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Choosing a Crib

Martha Stewart Baby, Special Issue 2000

During the first two or three years of your baby's life, the crib is the only place where he or she is likely to spend time away from an adult's watchful gaze. Take special care to ensure that your baby's crib offers little opportunity for accidents or mischief.

When buying a new crib, safety is a primary concern. Look for plain, solid construction and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association seal of approval. All cribs, especially hand-me-down or used cribs (which might not have the JPMA seal) should be examined thoroughly:

-A crib should have tight joints that can't pinch and won't let the crib wobble when your baby is active.

-Choose a simple design. Elegant finials and posts pose choking hazards, since the baby's clothing can catch; charming cutouts on the headboard could trap little arms.

-Most important, the slats must be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart (about the width of a soda can) to prevent a baby's head from fitting between them.

The crib you pick must be safe not just for a newborn but also for a baby who can move around and stand up. (When a child grows to more than 3 feet tall or is clearly able to climb out of the crib on her own, it's time to move her into a bed.) As long as a few criteria have been met, it's safe for the baby to explore the crib:

-The top of the side rail should be at least 22 inches above the mattress to make it a challenge to climb out.

-When placing the crib, avoid proximity to lamps, cords, window blinds, or furniture that invites climbing.

-To ensure the baby's comfort, don't place the crib in direct sunlight or close to a heating or air vent.

Do You Know?
You should test the side rail of any crib you’re considering to see that it can be easily raised and lowered with one hand -- you'll rarely have two hands free.