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Nursery Safety Tips
Worried about the hazards lurking in your child’s room? Skip the fretting and check out these expert tips on how to make the nursery the safest place in the house.
- Photo: sheknows.com
Want to know what you need to do to make sure baby’s nursery is safe? Don’t ask your mom, says Meri-K Appy, president of the Home Safety Council.
“Things have changed so much as far as safety,” Appy says. “You really need to make sure you have the best, latest information so you can keep your children safe.”
The crib should be the safest place in the house,” says Jamie Schaefer-Wilson, child safety advocate and author of The Consumer Reports Guide to Childproofing & Safety: Tips to Protect Your Baby and Child from Injury at Home and on the Go. “There should be no soft bedding, comforters, blankets, dolls, bumpers or quilts,” she says. “It may seem severe, but you don’t hear of babies becoming hurt or entangled in an empty crib.”
Schaefer-Wilson says parents often underestimate babies’ abilities to get into trouble, even at a very young age. “Kids put everything in their mouths,” she emphasizes. “It just takes one second for something to happen.” Removing all toys from the crib is one of the best ways to keep baby safe.
Some studies have shown that bumpers or other soft items in the crib can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, according to First Candle/National SIDS Alliance and the American Academy of Pediatrics. While some trade groups maintain that soft items don’t pose a danger, activists say it’s better to be safe than sorry.
And while it’s important to make the crib environment as safe as possible in your home, don’t forget to safety check anywhere a baby will be sleeping, such as a babysitter’s or grandparent’s house. “They may have outdated information,” Appy says. “You really have to confront old myths. Make sure they keep the crib clear and don’t wrap the baby in blankets or put them to sleep on their stomach. Create a safe sleep environment wherever baby will be.”
Another thing to remember is to always use a tight-fitting, crib sheet -- never put an adult sheet on a baby’s mattress. “It can be tempting in the middle of the night when you’re out of clean sheets and you just want to sleep, but it is really so dangerous,” says Schaefer-Wilson. “Babies can easily become entangled.”
Appy says while it may sound austere, the facts support the empty crib advice. “Research is very clear on this,” she emphasizes. “The safe way for a baby to sleep is on her back in a very sparse environment with a firm mattress and tight-fitting crib sheet.”
The designer-photo image of a bright, airy nursery with huge windows and long, sheer curtains backlit by sunshine may be a beautiful sight, but experts say it is not the safest place for baby to rest.
Windows are a major hazard in children’s rooms, especially in multi-level homes or high-rise apartment buildings. But if you take care to create a safe environment, you can mitigate the dangers windows cause, says Appy. “Never put a crib in front of a window,” she says. “Babies become toddlers soon, and they can easily climb up and fall out.”
Install window guards, recommends Schaefer-Wilson. “A screen won’t stop a child from falling through an open window,” she says. “Window guards are a good idea, just ensure they’re properly installed. Look for something hardware-mounted that has a latch to allow for safe escape in case of fire.” Another option is clear, hard plastic window covers. Just make sure they’re easily removable for an adult in case of fire.
Be aware of the window coverings you choose for the baby’s room, says Michael Cienian, vice president of quality assurance for Hunter Douglas and past president of the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC).
Window cords may seem like a small detail, but ignoring them can be a tragic mistake. “Strangulation deaths on window cords really do occur, and it’s usually with children under two years old,” Cienian says.
He says all window blinds sold in the year 2000 or later should have built-in safety features. But if your blinds are older, the WCSC has free retrofit kits that will make pre-2000 blinds safer for homes with children. If you’re installing new window coverings, cordless options are now available, and that’s the safest choice.
If you’re unsure about the age or safety of your home’s blinds, here are some tips from Cienian:
- Look for a loop: If a cord loops at the bottom, it is unsafe, he says. Go to WSCS and order the retrofit kit, or simply cut the loop to reduce the strangulation hazard.
- Search for “stop beads”: “Look at your cords where they go into the headrail. You want to see some little plastic rings or washers tied up there. Those are called “stop beads” and they prevent inner-cord loops from tangling,” he says. If they’re not there, order a retrofit from the WSCS site.
- Vertical blinds pose a danger. They often have what’s called a “continuous cord” loop or chain, which is also a strangulation hazard. The WCSC also offers a free fix for this.
- Know how to fix it: Visit the WCSC website or call 1-800-506-4636 for help solving any of the problems mentioned above or to find out more information.
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