As a mom of three, keeping up with the ever-evolving baby safety laws is not easy. When I was pregnant with my son, I was super diligent. I watched what I ate, exercised regularly and took care of myself because I wanted to make sure I was giving him the very best—and he wasn't even born yet. When it came to his nursery, I knew I wanted it to be free of chemicals (think no VOCs), green and safe, but I didn’t know where to start. At Nook, we know that feeling confident that you’re giving your baby the very best and providing the safest nursery is a top priority and we are here to support you. That’s why I made it my mission for Nook to become a brand all parents-to-be could rely on to help them navigate these waters. We all want the absolute best for our kids which is why 10 years ago we began creating organic Green Guard Gold Certified safe nursery essentials.
Over the years, we've collaborated with several like-minded brands, worked with many safety and sleep experts and nursery designers in order to create this handy list for you to reference as you put your nursery together.
- Invest in the right crib mattress
- Choose your crib carefully
- Get a great video monitor
- Check the thermostat
- Keep changing table supplies put away
- Be conscious about decorating
- Safely Secure all Furniture
- Cover all outlets
- Store Baby Toys Safely
- Be aware of cords
#1 - Invest in the right crib mattress
The most important purchase for your baby's nursery is, hands down, the crib mattress. Your baby will spend 16-18 hours/day sleeping and you want to be confident knowing they're sleeping on a safe crib mattress. So, what does that mean? Look for a crib mattress that's breathable, non-toxic, firm and has a snug fit in the crib. A breathable mattress means that it has been designed to increase the airflow in and around the baby thus reducing the risk of suffocation by promoting an oxygen-rich sleep space for your baby. It’s important to note that most waterproof crib mattress covers are made of non-porous plastic which actually negate the crib mattress’ ability to be breathable. Nook’s mattresses come with crib-ready water-resistant covers so you can rest easy knowing both your baby and your crib mattress are protected. Non-toxic means a mattress uses materials that are free of chemicals, off-gassing toxins and has little to no VOCs, which are harmful to air quality. All of Nook’s crib mattresses are Green Guard Gold Certified to meet these requirements—and more!
#2 - Carefully Choose Your Crib
Getting the right crib isn’t just about making sure it fits your nursery’s theme or style! Make sure your crib selection meets the current government safety standards, which means slats shouldn’t be more than 2 ⅜” apart. This ensures your sweet baby’s head doesn’t get stuck in between the slats. Also, pay attention to design details and follow the same guidelines. While a crib with pretty cutout designs on the end panels or decorative elements, such as knobs, may look stylish, they may actually be a safety hazard for your baby. Look out for anything that might snag on clothing, which are dangers for strangulation or suffocation. Make a habit of periodically checking all of the bolts, screws and crib supports to ensure they aren’t loose or broken.
#3 - Get a Great Monitor
There are so many monitor options from sound to video to temperature monitoring, etc. I personally loved my Nanit for my youngest baby. Whichever monitor you choose, makes sure that it’s securely latched or tethered to a wall or crib to prevent it from falling on your baby. Follow all instructions provided by the manufacturer to ensure your baby’s safety. Also, if connecting to WiFi, make sure you follow best practices to securely protect yourself from creepers hacking into your network. We’ve also heard great things about monitors like the Owlet for parents who want to have a little more information about their babies.
#4 - Check the Thermostat
One of the many contributing factors that have been linked to SIDS is temperature regulation. While the most important way to control this is getting a breathable crib mattress, you can also make sure your baby’s room is set to a nice, cool temperature. It’s easy to think that your new little baby needs it a little warmer, but most babies already run on the warmer side and an overheated baby will not only sleep poorly, but also could end up breathing out more CO2, reducing the amount of oxygen in her sleep space, and increasing the risk of suffocation.
#5 - Properly Store Changing Table Supplies
This is one of the more simple problems to solve. Be sure to store all lotions, baby powders, hand sanitizers and other diaper changing supplies well out of baby’s reach. Ingesting any of those products is poisonous for babies and children. I always kept mine in a bin inside of a drawer so my older kiddos couldn’t easily get to them either. Also, never leave your baby unattended on a changing table. Even the safety straps that a lot of changing pads and changing tables come with can come loose or if you have a baby Houdini, your baby can wiggle and fall out.
#6 - Be Conscious While Decorating
Avoid decorations with long ribbons or strings that could potentially pose a choking or strangulation hazard. While mobiles are cute, once baby can pull himself up, it’s all too easy for him to grab it and possibly get tangled up. If you’re an art aficionado, try to find lightweight artwork to hang up as opposed to mirrors or heavier framed pieces that could fall and cause some serious injury to your baby.
If you’re like me, you’ll look at everything you buy, including the paint, rugs and furniture. Choose paints that contain low or no VOCs. Avoid buying furniture that may contain formaldehyde like particleboard or pressed woods. If you’re the wallpapering kind, choose a paper-based or natural fiber wallpaper as most are vinyl and may give off VOCs. Check the materials on any rugs as synthetic rugs often have more VOCs than those made out of natural materials.
#7 - Safely Secure all Furniture
We already mentioned this, but be sure that any bookshelves or tall and heavy pieces of furniture are safely anchored to the wall, no matter how stable they appear to be. It just takes one climbing baby to topple over a heavy bookshelf and the results could be devastating. Install safety brackets as instructed by the manufacturer and use baby safety latches on lower drawers so your baby isn’t tempted to use them as a makeshift staircase.
#8 - Cover all Outlets
It’s a good thing you can buy outlet covers in bulk on Amazon because my husband goes bonkers when he sees uncovered outlets. Always, always put plug protectors on unused outlets and be sure to get the ones that fully cover the entire outlet. Curious little fingers can easily wiggle them off of the sockets if they aren’t fully covered. Also, keep electrical cords out of reach by tucking them behind furniture.
#9 - Store Toys Safely
This may be one of the most overlooked safety tips, but it’s also super easy to do! When looking for toy bins/chests/boxes, be sure to get one that does NOT have a lid. If yours does have a lid, then be sure it has a working spring-loaded arm that prevents the lid from falling onto your little one or accidentally trapping your little climber inside.
#10 - Be Aware of Cords
I never realized how blind I was to cords until I was planning out my son’s nursery. They’re everywhere! Try to arrange the layout of your nursery so the crib is away from the windows where your baby can easily reach the curtain or shade cords, which is a major strangulation hazard. If you have lamps, sound machines, monitors, etc. that use cords, try to position things like bookshelves, changing tables or gliders in front of them so they’re out of the way to reduce the risk of your baby getting ahold of them.
These are only a handful of safety tips but there are so many more like installing a smoke and carbon-monoxide detector outside each bedroom, getting easy access ladders for 2nd story bedrooms, installing baby gates and doorknob protectors, etc.
*We are not medically trained experts and all content, including any medical opinion or other health and safety-related information is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a diagnosis or treatment plan for anyone. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.