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Preparing the Baby Nursery

Choosing The Right Baby Nursery Environment

Don’t be afraid to clean your newborn’s umbilical cord. Be sure that you have washed your hands before handling the cord. If the umbilical cord becomes soiled with urine or feces, you should clean the area when you change your baby’s diaper. To clean the cord safely, take a cotton swab, cotton square or cotton round and clean around the base of the umbilical cord with clean water.

Her nursery should be a peaceful place, designed for ease of use and comfort. Arrange the furniture and items in a way you think makes the most sense logically, but realize that you may need to rearrange things a little once you figure out what works best for both of you.

Choosing a Nursery Crib and Crib Mattress

Your newborn’s nursery needs are simple: a firm, flat mattress and a safe enclosure where she will feel protected and secure. New cribs purchased in the United States must meet safety regulations and the new federal requirements advise not to use cribs older than 10 years. But if you borrow an older crib, make sure that:

  • The crib slats are no more than two and three eighths (2 3/8) inches apart to prevent your baby's body from slipping through. Ensure there are no missing or cracked slats
  • The mattress fits snugly. You should be able to fit no more than two fingers between the mattress and the side of the crib. Remove any plastic coverings. If a sheet is used, make sure it is a tight, fitted sheet
  • The top section of the corner post is no higher than 1/16 of an inch to avoid snagging your baby's clothes or causing injury
  • There are no decorative cutouts in the headboard or footboard — they could catch your baby's head or limbs
  • To prevent entanglement, be sure to remove all mobile or hanging items by the time your baby is 4 months old or begins to pull herself up. And when your baby is less than four months, make sure the mobile is out of reach and securely fastened so it can't fall into the crib
  • The crib is never near a window with blind, curtain cords or baby monitor cords; babies can strangle themselves on cords. Never place a crib near windows where the window is accessible from the crib
  • The crib does not have drop sides — these are no longer permitted per the latest safety guidelines and federal regulations
  • All crib parts are secure using original hardware. Makeshift repairs can be unsafe
  • You check recall lists for older cribs. You can access these at

Newborn Sleep Safety Tips in the Nursery

  • To reduce the risk of Sudden Baby Death Syndrome (SIDS), your baby should be placed on her back when it's time to sleep. Remember the phrase "Back to Sleep," and be sure that everyone who cares for your child follows this newborn sleep rule, even at naptime
  • The sleeping surface must be firm and flat
  • Fluffy pillows, crib bumpers, blankets and toys should never be placed in the crib with a sleeping baby
  • Do not use sleep-positioning devices. These may look like a good idea, but your baby can become trapped and suffocate
  • Your baby can be kept warm by using a sleeper, such as a zipper sleeper. Do not use sleepers that can ride up and potentially cover your baby’s face

For more on baby sleep safety, visit,, and

Benefits of a Bassinet

While not a nursery necessity, you may prefer a bassinet in the first months of infancy. These portable baby beds can be carried from room to room, so you can keep a close watch on your sleeping baby.

And because most bassinets will not support the weight of an older baby, they're useful only for the first four or five months, which makes them a bit of a luxury item.

Choosing a Changing Table

To change your baby’s diaper, you can use a changing table specifically designed for baby diaper changing. You can also use a flat, secure surface (like the floor or bed), covered with a changing pad or towel. Whatever you choose, be sure the surface is sturdy.

If you buy a changing table specifically designed for baby diaper changing, make sure that:

  • The changing table is sturdy and stable, with a 2-inch guardrail around all four sides. The top of the changing table should be concave, so that the middle is slightly lower than the sides
  • You secure the changing table to the wall (to the studs), if possible, to prevent tip-overs. If the table has wheels, be sure they are locked
  • Have all your supplies ready before you change your baby. Make sure they are within your reach, but out of your baby’s reach. Do not give your baby product containers to hold while you are changing her; give her a toy to hold instead

Never leave your baby alone on a changing table, not even for a minute. ALWAYS keep one hand on your baby when using a changing table, even when you are using the provided safety strap. Ignore the phone during this time — your baby’s safety comes first!

Before you purchase or use any changing table, check for recalls at

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