAP.


In the AAP study, 64% of photos of babies in a crib showed them sleeping face down.

And Pinterest is like the rogues gallery of unsafe crib environments. Even the baby cakes on Pinterest model unsafe sleep for babies. Also? Edible cake babies are creepy.

As somebody who blogs about kids and sleep I try to make sure I only use photos that model safe sleep habits. Sadly this makes getting cool pictures almost impossible. Because almost everything you find on stock photography sites features cribs with potential SIDS hazards in them.

Don’t Believe Me? I’ve Got Proof!

To demonstrate I’ve pulled some pictures from popular stock photography sites. No I didn’t dig into the bowels of search results to find these. These are all from page #1 people.
no pillows in the baby crib
bumpers and loose blankets are a SIDS hazard
baby sleeping prone models unsafe crib sleep
photos modeling unsafe crib sleep for babies

So it’s hard to know that there is a problem with your crib setup when the world is full of pictures modeling unsafe sleep. According to the AAP Safe Sleep position your crib should be safe, dark, and dull. That’s it.

Safe Crib Checklist

  • No blankets or pillows.
  • No bumpers unless they’re the thin “breathable” kind.
  • Nothing within in reach – no electrical outlets, cords, window blinds, mobiles, etc.
  • Baby on back
  • No sleep positioners.


It looks like this (baby not pictured).
safe baby crib

To be clear what it looked like when my 3 year old was sleeping in it was more like this. Which is totally fine when they’re 3. Not so much when they’re babies.
3 year old child sleep environment

Look, I get that decorating baby rooms is really fun. And honestly it’s the last decorating you’ll get to do until they’re 10 because it’s almost impossible to fix up your house when there are small children living in it. But let’s keep the emphasis on decorating around the crib, instead of in the crib.

In closing I wanted to share a few personal pet peeves when it comes to cribs, sleep, and safety.

  • Stop with the bumpers. Just stop it. Stop buying them. Stop using them. And for the love of everything holy, stop pinning pictures of them on Pinterest.
  • I don’t care how great your baby sleeps on his tummy. Never put your baby down to sleep on his tummy. Don’t write me asking if it’s OK. Because it’s not. Don’t put your newborn to sleep on their tummy. (Once they flip over on their own you can leave them in whatever position they have moved themselves into.)
  • Not a safety issue but if it lights up or makes music you probably don’t want it in the crib.
  • Also not a safety issue but you don’t need that $100 crib quilt. Sure it looks cool when you fold it over the crib in the months before you give birth. But after baby shows up it’s unsafe to leave it there. And if your baby can’t use the fancy quilt you bought for them, what’s the point?

Anybody else have any pet peeves they want to share? Examples of safety hazards you were given as shower gifts? Observations on my appalling lack of photographic skills?

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101 Comments


  1. At what age do you think it’s okay to leave more than just a lovey?
    Emily recently posted..Rules for BabysittingMy Profile

    • The strictest interpretation of “safe sleep” would say until they are 1 year. And I pretty much go with that because “stuff in the crib” rarely helps with anything. For example people hope if they fill their 9 month old’s bed with cool toys, when they wake up at 5 AM they’ll just quietly play with the toys for an hour or two. Sadly this is almost never the outcome ;)
      Alexis recently posted..Everything You Ever Hoped to Know About Swaddle BlanketsMy Profile

      • Baby 411, which is written by a spokesperson for the AAP, says you can put a board book or two in the crib, I think. This has helped our now 2year old son entertain himself before going to sleep and after waking up, but he’s pretty mellow, so I don’t know how well it would work for other babies. O think crib mirrors are OK and a hit with younger babies.

  2. Just wanted to say I agree fully!

    We put my 11 month old in the crib when she was not quite six months. She has always slept in a thin wearable blanket, and we didn’t even put a lovey in her crib until she was able to turn over on her own. Even now, nothing goes in her crib except her, her lovey and pacifiers. We only put breathable bumpers on after the umpteeth time she woke us up crying because she had managed to back both legs out of crib slats and couldn’t get them back in.

    Is there any tactful way to inform friends who might be unaware of the risks? I often see friends with new babies with pictures all to similar to the ones above. :(
    Jessica recently posted..Black Book Stack Linocut Print, Handpulled Literary 8×10 Block Print by CursiveArtsMy Profile

    • Gheesh I wish I knew. I get tons of email and I barely respond to 5%. But a great way to get a response out of me is to put some scary “my baby only sleeps on the recliner” line in there (seriously don’t do this, although truth it will vastly increase the odds of you getting a response).

      I’m in a slightly different situation because I have this website so it’s less out of left field for me to point out risks. So it’s not like we’re hanging at Starbucks and I’m all, “Hey I saw your FB picture and seriously what the hell are you guys doing with that crib?!?!”

      I would probably approach it something like this – if I were doing something unsafe I would want YOU to tell me. Because there are a million rules for babies it’s hard to keep up, yes? So I hope you know that it’s only because I love you that I wanted to throw out the thought that (insert whatever here) might not be a great idea. The AAP safe sleep statement suggests blah blah blah….
      Alexis recently posted..Everything You Ever Hoped to Know About Swaddle BlanketsMy Profile

    • PS Love your Etsy shop!

  3. I was meticulous is picking my daughter’s bedding. I hated everything that had bugs, monkeys, weird monochromatic designs. I finally found one that was feminine, simple, and elegant. All judging simply based on the quilt that came with it…brought it home and then realized I’ll never use the quilt. Grrr. (I blame first time parenting ignorance).
    I even got the bumper that comes with it at my shower, though I couldn’t remember registering for it. It’s still in the box. Why do they make them, if they are so unsafe?

    We have a breathable bumper, lovey, Wubbanub and a paci in there with her. It looks so bare, but I sleep better knowing she is safe.
    Jonelle recently posted..Survivors’ GuiltMy Profile

  4. I fully agree that super careful parents can make mistakes about crib safety. I always put my baby girl down on her back, use a breathable bumper, no blankets, etc. THEN, she started to pull up so we lowered the crib mattress. About two weeks later I realized lowering the mattress exposed the outlet behind the crib that has her white noise machine plugged into it. Oops!!! The double plug cover arrives tonight from Amazon!!!! Also, for those who have beautiful quilts they can’t use…we purchased a quilt hanging rod and now have it on the wall in the nursery. Looks great and there is no risk of it getting into the crib.

    • Great tip – WALLHANGING!

      My kids have outgrown the cute quilt phase so now we’re using them for picnics. Which is tantamount to ruining them as eventually they’ll get too stained to be even picnic worthy. But really there aren’t a whole lot of options when your 6 YO refuses to have a blanket on his bed that is covered with baby chicks ;)
      Alexis recently posted..Everything You Ever Hoped to Know About Swaddle BlanketsMy Profile

  5. Thanks for this! Reinforces that I was going everything right. My mother, for the last 15 months (as long as my son as been alive) has been harping on me to put the bumpers in the crib! I’ve tried to tell her that it is not safe or recommend but she says we had them when we were little and we turned out just fine! She also works with families with small children and told me that one of her clients wove the bumpers between the crib rails and it was just fine! Ugh! She drives me crazy!
    Kristin recently posted..Just One of Many “Lasts”My Profile

    • My MIL doesn’t speak English so if she things I’m doing things wrong, the language barrier prevents me from understanding this.

      Actually this stuff drives me nutz – my mom drank when she was pregnant with me because it was 1970 and everybody thought it was OK. I’m sure I’m doing tons of stuff that in 30 years we’ll have learned aren’t so great. I DON’T like to believe I’ll be closed off to whatever the current science is because I don’t want to be that sort of Grandma :P
      Alexis recently posted..Everything You Ever Hoped to Know About Swaddle BlanketsMy Profile

  6. My daughter is 14 months and has two small loveys (aptly named Piggy & Flat Bunny because we’re very creative) and that’s it. She likes to stick her legs through the slats which is all good until we try to put her in a Pack N Play. Many frustrating grunts and crys ensue as she kicks the sides in confusion.

    In addition to having a safe crib at home, it’s so important to know that others are educated when caring for your children. At Thanksgiving, my daughter was staying in the spare room at my in-laws. This room’s venting doesn’t work very well & it was so cold in there (Chicago in November). I was quite frustrated with this fact so I made my husband break down the PnP to fit it through the door & move it into our room. All while our baby cried. My mother-in-law came in & said, “If she’s cold, just put a blanket on her”. Apparently, drowsy/frustrated me whisper yelled back “We can’t put a blanket on her because that will kill her!”. Dramatic & rude. But still, no blankets!

    • Yeah Grandma stop trying to kill our baby!!!

      That actually made me laugh out loud. Probably because I’m a really really horrible person ;)

      My kids have tons of stuffed animals now and not a one has a clever name – doggy, Tiger, Ralph (that one came with a name tag). I had a hard enough time naming the kids, I can’t be expected to name their toys too do I?
      Alexis recently posted..Everything You Ever Hoped to Know About Swaddle BlanketsMy Profile

    • You probably already know this, but my suggestion- Sleep sacks. I put my daughter in them sometimes if our apartment gets drafty. They’re warm and cozy like a blanket, but without the suffocation risks.

  7. Our crib looks like that with the addition of 8 – 12 pacifiers scattered around. It’s the ball pit o’ pacis system we got from your website (because no bumpers means she kicks them out of the crib overnight, but this way odds are good she’ll eventually find one that has stayed in. :-)

    The one other thing I’d note is the rule should be don’t put a baby down on her stomach to sleep unless directed to do so by a doctor. The craniofacial clinic at our children’s hospital told us to do this at our visit around six months (by which point our daughter rolled herself any which way she wanted, anyway.) So sometimes specific medical conditions affect that rule.

    Overall, though, I’m amazed at how hard a time people have following these. We’re on vacation and the hotel provided a crib and linens. And the first thing we had to do was remove the bumpers and blankets the had set up all neatly in it. So frustrating to see them encouraging bad habits.

  8. I do not agree about the stomach sleeping. My son would not sleep on his back or swaddled and so in desperation, I put him on his tummy. He has slept amazingly every since and that started at 8 weeks. We have an Angel Care monitor along with a video monitor. And now at 10 months, he sleeps with a silky lovey. If you breastfeed, that cuts your risk by 50%. If you don’t smoke, that also cuts your risk in 1/2. Then if you use an Angel Care monitor, you can also have peace of mind. I know many people sleep their infants on their tummy and I do not think that is the cause of SIDs. There are many factors and no “right” answer. But it is important to have suffocation risks out of the crib, and so I do agree on that. Heaps of new moms worry over the back sleeping but have huge bumpers in the crib – that is more of a problem then sleeping on the back.

    • Hey Laura,
      Actually the medical statistics are against you on this. Tummy sleeping is a much bigger SIDS hazard than bumpers (although I’m not keen on either).

      Also the same AAP safe sleep statement also says to not use Angel Care monitors:
      “Do not use home monitors or commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS.”

      http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/AAP-Expands-Guidelines-for-Infant-Sleep-Safety-and-SIDS-Risk-Reduction.aspx

      Why not? Because they give people the sense that they are “protected” and thus can “safely” do things like have their baby sleep on their tummy.

      Don’t get me wrong – I bought one of these too because I thought it would give me extra safety. Of course I had postpartum anxiety and at the time would have bought anything that had the words “safe” and “baby” on it.

      Yours isn’t the only baby who sleeps amazingly on his belly. And breastfeeding and not-smoking are great! But the truth is that even when you accommodate all the potential risk factors that go into SIDS, tummy sleeping is not recommended.
      Alexis recently posted..Everything You Ever Hoped to Know About Swaddle BlanketsMy Profile

      • Here are the stats – those who are accustomed to back sleeping, then slept on their stomachs. My son is accustomed to sleeping on his stomach.

        African Americans (2X greater risk)
        American Indians (more than 2X greater risk)
        Mothers who smoke during pregnancy (3X greater risk)
        Babies who breathe secondhand smoke (2.5X greater risk)
        Babies who sleep on their tummies (5X greater risk)
        Babies put on their tummies to sleep who usually sleep on their backs (18-20X greater risk)

        SIDS is the leading cause of death for babies 1-12 months old.
        The peak age for SIDS death is 2 -4 months old; 90% occur between 1 – 6 months.
        SIDS is more likely to occur in the winter months (October – April).
        Unaccustomed stomach sleeping increases the risk by 18 – 20 times.

        Source: American Academy of Pediatrics, First Candle/SIDS Alliance, Reducing the Risk of SIDS in Child Care: Training for Child Care Providers. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2003

        My son is 10 months now, and I have no worry about it at this point (although we still use the Angel Care monitor even with a now Montessori floor bed). As a CNM, I do tell all my clients that back is best, but personally, I am not afraid of stomach sleeping. Myself and all 4 of my siblings stomach slept, and my sisters have slept all of my nieces and nephews on their tummies. I have a patient whose child died on their back after vomiting and then aspirating. That changed me and changed my thoughts about things personally.

        • Laura – the fact that you, your sibs and your nieces and nephews slept on their tummies and didn’t die is great but irrelevant to the debate about SIDS. You know about someone whose baby died while sleeping on its back, which effects how you feel about kids sleeping on their back — this is exactly why you CANNOT let anecdotal evidence color your decision about something like this.

          If you want to play the risk factor game you’ll most likely win, because most kids don’t die from SIDS… but that doesn’t make you right!!! I am horrified that you (a) have clients) and (b) advise them to let their kids sleep on their stomachs. Jesus.

          • If you had read my response I DO counsel all pts that back is best. However, for me personally the studies do not weigh out. It’s not anecdotal if you see the above research I posted from the AAP. There is low risk in stomach sleeping if you are also low risk and have been sleeping your infant that way. I go with the national recommendations in regard to education, but do not back is best in my personal household.

          • Matt, I agree with you, but also, Laura said she tells her clients that back is best. So she isn’t advising them to have their babies sleep on their tummies, she is only doing it with her own children. And again, I agree with you that it’s a gamble I’m not willing to take, but I thought it was important to note that.

            • Thanks – I stand corrected. It’s just odd that someone who advises her clients that “back is best” is commenting on a blog that maybe it isn’t…

              No one understands SIDS but, according to the doc Laura cites, it’s possible that tummy sleeping increases the risk of SIDS — whether or not the baby is accustomed to it — because the baby doesn’t have as much ability to lift its head. This is why tummy time is key but, hey — she was apparently comfortable that her kids were little Arnold Schwarzeneggers with their trapezius muscles.

        • The reality is that although it has not effected you, many children have died of SIDS and throwing around a few second hand statistics does not make you an expert. You have raised ONE child, experts compile research based on thousands of cases. Come on now!

          • If you read the stats from the AAP above, the risk is low for nonsmoking, breastfeeding, tummy sleeping. I have colleagues that sit on the infant death board for our state and the number one reason for SIDS is co-sleeping in our state. NOT tummy sleeping. I feel comfortable with my low risk status and the fact that I keep my son safe by not having bumpers, blankets or anything else in his bed and use an angel care monitor. Whether you believe it or not, the stats show that his risk is very low.

            • It’s really a moot point anyway at this time. He is 11 months old and as I watch him sleep on his baby monitor he goes from side to side and tummy. Once they can successfully move from tummy to back and back to tummy, there is no ped that recommends going in and turning your baby back over to the back all night long. SIDS risk goes down at 6 months and then again at 1 year. He’s been at this point for a long time where he has been able to move front to back and vice versa but prefers his tummy.

              Btw, the next cause for death after co-sleeping in our state is entrapment or wedging. Then related to soft objects in the crib. 59% of infants were placed on their backs in the summary from 2007-2009. It’s good to be informed of all the facts.

            • Hurrah for tummy sleeping, Laura. I’m with you. If they’re big enough to rollover, I think they’re fine.

              My six month old just grabbed at the peanut butter in my hand too. I probably should never eat peanut butter when she’s within reach. Someone call the parent police!

            • @bellybelly – exactly!

              As an aside, JUST had a dear friend who lost one of her 8 month old twins to SIDs. She did everything right – no bumpers, always on the back, nothing in crib, etc., etc. It has been devastating. So, I do not believe back is best – it obviously does not wholly prevent SIDs. It is solely current advice as they do not know what else to say to prevent SIDs.

            • Hold the phone here guys. Yes – once your baby is flipping over on their own then YAY you can leave them. And yes – people are getting overly freaked about peanut exposure with infants. Nobody here is a parent police.

              But listen – about a million people read my site each year and I try really hard to make sure that they’ll find only things that are true and safe. And what you just said just isn’t true. It’s not.

              There’s SIDS and SUIDS – Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Syndrome. That means that yes, in VERY RARE cases you can do everything right and still suffer a huge tragedy. It happens and it’s awful.

              It would be wrong however to suggest in anyway that we don’t know that “back to sleep” is best. It is and there is inarguable evidence to support this. It’s not given as advice because they don’t know what else to say. It’s given as advice because it’s been shown conclusively to dramatically reduce the incidence of SIDS.

              It’s one thing to say that when they’re old enough to roll over they can safely sleep on their tummy.

              It’s quite another to suggest that tummy sleeping is fine and the whole “back to sleep” thing is just something made up because nobody has any answers about SIDS. Because it’s not. So I’ll restate my very strong evidence-backed opinion on this:

              All babies need to be put down to sleep on their backs until they’re old enough to flip on their own. Fullstop.
              Alexis Dubief recently posted..I Dare You Not to SmileMy Profile

            • My friend is an OB and her child’s death diagnosis was SIDs.

              No. I’m sorry. There is not compelling evidence to say that back sleeping prevents SIDs. It is ONE thing in a combination of many that HELPS to prevent SIDs. But is not the one thing that prevents it. Please check your research. I do not think you are sharing all the facts or stats.

              It IS something that is being shared as one of the ways to prevent SIDs. Like all evidence based practice, it is ever evolving. As we learn more, we do better, but as a practitioner, I have learned that science and knowledge is always changing and progressing and there is always more than one right way to do things.

  9. Just a thought for those who find crib sets with adorable quilts: buy the hardware for hanging the quilt on the wall. This kind of thing is available at sewing and quilting shops, and it makes a very easy wall decoration! It also makes the decoration easy to change when you update your baby’s room – just sub in a new quilt!

    This post is full of good advice. My 9 month old sleeps in a crib with the mattress all the way down, with nothing in it but a fitted sheet on the mattress, wearing a sleep sack. And she sleeps just fine! Occasionally one of her sitters will put her down with a blanket or stuffed animal, but I do not. Mainly because I don’t want her staying awake talking to said item.

  10. Another great post!! I def didnt follow all these rules with DD–i did let her nap on her tummy when she was young but i was in the room watching her so i rationalized it that way…We did start using regular bumpers with her once she was able to roll on her own (around 5 months) b/c she would hit her head, get woken up and be annoyed. They arent the flotation device type lol but they arent the breathable ones either. We have not had any issues (she is 16 months now)-she loves to snuggle up against them and sleep-we also recently started giving her a blanket but the doc said no pillow yet. At what age can you give them a flat/light pillow?

  11. My baby is just about ten months old and sleeps in a sleep sack. Just wondering what your babies wear to sleep? I feel like the sack stops him from crawling around in his crib and from pulling himself to stand up, like he does when playing on the floor. However, I am afraid to use a blanket of any kind instead. Any suggestions other than the sleep sacks?

    • They make wearable sleep sacks that have holes for the feet, so he can still pull himself to standing and whatnot.

    • My baby is the same age and also is in a sleep sack. I actually am glad she can’t move around too much! My friends’ babies have been pulling themselves up, getting their legs stuck, taking off their diapers, etc. I like my peacefully sleeping baby, she rolls all over but doesn’t get into any trouble so I’ve never had to “rescue” her! Besides, it’s not like they need the practice when they should be sleeping.

    • Yeah generally more freedom in the crib = more problems (more freedom more problems!). For real. They pull up to standing then get “stuck” there, they pull off diapers (or pull presents OUT of diapers), etc. So while there is a chance that your sackless-baby would have no issue, be forewarned that sometimes less freedom is better :P
      Alexis recently posted..Everything You Ever Hoped to Know About Swaddle BlanketsMy Profile

  12. Hi Alexis, I really appreciate your website! I wholeheartedly agree with the bare crib. However, my 9 month old has recently decided to practice his woodchuck skills on his crib rail (he pulls up and gnaws on it). We discovered this *after* he’d chipped away the wood and stain in oh, about 20 places on the side facing him. Just wondering what your thoughts are on top-rail teething pads. We’re trying one now that is secured with velcro. He’ll probably play with it and eventually figure out how to remove it, but until then I figure it’s better than him ingesting wood chips and who-knows-what chemical from the varnish. Thoughts?

    • Hi Amanda,
      I am no expert, but I just wanted to let you know that when my LO was 9 months, we also discovered that he was part beaver, and purchased a top rail teething pad from Amazon. I can’t remember the brand, but it’s fleece and ties around the crib rails. I was terrified to put it on the crib, but we have never had an issue with it. The worst was when he had a horrible cold and used it as a tissue! So gross, but it is machine washable!
      I hope this helps!
      Jen

    • Amanda,

      Check out these hard plastic crib rail strips.

      http://www.babysupermall.com/main/products/pri/pri05205.html

      (Never mind the crib bumper in the manufacturer’s photo!)

      Depending on what type of crib you have, they snap on very tightly with no fasteners, no fabric, and virtually no way baby could harm himself if he gets strong enough to remove them on his own, other than whacking them or throwing them around.

      Also, for this reason (and because baby would be spending a lot of time in his crib in general) we chose a crib with all non-toxic finishes from the start.

      • I should also mention we didn’t buy this exact brand, but one similar that is BPA-free. The one we have is hard plastic, and I guess I missed the product description for the one I posted that says it’s soft plastic. Anyway, I can say from personal experience that this type of setup is best for teething.

        Good luck, and I hope Alexis has something to add soon about fabric teething rail protectors.

  13. i like playing devil’s advocate too :) i just read that in the scandinavian countries, babies sleep under something called a dune — a small down comforter — from the time they are born. and Finnish mortality rates are among the world’s lowest. http://www.babble.com/baby/baby-sleep-parenting-wisdom-scandinavia/

    • Yeah but Scandinavian countries are like the Bermuda Triangle of the planet. So many inexplicable things happen there:
      – It’s dark ALL THE TIME and they eat FERMENTED FISH yet they generally rank at the top of “happiest people” lists and Sweden is below the US in terms of suicide. (Did I mention the fermented fish part?)
      – They have AMAZING outcomes in education and trounce the US by all measures. Yet they have tons of recess, creative play, and barely bother with testing (which we do incessantly – no I’m not making a big political point about education in the US but I totally could ;)
      – Two words: Ikea and Abba ;)

      Also most Scandanivian countries have AMAZING prenatal care and INCREDIBLE family/child support post-birth so it’s hard to compare. A huge % of the US SIDS cases are linked to poor prenatal care (drug use, smoking, preterm birth, etc.).

      BTW – my husband who LOVES Biathalon is always trying to convince me we should move to Sweden. I just keep bringing up the point about the fish ;)
      Alexis recently posted..Everything You Ever Hoped to Know About Swaddle BlanketsMy Profile

  14. Thanks for being such a champion for safe sleep practices! I think many people fail to look at these risks and subsequent recommendations as a numbers game, a lottery. Well researched statistics don’t lie. It doesn’t matter if you or no one else you know has never had a problem; as soon as you choose to not follow recommendations, you are rolling the dice on your baby’s safety. Chances are, your baby will be fine. Not every baby would die even if you filled their crib to the brim with pillows and toys. It’s luck of the draw. At what point is it worth the risk? I choose not to roll the dice on this issue; there’s so many other dangers out there that I can’t control, at least I can minimize this one.

  15. We LOVE our big puffy bumpers! They wrap brilliantly around the living room coffee table and protected our 5 year old many, many times in our house back when she leared to crawl/stand and they are now tied on again as our 9 month old starts to pull to a stand … :)

  16. I like how your “safe” crib is pictured in front of what appears to be an electrical outlet. Are outlets safer for 3 year olds than babies?

    • Thank you for your “concern” for our son’s safety! That outlet has a plastic cover on it that is screwed into the wall so prying fingers couldn’t get into it.

      Look I’m not trying to hold myself up as the perfect parent. My house is a mess. I can’t get either kid to willingly consume a vegetable. I don’t iron things beyond “put it in the dryer for a few minutes.”

      But believe it or not, I do practice what I preach on the sleep front.
      Alexis recently posted..Eat Play Sleep FailMy Profile

    • Wow. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to place furniture away from an outlet. My lo’s crib is also in front of an outlet. And yes, it also has a plastic cover screwed in. Whether you follow the advice or not, there’s no need for sarcasm towards someone advocating for the safety of our children.

  17. My daughter is four months old and sleeps in a crib that only has a breathable bumper. She has a lovey, but it is dangled over the side. She rolls over wonderfully. Is it safe to put her lovey in with her? It’s a small Angel Dear one…stuffed lamb head with 12×12 mini blankey attached.

  18. Can you write something about the “drop crib” epidemic? We are inheriting a crib, and it was used by at least three kids, and everyone is fine. But it is considered a “drop crib”. Are you adamantly against that, or is it OK to use?

    Most people I know did not get rid of their cribs when the discussion about this started. But if you’re buying a new one, it’s not even an option anymore.

    • We also inherited a drop-side crib. It held two kids before us, and now my second daughter is in it. I actually adored the drop-side feature, but the issue came to light right before our youngest was born. Every manufacturer of drop sided cribs should have a kit that will make that feature non-functional. That’s what we bought. A heck of a lot cheaper than a new crib!!!

    • We have a drop-side crib we used for my older son (now 5). The manufacturer suppled a kit to secure the drop side and we’re using it that way for #2.

    • I wrote about it when they were recalled 2 years ago:
      http://www.troublesometots.com/dropside-cribs-recalled/

      If the crib is old (3 kids so I’m assuming it’s 6+ years old?) it may be worth investing in a new one. You can manually inspect the hardware and some manufacturers will give you a “lock down” kit so that it can’t fall. But I’m leaning towards finding a new inexpensive one only because the one you have seems…well used?

      I’ll be honest, my 3 YO was in a dropside crib that WAS 5 years old. I’m lucky in that my husband has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering so when he inspected/test it and declared it was safe and in no way a danger of “dropping unexpectedly” I went with that. Not everybody has a mechanical expert living in their house though so I suppose it’s a case by case basis.

      (Also my little guy wasn’t even sleeping in there till 1 but that’s a whole different story.)

  19. Quick question. I know that I need to put Little Man down on his back until he’s one, but why? He is 6 months old and he flips over every.single.time. If I dream feed, it wakes him up, because he flips himself over. I have not been able to find any reason/research to support putting him down on his back after he flips over, they just say let them flip themselves until a year. But since he learned how, my little guy has never not flipped over. So what’s the use? (That sounds rhetorical, it’s not, I really want to find the answer.)

    • And on a side note, our crib is totally empty (except the baby, on good nights…) We’ve never had any problems. He gets his hands/feet out of the crib rails, but thus far (knock on wood) hasn’t gotten them stuck. I figure for the most part, if he can get them out, he can get them back in, and it’s worked. The bumpers thing drives me batty. I want to call my friends who register for them and tell them not to use them! But I did find an idea on-line where people turned their bumpers (from a set) into a valence for the nursery’s windows. So if you get them with a crib set, that’s a thought!

    • Hey Jess,

      Somebody else here suggested using bumpers to keep babies from bonking their head on sharp furniture ;)

      I honestly believe that the reason the official line on “back to sleep till 1″ is to keep it REALLY CONSISTENT. There are plenty of Moms out there who are fuzzy about the “back to sleep” rule so I think the RULE is really about being clear and consistent.

      “back to sleep till 1″ is a lot easier to remember than “back to sleep till they flip in which case leave them to sleep in whatever position they get themselves into.”

  20. When my 6mo was born my MIL kept pressuring me to go run errands, get out of the house, etc. It was around Christmas so I dashed out a few times to do some last minute shopping. One time I came home and she had him on his tummy in the pack n play with like 3 blankets on top of him at 2 weeks old. She’s also a health care provider that works with infants. So frustrating!!!

    I didn’t realize bumpers were such a hazard once they were able to flip both ways? Many of my friends have the relatively thin ones and I was considering it myself to avoid limbs in the slats. Oops!!

  21. I have followed all the suggestions religiously since the beginning and I feel good about my choices for myself. I also did a ‘mattress wrap.’ If you’ve never heard of it, it’s based on the NZ studies and they seem to have had great success in reducing their SIDS rates. I figured it couldn’t hurt. This is the website. Check it out:
    http://www.babymattresscovers.com/

    • Haha we were typing the exact same thing at the same time! I’m glad you know about this too. So far my mom has had 12 grandchildren all sleep on mattresses with the baby safe cover (she buys them for us) and they did not get SIDS. That’s a small number compared to babysafe’s study but its made all my siblings/parents of the babies feel much better with having the cover on.

      • Do you follow their recommendations of not using a sleep sack? I was thinking about purchasing…

        • I don’t use the sleep sack. I put my boy in pajamas and that’s it. I regulate the temperature on our thermostat (he also tends to be a warm body like his dad). I have a sleep sack but the pajamas were working great so I have never used it. When he was 1-3.5 months I did swaddle him and use the swing. Once I transitioned him to his crib at 3.5 mons I just started using the baby safe cover from NZ that goes around the mattress and pajamas and a binky and I lay him on his back. He also flips himself on his side or stomach but as long as he flips himself from what I’ve read here its fine. Sometimes when he is deep asleep my husband or I will flip him back on his back but inevitably he ends up on his side or stomach again.

    • I’m not entirely convinced about the “mattress fumes” thing only because SIDS can occur on many sleep surfaces, not just baby mattresses.

      That being said I TOTALLY believe that manufacturing chemicals are probably horrible and would not at all be surprised to find out someday that it’s totally a contributing factor.

      • hmmm there has been quite a bit of controversy about these wraps and putting plastic over your mattress and I am pretty sure that the mattress wrap has been discredited….see the link below
        http://www.parentscentre.org.nz/parenting/suddeninfantdeathsyndrome.asp

        I live in NZ and discussed this with my Plunket nurse (we get home visits till our baby is 3 months old from the nurses then we visit them at the clinic till they are 1yo) and they did not recommend using the wrap. Their key points we ‘sleep on their back, face uncovered and smoke free environment’…..

  22. Alexis,
    Have you heard about the BabySafe mattress cover that has been 100% successful in preventing SIDS? since 1995 zero deaths have happened due to SIDS if the mattress cover was being used. It dropped the percentage of SIDS in New Zealand (where it was invented and is widely used by 72%)! My mom buys it for all the first grand kids so its on every baby mattress in our family. I believe in everything you have said about what to have and not have in the crib. But I think this is a very AMAZING AND SCIENTIFICLY proven product that should be mentioned in your article on SIDS prevention. As of December 2011 there have been over 226,000 babies sleeping on BabeSafe mattress covers with no death due to cot death/SIDS. To find out more you can go here. http://www.babymattresscovers.com/

  23. So we’ve never used bumpers. We’ve had a big problem with A’s paci rolling out of the bed. That’s over now because we’ve taken her paci away, but the hunts in the middle of the night, in the dark, on the floor were not fun… My mother, who raised 10 children (yes, 10) used bumpers and blankets for every single one with no problem, kept telling me to just use bumpers already.

    It is hard to think of your baby hitting hard wood as she rolls around in the middle of the night. That’s why people are still using bumpers, IMO… there just doesn’t seem to be a good crib design out there.

    • Totally agreed about crib design. Also? I can’t imagine being pregnant 10 times. I have a friend with 9 kids and most of our conversations go like this:

      “Seriously, how do you feed everybody?!?!”
      “We manage!”
      “Really? Do you go through 100 roles of toilet paper a month?”
      “You’re being ridiculous.”
      “OMG I can’t even get my head around the LAUNDRY!!!”

  24. Baby quilts are GREAT!! To put baby on to play on the floor, to put baby down in the grass at the park, to cover your duvet cover when you lie baby down on your bed to hang out with you…. there are zillions of uses for baby quilts. Just don’t use them in the crib.

    • See I get that quilts are cool but they’re too expensive to put in the grass! We have an old dumpy blanket I whip out for picnics but even though my kids are too old to want a baby quilt in their room I still can’t bring myself to get dirt/grass stains on that $100 quilt. Which now sits in the closet and is useless.

      Hmm….maybe I should just give up and accept the dirt/grass stains :P

      • First off, just wanted to say thanks for your site! I arrived here this morning because we are trying to get our 8-month-old to make it all night in her crib. We got into a bad, completely unintended habit of cosleeping that we are trying to break. (Seriously, I know all the rules – our crib setup follows them to a T – I work for our state’s social services agency and have been a CPS worker in the recent past, so I am very concerned about this and have been hanging my head in shame a lot lately. Going to focus on letting her get herself to sleep in the crib…but I digress.)

        Just wanted to echo the thoughts about quilt-as-wall-hanging. We got the stupid expensive PB quilt knowing it couldn’t be safely used in the crib, but I know we will use it once we convert the crib to a toddler bed, and in the meantime we slipped a cheap Ikea rod through the built-in rod pocket and hang it on the wall. This is a great solution for apartment-dwellers who can’t paint the baby’s room but want to add some color and softness to the room. My best friend’s mom also made her a second quilt to coordinate with our set so we can change things up a bit when we feel like it.

        Thanks again for all your great advice. I’m feeling encouraged that we can get out of this rut!

  25. Hi,

    I just want to point out that SIDS is not suffocation, so I am not sure what the relationship between the babysafe mattress and no SIDS deaths is other than coincidence. That no babies who are on this mattress have died of SIDS is great, but it’s not because of the mattress. This is not to say that the mattress can’t be used, it’s only to say that it shouldn’t be assumed that your baby won’t die of SIDS if you use it. Keep in mind that most babies won’t die of SIDS, anyway! It’s extremely rare. Whew!

    SIDS is the term that pathologists who are doing autopsies on deceased babies use for the cause of death when all other causes are ruled out (suffocation, illness, etc). When no cause is found (unexplained), the term SIDS is used. It is thought that SIDS has something to do with the brain’s sleep/wake mechanisms not working properly but this is still being researched. The stats that are mentioned are based on what was going on in the home, with the baby, etc who gets a SIDS diagnosis. Most were asleep on their tummies, hence the recommendation to sleep on back which is prob the most important thing a parent can do to reduce risk. Other “safe” habits like not using bumpers, blankets, toys, no couch sleeping, etc are more to prevent suffocation death, not SIDS. All are good to practice for safe sleeping! Great article!

    • Laura,

      I just want to point out that your opinion is not fact, nor have you gone to the website and done the necessary research to claim that the babysafe matress COVER (not mattress) can prevent SIDS. please, Go to the baby safe matress website to read & study about it if you are “unsure” Of what it is and why its effective. It’s not a mattress, it’s a mattress cover. A scientist found a cause and effect/ relationship to SIDS and the chemicals used in baby mattresses and bedding which release certain toxins which can stop breathing in babies. Yes SIDS is rare but the study included babies usind and not using the cover and in the same time period that over 975 died of SIDS NOT using the cover 0 ZERO died using the cover. Please do your research before stating that you know a product is not able to prevent SIDS.

      I urge you and others to go to the website and read about the scientists in New Zealand that found this correlation. Knowledge is protection and power.

    • It’s an interesting point. My understanding is that SUIDS (sudden unexplained infant death syndrome) is the technical term for when pathologists can find no cause of death. SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is the term for an infant who dies and there is determined to be a cause of death which tends to be linked to breathing recirculated air (ex. head was covered by a blanket) or some other physical scenario that resulted in insufficient oxygen intake. If an adult sleeps under a heavy quilt and isn’t getting enough oxygen your body will wake you up and you’ll move to remedy the situation. Infants haven’t yet developed this capability and/or are physically unable to remedy the situation.

      So based on my understanding the mattress/chemical theory could totally hold water because infants could be put in a position where the chemicals from manufacturing overwhelm their breathing. I’m not saying I’m 100% sold on the idea, but I totally think that it could be found to be true in the future.

      Also I hate talking about this because discussing the reasons why infants die is too horrible to contemplate. Ugh….

  26. Emily I hear you. Some nights it sounds like my daughter is playing a football game. That said she doesn’t wake up or seem to mind so we just shrug it off.

    We’ve been using a breathable sleepsack since three months and it’s worked quite well.

    I am always glad to hear about safe sleeping conditions as it’s not always clear what you should do. Great article Alexis.

    • Thanks Jason :)

      PS. Your daughter probably is playing a football game. Mine figured he could kick the wall through the crib slats. It used to sound like he was hosting a drum circle in there.

  27. Like so many new moms I bought the whole crib “set”. Bumpers, thick adorable quilt, ect. I bought cute stuffed animals to match too. Thankfully I’m an Internet advice junkie & learned the error of my ways before my baby graced us with his presence. I pray that baby stores everywhere just quit selling the stuff soon! Yes, your grandmother laid you on your stomach, covered you with blankets and gave you vodka for teeth pain & you survived, but this is 2013 & constant research has taught us a much better & safer way of doing things. Anyway, I’m thankful for people like you who raise awareness of better sleeping habits for babies. I always enjoy reading your emails!

    • Thanks Kaylee :)

      A good friend of mine is due with her 3rd any day now so we’ve been baby shopping. Sadly the crib “sets” STILL include bumpers. My friend is going to use her’s to cover the coffee table once baby is cruizing ;)

  28. I thought you weren’t suppose to put lovies or anything in the crib with them until they 1 years old? Is it okay to put a small security blanket or a lovie in his crib with him?

    • I’ve been confused about this too. How big should a lovey be? What about those small combo stuffed animal, blanket things? My 6 mo old loves it but I always take it away from him once he falls asleep.

    • This is a toughie. In general I’m very pro lovey. They can be really helpful for babies. But here’s the deal…

      The official AAP statement says no loveys till 1 year.

      Dr. Karp (who I love) says you can introduce them at 6 months. And by “lovey” he means something that is the small combo blanket thing you are thinking of. It’s not a security BLANKET, they’re generally less than a 12″X 12″ square.

      So who are you going to trust – the AAP for Dr. Karp (who is a noted member of the AAP)? Personally I lean towards offering the lovey. But I would totally talk to YOUR pediatrician about it. Also see if he’s interested. If baby totally ignores the lovey I wouldn’t leave it in the crib “just because.”

      Sorry not a concrete answer but there you have it…
      Alexis Dubief recently posted..Dr. Karp Part 2 Answers Two Key Swaddling QuestionsMy Profile

      • Thanks for the reply! His security blanket is an Aden and Anais muslin small (16×16) blanket. It can help him fall asleep. What I have been doing is letting him have it to fall asleep and taking it away once he’s asleep. Thanks for the info.

  29. I must say we have used bumpers since our bub was 6 months old as he travels the entire bed bed and kept bumping his head as well as getting arms and legs stuck, a few 2 am screams saw me put the bumpers in and no more dramas…before that he slept in bed with me (another no no) there is much to be learnt still about SIDS and doctors usually can’t pin point a cause. I was speaking to paediatrician who said he believes that some babies have cardiac arrhythmia’s leading to death :( not necessarily anything that we can really prevent!

    • I agree that we can’t really pinpoint the cause. But we can pinpoint the results which are fairly unambiguous. So we know that removing things like blanket, bumpers, and putting babies on backs to sleep results in a dramatic lessening of the rate of SIDS. If it were something “built in” (like arrhythmia or whatever) you wouldn’t see any change by making environmental changes.

      Also I’m not anti bumpers so if your kids are getting stuck then by all means use a bumper. Just stick to the breathable kind :)

  30. We used the bumpers to make a valance for the window and then made two throw pillows for our rocking chair…just an idea :-)

  31. Since this is my first comment, I first want to say that this blog has been a total lifesaver for my husband and me. This isn’t because our baby is a BAD sleeper (actually, she’s pretty magnificent), but because you have been able to give me good sleep advice that’s research-based and pretty much entirely in line with my parenting philosophy. You have helped me tune out the noise of too much advice. Thank you.

    That being said, we have recently committed a safe-sleep sin by buying and installing bumpers. In the past couple of weeks, my daughter has been repeatedly hitting her head on the crib, wedging herself in the corner, or getting her limbs stuck outside the bars. Since she is a proficient roller (both ways), this has become a bit of a safety risk in itself. We had to install bumpers–the regular kind–to keep her from continuing to wake up with redness/bruising on her head and to keep her arms and legs inside the crib. While I have totally toed the line on AAP sleep advice up to this point, this is one time when I found that it just wasn’t working for me.

  32. Hi there,

    I agree very much with most of what you’ve posted and I really appreciate the emphasis on having a bare crib. I want to point out, though, that most of those beautiful pictures of babies under fluffy blankets (or bathmats!) are not sleeping pictures, but newborn portraits. Most of them are professional quality and are a trend in baby photography – I’m sure that most have nothing to do with the actual environment that those babies sleep in.

    Thanks for your work! :-)

    • I honestly have no issue with funky newborn photos! Put your newborn baby in a basket of laundry, dress them like owls and have them sleep in a “nest” or what have you. I get the whole newborn photo thing (although frankly it’s not my bag – I’m more of a “chubby 8 month old baby photo” gal myself).

      But these are popping up in magazines et al which is why it makes me grumpy. These are all stock photography sold on sites that bloggers, reporters, etc. use which IMHO is a whole different thing than taking photos of your own newborn to put on your wall. Because we (I’m lumping myself in there with editors at the NYT because we’re practically the same right?!?!) are effectively using them for editorial purposes. And that’s where it gets to be a problem :P
      Alexis Dubief recently posted..Everything You Ever Hoped to Know About Swaddle BlanketsMy Profile

  33. i followed all the rules, or tried to with my now 8 month old. she however, has a mind of her own. since a week old ive found her on her stomach every morning, since 6 months, ive found her out of the crib every morning! needless to say, the crib is now converted to a daybed, with a rail along the side, a baby gate at her bedroom door, every single outlet in the room covered. now shes escaping the room too, so ive got a lock on the toilet in the bathroom next to her room. she hasnt napped since 3 months old! i adore her, but im nearly out of hair to tear out now! that said, i absolutely love your blog, and the overstuffed toys, blankets and bumpers drive me nuts too. we just used the breathable one.

  34. As soon as I put my almost 6 month old son in his crib, he immediately rolls over on his tummy, and then about half the time proceeds to fall asleep with his FACE DOWN – literally, face buried in the mattress so I can’t even see his little button nose. Has anyone else experienced this face down issue? Should I be worried? Is there anything I can do? I keep checking up on him and turning his face to the side for naps, but obviously cannot always do this at night. He is otherwise healthy, seems to breathe in his sleep ok and his crib is junk-free :).

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