This first “home” should be cheerful and secure. Babies are at risk from suffocation or strangulation when they become trapped between broken crib parts related to wear and tear or incorrect assembly. In addition, many older cribs have unsafe designs and do not meet all current safety standards. Even if you are on a tight budget, you should not purchase an old crib at a garage sale or accept a hand-me-down that does not meet the current safety standards.  Follow these guidelines to create a safe sleep environment for baby.  Also watch a safe sleep video featuring JPMA Assistant Executive Director and Mommy-To-Be, Lauren Pfeiffer, as she shows you tips on how to set up your nursery and offers ideas on creating a safe sleep plan for your growing family.

  • The safest place for a baby to sleep is in a fully functional, properly assembled, JPMA Certified crib.  Before you use a crib, check to make sure the crib has not been recalled.
  • You should never purchase or use second hand cribs handed down from friends or family members as they may not meet the most current safety standards. 
  • Drop side cribs are no longer available for purchase; however if you are using a previously purchased drop-side crib, parents should ensure the drop side or any other moving part operates smoothly. Remember to ALWAYS secure the moveable side when baby is in the crib. 
  • Make sure there are no missing, loose or broken parts or improperly installed screws, brackets or other hardware on the crib or the mattress support.  Check the stability and hardware on the crib often.  Do not substitute hardware.  Only use hardware obtained directly from the manufacturer.
  • Always use a properly fitting mattress as infants can suffocate in gaps between a poorly fitting mattress and the crib sides or ends.
  • Never leave items not intended for the crib hanging on the corner posts or sides of the crib.  Babies can pull those items into the crib or become entangled in them.
  • When your child is able to pull to a standing position, set the mattress to the lowest position and remove bumper pads, large toys and other objects that could serve as steps for climbing out.  It’s time to move your child to a toddler bed when he or she begins to climb out or reaches a height of 35 in. 
  • Never place the crib near windows where cords from blinds or drapes may strangle a child.
  • Mobiles should be removed from the crib when baby can push up on hands and knees or pull up to a standing position.
  • If using a baby monitor with cords, make sure all cords are out of arm's reach of your child.  Never place any item in or on the crib that has cords, strings, etc. as babies can become entangled and strangle in these items.
  • Do not put a baby monitor in the crib, bassinet, or toddler bed.
  • Look for the JPMA Certification Seal.

Proper Maintenance and Storage of Cribs

When properly cared for, cribs are intended to last for years.  To ensure the safety of your crib for current and future use follow these guidelines:

  • For the safest product use, be sure to always read and follow all manufacturers’ instructions.
  • Don’t forget to frequently inspect products for missing hardware, loose threads and strings, holes and tears
  • Check screws and bolts periodically to ensure they are tight and there are no missing, loose, broken or improperly installed screws, brackets or other hardware on the crib or mattress support.
  • Make sure there is no cracked or peeling paint, splinters or rough edges.
  • Make sure all features of the product are in place securely.
  • When storing your crib for future use, save the instructions and keep them with the crib. Often manufacturers post or attach instructions to the mattress platform so that they are easy to find when the crib is re-assembled for later use.  Instructions can often be found on manufacturers website. Click here to find a listing of all JPMA Certified crib manufacturers websites.
  • When storing your crib, keep all parts, together and labeled for future assembly.
  • Do not try to repair the crib without manufacturer-approved hardware. Don’t substitute parts.

Crib Durability and Lifespan

All new cribs on the market today must meet minimum government requirements. When a crib is assembled to the manufacturer’s instructions and used properly, it provides a safe and comfortable environment for baby. When properly cared for, cribs are intended to last for years.

To ensure a proper lifespan, follow these tips:

  • Infants should ALWAYS sleep in a crib, which meets current Federal and ASTM standards.
  • Make sure there are no missing, loose or broken parts, or improperly installed screws, brackets or other hardware on the crib or the mattress support.
  • Crib assembly is best completed before the baby arrives to ensure there are no missing parts and the crib is in working order.
  • Read and follow all instructions and warnings provided with the crib. If the instructions are not clear or parts are missing, call the manufacturer or retailer. Under no circumstances should substitute or makeshift hardware be used.
  • When disassembling crib for storage, retain all the parts and instructions. Store parts and instructions in a Ziploc bag and tape to the bottom of the crib.
  • When reassembling crib, be sure you have all the parts.
  • Do not substitute hardware.
  • Always send in the product registration card that comes with every new crib (most crib manufacturers offer this service online as well). Returning the card ensures that the consumer will be notified if the crib is recalled.
  • Check the crib often for missing hardware, loose screws or anything out of the ordinary. A consumer could even make it part of the routine to inspect the crib every time the sheet is changed.