As a first-time mother, one of the major considerations you'll need to make – especially in the final trimester - is selecting a crib for your little one. While at first glance, this may seem like a purely aesthetic choice, picking out a bed for your baby is about more than finding a design that complements his or her nursery.
For help finding a crib that will keep your baby safe as he or she grows, consider these five tips.
1. Make sure it meets safety standards
Beginning in June 2011, all cribs have been required to meet new safety standards established by the federal government to reduce the risk of infant death. Specifically, this recent mandate prohibits the sale and manufacture of drop-side rail cribs, which have been linked to 32 suffocation and strangulation-related deaths in the last decade.
2. Examine the slats
You may not think that the slats in a crib are worth examining – in fact, you may overlook them as decorative or as an afterthought entirely. However, the width of slats is important – they should be less than 3 inches apart. Anything greater than this could be hazardous to children, especially as they get older.
3. Cut back on fluff
Pillows, stuffed animals and other accoutrements may seem like they make a crib more welcoming, especially for little ones. However, the more fluff that's loaded onto a bed, the more likely it is that babies may be at risk for suffocation, choking or other dangerous scenarios. To be on the safe side, keep it minimal.
4. Avoid mobile toys
Toys that dangle or mobiles that are within reach of children can be choking hazards, especially once little ones are older than five months and begin sitting up in their cribs.
5. Invest in a mattress that fits
How can you tell if a mattress is too small for a crib? If you can fit at least two fingers in between the mattress and frame, this is a sign that it's not an ideal fit for the frame, and in turn, your baby could be in danger if he or she falls into the crevice between the mattress and the crib itself.
In addition to these tips, you should consider reaching out to other moms. With their feedback, you may be able to narrow down your search and find a crib that best meets your baby's needs.