The Nursery Safety Tips Every Parent Needs to Know

In addition to being cozy and adorable, your baby’s nursery also has to be secure. Here’s the nursery safety tips every parent needs to know to keep your little one happy and healthy.

Nursery safety tip #1: Check that crib

Since he spends a lot of time snoozing in it, a secure crib is essential to help your baby sleep safely. Choose a firm baby crib mattress with a tight-fitting sheet, and skip the cute toys and pillows, which could pose suffocation or strangulation hazards, says Kate Carr, President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. As for the crib itself, steer clear of the following:

  • Sharp or jagged edges
  • Missing, broken, or loose parts, or loose hardware
  • Cut-out designs in the headboard or footboard
  • Crib slats more than 2 3/8 inches apart (about the width of a soda can, Carr says)
  • Corner post extensions over 1/16 of an inch high
  • Gaps larger than two fingers’ width between the sides of the crib and the baby crib mattress
  • Drop-side latches
  • Stuffed animals, blankies, and bumpers. Remember: Bare is best!

Good to know: All cribs on the market today are required to meet these standards. But older cribs and secondhand models could still be suspect. If you’re unsure whether your baby’s crib makes the grade, research its recall history at recalls.gov.

Nursery safety tip #2: Don’t overlook outlets

Most of your outlets will sit at your baby’s eye level when she’s on the floor, so naturally, you’ve got to cover them up. But sealing them with plastic two-prong covers might not be the best idea: Since you’ll have to remove the covers to use an outlet, you might forget to replace it (plus, your little one could easily remove them once she hits toddlerhood). Instead, opt for horizontal swivel outlet covers, which slide open and don’t have to be removed when you need to plug something in. Another nursery safety tip: While you’re covering the outlets, be sure to sweep any baby monitor cords out of reach, or opt for a wireless model.

Nursery safety tip #3: Watch the windows

Window screens are great for battling bugs, but they might not be everything you need to protect your baby. To ensure window safety in the nursery:

  • Prevent accidental falls by properly installing window guards and only opening the top portion of windows.
  • Install window stops so that windows open no more than four inches.
  • Keep windows locked and closed when they’re not being used.
  • For babies who can crawl and climb, move chairs, cribs, changing tables, and other furniture away from windows.
  • If drapes or window cords are near your baby’s crib or changing table, make sure she isn’t able to reach them.

Nursery safety tip #4: Stick with secure safety gates

Safety gates are a mart to keep your child from exploring unwanted areas or falling down stairs, so long as you choose the right ones. When shopping for baby gates:

  • Use safety gates that meet current safety standards from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association.
  • Look for gates that your child won’t easily be able to knock loose, but that you yourself can easily open and close. For the top of stairs, use gates that either screw to the wall, or mount on both sides of the walls using pressure.
  • Avoid older, according-style safety gates that have “V” shapes, which are large enough to trap a child’s head or neck, says the CSPC. If your gate has vertical slats, they should be less than 3 inches wide.

Nursery safety tip #5: Clear off the changing table

Even if it seems convenient, avoid keeping potentially harmful products on your baby’s changing table, like acetaminophen or baby oil. Instead, lock them up in baby’s medicine cabinet, and use child-resistant caps. In addition, you should keep vitamins, cleaning products, alcohol, and any other chemicals (like paint) in high cabinets with childproof locks.

Nursery safety tip #6: Tackle the toys

As soon as your baby is crawling, he’ll be putting things in his mouth—especially fun, colorful toys. Before buying playthings, be sure to read the age and safety labels, and regularly inspect toys at home to make sure nothing’s broken. When it comes to safer toys for your tot, the best options are floor activity centers, activity quilts, squeaky toys, and soft dolls or stuffed animals (without button noses and eyes), says Safe Kids Worldwide.

Toys to steer clear of:

  • Recalled toys
  • Latex balloons
  • Small, rounded or oval objects (like balls and marbles)
  • Hard toys attached to car seat handles
  • Toys with strings or cords
  • Toys with lead or magnets
  • Walkers
  • Heavy toy storage units that can trap your child

 Nursery safety tip #7: Fasten furniture

After a November 2012 report revealed that high numbers of babies and toddlers are injured by furniture tip-overs, the CPSC now recommends TVs and other appliances be anchored to walls or sturdy pieces of furniture. How to do it:

  • Test the stability of your TV. If it’s on a piece of furniture that’s taller than it is wide, it could top. Make sure it’s on a sturdy unit that’s free of drawers or handles that your child could grab onto.
  • Mount flat screen TVs to wall studs to prevent them from toppling off stands. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that you have a secure fit.
  • If you have an older TV, place it on a low, stable piece of furniture and secure it with straps.
  • Use brackets, braces, or wall straps to secure unstable or top-heavy furniture to the wall, suggests Carr. We like Safety 1st Furniture Wall Straps.

By Nicole Pelletiere

To be sure to have everything ready for when your newborn arrives, start your baby registry and get a Free Welcome Box!