Why you shouldn’t put anything other than your newborn in the crib


Let’s face it, baby stuff is cute, and shopping for your bundle of joy is super exciting! It’s easy to get carried away by baby prep and buy everything you put your hands on, like those cute stuffies and soft blankets. 

But some things can create an unsafe sleep environment for your little one and should never be placed in or even near the crib. Read more to know why you should never put anything other than your newborn in the crib and which items are a definite no-go.

Why shouldn’t you put anything in your baby’s crib?

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, “bare is best”. The only thing allowed in a crib or bassinet should be the fitted sheet. This is because newborns cannot lift their heads to move away from objects such as pillows, blankets, bumpers, and sleep positioners. These objects pose the risk of suffocation. 

Alternatively, your baby should not sleep in a semi-upright or reclined position, instead, they should lay flat on their backs. In a semi-upright or reclined position, your baby’s head could tilt forward and block their airways, with your baby unable to lift their head to breathe.

Here are some reasons why you should avoid placing items in the crib with your baby:

  • Suffocation risk: Soft bedding such as pillows and blankets, stuffed animals, and bumper pads, can pose a suffocation risk to infants. Babies may not have the strength or coordination to move these items away from their faces, increasing the risk of accidental suffocation.
  • Overheating: Extra items in the crib can contribute to overheating, which is a risk factor for SIDS. It’s essential to keep the baby’s sleep environment cool and comfortable by dressing them in light layers and avoiding excessive bedding.
  • Airflow restriction: Items in the crib can obstruct the flow of fresh air around the baby. Good air circulation is crucial for reducing the risk of respiratory issues and ensuring the baby receives enough oxygen while sleeping.
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) prevention: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a bare sleep environment for infants to reduce the risk of SIDS. Placing the baby on their back to sleep on a firm mattress without any soft bedding or toys is considered the safest sleep environment.
  • Rolling hazards: Placing soft items, such as pillows or toys, in the crib increases the risk of the baby rolling into or against these items, which could pose a suffocation risk.
  • Crib safety standards: Following the guidelines and safety standards for crib design and usage is crucial for providing a safe sleep environment for infants. Adding extra items to the crib may compromise its safety features.

Here’s a list of some other things that you should keep in mind when keeping in/around your little one’s crib:

1. Mattresses of a different size

Whether you purchase a new crib or buy one second-hand, you should never place a mattress that is a different size or one that has not been specifically designed for the crib you use.

The mattress should fit safely and snugly in the crib (with no more than a two-finger gap). If the mattress is too small, your baby could get stuck between the mattress and the side of the crib which could lead to suffocation.

If you do end up with a new, well-fitted mattress, ensure you take the plastic cover off. You might think keeping it on will protect the mattress from throw-ups or blowouts, but these too pose the threat of suffocation or choking.

2. Crib mobiles

Mobiles can be used with your crib but up to a certain point and with caution. While mobiles are cute and often help to soothe your baby, there are certain risks involved, such as injury, and overstimulation.

If you choose to use a mobile, it needs to be securely attached, you should follow the installation instructions to a T and check it periodically to ensure the screws hold fast. When your baby is old enough to sit up unassisted, usually around 5 months of age, remove the mobile completely to prevent your baby from grabbing it. 

Fallen mobiles are quite dangerous for your little one. Your little one could become trapped, choke, suffocate, or get severely injured if a mobile falls on them. So, please, proceed with caution. 

3. Bottles

As parents, you will find yourself waking up at odd hours often to feed your baby. You might be tempted to leave a bottle in the crib with your little one to get a few more minutes of shut-eye, but here’s why you shouldn’t.

Aside from being a choking hazard, which it is, leaving a bottle in the crib with your baby can also lead to other concerns. As per the Cleveland Clinic, baby airways are very narrow which makes them gag or choke when drinking milk or formula. Usually, the liquid in bottles flows faster than your little one can swallow which also causes gagging or choking.

For teething babies, placing a bottle in the crib can cause tooth decay. If your little one falls asleep with milk or formula in their mouth, it can pool around their teeth. The sugars within these liquids turn into an acid which decays tooth enamel.

4. Crib bumpers

Crib bumpers, which used to be popular, are now banned in the U.S. as of 2022. Padded bumpers can cause entrapment, suffocation, or strangulation. On a side note, inclined sleepers are also banned. Despite crib bumpers being marketed as safe sleep products, the AAP advocated for the ban of these products for years because of the risks they pose to infants.

5. Blankets, pillows, comforters, and quilts

Babies do not need blankets or stuffed animals and certainly not decorative comforters with buttons or loops. All of these items can cause choking, strangulation, or suffocation and should never be placed in the crib until your baby is old enough. Using these items during tummy time is okay, but when it’s time for bed, remove them from the crib.

As with all things baby-related, going with your gut, doing your research, and using good old common sense will go a long way to ensuring the safety of your little one. And remember, when in doubt consult your pediatrician.

6. Sleep positioners

Also called ‘anti-roll’ products or nests, sleep positioners were designed to keep a baby in one position while asleep. Unfortunately, while these products are marketed as a way to help babies sleep longer and better, they can cause accidental suffocation. Your little one won’t need this or any other item listed above to sleep well. All they need is a flat, firm surface and comfortable, warm clothing.

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