Cribs are responsible for more infant deaths than any other nursery product, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. In light of this grim statistic, it makes sense to pay extra attention to the crib you buy for your baby’s nursery. Always read and follow the instructions for crib assembly, use and care.

New safety standards

As of June 28, 2011, the federal safety standards for crib safety have been updated. One of the most important changes prohibits the sale and manufacture of cribs that have a drop-side rail. Other changes include stronger parts and hardware, improved mattress supports and more rigorous testing. With the addition of these standards, tragedies such as suffocation and strangulation can be prevented.

Safety guidelines 

  • Check to see if your crib has been recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. If your crib has been recalled, contact the manufacturer to get a free immobilizer. An immobilizer prevents the drop side from moving outward and up and down.
  • If you have a drop-side rail crib and are unable to get a new one, check regularly that the hardware is tightly secured and that there are no broken, missing, or loose parts.
  • Make sure the spaces between the slats are no more than 2.36 inches (or six centimeters) apart. Slats that are widely spaced can trap an infant’s head.
  • Cribs should not have cutout areas on the headboard or footboard.
  • Raised sides of the crib should be at least 26 inches above the mattress support when in its lowest position.
  • Ensure that the mattress fits snugly and that there are no gaps. You should not be able to place two fingers between the crib and the mattress.
  • Your baby should be put to sleep on their back on a firm, flat mattress.
  • Avoid placing pillows, stuffed toys, comforters, quilts and other soft bedding in your baby’s crib.
  • Never place a crib near a window or by hanging window blinds and drapery.
  • Mobiles and other hanging crib toys should be removed by five months of age, or whenever your baby begins to pull up.
  • Children should not sleep in cribs after they are 35 inches tall.


  • Cribs are responsible for more infant deaths than any other item in the nursery.
  • New federal safety standards ban the sale and manufacture of drop-side rail cribs and require stronger parts and hardware.
  • Make sure that cribs meet the standards for safety that can prevent your child from becoming trapped or entangled.
  • Your baby’s mattress should be firm and the crib environment should not contain soft toys or bedding.

Last reviewed by Sara Connolly, MD. Review Date: August 2019



  1. I’m worried about the eventual transition from the crib to a toddler bed. My son is 16 months old and doesn’t show any signs of needing to transition soon, but I’d rather be prepared when the time comes. Any tips on making the transition easier and how to get him to stay in his bed without the full constraints of a crib?

    1. We didn’t move out of the crib until age 3! His twin bed was his birthday present. And I was so worried about the transition. It ended up being incredibly easy! The only issues we had were when we moved to a new place/house he would get out and sit at the top of the stairs. It was a huge problem for awhile, but we got through it. Kinda like everything!


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