An illustration of baby products for a nursery.
Illustration: Jack Richardson

As a mom who also writes about product safety, my new-parent friends are maybe just a little tired of hearing my repeated warnings about all the products they need to watch out for in their infants’ nurseries.

And it’s true, the standard advice—babies should be put to bed on their backs on a firm, flat surface free of soft bedding—can sound cold. But here’s what I also want my friends to know: You don’t have to sacrifice comfort to create a safe sleep space. You just need to think creatively about how to achieve it. Here are some ideas.

Instead of a Loose Blanket in Your Infant’s Crib, Go With Sleep Sacks or Swaddles
Any soft bedding is a no-no because it increases the risk of suffocation. But keep your baby warm overnight and during naps in a cuddly sleep sack, which is a kind of wearable blanket. That has the extra benefit of being something your baby can’t kick off. You can also wrap your newborn in a swaddle—essentially a small blanket wrapped and tucked in around your baby. That simulates the snug environment of the womb and can help babies sleep more soundly. To swaddle safely: Leave legs and hips loose so your baby can stretch, and stop swaddling when they begin to try to roll over, typically around 2 months.

More on Home Safety

Instead of Pillows, Toys, and Padded Bumpers in the Crib, Go With Mobile-Type Toys
Pillows of any type—even those marketed to treat minor flat-head syndrome—can be a hazard. But it’s okay to have toys suspended above your baby’s crib, as long as they’re out of reach. And of course, go ahead and make the rest of the baby’s room cozy, with embroidered pillows, soft toys, or stuffed animals, as long as they are out of reach.

Instead of Bed-Sharing, Go With Room Sharing
Don’t have an infant in bed with you except for nursing or comfort. But it’s a good idea to keep the baby’s crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard in your bedroom, close to your bed. That cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome by as much as 50 percent, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, and will make it easier for you to feed, comfort, and watch your baby.

Instead of an Inclined Sleeper, Go With a Bouncy Seat
Inclined sleepers—tiny, hammocklike beds for infants—were essentially banned by the CPSC in June 2021 after they were linked to numerous infant deaths. But it’s still fine to use a bouncy seat. That’s a similar-looking product but is meant to be used when the baby is awake and being supervised. If your baby begins to nod off in the seat, move them to a crib, bassinet, or play yard.

Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the March 2022 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.