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Checklist: A Safer Family Bed

Each year, dozens of infants die when they are either accidentally strangled or suffocated under blankets in their parents' bed. Because of these tragedies, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all babies sleep in cribs. But if you choose to have a family bed, take these precautions:

Make sure there isn't room between the mattress and the bed railing or headboard -- a child can get caught in any space bigger than the width of two adult fingers.

Tuck sheets and covers in so they reach only as high as a baby's midchest, and remove extra pillows.

Don't put your baby in the bed if you've taken drugs or prescription medication or used alcohol.

Consider a co-sleeping crib (which attaches to the side of your bed). That way, your baby is within reach yet can't roll into harm's way.

10-01-2000