How to buy crib bedding
You'd think making up your baby's bed would be approximately the same as making your own. But there are differences, from the things you add to the things you take away.
Probably the biggest difference is what you won't use on your baby's bed. No top sheets, no quilts, no pillows. And don't let that beautiful comforter and pillow sham sold with your crib set fool you; they should only be used for decorative purposes. The only things your baby needs are listed below. Anything else poses a risk of SIDS and suffocation and should be removed anytime the baby is in the crib.
That doesn't mean you can't dress up your crib a little, and there are all sorts of styles and colors of linens to choose from. This is a fun, no-pressure decision — and a chance to express your master decorating skills and exceptional taste!
A fitted sheet is really your only crib necessity. Most mattresses—and thus most sheets—come in a standard size, but specialty mattresses will require their own sheets. Some manufacturers offer sheets with an elastic band that goes under the mattress to hold them snugly in place.
waterproof mattress pads
Regardless of mattress choice, you'll want to add a waterproof mattress pad under your fitted sheet. It will add a comfortable layer of padding to a mattress already encased in waterproof plastic lining and will help protect premium organic mattresses (which aren't lined) against middle-of-the-night accidents.
All mattresses are prone to dust mites, and crib mattresses are no exception. And since dust mites are the biggest cause of airborne allergies, an antiallergen encasement that goes over the mattress is a good investment. Most adults don't bother with encasements because they're hard to get on and off for washing, but with a baby-sized mattress, it's a small effort that's well worth it.
Bumpers are more than just decorative: they provide a padded layer that keeps little baby parts from slipping through open rails. While crib styles and safety standards have evolved and bumpers are no longer a necessity, some parents think the crib doesn't look quite fully dressed without one. When your child can pull himself up, you'll want to remove the bumper so he can't use it to climb out.
Just like a dust ruffle on a full-size bed, crib skirts are purely decorative and completely optional, although they can be great for hiding under-crib storage. The skirt moves with the different mattress settings, though, so when the mattress is at its highest setting, the skirt might not cover up much.
Snug fitting. For safety's sake, choose sheets and bumpers that fit snugly.
Washable. Make sure everything's machine-washable, even encasements and pads.
Healthy. Babies can spend as much as 70 percent of their first year sleeping, so make your crib a gentle and healthy environment by choosing organic and chemical-free bedding. Sheets are commonly treated with formaldehyde—even baby sheets—but if the package says "Oeko-Tex certified," the sheets are formaldehyde-free.
If you're going to spend the extra money for chemical-free, antiallergen, or organic linens, make sure you also invest in chemical-free, sensitive laundry detergent so you're not adding the chemicals back in.
If you use an encasement, be sure to follow the care instructions to ensure that you maintain the allergy-free environment you've started. Most encasements must be washed in hot water and tumble-dried every three weeks.
Do yourself a favor and have more than one set of the essentials—especially sheets, pads, and blankets. Accidents will happen, and you'll be washing often.
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