Safe Sleep Choicesby Meri Hanson Levy, CLE, Bonding & Parenting Coach


Regardless of where you stand on the issue of bed-sharing versus cribs, there are safe ways and unsafe ways to put your baby to sleep. Here are some tips to help your baby sleep safely ? with or without you.

Crib Safety

The Problem: Over 9,000 children are brought to hospitals each year due to injuries suffered in cribs. An average of 54 children per year die from crib injuries.

How to Keep Safe: Avoid used cribs with corner post extensions, ill-fitting mattresses, wide slats, or other features that can cause injury. If you are not sure if a used crib is safe, don?t use it!

Features to Beware of:

  • Corner posts should not be higher than the end panels on the crib. Children?s clothing can get caught on extended corner posts and pose a strangulation hazard.

  • Space between slats must be less than 2 3/8? and no slats should be missing.

  • All screws, bolts and hardware must be in place and tight to prevent the crib from collapsing.

  • Mattress must fit snugly so that two adult fingers cannot fit between the mattress and the crib side.

  • Do not use cribs with cutout designs in end panels. Child can strangle due to entrapment.

Crib Safety Tips:

  • Never put infants to sleep on fluffy, plush surfaces such as sheepskins, quilts, comforters or pillows.

  • Never fasten a pacifier around a baby?s neck

  • Never hang any object from a string where a baby could become caught it in and strangle

  • Never leave a child in the crib with the side rail lowered.

  • Remove crib gyms and mobiles when baby is able to push up on hands and knees

  • Keep drapes, ribbons, blind cords and wall hangings out of child?s reach

  • Make sure crib sheets fit securely ? if they come loose, they can pose a strangulation hazard

  • Always put your infant to sleep on their back, unless your doctor directs otherwise

Safe Bed-Sharing

The problem:

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has warned parents against bed-sharing due to the risks presented by adult bedding and the concern that parents may roll over on their babies.

How to Keep Safe:

Make sure that your bed is a safe sleeping environment for a baby, and never allow a smoker or an adult who is impaired by drugs, alcohol or medications to sleep with your baby.

Bed-Sharing Safety Tips:

  • Always place your infant on its back to sleep. Do not use anything to prop or hold your baby in place.

  • Be careful when using certain medications, drugs or alcohol. If you or your partner are taking any substance that makes you drowsy, it is best to place baby in a crib next to your bed, to avoid the risk of mistakenly smothering your baby.

  • Avoid using fluffy pillows, stuffed toys, plastics and loose bedding, which pose a suffocation hazard. Place the baby on a firm flat surface which is covered by a tight fitting sheet ? even for naps.

Other tips for safe sleeping:

  • Do not let anyone smoke around your baby. Second-hand smoke affects normal infant breathing and can cause respiratory and other medical problems. Do not bedshare if you are a smoker.

  • Do not put baby to sleep on sofas, recliners, waterbeds, futons, or beanbags, even for naps.

  • Avoid overheating your baby. Your baby should be lightly clothed for sleep, and the temperature of your home should be kept comfortable for a lightly clothed adult. Your baby should not feel hot or moist to the touch.

For more information on safe sleeping, contact the Contra Costa SIDS Program at 925-313-6254. For more information on crib safety, contact The Danny Foundation at 1-800-833-2669.

Information for this article was provided by the Contra Costa SIDS Program and The Danny Foundation.

Meri Hanson Levy, CLE is a Coach-Parenting™ Certified Coach and Certified Lactation Educator, the mother of three children, as well as the former Executive Director of The Nurture Center. Visit her website at