Always lay your baby in the crib facing up. The back to sleep program was instituted successfully by child care providers, hospitals and parents and has helped prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) deaths. Make sure you have a firm mattress. A soft mattress could allow the baby to suffocate by allowing his mouth and nose to be engulfed in the mattress where he could breathe in high carbon dioxide amounts if he does turn over.
Do not put anything in the crib that could hurt the baby. Be cautious not to put anything in the crib that could suffocate the baby or be used by the baby to stand on to help him get out of the crib. Do not use a mattress that is too small. You shouldn't be able to fit two fingers between the mattress and the side of the crib or the baby could get hurt. When using bumper pads, make sure the ties are not left too long to avoid strangulation. Take off bumper pads as soon as the baby can stand.
Make sure mattress sheets fit completely over the mattress. It's important that the sheet not tear or come off to keep the baby from getting underneath and trapped. Keep the crib safely away from electric outlets. Inspect the crib often to make sure it is in good working order. Check for crib recalls often to make sure your crib is safe. Look on the manufacturer's website, and check the store where you bought the crib for recall notices.
When to Make a Move
When you first put your baby in his new crib, you will probably want to put it at it's highest setting so you don't have to reach far when setting the baby down or picking him up. Because of safety regulations made in 1973, cribs are much safer than they once were. The highest setting should be safe for all newborn babies. The only thing you may want to consider is what or who may reach into the crib. You may not want the mattress so high that another child can take the baby out in an unsafe manner.
When the baby is sitting up on his own, the mattress should be lowered far enough down that he can not fall out. When the baby can stand up, the mattress should be put at its lowest setting. When the child is about 32 to 35 inches tall or two years old, he should be moved to a bed. At this point the crib might be too dangerous because he could climb out and fall. A toddler may be too big or too active before he reaches two years old or thirty two inches, however, and should be moved to a toddler bed sooner.