Generation Gap: Crib Safety


December 8, 2011 by Leah

So, as I mentioned in the last post, we don’t have any hard-and-fast rules about where baby will sleep for its first few months of life. I love Moses baskets with wooden rocking stands, but those seem like they’d be useful for the least amount of time. Modern-day bassinets are hideously ugly, but if someone gives us a hand-me-down bassinet, then I don’t care what it looks like – and apparently they are fairly portable? The co-sleeper I want to get will be attached to our bed, so I’m not sure I’ll want to haul it around the house all day.

Part of me can’t even believe I’m typing this, since one of Aaron’s and my major goals re: this baby is to avoid buying unnecessary and/or plastic crap. I’m planning on wearing the baby as much as possible anyway, so am unsure why we would need a bassinet or Moses basket. This is an example of how easily swayed I am by other people’s recommendations, I guess.

I do think it’s a good idea for baby to have a crib, which is good, because baby has had a crib since it was like, eight weeks’ gestational age. (Thanks, Marla!) Once baby starts napping and I become human again, I think it will be nifty to have a place to put him or her that is dog-proof and away from whatever weird and disturbing things we might be doing at the time. You know, like knitting. Or playing video games. Or our favorite Victorian-era hoop-tossing game.

I miss fitting into these jeans...

Anyway, whether baby just naps or spends the whole night in its crib, it’s important to follow the rules. Right? So, no “pillows, blankets, quilts, sheepskins, and pillow-like crib bumpers.”


Appropriate use of crib under latest guidelines.


I can't even count how many things are wrong with this picture, and it was on the Lafayette County, MO, website in a seemingly un-ironic piece about safe cribs.

Furthermore, lest you thought today’s Spartan crib should be pretty easy to put together, there are nasty chemicals lurking at every turn. Crib mattresses? Yes. Bedding? Yes. Pajamas? Yes. For people like us, who go to occasionally excessive lengths to keep our family from toxic chemicals, this is pretty alarming.

This article, which ran in last month’s Washington Post, says that 72% of crib mattress manufacturers use suspect chemicals in said mattresses. What’s a suspect chemical? Well, all of them, in my book. Recall that there’s no law, guideline, or even vague suggestion to manufacturers in this country that it might behoove them to test chemicals for safety reasons before they put them in consumer products.

While we’re on the subject, here’s the New York times in May on another suspected carcinogen and baby products – this one seems to have gotten into so many things thanks to a misguided love of flame retardants.

Speaking of flame retardants, there’s the whole sleepwear question. Apparently sleepwear for children nine months and older must be treated with flame retardants or otherwise be flame resistant (I don’t understand – are children excessively flammable?) per federal law. (Seriously?!) The Daily Green (the “green” arm of Good Housekeeping and the most mainstream source I could find in a quick Google) did a couple of posts about this issue: here’s the what/why, for people like me who think this is absolutely ridiculous, here’s the how-to, for people like me who don’t want to be putting chemical-laden clothing on my small child. Good thing I started knitting, since wool layered over cotton is a suggested technique in the second article.

And, of course, baby is no longer supposed to have any fluffy warm blankies or anything. (Please keep working on the baby quilt, Mom, it sounds awesome and baby can use it for all supervised naps and general comfort.) Babies are now supposed to sleep in such ridiculous contraptions as these:

I hate to say it, but being a safe baby sounds like the pits. Bundle yourself in chemicals so you don’t accidentally incinerate and sleep alone in a giant, neutral-colored cage without even a blankie for comfort? Ugh. I’ll be interested to hear from other parents about how closely they follow all these safety standards and I’ll be interested to see what we end up doing. Whatever it is, it looks, at this point, as though we’ll be spending a bunch of money on an organic crib mattress to start. And only buying organic cotton crib sheets and pajamas for the rest of our lives. (Seriously. Organic cotton made-in-America flannel sheets were our Christmas present to ourselves this year, and they were a major investment, but after sleeping in them last night I believe they were worth it. Well, the flannel was, anyway, as no one shrieked from cold and announced that he would never again be the first into bed upon reaching said sheets.)


Previous posts in this series: BPA, Where to Sleep


4 thoughts on “Generation Gap: Crib Safety

  1. lahancock says:

    You seem crafty enough. I might suggest you check out and purchase fabric for sheets, blankets and baby clothing that are sans flame retardants. Also, if you notice, any clothing that is tight fitting for kids, they tend not have flame retardants. Hanna Andersson has a lot of cute products, but to me, they are very cost prohibitive. I mean come on, $26 for baby pajamas. At least you will be having a summer baby and the most they might need are some onesies, or t-shirts and a diaper. If it is particularly chilly and your kids have reasonably sized legs, then the baby leg warmers work well too.

    I babywear, but I did have a few baby holding devices too. Well, really just the crib, pack and play and a bouncer. No exersaucer or johny jump up…my husband with his fitness background believed that they were not good for hips or spines and I was happy to have one less item in my house.

    • I keep trying to explain to people that the only garment this baby will need for its first few months of life is a diaper. It’s hot here in the summer. Oh, and maybe a sun hat. We will be out in the garden watching our watermelons grow, after all. (And a bouncer would probably come in handy there…) That said, I’m already lining up knitting projects in 6-12 month sizes for this time next year (our house is freezing). And, thanks for the info on fabrics. I personally break sewing machines, but some of the people who love me do not.

  2. David G says:

    We use either a fleece blanket or wool blanket to wrap around Ruth in her swing when she is sleeping. Even then she works her hands free and sometimes she wakes up with cold hands. She does not like mittens, so that does not work either. I think that the sleep sacks are a pain to put on and take off when she needs a mid night change. Though we’ll be using some of those for outdoors travel while we are visiting Alaska. I say to use common sense and avoid flame retardants abd you will be ok.

  3. therobynnest says:

    Ha! We LOVE the sleep sack here. I had to go way out of my way to find one to fit my son who is now over 2 years old. For us, it’s not the safety issue as much as it is an over-dressing issue. He just wears socks, a t-shirt and a diaper under his sleep sack, and it’s a blanket he can never kick off. I really recommend them after about 6-8 months old when you stop swaddling.

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