Ask a group of moms how many crib sheets they own, and you're likely to get a wide range of answers. When I had only one child, I owned exactly two crib sheets. I didn't think I would ever need more, because I could throw one in the wash and put the other one on the crib mattress. But over time, our family grew. And in my experience, having more children means having to reassess how many crib sheets you actually need to own, because the laundry situation becomes another ball game.
Now with a family of six, space in the washing machine is a high commodity. Linens won't be washed more than once a week, and sometimes less than that, so the necessary solution is to have more of things like crib sheets in the closet. Right now my family has five crib sheets, even though we still only have one child in a crib. It works for us.
Of course, the number of crib sheets you need will depend on your lifestyle. If you have time to throw one in the wash every day, you might not need more than a couple. But if you have more babies, or don't have an in-house washer and dryer, you'll probably need at least a few more.
Caitlin Hoff, a health and safety investigator for ConsumerSafety.org, points out what many parents forget: Crib sheets should be changed more often than simply when they have been visibly soiled, as with a leaky diaper or spit up. "Remember, your baby relies on you to clean up after them," Hoff tells Romper. "You should be changing the sheets in their crib frequently to remove bacteria and germs from their sleep spot. Having a few sets of machine washable sheets will make this task easier and less stressful for you."
But regardless of the number of crib sheets your family needs, the fit of the sheet is the most critical part. Behavioral sleep psychologist Dr. Lynelle Schneeberg tells Romper that the crib sheet should fit tightly around the mattress, and the mattress itself should fit tightly inside the crib. Extra fabric in the sleeping area poses a huge threat to your infant's sleep safety and should be avoided at all costs. Additionally Schneeberg notes, stuffed animals, bumper pads, and pillows should be kept out of the crib when the baby is in it, since infants can't move themselves away if something is against their face to obstruct their breathing.
Lisa Janvrin, founder of YouthfulNest, which offers online design services for nurseries and children's rooms, says she recommends zip-on crib sheets to her clients for both convenience and safety. Not only does the entire mattress not need to be removed to change the sheet, but there is also no chance of the sheet being pulled or popping off during the night to create a hazard.
And when it comes to allocating that budget, Janvrin encourages parents to splurge on the crib mattress rather than the crib itself. "The crib is more of an aesthetic piece," she explains to Romper, "and there are so many copy-cat styles that can be found at lower prices points. We prefer parents invest in the crib mattress where the baby lays for eight to 12 hours a day."
Whatever style mattress or crib sheets you decide to go with, remember that your baby's safety should be your number one priority. If a crib sheet comes in an adorable pattern but doesn't fit tightly around your baby's mattress, be sure to pass. Find a brand that fits safely and stick with it- and maybe stock up on a few extra sheets just in case.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.