Choosing a Crib: Put Safety First

"Make Every Night a Safe Night" is the theme of Baby Safety Month 2010, sponsored by The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA).

Baby's CribFurniture and gear designed for baby's sleep needs for both night and daytime, and at home and away, are among the most important purchases that new parents make. Choosing which products to buy for your baby can be difficult, especially since there are so many options these days, but, without question, the most important criteria for selecting cribs and naptime gear is safety.

Follow these guidelines from JPMA when shopping for your baby's crib:

Each year, approximately 50 babies suffocate or strangle when they become trapped between broken crib parts or in cribs with older, unsafe designs. Many older cribs, including the one that was used for you or your younger children, do not meet all current safety standards. Even if you are on a tight budget, resist purchase an old crib at a garage sale or accept a hand-me-down that does not meet the following guidelines:

Choosing Your Baby's Crib

  • Infants should ALWAYS sleep in a crib, which meets current Federal and ASTM standards.
  • The crib mattress should fit snugly with no more than two fingers width, one-inch, between the edge of the mattress and the crib side. Otherwise, the baby can get trapped between the mattress and the side of the crib.
  • No pillow-like bumpers.
  • Look for the JPMA Certification Seal

Tips for Use

  • Remember to ALWAYS keep the drop side up when the baby is in the crib.
  • NEVER place the crib near windows, draperies, blinds,or wall mounted decorative accessories with long cords.
  • Make sure there are no missing, loose, broken, or improperly installed screws, brackets or other hardware on the crib or the mattress support.
  • Crib slats or spindles should be spaced no more than 2 3/8" apart, and none should be loose or missing.
  • Never use a crib with corner posts over 1/16 of an inch above the end panels (unless they're over 16" high for a canopy). Babies can strangle if their clothes become caught on corner posts. These should be unscrewed or sawed off, and the remaining end panel should be sanded smooth.
  • No cutout areas on the headboard or footboard so baby's head cannot get trapped.
  • ALWAYS use a crib sheet that fits securely on the mattress, wraps around the mattress corners and stays securely on the mattress corners.
  • No cracked or peeling paint.
  • No splinters or rough edges.
  • Use bumper pads only until the child can pull up to a standing position. Then remove them so baby cannot use the pads to climb out of the crib.
  • Mobiles should also be removed when baby can pull himself or herself up.
  • NEVER place infants to sleep on pillows, sofa cushions, adult beds, waterbeds, beanbags, or any other surface not specifically designed for infant sleep.

For Babies Under 12 Months

  • Normal, healthy infants should ALWAYS sleep on their backs unless otherwise advised by a pediatrician.
  • Only a fitted sheet, mattress pad, and/or waterproof pad should be used under baby.
  • When baby is put to sleep, remove pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, pillow-like stuffed toys, and other pillow-like products from the crib.
  • Cover baby with a thin covering, such as a crib blanket, receiving blanket or other blankets specifically designed for infants, only reaching as far as baby's chest, and tuck the covering around the crib mattress. For newborns, consider swaddling.
  • Do not overdress your baby. Consider using a sleeper, sleep sack, or other sleep clothing as an alternative to any covering.

Second-Hand, Used, or Heirloom Cribs

  • WARNING! Many cribs are on the CPSC's Most Wanted recall list. Check this list before accepting any used crib -- and check any cribs that are being used in your daycare or caretaker's home.
  • ALWAYS check to see if a recall has been issued and/or if repair parts are available for a crib that is being reused. Visit for recall information.
  • It is recommended that second-hand products should not be used for baby. However, if it is imperative to use older products, make sure they have not been recalled, meet current safety standards and have all the manufacturer instructions and labeling requirements.
  • Don't forget to frequently inspect products for missing hardware, loose threads and strings, holes and tears.
  • Be sure to look for the JPMA Certification Seal for added assurance the product was built with safety in mind.
  • Prior to using a hand me down crib, be sure that all manufacturer's instructions and labeling are still intact and legible.
  • Do not purchase cribs at a garage sale, thrift shop or other online auction sites as products sold are not checked for recalls or regulated by the government or industry.
  • Items sold at second-hand locations have a higher chance of having missing, broken or loose parts.

Safety tips adapted from The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA).