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I've heard many times that you shouldn't put toys (or pillows or blankets) in a baby's crib while they sleeps, to reduce the risk of accidental suffocation. But I don't remember ever hearing when it stops being dangerous.

When is it okay to have stuffed animals in the crib?

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

Toys/pillows/blankets in the crib are a suffocation hazard, especially while the child is too young to be able to move deliberately (not having developed enough motor control yet), and that's the argument against having them.
So you could say that once the baby has full motor control, it would be safe to add toys.
But (at least in theory) toys remain a hazard, so make a deliberate decision either for or against.

As Christine points out, older children can deliberately use toys to climb out of the crib - and fall down on the floor or onto other furniture. At that age, the toys aren't a suffocation hazard anymore because the child will move away from the object, just as adults would.

We have a similar question here already; you might find it worth reading.

Incidentally, SIDS has nothing to do with toys in the crib. It's called SUDDEN infant death syndrome because it has no apparent cause (or, the cause hasn't been scientifically discovered yet).

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Thank you for clarifying about SIDS. Toys being a climbing/falling hazard makes more sense. – Sarato Sep 20 '11 at 15:13

It is my understanding that the answer is never. When they're little, it is to reduce the risk of SIDS, but when babies get a little older it is to prevent them from using the stuffed animals as a way of boosting themselves out of the crib and falling.

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As Torben mentions, there is no relation between SIDS and suffocating on toys. They are completely different things. Source – Beofett Sep 20 '11 at 13:20
@Beofett read the source yourself. The second section talks about rebreathing theory (that they suffocate on CO2), stating that such a case is undetectable and therefore a SIDS diagnosis is correct. Toys could, potentially, be a rebreathing suffocation hazard. – William Grobman Sep 20 '11 at 22:20
@William The rebreathing theory is specifically mentioned in conjunction with stomach sleeping or with thick layers of blankets that could limit access to fresh air. Nowhere does it indicate that toys could cause this limited access to fresh air, and I believe they are making a distinction between smothering (which is a mechanical obstruction of the mouth and nose) and those babies who are, for some unknown reason, unable to arouse themselves normally when the O2/CO2 levels become dangerously imbalanced. This is very different from saying that toys in a crib can cause SIDS. – Beofett Sep 20 '11 at 22:36
@Beofett Hence toys being in a different sentence in my comment and the use of 'potentially'. It's silly to claim that something with an unknown cause is unrelated to a specific activity. More so when that activity could bring about conditions that have a connection with it. – William Grobman Sep 20 '11 at 22:41
@WilliamGrobman That is exactly the point that seems to be causing confusion. SIDS has an unknown cause. Suffocating on toys is a known cause of death (as is suffocating on anything else). The point isn't "toys are safe and you can't possibly suffocate on them". Nowhere did I claim, or even imply that. Instead, I am commenting on the confusion between suffocating on toys, and SIDS, which are two completely different things. Which is exactly what I said in my first comment that you disputed. – Beofett Sep 20 '11 at 22:47

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