Before You Bring Your Baby Home

Crib Safety

  • Selecting your baby’s crib is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a new parent. Since your child will spend a great deal of time in their crib, you’ll want to be sure it’s safe. Use the following guidelines when purchasing a crib or testing the safety of a used one.
  • Whether buying a new crib or borrowing a used one, make sure it was made after 1989, which is the year crib safety standards were implemented.
  • The distance between the slats of the crib should be less than two-and-three-eighth inches to prevent your baby from getting their head caught and possibly being strangled. Make sure there are no missing slats.
  • The crib must be free of sharp edges and exposed screws or bolts that could scratch or cut your baby.
  • The crib should have no corner posts that stick out that could catch your baby’s clothing and potentially cause strangulation or other serious injury.
  • In its raised position, the top rail of the adjustable side of a crib must be 26 inches from the bottom of the crib’s mattress to prevent falls. In its lowered position, the top rail needs to be at least nine inches from the crib’s mattress support.
  • The mattress should fit the crib snugly (less than two fingers should fit between the mattress and sides of the crib). The crib’s end panels should extend well below the mattress at its lowest level. This prevents the child from becoming trapped and possibly suffocating in gaps surrounding the mattress.
  • Crib sheets must fit tightly in all corners and sides to prevent your baby from getting tangled.
  • The latches of the crib’s adjustable sides should hold securely. Your child should not be able to adjust or loosen the latches.
  • The crib’s mattress support should be firmly secured.
  • Do not use bumper pads.
  • Avoid placing, blankets, pillows, sheepskins or comforters in the crib with the baby.
  • The crib’s end panels should not have cutout designs that your baby could get stuck in.
  • Paint on the crib surfaces should be nontoxic.
  • Set crib mattress at the lowest position by the time your baby learns to stand.
  • Move your child to a bed when they are 35 inches tall or when the height of the side rail is less than 75 percent of their height.
  • Once you’ve selected a crib, follow assembly instructions carefully. These instructions should also contain tips for cleaning and maintenance. Keep the instructions for future reference


Arranging Your Baby’s Room

Arranging the furniture safely in your child’s room is a good way to prevent injuries. With a little planning, you can make your child's room hazard-free.

  • Do not place your baby’s crib or changing table near windows, curtains, blinds, pull-cords, lamps, electrical cords, outlets, appliances (such as fans, heaters or humidifiers) or any other piece of furniture that your child can use to climb out of a crib.
  • Avoid dangling electrical cords or extension cords anywhere in your baby’s room.  



Smoke inhalation is one of the leading causes of death in children. Your baby is helpless in a fire emergency, so you’ll want to plan effectively and take all precautions.

  • Install smoke detectors where smoke is likely to travel (basement, kitchen and stairways). The alarm should be loud enough to cause your baby to wake up and cry.
  • Check smoke detector batteries monthly, and change them at least twice a year. An easy-to-remember plan is to change batteries when you turn the clocks ahead and back each year.
  • Put at least one fire extinguisher on every floor of your home and one in the kitchen.
  • Maintain all heating equipment. Have your furnace inspected regularly, and change the filter at least once a year.
  • Create a fire emergency plan. Decide in advance who will get the baby in case of an emergency.
  • Keep chain or rope ladders near windows.
  • Draw an escape floor plan with arrows from each room showing escape routes to at least two exits. Make the routes as short as possible.
  • Practice fire drills with the entire family and all babysitters.
  • Never leave a small child alone in your home for any reason or any length of time.
  • Use only fire-resistant sleepwear.
  • Do not use space heaters while your family is asleep.
  • Have your fireplace chimney cleaned and inspected once each year.
  • Only burn logs in your fireplace. Never burn paper or garbage.
  • Teach children how to exit a burning building by staying close to the ground and feeling a door before entering another room (if the door feels hot, do not open).
  • Teach children to stop, drop and roll (drop to the ground and roll back and forth) if clothes are on fire. Explain that running could make the fire burn faster.



It’s never too early to move toxic and poisonous substances out of a child’s reach. Get an early start on protecting your child from accidental poisoning.

  • Install carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home.
  • Move medications, cleaning products, bug killers, fertilizers and fuels to a high shelf or cupboard or to a sealed-off area, such as an attic, basement or utility shed. Store dangerous substances in only a few places.
  • Install locks on drawers, cabinets and doors.
  • Post the phone number of the Oregon Poison Center, 800 222-1222, on or near your phone.  Visit their web site for additional information.

For more information:

503 418-5666


Doernbecher Children's Hospital Lobby
700 SW Campus Drive Portland, OR 97239