If you long for a full night's sleep, you might turn to a crib tent to keep your baby in her crib until the sun comes up. Think again, however. You won't have to return your little one to her bed as often, but crib tents have been linked to injuries and at least one death. The safety of your baby is more important than your sleep.
Crib tents are netted domes that fit over your baby's crib so she can't climb out. They also offer protection from curious pets and insects such as mosquitoes. The crib tent allows your baby to stand up, but it keeps her from putting her leg over the edge and climbing or falling out. Because crib tents are made from mesh fabric, they don't affect oxygen flow and don't usually pose a suffocation hazard. However, the crib tent itself is hazardous to your baby's safety.
In 2008, a 2-year-old boy in Massachusetts was found strangled to death because the crib tent got wrapped around his neck as he struggled to free himself from the crib. The Consumer Product Safety Commission notes that since 2007, at least 10 other injuries have occurred because of crib tents. Your baby can be entrapped in the zipper that holds the crib tent closed or can get stuck between the top bar of the crib and the bottom bar of the tent. Loose strings can lead to strangulation and broken clips can pose a choking hazard. A broken crib tent won't stay attached to the crib correctly, which increases your baby's risk of getting a hold of a broken piece or getting tangled up in the structure itself.
Crib safety is regulated by law but crib accessory safety is not. Each different model of crib tent isn't tested with each and every crib on the market either, which means the tent might be effective on one crib while being completely ineffective on another crib. It's best to skip the crib tent all together because it also poses a strangulation risk and choking risk.
If your child has reached her second birthday and keeps crawling out of her crib, try switching her to a big-kid bed. Yes, you'll have to return your child to her bed more often, but she'll be much safer. Place a mattress next to your child's bed if you're worried that she'll fall out and hurt herself. If your child isn't old enough to make that switch yet, remove anything from the crib that she can stand on to boost herself out and take away any furniture near the crib that she can use to climb out. When she does crawl out and comes into your room at night, take advantage of a little extra snuggle time and remind yourself that the crib tent just isn't worth it.
- KidsHealth: Household Safety: Preventing Injuries in the Crib
- Consumer Product Safety Commission: Crib or Play Yard Tents: A Safety Risk
- Consumer Reports: Crib Netting Tragedy: Bare Cribs are Safest
- Safety Research and Strategies, Inc: Crib Tents: Another Hazard from the World of Unregulated Child Products
- James Woodson/Photodisc/Getty Images