Recommendations seem to change frequently about the items that you can safely place in your baby’s crib. And chances are you’ve received many differing opinions (some quite strong!) about it as well. The bottom line is that safety comes first. Beyond that, choose items that provide your child with security and/or stimulation.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends avoiding items that could cover your baby’s face and prevent her from breathing. That means skipping bulky or fluffy blankets, pillows, bumpers, positioning wedges, and stuffed animals. For the health of your child’s teeth — even those that have not emerged yet — don’t leave her with milk or juice (although you can ask your doctor about water).
Some children love items that play sounds such as ocean waves or a heartbeat. Other babies are soothed by their parents’ scents; consider taking his pajamas to bed with you for a night and then putting him to bed in them the next night. Starting at around 8 months, children benefit from a security object (or lovey). Most loveys are soothing to the touch, reminding a child that he is safe. Check with your pediatrician about how to safely introduce one into your child’s crib.
Providing visually engaging items can offer age-appropriate stimulation. A mobile is one option for infants. When choosing, think about what your baby will see while lying on her back. Another option is a crib toy that can be securely affixed to the rails. Look for toys that light up, play music, have moving items, or include a baby-safe mirror.
Reyna Lindert, R.N., Ph.D., is a neonatal nurse at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. She holds a Ph.D. in developmental psychology, has led family-focused play classes and workshops, and has co-authored parenting books.