Parents, especially new ones, spend countless sleepless nights worrying over the health and happiness of their children. One of the most important decisions you will make in regards to the early health and safety of your child is in choosing the right crib. Crib safety is of monumental importance and the wrong crib could pose a real danger to your child. Below are tips on choosing a crib that meets national safety standards as well as your own, so that you and your child can sleep soundly.

Style Options for Baby’s Bed
Space, safety, convenience, and versatility will likely factor into your choice of a baby bed. Moses baskets and bassinets are small, more compact, often portable bed options for babies. These items are typically only used up until the baby is five or six months of age and able to sit up on their own. Some play yards have bassinet attachments that make for a convenient, compact, and portable place for your child to sleep. Co-sleepers, basically a bassinet that has one open side that is pushed up against the parents’ bed for easy night feedings and soothing, are also available, but this type of bed is also limited to the first few months of Baby’s life as it is not deep enough to contain a baby that can sit up.

Bed options with more staying power but less mobility include circular and standard cribs, notes Many cribs even come in a convertible style that allows the bed to be converted into a toddler bed and in some cases even a standard full sized bed. When choosing a crib, you should look for sturdy construction to ensure both the safety of your child and the lasting power of the piece. Cribs are, by far, the most popular choice for a baby bed and the convertible aspect of some designs make them practical; in most cases, even if a parent chooses to use one of the other bed options for the first few months, the baby will end up in a crib at some point during their development.

Safety Features to Look for In Cribs
Setting up your baby’s nursery can be a fun and challenging way to prepare for your bundle of joy. But there is much more to consider than the color scheme and which wall hangings to put up. Safety and comfort are a major convenience. The centerpiece of the nursery should be the crib, so a great deal of emphasis goes into making sure that the crib will be both comfortable and safe for Baby. Babies spend well over 2/3 of the first six months of their lives sleeping, after all.

To facilitate safety, remove risk factors. The Baby Center suggest using a crib that is no more than ten years old as safety standards have changed over Older cribs may contain harmful chemicals such as BPA or lead in the paint, depending on the age of the crib, so it is best to purchase a newer model, like the cribs offered by the Honest Company, that meet with current safety standards. It is now known that crib slats should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart – any further apart and your child could slip their body through the slats and get stuck, injured, or even choke. Likewise, the corner posts should not be any higher than 1/16 of an inch. More than that and the baby’s clothing could get caught on a post and cause them harm. It is also advisable to purchase a crib that has an adjustable mattress mechanism as your child will likely use their crib until they are old enough (2 to 3 years old) to transfer into a toddler bed. As your child grows, the mattress should be lowered to reduce the danger of them trying to climb over the railing and getting hurt.

Creating the Perfect Sleep Environment
Once you’ve decided on whether or not you are going to have your child sleep in a crib, bassinet, or play yard, there are other factors of their sleep environment that need to be considered. Along with choosing and setting up the correct style of crib for your baby, it is also important to have the correct accessories and room set up to maximize safety. The United States Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC) emphasizes that “bare is best” when setting up a nursery. The commission recommends using a tight fitting mattress, fitted sheet, and thin covers, keeping all stuffed animals and fluffy quilts out of the bed, and making sure to place the crib well out of reach of cords to blinds, curtains, and baby monitors. Loose cords close to baby’s bed can cause a choking hazard.

With all the options on the market, choosing a baby bed might seem like a daunting task. Keep in mind that safety should be the foremost consideration. Current safety standards suggest that parents purchase new cribs that are less than ten years old and that the slats, posts, and mattress levels meet current guidelines for spacing and height.