Safety Tips for Bassinets, Play Yards, Toddler Beds, and More

Bassinet Safety Tips

While it is perfectly acceptable and safe to introduce your baby to a full-sized crib from the onset, traditionally parents use a bassinet or cradle for the first few weeks or months of a baby's life. If using a bassinet or cradle, be sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Consider placing a bassinet in your room during the first few months when your baby needs to be fed throughout the night. Room sharing is an easy way to be within arm's reach without compromising your child's safety by bed sharing.
  • Look for a bassinet or cradle with a sturdy bottom and a wide, stable base.
  • Follow the manufacturer's guidelines on the appropriate weight and size of babies who can safely use the bassinet or cradle.
  • Check screws and bolts periodically to ensure they are tight.
  • If the product has legs that fold for storage, make sure that effective locks are provided to ensure that the legs do not accidentally fold while in use.
  • Mattresses should fit snugly and be firm and smooth. Never use pillows.
  • Decorative bows and ribbons should be trimmed short and stitched securely to prevent strangulation.
  • Swinging cradles should have a way to keep them from swinging once a baby is asleep.
  • Look for the JPMA Certification Seal.

Play Yard Safety Tips

Choose a play yard with the correct recommended height and weight of the child. The play yard, including side rails, should be fully erected prior to use. Always follow the manufacturers’ instructions (Remember to apply the same rules to portable play yards.) Follow these guidelines for safe use of a play yard:

  • Do not add padding or other objects inside the play yard, which permit your child to climb out.
  • Make sure all latching features of the play yard are in place and secure.
  • NEVER leave baby in a mesh play yard if its drop side is in the down position. The baby could roll into the space between the pad and loose mesh, causing suffocation.
  • Choose a play yard with mesh holes no larger than 1/4”. Slats on a wooden play yard should be no more than 2 3/8” apart.
  • Check vinyl or fabric-covered rails frequently for holes and tears.
  • Don’t tie items across the top of the play yard as they can entangle baby and cause strangulation.
  • Infants can suffocate in gaps between a mattress too small or too thick and product sides, or on soft bedding. Never add a mattress, pillow, comforter, or padding.
  • Look for the JPMA Certification Seal.

Did you know the crib mattress should fit snugly with no more than two fingers, or approximately one-inch width, between the edge of the mattress and the side of the crib?

Toddler Bed Safety Tips

When baby is ready to move out of the crib, a toddler bed can be a great transition to an adult bed. Be sure to follow these guidelines when selecting the right toddler bed:

  • Make sure that the bed is sturdy and not in danger of collapsing.
  • Check the joints periodically to make sure they are not loose.
  • Choose a bed that is low to the ground so that there is less chance of injury if your child falls.
  • Place bed safely in room away from windows, heaters, wall lamps, drapes and blind cords.
  • Place headboard against wall rather than the side of the bed so that child can't become trapped between wall and bed.
  • Look for the JPMA Certification Seal. 

Portable Bed Rail Safety Tips

Portable bed rails are a great solution when your toddler transitions from crib to toddler bed. Be sure to follow these guidelines when using portable bed rails:

  • Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for assembly and use.
  • Bed rails are not designed for infant use so do not use in place of a crib.
  • Use a bed rail only with a standard innerspring mattress and box spring.
  • Do not use a bed rail on a bunk bed, water mattress, or bed without a box spring.
  • Be sure to keep the bed rail firmly against the mattress when in use to prevent dangerous gaps.
  • Look for the JPMA Certification Seal.

Maintenance and Storage of Bassinets, Play Yards, and Toddler Beds

  • Check screws and bolts periodically to ensure they are tight and there are no missing, loose, broken or improperly installed screws, brackets or other hardware.
  • Follow the manufacturer's guidelines on the appropriate weight and size of babies who can safely use the bassinet, play yard or toddler bed.
  • If the product has legs that fold for storage, make sure that effective locks are provided to ensure that the legs do not accidentally fold while in use.
  • Crib slats or spindles should be spaced no more than 2 3/8" apart, and none should be loose or missing.
  • Make sure there is no cracked or peeling paint, splinters or rough edges.
  • Make sure all features of the product are in place securely.
  • Make sure all latching features of the play yard are in place and secure.
  • Check vinyl or fabric-covered rails frequently for holes and tears.
  • When storing your bassinet, play yard or toddler bed for future use, save the instructions and keep them with the product. Often manufacturers post or attach instructions to the mattress platform so that they are easy to find when the product is re-assembled for later use.  Instructions can often be found on manufacturers website. 
  • When storing your bassinet, play yard or toddler bed, keep all parts, together and labeled for future assembly.
  • If your crib converts to a toddler bed be sure to store all parts in a cool dry place and keep the parts and instructions in a safe place.
  • Although sentimental, you should not accept hand-me-down cribs, bassinets or cradles if they have been recalled, if they have missing or broken parts or hardware, of if they do not meet current safety standards.
  • For the safest product use, be sure to always read and follow all manufacturers' instructions.
  • Don't forget to frequently inspect products for missing hardware, loose threads and strings, holes and tears