When I was equipping my baby’s nursery, I assumed that anything sold in a baby store was safe.
Before I answer this question, let me share an experience with you.
One summer night, our family was driving home after a fantastic day spent at an agricultural fair. As we were winding along country roads in the dark, heading home, I felt a wonderful sense of safety and security with my children sleeping in the back seat, my 2 youngest safely attached in their top-of-the-line car seats. After we arrived home, my husband and I started to unstrap our children from their car seats when I discovered that my eldest daughter had mistakenly detached one baby seat from the car as she had struggled to attach her own seat belt in the dark.
Of course, nothing bad had happened on our drive home. But I couldn’t get it out of my head. If we had had an accident or a sudden stop, my youngest daughter could have been seriously injured, despite the fact that we thought she was in the safest place possible in our car. Every once in a while, it still makes my stomach flip when I think about it. The way I feel about this event is exactly the same way I feel about all the doo-dads I bought to place in my children’s cribs: I thought I had done the best thing for my children and that they were safe, but because of my lack of knowledge , they weren’t safe. It’s true that nothing happened, but I wouldn’t risk doing the same thing again. I know better now.
For example, crib bumpers (or bumper pads) were originally manufactured to address a design flaw in commercially available cribs: Before recent regulations concerning crib manufacturing and sales in North America, crib slats were placed too far apart, which resulted in babies getting their heads trapped between slats. Crib bumpers were used to keep a baby's head from going through the bars, and/or to protect them from the hard edges of crib slats. A crib that is manufactured today according to current standards has slats that are a maximum of 6 cm apart, much too small for a baby’s head to get through, and most manufacturers soften the edges of baby crib slats by rounding them. In other words, crib bumpers no longer serve a purpose; Some jurisdictions (such as Chicago and the Maryland) have even banned the sale of crib bumpers.
Experts warn that any "soft bedding" in your baby's crib is a potential suffocation hazard, and these items have been linked to infant deaths. So the answer to the question “What should I have in my baby’s crib?” is simple. There should be four things in your baby’s crib: a mattress, a mattress protector, a fitted mattress sheet and your baby (appropriately diapered and dressed for the temperature). Nothing else.
Safe sleeping? As easy as A-B-C: Alone, on the Back, in an empty Crib.
This seems counter-intuitive. Baby stores are filled with sheets and comforter sets, baby pillows, baby bumpers, stuffed toys and more. Our instinct to create a soft, beautiful environment for our child invites us to make a lot of unnecessary and possibly dangerous purchases.
When it comes to filling a baby’s crib with unnecessary stuff, my instinct tells me that there is no sense in taking a risk. Even the smallest chance that my child could become caught in or suffocated by a baby bumper or stuck beneath a puffy comforter is too much of a chance for me. Today, knowing what I know now, I would follow Heath Canada’s Guidelines and have nothing extra in the crib.
Want to get better informed?
If you want to know more about keeping your baby safe, visit Is Your Child Safe? - Canada.ca
Any soft bedding introduces risk: Sleep-Related Infant Suffocation Deaths Attributable to Soft Bedding, Overlay, and Wedging | American Academy of Pediatrics (aappublications.org)
Crib bumper risk: Joint Statement on Padded Crib Bumpers FINAL 11.3.16.pdf (cpsc.gov)
An article from 2015 about the risk of crib bumpers can be found here: Infant deaths from crib bumpers on the rise - CBS News
Bans on the sale of crib bumpers (also known as bumper pads): Ohio and Maryland only states to ban baby bumpers (wkbn.com); Council bans sale of crib bumper pads in Chicago - Chicago Tribune
As the founder of LuLé and a proud mom, I am passionate about helping you make the right decisions for your baby. All blog posts are based on information found on respected government or institutional websites, such as Health Canada.