Whether new or old, your crib should meet all current government safety standards. Newer standards are
Cribs should no longer have drop-rails. They are not safe for babies.
Cribs must have stronger parts and hardware than in the past.
If you have an older crib that was made before the new safety standards were put into place:
Check with the maker of the crib. They may offer hardware to keep the drop side from moving.
Check the crib often to make sure the hardware is tight and no parts are broken or missing.
Check to see if your crib has been recalled before you use it.
Think about buying a new crib that meets the current standards, if you can.
Whether the Crib Is New or Older
Always use a firm, tight-fitting mattress. This will help keep the baby from getting trapped between the mattress and the crib.
Always check the following. There should be:
No missing, loose, broken or poorly installed screws, brackets or other hardware on the crib.
No cracked or peeling paint.
No more than 2 3/8 inches (about the width of a soda can) between crib slats, so that the baby's body cannot fit through the slats.
No missing or cracked slats.
No corner posts over 1/16th inch high so it will not catch the baby's clothing.
No cutouts in the headboard or footboard, so that the baby's head will not get trapped.
Using a Crib
Read and follow the directions to set up, use, and care for the crib. Some dos and don'ts are:
Never use a crib with loose or missing parts or hardware. If parts are missing, stop using the crib and contact the crib maker for the right parts. Do not replace them with hardware store parts.
Never place a crib near cords from hanging window blinds, curtains, or drapes. Babies can get caught in the cords and strangle.
Hammocks and other swinging devices should not be put onto a crib because they could strangle a baby.
The crib mattress should be lowered before the baby can sit up on his own. The mattress should be at its lowest point before the baby can stand up.
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 hands and knees (or when he reaches 5 months).
These toys can strangle a baby.
Children should be taken out of a crib by the time they are 35 inches tall.
Safe Bedding for Children
Though it is rare, some babies die without any known reason in their sleep. This is known as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
You can do many things to keep your baby safe during sleep and reduce the chance of a SIDS death.
Place your baby on his or her back on a firm, tight-fitting mattress.
Do not use pillows, bumper pads, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, stuffed toys, or any other object that could suffocate or strangle your baby.
Use a sleeper gown to cover your baby instead of a blanket.
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.
Hunt CE, Hauck FR. Sudden infant death syndrome. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 367.
Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.