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There's nothing sweeter than the sight of a beautifully decorated baby's room, but you've got to keep another important goal in mind: your child's safety. Of course most baby products are designed to be safe from the get-go, but when it comes to bedrooms there's more to consider. Follow these guidelines as you go.
The first step is choosing an area of your home that doesn't get too hot during the day or too cold at night. Babies get overheated or chilled quickly and don't have the ability to get their temperature back to normal. The ideal baby area is away from the airflow of ceiling fans or window-unit air conditioners. Once the temperature is right, your baby will be able to sleep comfortably.
A bassinet, which can be used until your baby weighs about 10 pounds, should have a solid frame, a wide base and locking legs or wheels. The mattress should be firm and fit snugly. The mattress is too small if you can fit two fingers between it and the side of the bassinet. Avoid bassinets with sharp or wicker edges '- they could hurt your baby. Don't use soft, fluffy bedding, pillows and quilts until your baby is more than a year old and the danger of suffocation has passed. A caveat: A bassinet is not a good idea if you have pets that might knock it over or jump inside it, or young children who might have too easy access to your baby.
Whether you buy or have someone give you a crib, look for the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association (JPMA) certification seal, which ensures that the crib meets current safety standards. Note that cribs made before 1985 don't meet safety standards. Follow these tips when making your selection, and check cribs that you will use outside of your home as well:
- Measure the distance between crib slats '- it should be no more than 2 3/8 inches to avoid trapping a baby's head.
- Make sure the side rail locks in the low position at 9 inches above the top of the mattress and the highest locked position is 26 inches above the low position. The total side rail height must be 35 inches above the mattress.
- Remove any plastic mattress covering because it may become molded around your baby's face and compromise breathing. You should not be able to fit two fingers between the mattress and any part of the crib, including the headboard and side rails.
- Be sure that the headboard doesn't have raised wood designs or wood cutouts that might injure or entrap your baby's head.
- Never position a crib near a window to avoid the dangers of blind cords and open windows.
- Remove mobiles when your baby starts to pull himself up and reach for objects.
- Also check the paint: Remove cracked and peeling paint carefully, then sand and repaint with lead-free paint before using the crib. An older crib may have lead-based paint; remove all the paint carefully and repaint the entire crib with lead-free paint.