Baby-proofing the baby’s room

Consumer Reports News: April 07, 2008 04:34 PM

Your baby spends lots of time in the nursery, so you’ll want to make sure it’s as secure as possible, especially as your baby becomes mobile. Do this quick safety check to help prevent baby’s-room mishaps:

Baby furniture. Check all baby equipment frequently for loose or broken parts or malfunctioning hardware. Stop using anything, particularly a crib, if it has broken or missing parts. Avoid high chests or tables. Bolt bookcases and chests to the wall so they won’t tip if a child climbs on them. As we’ve mentioned previously, use furniture straps. They secure a piece of furniture to the wall to prevent it from tipping or toppling over when a child grabs on to balance himself or tries to climb. Some furniture may come with straps; if not, you can purchase them separately. Your anti-tip device will come with instructions and it is important that they are installed correctly in order to be effective. In most cases, you will attach the anti-tip device to the furniture itself and then drill the unattached end into a stud in the wall to prevent tipping. Toppling furniture can cause broken bones, bruising, and death from crushing injuries.

Crib notes. Once your child attempts to climb out of the crib, consider using a bed with child railings or putting the mattress on the floor. Place the crib well away from wall hangings, toys, windows, window blinds, curtains, and other furniture so that an adventurous baby can’t reach anything dangerous.

Crib bedding. Be sure that the crib mattress is firm, that there are no gaps between the mattress and the sides of the crib, and that the mattress cover and sheets fit snugly. Soft bedding—including pillows, padded bumpers, quilts, and comforters—is a suffocation hazard for infants, so keep those items out of the crib. Instead, dress your baby warmly enough for comfort. If you use a  lightweight bedding, it should be pulled up no farther than a baby’s waist and tucked securely under the sides and bottom of the mattress. Better yet, don’t use a blanket at all. The fewer items in the crib along with your baby, the better.

Floor and carpet. Position furniture and toys so you’ll have a clear path when you enter the room at night. Any area rug or throw rug should have a nonskid backing or, better yet, be secured with double-faced tape, so no edges stick up.

Toy chests. Don’t store toys in wooden chests with lids that can slam shut or automatically latch when closed. Children can suffocate in this type of toy chest. Chests designed specifically for holding toys have hinges or lid supports that will hold the lid open in any position to prevent such accidents. Even with proper hinge support however, there is a possibility that one child could close the lid after another child has climbed into the chest. For this reason, open shelves or crates are safer alternatives and make it easier to find toys. Or look for a chest without a lid, one that has ventilation holes that won’t be blocked if the chest is placed against the wall, so a child can breathe if she gets trapped inside, or one that leaves a space between the lid and the sides of the chest to allow ventilation when closed.

Soft toys and mobiles. Keep soft toys out of the crib. They’re a suffocation hazard for young babies and can be used as stepping stools for climbing out. If you buy a crib mobile, be sure to hang it out of baby’s reach. A mobile should be taken down when babies are able to push up on their hands and knees, at about 6 months.

For more information, see Childproofing baby's room

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