Should Baby Cribs Be Slightly Elevated on One Side?

Close-up of a baby boy holding the railing of a crib
Elevate your baby's crib mattress to provide relief from some conditions. (Image: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images)

You may wish to slightly elevate the head of your baby's crib mattress to relieve the symptoms of certain conditions. Otherwise, elevating a crib is unnecessary and serves no purpose. Keeping the bed elevated to a specific level when your baby experiences irritation from gastroesophageal reflux disease or congestion can provide some relief, allowing your baby to rest comfortably.

GERD

Keeping your baby's crib mattress elevated at the head of the crib to keep him in a raised position while he is sleeping is helpful in dealing with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This is a disease caused by acidic stomach fluids pushing back up into the esophagus. This condition, also simply called by the name reflux, happens because the muscle connecting the stomach and the esophagus fails to relax or close at the right time. The acids irritate the esophagus lining and cause your baby to spit up or vomit and experience a burning irritation when he expels fluids. GERD is particularly irritating to babies because they often remain lying down through much of the day, which can cause acid to remain in the esophagus, especially if you lay your baby down immediately after he eats.

Congestion

When your baby is suffering from a cold, viral infection or other illness that causes congestion or mucus buildup, elevating his crib mattress can provide some relief. Keeping the baby's head slightly elevated can help relieve her postnasal drip during the night. Adding a warm-mist or cool-mist humidifier to her room further helps the mucus in her nasal passages to stay thinned out so she can sleep better.

Elevation Recommendations

For proper elevation when dealing with GERD or congestion, keep one side of the crib mattress inclined about 30 degrees or raised 6 inches. Position your baby so his head stays higher than his stomach, but he should not sit so high that it causes him to slide down the mattress. Use pillows, blankets or towels to push up the mattress, placing them between the mattress and the crib. Do not place pillows, blankets, towels or any extra bedding directly underneath your baby because it poses a suffocation hazard.

Other Tips and Considerations

To prevent your baby from spitting up or experiencing irritation from GERD, hold her in an upright position for at least 30 minutes after each feeding. When elevating the crib on one end, check that there are no gaps between the mattress and rails where your baby can slip through and become trapped. Position your baby on her back or side in the crib to prevent suffocation.

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