The best beds for babies are full-size cribs. Cribs are covered by mandatory federal safety standards.
In June 2011, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned the sale of drop-side cribs (cribs with sides that go up and down) because faulty or defective hardware and drop-sides that have detached from the cribs have seriously harmed or killed many babies. The new safety rules also require that a crib’s mattress support, slats, and hardware be stronger than in the past.
- Buy a new crib if you can, as opposed to using a hand-me-down, or one purchased on craigslist.com or similar sites.
- Be sure the crib has sides that don’t move.
- Buy the crib mattress when you buy the crib. Make sure it fits snugly. Otherwise, a baby may get trapped in the space between the mattress and the crib. You should not be able to put more than two fingers between the mattress and the crib frame.
If you get a used crib, make sure:
- It doesn’t have drop sides that move up and down.
- It does not have any broken, missing, or loose slats, spindles, or hardware.
- Corner posts are less than 1/16 inch high (or more than 16 inches high). Otherwise, clothing could get caught and your baby could be strangled.
- The paint is not peeling or cracking.
- There are no splinters or rough edges.
- It does not have cutout designs in the headboard or footboard.
- Always place your baby on his back to sleep, unless your health care provider tells you not to.
- Dress your baby in a sleep sack or pajamas with feet to keep him warm, instead of adding a blanket or any loose bedding to the crib.
- Do not use an electric blanket or heating pad. A baby’s skin burns easily.
- Only use a sheet made specifically for a crib.
- If you feed your baby in your bed, put her back in her crib to sleep. Do not let her sleep in your bed.
- You could roll over on her, or she could fall off or suffocate.
- Do not put your baby to sleep on a sofa, waterbed, quilt, sheepskin, pillow, or soft mattress. He could fall or suffocate.
More safety tips
- To prevent risk of suffocation, do not use bumper pads or any type of soft bedding such as pillows, quilts or comforters in the crib.
- Do not use sleep positioners designed to keep a baby on his or her back. They can pose a risk of suffocation.
- Do not use bedside sleepers. These are baby beds that attach to or abut against an adult bed. They can pose a strangulation risk.
- For children under 2 years of age, never use a portable bedrail to prevent a child from falling from an adult bed.
For more information, visit Babies & Kids on the Consumer Reports website.
Copyright 2011, Consumers Union of United States, Inc. All rights reserved. No redistribution allowed.
Most common questions
What is the safest crib for my baby?
A full-size crib is best for your baby. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is reviewing safety standards on cribs and urging parents to avoid drop-side cribs (cribs with sides that move up and down). Many of these kinds of cribs have been recalled. It's best to have a crib with sides that don't move. Other things to keep in mind:
- Crib mattresses should be firm and tight-fitting. Otherwise, a baby may get trapped in the space between the mattress and the crib.
- You shouldn't be able to put more than two fingers between the mattress and the crib frame.
- Sheets should fit snugly.
- Don’t use bumper guards on cribs because they pose a suffocation risk. Newborns and small infants aren't able to pull themselves free if they become stuck between the bumper pad and the side of the crib.
- If you have a used crib, check the CPCS website to see if it's been recalled.
- Make sure corner posts are less than 1/16 inch. Otherwise, clothing could get caught and your baby might strangle.
- There shouldn't be more than 2 3/8 inches between crib slats so a baby's body cannot fit through.
What kind of car seat is safest for my baby?
If possible, buy a new car seat. That way, you're sure that it's never been in a car crash. If you're using a used car seat, be certain it is not more than 6 years old, has never been in a crash and hasn't been recalled (check the Consumer Product Safety Commission for recalls).
Look for a model with a five-point harness (two shoulder straps, two leg straps and one crotch strap). It's the safest for baby. You can choose an infant-only seat, which is always used rear-facing. You can also choose a convertible seat. These start out rear-facing but can change to a front-facing seat when your baby gets bigger. Other tips:
- Recline a rear-facing car safety seat at about 45 degrees or as directed by the instructions that came with the seat.
- Get a free inspection to make sure the seat is installed right.
- If you have a baby who is premature or has a low birthweight, look for a car safety seat with the shortest distance between the crotch strap and the seat back. Ideally, pick one with a crotch-to-seat back distance of 5 1/2 inches.
- Pay close attention to the lower weight limit of the car seat. The typical car seat is only suited for newborns that weigh more than 5 pounds. Look for infant seats that can accommodate a baby who weighs 4 pounds or less. Some manufactures sell inserts to attach to a regular infant car seat for preemies or low-birthweight babies.