What You Can & Cannot Put On The Side Of Your Baby's Crib

by Fiona Tapp

Is there anything worse than waking up in the middle of the night to a crying baby and not having all your supplies at the ready? Trying to soothe your little one while you're half-asleep and searching all over for a diaper is not fun. Trust me. So, yes, it would be much easier if us parents could arrange everything we need for midnight diaper blowouts on the side of our baby's crib. But is it safe to put things on the side of my baby's crib? After all, convenience should never trump safety, even if a horrendous poop-filled diaper is involved.

There are certainly plenty of products on the market designed to be hung over the side of your baby's crib, claiming to offer parents convenience and some much-needed organizational assistance. Lots of people also buy toys and mobiles that attach to the side of the crib to entertain their little ones as they drift off to sleep.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), however, advises parents that their baby's crib should be bare, excluding anything from toys to stuffed animals to blankets to pillows from their baby's sleep area for at least the first year of their baby's life. The AAP also suggests that parents exercise some caution when choosing any crib decorations, such as mobiles, saying:

"If you do choose to use mobiles, make sure they do not hang low enough to entangle your baby, especially once she begins to roll. In fact, once your baby is able to sit up, it will definitely be time for her mobile to come down."

As soon as your baby is old enough to start moving around by themselves, seemingly safe objects can suddenly become dangerous. Anything within baby's reach could pose a suffocation or strangulation risk. As your baby gets older, more adventurous, and certainly more curious, anything within an easy reach could be used to climb on, posing additional hazards such as falling. For those reasons alone, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) advises parents to be careful when attaching something to the side of their baby's crib, saying:

"Toys attached to the sides of a crib should be securely attached to a single side. Make sure the toy does not contain any cords or straps that could wrap around a child’s neck. Avoid hanging crib toys with protruding parts that a child can use to pull themselves up and out of the crib or from which small parts might detach."

Then, of course, there are video monitors that promise parents a close-up view of their baby while they sleep through the night. While it's tempting to get the camera close enough to catch every little movement, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) advises parents to keep monitors away from the side of cribs where babies could grab onto them.

Aside from the very important safety issues, some people worry that by placing toys or distractions on the side of a baby's crib, parents are encouraging their little one to play instead of going to sleep. The Baby Sleep Site, however, suggests that by making the crib a fun and colorful place, babies will want to be there and, as a result, feel happy and content before sleep time.

Whether or not you decide to put things on the side of your babies crib, it's vital that you follow safety guidelines. Make sure that nothing goes inside the crib, that toys and decorations do not pose a suffocation risk, and that pieces cannot fall off and become a choking hazard. Following sleep safety guidelines can help everyone in the family to relax and, hopefully, sleep soundly.