When Should a Baby Sleep in a Crib?

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When you have a baby, sleep becomes a valuable commodity. Although babies are portable and many can sleep nearly anywhere, a crib is one of the safest places for sleep, states the American Academy of Pediatrics HealthyChildren.org website. Assess your baby’s growth and development so you can provide the safest sleep environment possible.

Safe Sleep

The AAP advises parents that babies should sleep in a crib or bassinet in the same room as parents for the first year of life to ensure that parents will hear and respond to baby’s needs throughout the night. You can place your baby in a crib from the beginning, if you desire -- it is not necessary for a newborn to sleep in a smaller bassinet. Placing the crib or bassinet within reach of your bed will make it easier to tend to needs during the nighttime hours.

Bassinet to Crib

You can place your baby in a crib from day one or you might opt to use a bassinet while your baby is tiny. If your baby sleeps in a bassinet initially, move your baby to a crib anytime before your baby approaches the upper weight limit for the bassinet, before your baby can roll over or when your baby turns 4 months of age, advises the Baltimore City Health Department.

Crib Safety Guidelines

Whether you choose to place your baby in a crib from the beginning or you move your baby to a crib later, choose a crib that meets current safety standards, set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Check your crib to make sure you assembled it correctly with all parts and hardware. Crib slats should not be wider than 2 3/8 inches and corner posts should not rise more than 1/16 inch from the side and end rails. Headboard and footboard should not have cutouts. The crib should not have a dropside rail that moves.

The Sleep Environment

The crib mattress must be firm and it must fit in the crib snugly, advises the AAP. Place a fitted sheet over the crib mattress. Keep the crib free of all loose bedding, including sheets, blankets, crib bumpers and pillows. Do not place toys in the crib. Dress your baby in a sleep sack or sleeper for warmth, if necessary, so you can avoid loose blankets. Always place your baby on her back to sleep and avoid overheating your little one to reduce Sudden Infant Death Syndrome risk. If you notice your baby becoming flushed or sweaty, reduce the room temperature or take off some of her clothing.