When Should You Lower the Mattress in a Crib?
When should you move your baby's mattress down to a lower crib? If your infant suffers from reflux, you may be thinking about inclining the crib.
Crib mattress adjustments don't have to be complicated, but there are a few things to think about first.
To help you learn the ins and outs of raising or lowering your child's crib, we've put together this handy guide. We'll go over safe sleeping practices for infants, including how to know when it's time to pull out the tools and make modifications to the baby's crib mattress.
Safety Recommendations for Infants While Sleeping
It's important to remember the fundamentals of infant sleep safety. Your baby will be safer from SIDS if you are familiar with these best practices.
New sleep safety guidelines to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) were released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2016. A few fundamentals must be observed: (1)
For the first six months to one year of life, the AAP suggests parents and infants share a room.
Sharing a bedroom poses a risk to infants, but sharing a room is perfectly safe.
Your baby should sleep in a crib or bassinet in the same room as you but in a separate sleeping area.
As an alternative, some families choose to use a co-sleeper, which allows the infant to sleep close by while still being on its own, dedicated bed.
To prevent sudden infant death syndrome, babies should be placed on their backs only, never their sides or stomachs. Only when a baby is able to roll over on their own should they be allowed to sleep on their side or stomach.
If you've been swaddling them past that point, stop. When a baby is swaddled, they cannot roll back onto their back if they turn over, which increases the risk of suffocation.
At this age, it is still best to put your baby to sleep on his or her back, but repositioning them to their right side after they roll over is no longer required.
Although sleep positioners appear to be useful, the Food and Drug Administration warns against their use (2).
These are dangerous because a baby's face could get pressed up against the positioner itself if they rolled over, or they could get stuck in the space between the positioner and the crib if they slid off. Suffocation is a real risk in both of these scenarios.
Putting sleep positioners in a baby's crib is not the only thing you shouldn't do. When decorating a baby's crib, parents shouldn't add anything extra, such as decorative pillows, loose blankets, toys, or bumpers. Having too much stuff around can be dangerous, even deadly.
The only secure blanket for a baby in a crib is the one used for swaddling. The use of sleep sacks is another sensible and secure option.
Why You Shouldn't Lower the Crib Mattress
It's possible that you didn't give much thought to the height of your baby's crib mattress when you first put together the crib. When you brought your newborn home, you might have noticed that the mattress wasn't at the ideal height.
The following are some of the reasons why making adjustments like these—rising the height of the mattress or changing its angle—may be beneficial:
1 Expanded Freedom of Movement
Putting a newborn baby into a crib that is too low can be dangerous if you don't pay attention.
Raising the mattress of the crib provides you and your baby with a safer sleeping space.
After having a cesarean, it may hurt to bend over even if you're a tall mother to put your baby in the crib. If you're still recovering from childbirth, you might find it easier to lay down your baby if the crib mattress is elevated.
2 The Infant Suffers from Acid Reflux
Since lying flat allows the acidic stomach fluids to move up toward the esophagus, babies with gastroesophageal reflux disease GERD may find it uncomfortable to sleep on their backs.
An unpleasant burning sensation may occur if stomach acids travel up into the esophagus. There's also the risk that your infant will be sick from it, which will make for a night of no sleep for both of you.
An inclined sleeping position is recommended for infants with reflux to prevent the backflow of stomach acid. We'll get into the proper way to pull off this maneuver later on in the piece.
3 The Infant Has Congestion
Your infant may have trouble sleeping and breathing because of congestion and mucus buildup due to a cold or allergies.
Keeping your baby's crib mattress at a slight angle can help alleviate the pressure caused by mucus buildup, allowing for easier breathing and better sleep.
Modifying Crib Mattresses Safely
Now that you know the potential benefits of angling the mattress in a crib, you may be wondering if doing so is safe for your baby. The short answer is yes, but there are a few conditions.
If your infant has GERD or congestion, you can safely angle their crib. If your baby is a newborn, you can also put the crib mattress on its highest setting. However, you should think twice before lifting the mattress as your child gets older.
Once your infant is able to sit up unassisted, you should lower the mattress of their crib by half a notch, or even an entire notch. Typically, this occurs between the ages of 5 and 8 months.
Adjust the mattress to the lowest setting once your baby can pull up on their own.
Crib Mattresses That Can Be Securely Tilted
Your child's mattress may benefit from an incline if they have GERD or congestion. Under no circumstances should anything be placed on top of the mattress while doing this. Your baby is at a high risk of suffocation from sleep positioners, blankets, and pillows.
You can make a safer incline for your baby by placing objects under the crib. A 30-degree (approximately six-inch) incline can be achieved with the help of specialty anglers, blankets, pillows, or even towels.
The items can be slid under the bed to achieve the desired tilt.
The Benefits of Using a Lower Crib Mattress
Just like there will be a time when you need to raise the mattress of your baby's crib, there will also be a time when you need to lower it. Baby's crib size will need to be changed as they get bigger.
If you are concerned about your baby's safety, you may choose to lower the mattress of their crib. If a baby were to fall out of the crib, even onto a carpeted floor, the consequences could be devastating.
Protective Measures for Lowering Crib Mattresses
At the appropriate time, reducing the height of your baby's crib mattress will actually increase safety. Injuries sustained in a crib are a leading cause of emergency room visits for children, with over 10,000 children affected annually (4).
As a result, you should anticipate making multiple height adjustments to the crib over the course of the first year.
At What Age Should You Lower the Crib Mattress?
If your baby is able to sit up in their crib at any point, you should lower the mattress to the lowest setting.
Once a baby is able to sit up on their own, they are well on their way to being able to stand up without any assistance. If the mattress is not high enough, a child who is able to pull up will be able to flip themselves over the crib rails. The railing can be adjusted to three different heights, allowing you to keep up with your growing child.
Minimizing the Height of a Crib Mattress
The process of lowering the mattress of your crib is a bit more involved than raising it on an incline, but it is still manageable on your own. If you're not sure how to do something, it's best to consult the product's manual or the manufacturer's website.
It's as easy as following these guidelines:
- Pick a height: Set the crib to the level that's most comfortable for you. It is much more convenient to make this choice before beginning the project, rather than while holding screws in your hands.
- For your own safety, remove the mattress protector and crib sheets before making your way to the bottom of the bed.
- Make alterations: remove the screws from the bed's foot and adjust the mattress height to your liking.
After you've secured the crib's foot, move on to the crib's head and repeat the process, this time using screws to secure the mattress.
- After lowering the mattress, remove the protective cover and replace it with fresh sheets.
Both Lower and Higher
The height and incline of your baby's mattress can be changed for a number of reasons. If done properly, adjusting the mattress height is safe.
Keep your baby's crib free of clutter, and keep an eye on their growth so you know when to lower the mattress.
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