When it comes to taking care of a baby, it seems like everyone has an opinion about the right way to do things. With so many books, blogs, and articles about everything from feeding to diapers, it can be hard to know the right way to approach anything. One of the topics that really gets people up in arms is how to put a baby to bed. Because we know you want to do right by your baby, we decided to make things simple for you and spell out the dos and don’ts of crib bedding.
Why You Should Care About Crib Bedding
If there’s one thing that a baby excels at, it’s sleep. (Well, most of the time.) Babies can fall asleep just about anywhere, so why should the bedding matter? Babies have trouble regulating their own body temperature, especially newborns and preemies. Choosing the right bedding will help you make sure that your baby is warm or cool enough in the night.
Choose a Firm Mattress
Because we grown-ups tend to want to fall onto a nice soft mattress at the end of the day, our first instinct may be to look for a plush mattress for our babies. But firm mattresses are much better for babies. A baby’s bones aren’t fully developed yet, and many of them are much softer than ours. A firmer mattress will give them better support and will be more comfortable for them.
So how do you know that a mattress is firm enough? Press down on a mattress with both hands, both in the middle and along the edges. If the mattress springs back up without leaving any kind of indent, then you know you have a good mattress for your little one.
Tightly Fitted Sheets
Have you ever gone to make your bed and had to fight to keep the sheets from flying off the edges of the mattress? Or woken up in the morning after a fitful night’s sleep only to find the sheets were tangled around your legs? That’s why, when you are looking for bedding for your baby’s firm mattress, you want sheets that fit perfectly. The elastic should be tight but not so tight that it comes off the bottom edge of the mattress. Likewise, you don’t want your sheets to fit loosely around the mattress either. A fitted sheet that stays secure is best. Our fitted sheets stay on tight! We secure each corner with a French seam, and our crib sheets are finished with elastic all the way around the fitted sheet, so it stays put throughout the night!
Use Light, Breathable Materials
Like we said earlier, babies have trouble regulating their own body temperatures, so it’s easy for them to become overheated. Babies who are overheated will not only have trouble getting to sleep but can potentially develop heat rash. Because of this, choosing light, breathable materials for bedding will help keep babies cool for a refreshing night’s sleep. Of course, our favorite lightweight material is cotton!
Double-Check the Recall List
It’s always sweet when someone gives us the crib or bedding that they used for their children, especially parents or grandparents. But baby things made ten or twenty years ago may not be up to par with today’s safety standards. Even newer cribs may end up being faulty, and that’s the last thing anyone wants for their baby. Before you put a baby in a crib, go online and make sure the crib and bedding haven’t been recalled and still meet safety standards.
Remember to Swaddle
For the best night’s sleep, instead of simply putting the baby in the cradle and being done with it, it’s always a good idea to swaddle a baby. Swaddling a baby makes the baby feel more secure, as if they are being held, which helps them self-soothe in the night. Babies also experience the effects of the Moro Reflex, which is an involuntary response to being startled, akin to feeling like they’re falling, resulting in them suddenly flailing their arms and legs. This is a natural and completely harmless occurrence in infants, but it may wake your baby up in the night and lead to some tears. Swaddling ensures that their arms and legs are secure, keeping the baby from waking up.
Don’t Give Them Blankets Too Early
So Mom hand-knit your baby a blanket and Grandma gave you an heirloom quilt that’s been in your family for generations. Your first instinct may be to tuck your baby in, but you should hold off on placing loose blankets in the crib until the baby is a year old, to avoid risk of suffocation. Instead, tightly swaddle your baby or put them in a sleep-sack. Once your baby has passed the one-year mark, you can let them sleep with blankets or one of our American-made quilts.
Don’t Use Pillows and Stuffed Animals
Babies are so soft and cuddly; your first instinct may be to surround them with soft things like pillows and teddy bears. But putting pillows and stuffed animals in a crib with your sleeping baby poses the same risks as putting a blanket on them too early. Namely, they present suffocating hazards to your baby. Your baby doesn’t need a pillow and can’t appreciate the stuffed animals at this age anyway. Keep them in the playroom and out of the crib for now.
Don’t Use Baby Bumpers
Baby bumpers were invented with safety in mind. Back in the day, the bars of cribs were farther apart than today, and it was easy for babies’ heads, arms, or legs to get stuck between the bars. To prevent this, and to keep babies from rolling into the wooden bars, people put cotton pads around the cribs to keep babies safe. But over time as cribs were made safer, people found that baby bumpers did little to prevent injuries, and worse, they posed suffocation risks to babies when their faces pressed up against them. Nowadays, people generally don’t recommend baby bumpers in cribs.
Everyone has their own thoughts about how to do right by their babies, but at the end of the day, we all want the same thing: for our babies to grow up happy and healthy. Knowing the dos and don’ts of crib bedding may not teach us how to do everything right, but it can help us give our babies a safe and satisfying night of sleep. That’s a good start.