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Tips for Crib Safety

Comparing modern and classic styles and searching for the perfect bumper set shouldn't be your priority when choosing your baby's crib. Unsafe crib conditions contribute to sudden infant death syndrome, which — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — is the leading cause of death for infants up to 1 year of age. Choose wisely, then routinely inspect your baby's crib.

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Pass Up Hand-Me-Downs

Cribs are pricey, so accepting a used one from a friend or picking one up at a yard sale is understandably tempting. But older cribs may not adhere to current safety standards and any equipment that's had a lot of use could have sharp edges, weak spots or peeling paint. Buying new is your safest option. If purchasing a new crib isn't possible, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends using one that is no more than 10 years old. Check to ensure that an older crib hasn't been recalled for safety issues.

Go to the Mattresses

All crib mattresses are not created equal. And because they're often sold separately from the rest of the crib, Consumer Reports suggests buying the two at the same time so you can ensure that the mattress fits snugly into the crib frame. If you can slip two fingers between the mattress and any part of the crib, the mattress is too small. While you're mattress shopping, buy crib sheets with deep pockets and snug elastic on all sides. Tight sheets can't slip up and tangle around your baby.

Leave Baby Alone

Only two things should be put into the crib frame: the sheet-covered mattress and your baby. Don't fret that he'll be lonely without a cozy stuffed animal or chilly without blankets. Dress your baby in a sleep sack on cool nights, or if he still feels cool, firmly tuck a thin blanket under the sides and one end of the mattress and slide your infant in. Bumper pads, animals, pillows, toys and thick blankets — like quilts — pose suffocation risks for your baby.

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Location, Location, Location

Don't rely on feng shui to choose the perfect crib position in your nursery. Place the crib away from windows as well as heating and cooling sources. If sun rays peek through gaps in the sides of your window shades, add additional coverings so your baby won't sleep in direct sunlight. Now's the time to install window guards and tie up window cords, even if your baby can't yet reach them. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends sharing your bedroom — but not your bed — with your infant. Monitoring his sleep and late-night feedings will be easier.

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