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Safety When Using a Mosquito Net With a Toddler

by Sharon Perkins

Parents use mosquito netting on or around toddler cribs and beds to enhance the look of the room as well as for practical reasons. But using mosquito netting on or near a toddler's sleeping area can pose serious safety risks. If you choose to use mosquito netting around the crib or bed, check it carefully for potential hazards and remove it immediately if your child could get tangled in it or pull it down on himself.

Definition

Parents use mosquito netting made into crib tents for a variety of reasons: to keep animals out of the crib, to protect a child from insect bites or to keep a baby from climbing out of a crib at night. Some simply like the elegant look of draped netting hung from the ceiling and falling over the crib for a dreamy canopy effect. But crib tents and mosquito netting are usually sold as after-market items, meaning that they haven't been tested with specific cribs to ensure that they fit properly and can be used safely.

Strangulation

One of the major risks of using a crib tent made from mosquito netting is strangulation. A baby may be able to undo the netting from one side and potentially become wrapped up in it. In 2008, a 2-year-old whose playpen had a crib tent covering the top become entrapped in the netting when he tried to climb out and died of strangulation. Netting that falls down or is pulled down by a toddler can also wrap around his neck. Large holes in the netting can also entrap a child's head or neck. According to the CPSC, mesh openings should not exceed 1/4 inch or they may become caught on a child's clothing. A child may get his head or neck caught in openings that are too large.

Choking

Crib tents often attach to the crib with clips or ties that hold it in place. A toddler might be able to work the clips or ties loose, then may put them in his mouth and choke on them. This is more likely to occur if you add your own attachments to the netting to keep it in place, whether it's because the tent doesn't seem secure enough or because the original clips have broken. The CPSC recommends never using ties or attachments to secure the netting unless it came as part of the installation package. If your child can remove the clips or ties, don't use the product.

Safe Use

Between 2007 and 2010, the Consumer Product Safety Commission received reports of at least 10 reported incidents involving crib tents used over cribs and playpens, including one death and one serious injury. Many of these injuries could be prevented by inspecting the netting carefully for holes that a toddler could get stuck in and not using objects to attach the netting to the crib unless they're specifically made for that purpose. Although it looks pretty, don't drape mosquito netting over cribs as a canopy once your child reaches the age where he could pull it down and become entangled in it. If your child can reach an object that hangs above the crib, the CPSC advises that you remove it.

About the Author

A registered nurse with more than 25 years of experience in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology, Sharon Perkins has also coauthored and edited numerous health books for the Wiley "Dummies" series. Perkins also has extensive experience working in home health with medically fragile pediatric patients.

Photo Credits

  • James Woodson/Digital Vision/Getty Images