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HOME SAFETY : Proper Crib Will Let You Rest Easy

January 01, 1994| From Associated Press

Selecting baby gear with safety in mind can keep home sweet home a haven for babies.

For infants, safety often begins with proper crib and mattress selection. Cribs in poor repair or with ill-fitting mattresses are responsible for myriad injuries to infants.

For example, babies can suffocate if their heads or bodies become wedged between the mattress and the side of the crib.

To avoid this, be sure the crib mattress fits snugly into the crib. If more than two fingers can fit between the edge of the mattress and the crib, the mattress is too small.

Widely spaced crib slats--those that permit babies' arms, legs and torso to slip through but prevent their heads from doing the same--can also cause injuries.

Slats, spindles or rods should be spaced no more than 2 1/8 inches apart. And do not use cribs with cracked or missing slats.

Reduce the risk of head entrapment by selecting head and foot boards without cutout spaces.

Plastic wrappings or bags can cling to babies' faces and cause them to suffocate. This material should never be used to cover the mattress or pillows.

Cribs made before 1978 may be coated with paint or varnish containing dangerous amounts of lead. Refinish older cribs with lead-free paint designed for baby products.

Remove all toys strung across the crib top after babies are 5 months old or can push up to their hands and knees to avoid becoming entangled or falling over a hanging crib toy.

Changing Tables and Playpens

Changing tables and playpens should also be selected with safety in mind.

Choose changing tables with easily accessible drawers or shelves. Babies can roll off the table even if left unattended for only a few minutes.

Look for mesh playpens with openings that are less than a quarter-inch wide. The mesh should have no tears, holes or loose threads. Do not leave babies in mesh-sided playpens with one side down. Babies can suffocate if they fall or roll into the gap between the edge of the floor board and the mesh side.

If a wooden playpen is the choice, be sure the slats are spaced no more than 2 1/8 inches apart.

Safety Gates

Wooden accordion-style gates made before 1985 may have wide V-shaped openings along the top edge and sides that may entrap children's heads.

Instead, select gates with straight top edges or accordion-style gates with openings no more than 1 1/2-inches wide.

And remember: Safety gates are deterrents, not a substitute for supervision. Almost all gates can be dislodged or climbed.


Taking precautions before traveling with babies can also be important.

Select a wide-based stroller to prevent tipping. Test the brakes to be sure that they lock the wheels securely.

The stroller's safety belt and crotch strap should open and lock easily--and both should fasten securely to the frame.

Infants should ride in car seats positioned in the center of the back seat facing the car's rear. In the event of a crash, the impact would be spread across their backs.

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