How Often Should You Change Baby Crib Sheets? (5-Min Read)

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As any experienced parent knows, keeping your baby’s bedding clean and fresh is key to ensuring they don’t get sick. Depending on your baby, it can be quite challenging to keep up with their laundry. New parents often ask, how often should they change the baby crib sheets

While most parents recommend changing, therefore washing your baby’s bedding once or twice a week, it really depends on how messy your little one is. Factors such as milk and food spills, sweat, saliva, and even diaper spills might make it necessary to change the crib sheets more often

Why you should pay attention to replacing your crib sheets

Depending on your little one’s age, they might be spending a big chunk of the day in their crib. Having contact with their bedding all day will expose them to the bacteria that grows on the bedding from diapers and food spills, body oils, and spit-up. Bear in mind that your little one will be touching their bedding and then putting their hands in their mouths.

Another risk of not washing baby bedding regularly is the build-up of viruses. A report by The New York Times states that the flu virus can easily survive on soft fabrics for at least eight hours. All it takes is for a person with the flu to sneeze in the nursery or touch the bedding.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, the Norovirus that’s found in diarrhea can live on bedding for up to 4 weeks. 

Influencing factors for how often you should change crib sheets

Several factors determine how often you need to change your baby’s crib sheets. Some days when your little one is sick or has diarrhea, you might have to change bedding more often. All of these will also influence the number of crib sheets you should buy. Let’s look at a few of these factors.

Sweat or body oil building up on the sheet

Crib sheets can also become soiled with sweat and body oils during the warmer months. If you are living in a warm area and you’ve seen your baby prone to sweating, you should wash their bedding more regularly. 

In addition to sweat and body oil, babies, like adults, secrete skin cells that can attract mites and other pests. 

Baby products

Rubbing all sorts of baby oils and lotions on your little one after bath time might make your baby look soft and smell great, but these chemicals also rub off onto their bedding. The liquids on the bedding eventually dry and become crusty which in turn becomes susceptible to germs.

Diaper leaks

No matter how much you’re trying to prevent a diaper blowout with e.g. overnight diapers specially made for heavy wetters, there will be diaper blowouts beyond anyone’s control. This can include instances when your little one has diarrhea as they adjust to solids or formula changes. 

On these days, bedding must be changed and washed immediately.

Spit up happening

Drool and spit-up is a natural part of your baby’s routine, especially if they’re having spells of reflux. For the most part, this will be on their pillows. While you might not always see signs of the drool once it’s dried, you should wash your little one’s pillowcases at least twice a week if you’ve noticed them drooling a lot. 

Spit and drool can easily become a breeding ground for bacteria and germs. Don’t only wash pillowcases, but pillows as well. Where possible, air-dry the pillows to effectively kill any bacteria.

Food, juice, and tea

Tea or fruit juice in your baby bottle is usually sweet and smells great. Your baby or toddler can either spill some from the bottle or have it on their face which they then wipe on the bedding. 

It’s no secret that ants and other insects are attracted to sweet-smelling spills. Aside from creating a breeding ground for bacteria, sheets and pillowcases with traces of juice, food or tea can attract unwanted insects. 

Dust and dirt

If you’re fortunate enough to have a baby that doesn’t mess on their bedding, there will still be the usual dust that accumulates on their bedding. Dust in the air also accumulates on their clothes as you carry them around the house. This transfers to their bedding. A combination of dust and sweat will make the perfect breeding ground for dust mites

Exposing your baby to dust mites will lead to allergies and even worse pre-existing asthma conditions. So, it’s still recommended to change seemingly clean bedding at least once a week. 

Vomit

Some babies have a hard time adjusting to formula and different foods. They may even suffer from gastro-oesophageal reflux. Both of these situations can lead to occasional vomiting

When this happens, you’ll have to change the bedding and pillow if necessary. Vomit can easily attract ants to your baby’s crib. You also don’t want your little one to put their hands in any vomit, even if it’s just milk.

Tips to wash crib sheets and other bedding

When your baby bedding has a nasty spill, stain, or diaper leak, your first instinct might be to wash the bedding with the harshest cleaning chemicals you have. It’s important to remember that baby skin is very sensitive and harsh chemicals can cause an allergic reaction. 

Here are a few essential tips for keeping your crib sheets and other bedding clean:

  1. Use a natural detergent: Always opt for a natural detergent that contains zero allergens that could cause any skin reactions. 
  2. Wash on a gentle cycle: If you’re going to wash the bedding in a machine, always opt for the gentle cycle. This will ensure the sheets, pillows, and blankets keep their softness. Also, always wash baby bedding separately from other laundry. 
  3. Pre-soak stains: For diaper spills and other tough stains, pre-soak the bedding in a tub of hot water and a natural detergent. From here you can wash the bedding by hand or in the gentle cycle of your machine
  4. Air dry: While you might think it’s so much easier to tumble dry baby bedding, it’s always better to opt for line drying where possible. Driers can damage the bedding if used in a high setting. Line drying or even a drying rack that you put out in the sun will kill any residual bacteria. Fresh bedding is also a great way to soothe a baby at bedtime. 

Keeping the mattress clean

Another important consideration is the crib mattress. Whether spills or messes leak onto the mattress or not, they should be cleaned to avoid bacteria build-up. Here’s a short clip to show you how easy it is to keep your crib mattress as clean as the bedding!

How often should you change your crib’s sheets after all?

For most parents once or twice a week is sufficient, but during sick days it might be necessary to change bedding more often. There’s no hard and fast rule here, you’ll just have to check the bedding daily for spills and smells. 

What about bassinet sheets?

Additionally, if you have a younger baby, you might need some bassinet sheets. That’s another article I wrote which might be worth checking out.

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