There are many milestones on your path to parenthood, from the positive sign on pregnancy test to your first ultrasound. But there is something about preparing a nursery that makes your pregnancy start to feel a little more “real.” As you begin your planning to create a perfect space for your baby, remember to take these steps to ensure it is also a safe and healthy space.
Tips for Painting
The first step in a nursery makeover is often a fresh coat of paint. The older your home, the more likely it is to contain lead-based paint. If the home was constructed before 1978, this would be a good time to get your nursery – and your whole home – tested for lead paint. Sanding surfaces covered by lead paint can release toxic lead dust into your home and old, peeling paint can be discovered and swallowed by curious toddlers. Learn more about protecting your child from lead.
Something else to keep in mind as you plan your painting: using a ladder during pregnancy can be dangerous for you and your baby. You can avoid climbing by using extensions on your roller or better yet – find someone other than the mom to reach the high parts!
Install Outlet Covers
While you’re painting and you have all the furniture out of the room is a great time to install covers for your electrical outlets – especially those that are normally behind furniture. Yes, it will be several months before your baby is crawling around and able to reach these, but that time will be here before you know it. Electrical outlets are often at eye-level for crawlers and a tempting target for curious fingers. Get those covered now!
Find and Use a Safe Crib
A safe crib is the most important space in your baby’s nursery. Your baby will spend most of his or her early life in the crib. Much of your baby’s time in the crib will be unsupervised, so it is essential that this space is completely safe.
First, you will need to think about where your crib will go. You may be excited to get your baby into the new nursery but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends sharing your room with your baby at nighttime for the first 6 to 12 months of your baby’s life. They do not recommend sharing your bed. Many parents purchase a bassinet, which will take up less space in the parents’ room.
Second, get a new crib (or bassinet) if you can. New cribs meet the latest and most strict standards for safety. If you have to go with a used crib, get one that was manufactured after 2011, which is when new safety standards were established. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), more than 11 million cribs were recalled between 2007 and 2015. Cribs with drop-sides caused more than 30 strangulation or suffocation deaths between 2000 and 2015. All sleep spaces – any crib, bassinet, or pack-n-play – should meet the latest safety requirements for infant bedding, whether it is for sleeping at night or for naps during the day.
It is common for family members and friends to offer their used cribs, bassinets or pack-n-play. These may be free, or beautifully crafted family heirlooms – but they also may not meet today’s safety standards. Their hearts are in the right place but you need to do what is right for your baby. It is okay to turn down their offer. Learn more about how to ensure your baby’s sleep space meets the latest standards.
- Preparing your crib correctly is just as important as choosing a crib. Follow these tips for safe sleep during every nap and night-time routine:
- Place your baby on their back, in a crib, bassinet or pack-n-play for every sleep time.
- Use a firm mattress with a tightly fitted sheet.
- Keep baby’s sleep space clutter free – no pillows, blankets or toys.
- Avoid covering baby’s head or overheating.
- Instead of a blanket, consider using a sleep sack, wearable blanket or footed sleeper to keep baby warm.
- Remind everyone who cares for your baby, including babysitters and family members, how to keep baby safe while sleeping.
Get Rid of Dangles
Once you have a safe crib, you need to look at the area around your crib. As your baby grows, he or she will grab for anything within reach. Cords are an inviting target. Any lamps, radios, or baby monitors near your baby could easily be toppled onto the floor, or your baby’s head. Make sure these items and their cords are completely out of reach, at least three feet from the crib.
Some of the most dangerous dangles are the strings to window blinds or curtains. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission says that one child dies every month after becoming entangled in a window covering cord. This danger is not limited to the nursery – and not limited to infants and toddlers; children as old as nine have lost their lives to this danger. If you can, install cordless blinds. Where cords are present, make sure they are secured, out of reach, and that they cannot form dangerous loops.
As you plan the finishing touches on your nursery decoration, remember that anything you hang on the wall could potentially come down. Whether it is because your toddler is literally bouncing off the walls or because of an installation error, a falling object can be dangerous. You can minimize the risk by keeping all artwork out of reach, and by only hanging lightweight items and properly securing these items to the wall.
Anchor Your Furniture and Televisions
It may not seem like your little baby could ever tip a heavy piece of furniture – but it happens more than you would ever expect. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says that around three children die every month in furniture tipping accidents. Tip-over accidents also result in 15,600 emergency room visits each year.
To a toddler, bookshelves can look like a ladder and pulled out drawers can look like stairs. Climbing on shelves or open drawers can quickly change the furniture’s center of gravity and pull it down on top of your child. Televisions are also frequently involved in tip-over accidents.
You can prevent tip-over accidents in your nursery and your whole home by:
- Using anti-tip hardware that is sold with new furniture
- Anchoring older top-heavy furniture and installing anti-tip hardware
- Securing your televisions and mounting flat-screen televisions
- Removing tempting items from high places.
Your Healthy Futures Nurse is also here for you. Contact your Healthy Futures nurse if you have any questions or concerns.