Nurseries are a big business. Everyone wants their child to have beautiful, serene spaces complete with soft colored walls, adorable furnishings, soft textures, and lush fabrics. Many parents-to-be often start dreaming up the perfect nursery as soon as they see the positive on the pee stick or after they get their first glimpse of their baby on the ultrasound screen. With that, they turn to creative social media outlets to collect ideas, inspirations, and Do It Yourself (DIY) tutorials to create the perfect space.
Or sometimes, there are parents whose child is already here, but they’re dealing with issues that concern them, such as chewing on the crib rails or banging their heads on the slats as they roll around in sleep or in frustration. They don’t want to take their child out of the crib, but they are concerned with the crib being chewed on, or the bumps and bruises that their child might incur. As a result, they turn to social media for ideas, tricks, and tips in the attempts of trying to make their child’s sleep space “safer” and prevent injuries and annoying behaviors from happening.
Let’s just save you the money, time, and potential heartache. DON’T.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is especially strong in its stance that nothing be in the crib with the baby for the first year of life. In their updated 2016 report, they clearly state that after 12 months of age, blankets and loveys are up to the discretion of the parent, but pillows are a strong NO until the age of two. Bumpers, crib rail covers, crib tents, and toys that attach to the crib rails/slats are never acceptable in the baby’s sleep space. All of those products, whether they are commercially made or lovingly handmade, present an enormous risk for strangulation, entrapment, and suffocation, even if your child is over a year old.
Bumper pads and other products that attach to the crib sides or rails, often claim that they are protecting babies from injury or reducing wear and tear of the crib, and there are countless products, DIY tutorials, and images on social media that show and encourage parents to modify the crib and sleep space. Every single product goes against the AAP safe sleep recommendations. Every single one.
There is no published data that show that any of the crib modification products prevent injury, or even save the furniture, but there is plenty of data showing that these modifications have been implicated in the deaths of babies and toddlers in their sleep space. In fact, bumper pads have been implicated in 67% of baby sleep deaths in a study that looked at data compiled by the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) from 1985-2005. That is a horrifying statistic, in the name of vanity, aesthetics, and false ideal of safety from potential injury. It is also especially important to note that bumper pads that profess to be “breathable” are only using a marketing term and did not pass safety tests. Scientific definition of “breathability” involves the ability for moisture vapor to move through the fabric, when you sweat. Not to actually breathe.
If your crib comes with rail covers, they had to undergo and pass strict safety standards in order to be sold with the crib, which means that they are acceptable to use. It is highly important that parents follow instructions on how to place the covers on correctly, as well as read the warnings that are included in the crib manual.
For the parent who is dealing with little beavers and head-bangers, here are three tips to help manage these scenarios.
1. Don’t do anything. Babies who bump their heads while sleeping learn quickly about the confines of their space. It might happen a few times, and you’ll likely wince at the bruise on their forehead the next day, but there’s not much to do except let them figure out how far they can roll until they reach the slats. If you are especially concerned, then move them to a pack and play, which is an approved sleep space, and let them bang their heads on the mesh walls.
2. Don’t feed in to it. Babies learn quickly on whether an action of theirs garners a desired reaction. If the baby wants to get out of the crib and learns that banging their heads will do it, they’ll do it again. The best thing to do is to acknowledge once that banging their heads must have hurt, but it is time to go to sleep or stay in bed. Being consistent in your stance will help the undesired behavior go away.
3. Give them something to chew on. If you suspect that your baby is teething or is chewing from boredom, make sure to give them lots of opportunities to chew on teething toys or frozen treats during waking hours. Wear out their desire to chew before it’s time for sleep. In reality, it is just a crib and your baby’s safety is not worth the risk of trying any crib modifications that could harm or kill them.
As tough as it may be, it is important to note that bumps, bruises, or even broken bones/teeth on your baby is better than their death, but the overall risk of a broken bone is very low. However, there is not a single infant death that would have been prevented by having a bumper or modification in the crib, but there have simply been too many deaths by having these products in the crib.
When it comes to creating the sleep space for your child, a bare crib with only a fitted sheet is the safest setup. While this may be a downer to your ideas and plans of the dream nursery, keep in mind that there are countless ways to beautify your child’s nursery without sacrificing safety. Curtains, rugs, chairs, and home décor accessories can help create a beautiful space and not put your child at risk of suffering a death caused by suffocation, strangulation, or entrapment. For further information about keeping your child’s sleep space safe, visit the AAP and CPSC to learn more about acceptable products to use within your child’s nursery.