Remember those days when your baby used to sleep peacefully, all swaddled up and unable to move an inch for hours at a time? When those days fade, they're replaced with a baby that wiggles and moves and requires constant stimulation. That's when the real questions begin, like should you put toys in your baby's crib, or should you be using crib bumpers to protect baby from a bonk on the head? Of course, the answers to those questions can be just as tricky too.
When it comes to putting toys in your baby's crib, there are two things to consider. First, the safety of your baby. If your baby is still young enough that they're just starting to roll over and can't necessarily turn themselves back to sleep, you'll want to keep the crib clear of all soft items. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NIH) recommends keeping all soft toys, blankets and crib bumpers out of the crib to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
You should also consider avoiding the urge to put toys with small objects into the crib with your baby. Are they cute? Sure, but they could become a choking hazard, especially if your baby is playing with them while lying down. The NIH also advises parents to make sure the toy or lovey you leave with your child doesn't have ribbons or buttons that can be plucked off during a 3 a.m. play session while you're fast asleep in the next room.
The second aspect to consider when picking out potential crib toys for your baby, is whether you should be putting toys in your child's crib in order to make them feel comfortable and less lonely, especially if they're at an age when softer items aren't a suffocation or SIDS hazard. According to the Baby Sleep Site, there's nothing wrong with a little entertainment in the crib to keep your child occupied while you get a few more winks or to help your baby to wind down before sleep.
Just make sure that you've chosen the type of toy that will promote sleeping, rather than stimulation or you'll be giving your baby reason to party rather than slumber. The Baby Sleep Site reminds readers that even mobiles, a great option for a toy that doesn't need to sit in the crib with baby, are designed to stimulate or soothe, and trust me when I say you'll definitely want to choose the soothing option for bedtime enjoyment. The Independent has also laid out a wide variety of safe sleep-aids for babies, including swaddle blankets, musical toys that play soothing songs, a "serenity star."
Does your child actually need toys in their crib to keep them company while they're away from you for (hopefully) 12 hours? The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says no, the safest environment for your child to sleep is the most spare environment, going on to suggest that "An uncluttered sleeping space is the safest sleeping space for a baby."
Minimalism seems to be the best tactic when it comes to toys in your baby's crib. If you're fixated on a little something for your little one, choose a small lovely or stuffed animal that doesn't have ribbons or buttons that can easily be popped off. Those items might just be the perfect compromise, and your key to a blissful night of much-needed sleep.