Crib Essentials: How to Prepare a Bed for Baby

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation.

An infant’s sleep space should offer comfort and safety. This checklist will help you provide both.

Creating a comfy, cozy sleep spot for your newborn is important, but so is putting your baby to sleep carefully. Certain types of bedding can raise the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the unexplained death of an infant while sleeping. Some research suggests SIDS may be related to suffocation caused by an unsafe sleep environment. While there is no known prevention or protection against SIDS, placing the baby on his or her back for sleeping is the medical community’s recommendation. Because there are more than 3,500 sleep-related deaths among infants in the U.S. each year, it’s critical to provide your child the safest sleep space possible. Learn four ways to do it:

Choose a Firm Mattress
Your baby should always be put to sleep on a firm mattress. Avoid the temptation of putting her down on your own bed, the couch, a soft recliner, or her car seat. It’s fine to share the same room as your child, but it’s safer for her to sleep on her own in a contained spot rather than in the bed with you, according to the experts.

Remove Bumpers and Wedges
Those adorable bumpers that come with many bedding sets may seem necessary (some parents worry their tots will bang their heads on the crib slats without them), but they should never be used. The same holds for sleep positioners or wedges that are designed to keep a baby in one spot, such as on her side. Both of these items might pose a suffocation risk if your baby’s face is pushed into them.

Only Use a Fitted Sheet
The only bedding your baby’s crib really needs is a fitted sheet with a waterproof mattress cover underneath. Keep comforters, blankets, pillows, or sheepskins out of the crib to avoid any chance of a baby becoming entangled in them. If you worry that your baby will be cold without covers, dress her in a sleep sack or a one-piece footed romper.

Remove Toys and Stuffed Animals
The same suffocation risk caused by bumpers, blankets, and other plush materials is possible with soft toys in the crib as well. It may seem comforting to give an infant a lovey to clutch at night, but it’s best to lay her down in a crib that’s completely bare.

The bottom line: Less is more when it comes to creating a comfortable, safe sleep space for your baby. Removing any potentially harmful objects will help both of you sleep more soundly at night.

Related Reading:

  • How Much Sleep Do Babies Need?

    Babies are asleep for more than half of their first year of life. This time spent sleeping allows an infant's brain and nervous system to develop, preparing them for the years to come. We cover how much sleep your baby needs to promote healthy growth, why sleep is so crucial for infants and toddlers, and answers to the most frequently asked questions about infant sleep habits.

  • How to Get a Baby to Sleep Through the Night

    Parents of babies are often sleep-deprived due to their baby's night awakenings. Learn when your baby should sleep through the night and how to help them.

  • Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep?

    What are the signs and effects of sleep deprivation in children? We cover what to look for and how to help your child sleep better for their health and mood.