Childproofing the Bedroom

The bedroom where your baby sleeps, whether alone or shared with others, sees a lot of use in your child’s first years, so it’s important to make it safe.

The Child’s Bed

The centerpiece of the bedroom is, of course, the bed, and the safety of a child’s bed is of paramount importance. In terms of childproofing, the following checks are recommended for cribs by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC):

  • Hardware—No screws, bolts, or hardware may be missing.

  • Slats—Slats cannot be more than 2 3/8” (6.03 cm) apart.

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  • Headboard and Footboard—There should not be cutouts in the bed ends.

  • Corner Posts—The corner posts cannot extend more than 1/16” (1.58 millimeters) above the head and footboards

  • Mattress Support—The mattress support must not release easily from the posts.

  • Mesh/Fabric—Any mesh or fabric must be whole, free of tears.

  • Condition—There cannot be any sharp edges or points (such as those on protruding rivets, nuts or bolts, or knobs), or any wood surfaces that have splinters, splits, or cracks.

  • Safety Certification Seal—The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) certification label should appear on the crib you choose.

In addition, cribs should:

  • have a mattress that fits tightly with less than two adult-finger-widths between the mattress and the crib side.
  • have a tightly fitting crib sheet made specifically for the mattress size.
  • have no soft bedding, pillows, or pillowy stuffed animals, nor sheepskin.

There are hazards in placing a crib near a window—not only that the baby could break the glass and/or fall, but that any cords or draperies or blinds could get tangled around the child. Any cords or draperies in the child’s bedroom should be shortened (products called cord shorteners are available) and kept out of reach.

Also, do not place a crib near any heat source, whether radiator or hot air vent.

Bunk beds should only be used when a child is old enough to safely climb up the ladder-most experts recommend that no child under six sleep on the top bunk. The top bunk should always be equipped with appropriate guard rails.

Hazards of Adult Beds

Awareness of the following hazards of adult beds can prevent hazardous situations for a baby:

  • Entrapment: be sure that the baby cannot become trapped between:

    • the bed and a wall.
    • the bed and a piece of furniture or another object.
    • in or around the bed frame, headboard, or footboard.

  • Falling: be sure that the baby cannot fall from the bed.

  • Suffocation: be sure that there is no soft bedding that might hinder a child’s breathing.

Other Furniture

Other furniture besides the bed—including bureaus, the changing table, toy chests, or bookcases—should be chosen with rounded edges and without protruding elements that the baby could get caught or hurt on. Keeping toys in a lidless box or on open shelves circumvents the dangers of the toy chest lid.

Heavy furniture, particularly top-heavy pieces such as tall dressers or bookshelves, should be strapped or otherwise secured to the wall. As children explore, climbing on furniture may cause it to tip and fall onto the child. Many childproofing sections of hardware or specialty stores have straps and hardware designed for this purpose.

The products kept in a baby’s changing table—diaper pins, salve or ointments, cotton swabs, etc.—need to be kept from a baby’s reach, using safety latches, if necessary.

A sparsely furnished room and protective measures for any hazards can ensure that the baby can roam the bedroom with a good deal of freedom, in safety. Some parents take advantage of this situation with a safety gate for the child’s door, converting the room into a glorified play yard. Other parents prefer that the bedroom be for sleeping only, and create separate space for playing.

The Child’s Bedtime Clothing

All infant clothing should be made of flame retardant material. Nothing with strings—clothing, pacifiers, or bibs—should ever be worn by a sleeping baby. The clothing should keep the child warm in a cool room, but should not overheat the baby, or run the risk of becoming wrapped around the baby’s head or face.

Outlets and Electrical Cords

  • Electrical outlet safety covers and plates—These products restrict access to electrical outlets, thus reducing the risk of electrocution. They should be installed firmly so that a child cannot remove them and be large enough not to pose a choking hazard.

  • Electrical cords should be collected in a cord bundler and cord shorteners should also be used as appropriate. This will both prevent the baby from teething on the cord and from tugging on it and inadvertently pulling the object at the other end down on him- or herself.


Every sleeping area should have both a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector.

Written by Mary Elizabeth

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