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Has your newly mobile toddler hurt himself climbing out of his crib or playpen? Mine has -- and it turns out he’s not even close to being alone. A new study released last week by the journal Pediatrics says the number of toddlers, mostly between ages 1 and 2, who fall out of their cribs, bassinets or playpens is nearly 10,000 a year.
The study looked at nonfatal data on emergency room injuries related to the above products and found that 181,654 kids were injured between 1990 and 2008.
The good news is that the number of injured tots has gradually decreased in the last two decades, and researchers think the new ban on drop-side cribs will help the number drop even further.
How can you help prevent your tot from tumbling out of his crib? The study's lead author, Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, recommends that crib mattresses be lowered when toddlers are tall enough to climb out (switch to a toddler bed when your child hits 35 inches) and that parents and caregivers don’t use drop-side cribs. The study's authors stress, however, that the crib is still the safest place for your baby to sleep.
We asked pediatrician Ari Brown, author of Baby 411, for additional tips on ways parents can keep tots safe from crib injuries. Her advice:
Keep the crib bare. Don't use bumpers or large items that your toddler could use to step on and leap out.
Skip the crib tent. "Crib tents have had recent safety issues with entrapment, so I don't recommend them anymore," Brown says.
Move the mattress. If your toddler starts trying to climb out of her crib, you can simply move the mattress onto the floor. Then make the child's room her crib -- i.e., completely safety proof the room and have a safety gate in the doorway or a safety handle on the door knob.
Provide a soft landing. As a last resort, you can place soft items like a super-cushy rug on the floor around the crib in case your toddler does make an escape.