Planning your nursery is one of the most exciting times in your life.
You want to welcome your new arrival into just the right setting, one that reflects your love, personality, and style. At the same time you want to select only the safest furnishings and furniture. So have a blast creating just the room you want, while following the safety tips here. Next time around, Junior’s going to have his own opinions about the décor.
Keep cords out of reach. Never place a crib or bassinet within reach of the cords for window blinds or curtains. This is of lifesaving importance. If your baby can reach these cords, he or she may become entangled when you are not looking. Best bet: Use cordless blinds. (See our nursery safety tips video for related information.)
Cut cord loops. The pull cords on some older window blinds and curtains have loops. If you have these, cut the loops to eliminate the strangulation hazard. Place a cord tassel over each cut end and tie a knot to hold the tassel in place. If you are purchasing new window treatments for rooms where children will be, use cordless treatments.
Hang nothing over the crib. Don’t hang pictures, shelves, or anything else over the crib or changing table. It’s not worth the risk that something will fall on your baby. And in the crib, there is the possibility that your child could pull something down as soon as she can pull herself to a standing position, usually at about age 6 to 8 months.
Don’t put a baby monitor of any kind in the crib or within reach of the child in the crib. Children have been strangled to death by monitor cords placed in and within reach of their cribs.
Cut strings off hangings. Some wall hangings have cords or strings that might entangle your child. Make sure any wall hangings like this are well out of your child’s reach, or better yet, cut off the strings.
Install window guards. Even though you won’t put the crib next to a window, it’s a good idea to install window guards when you prepare the nursery. That way, you won’t have to run to the store to get them the day your baby starts crawling, walking, and before you know it, climbing. Get window guards that you have to screw into the window frame. Don’t get pressure-fit guards, because children can dislodge them by pushing or leaning on them.
An insect screen will not prevent a child from falling through an open window. Whether you live in an apartment building or a house, and even if the nursery in on the first floor, you should install window guards. They are sold in different sizes and can be adjusted for width. Be sure they are screwed into the side of the window frame, are tightly installed, and have bars that are no more than 4 inches apart and leave no more than a 4-inch gap at the bottom. Some guards allow for escape in case of emergency. If this is the type you choose, make sure they’re difficult for very young children to open.
Window stops work, too. As an alternative to window guards, you can purchase window stops to attach to the window frame. They can be added to a window frame to prevent the window from opening more than 4 inches. Some new windows come with window stops already installed.
Keep furniture away from windows. An open window can become an even greater hazard when your toddler begins to climb onto furniture. When you first arrange the nursery, keep furniture that a toddler might climb on away from windows. That way you won’t be taken by surprise by his or her climbing abilities. Also be aware that if the room contains a stool or other small, light furniture, your toddler may be able to move it to an open window. Stash it on a high shelf inside a closet.
Skip the crib gym. The safest crib is one that is free of crib gyms and toys that stretch across the crib using strings, cords, or ribbons. They can be dangerous for older or more active babies, and you have no way of knowing what your baby is doing in the middle of the night.
If you feel you must use crib gyms and/or crib toys, you can reduce the risk. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that these items be free of points your child’s clothing could get caught on, securely installed at both ends, kept out of reach of a child (for looking at only), and removed when children are 5 months old or beginning to push up on their hands and knees. Remove strings and cords from all toys and be sure there aren’t any strings hanging into the crib or within reach of your baby.
Crib mobiles are for looking at, not for touching because they often have string or small pieces. Make sure your little one can’t reach the mobile so he can’t become entangled or pull anything off it. When your baby is able to push himself up on his hands and knees, the mobile should be removed from the crib.
Keep mobiles out of reach. If you have a mobile or anything else hanging from the ceiling over the changing table, be sure it isn’t low enough for your child to reach. And don’t place your changing table next to curtain cords. A lot can happen even when your attention and both hands are focused on changing your baby.
Use anti-tip restraints. Fasten your changing table as well as any bookcases, armoires, and dressers to the wall with anti-tip restraints. Even seemingly stable furniture can become a tipping hazard—for example when a curious toddler opens all the drawers of a dresser. You could accidentally tip a furniture piece yourself. Some furniture comes with a strap or other way to fasten it to the wall. Or you can purchase a separate anti-tip fastener. In most cases you attach the anti-tip device to the furniture itself and then screw the unattached end into a stud in the wall to prevent it from tipping. Follow the specific directions that came with the device. (See our video on child safety and tipping furniture.)