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Northern Wyoming Mental Health Center Inc.

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Nursery/Playroom Safety

Angela Oswalt, MSW

Even through babies' bedrooms are most often filled with furniture and toys targeted for babies' use, caregivers still need to ensure their safe and proper use and maintenance and follow all the previously discussed recommendations concerning general environmental safety. When purchasing new infant furniture or major care items, such as cribs and changing tables, caregivers can look for stamps of approval from the Consumer Product Safety commission (CPSC) and/or the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) to ensure proper design and safety measures have been followed. Some caregivers may be inclined to use pre-owned baby care items so as to save money or to utilize family hand-me-downs or heirlooms. Buying new equipment is the very best way to ensure that care items have updated safety features. However, heirloom and hand-me-down pieces can often be safely used so long as they are in good shape. Be sure to carefully inspected used equipment to make sure that it operates properly and as designed.

Caregivers can ensure a good night's sleep for their babies and themselves by following these tips to create a safe sleeping space for infants and toddlers. Bassinets should be specifically designed for sleeping babies, should contain no holes or rough places, and should feature a sturdy base. Cribs should also be sturdy; have no loose, wobbling, or missing pieces; have no chipping paint or rough spots; and have a maximum of 2 3/8 inches between bars (to prevent infants from getting their heads or body parts stuck in between the bars!). Drop-side cribs are no longer being sold for safety reasons and should not be used any longer.†

The mattress should be firm and should fit snugly into the crib. Adults shouldn't be able to get more then 2 fingers between the mattress and the side of the crib. Crib sheets should fit tightly around mattresses to prevent removal and possibly suffocation risk during sleep. Caregivers should use specifically-made moisture protectors for crib mattresses. It is never appropriate to use plastic trash bags or dry-cleaning bags for this purpose as these sorts of bags can pose a serious choking hazard to industrious babies.

Loose bedding, such as blankets, sheets, pillows, and stuffed animals should not be used in a crib. These loose items can create a suffocation hazards to infants who may work their way underneath them. Loose items may also become climbing aids to toddlers trying to get out of a crib. In place of loose bedding, infants and toddlers can be clothed in neck-to-toe sleeper outfits to insure they stay warm and snug through the night. Some caregivers like to use bumper pads to prevent bruises or injuries while babies roll in the crib. However, many SIDS advocates recommend that caregivers not use such pads See here for more information.

Mobiles and other suspended crib toys are okay for use during early infancy as long as they are securely installed and too high for infants to reach. However, when babies are able to push themselves up onto their knees and hands, such suspended toys should be removed to prevent inquisitive babies from pulling the toys down onto themselves. As well, as soon as babies can stand up, the crib bed should be lowered to its lowest position. When toddlers reach 35 inches tall, they should be moved to a "big bed" to prevent falls.

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