Debunking the viral TikTok that calls cribs 'baby jails'

And no, bedtimes are not 'inhumane.'

mom holding baby

I have been a pediatric nurse for 13 years (and a midwife for a decade), and if there is one thing I have learned it is this: There this is not one right way to parent (or birth, or feed your baby or any of the thousands of others choices parents make).

But sometimes parents, especially those with large social media followings, tout their parenting choices as the best or the right way to do things—and when their recommendations are not based on science, or risk making people feel guilty, it can become problematic.


There is a viral TikTok video called "Why I don't use a crib for my 5-month-old." In this video, @comingupfern shares her nursery and some related parenting philosophies. Again, people should parent in the way that works best for them, so this is not intended to be disrespectful of her choices. That said, there are a few important safety concerns in the video that you should know about.


She starts the video by saying "If you look at a typical American nursery, you will notice that it's set up for the parents' benefit, not the child's." She goes on to show us her baby's nursery, which appears to be set up as a Montessori nursery. Montessori nurseries are designed to encourage independent exploration and play and are actually supported by many experts—if done safely.

One of the central facets of a Montessori nursery is a floor bed (often a mattress on the floor) which allows the child to get in and out of bed as they desire. This option works well for many families. In the video, although she states that she has a mattress on the floor (and in the comments section tells us that she actually bedshares), the bed she shows in the video is not safe—it's a toddler bed, and a young baby could fall out of it. Additionally, the toddler bed has a blanket, a pillow and a stuffed animal in it, all of which are unsafe—children under the age of 1 should not have anything in the bed with them at all.

She then refers to a crib as a 'baby jail cell.' Listen, if this mother believes that cribs are not appropriate for her baby, she is entitled to her opinion. My concern here is that someone watching this would start to feel guilty for using a crib with their own baby.

Cribs are not jails. They are places to allow your baby to sleep safely. And, if you sometimes need to put your baby in a crib so that you can get some sleep or take a few moments to yourself, that is not only allowed, it is encouraged. Please do not allow a stranger on TikTok to make you feel guilty for using a crib if that is the choice that works best for your family.

Lastly, she criticizes bedtimes as "inhumane." They're not.

The mother states, "I will never enforce my baby to have a bedtime. Babies are people too, and forcing anyone to sleep when they're not tired is inhumane." If bedtimes do not work for her family, she does not have to use them. But again, your use of a bedtime—guiding your child on when to sleep—is not "inhumane;" in many cases, it's exactly what your child needs.

Babies and children are not yet able to understand the importance of sleep and rely on their parents to watch for their cues and guide them lovingly to bed when they need sleep. So if you choose to use bedtimes with your child, you are not wrong in any way.

Watching videos like @comingupfern's can be great for getting new ideas for changes that might work for your family. You know this—but remember that the internet is also full of misinformation. So be careful, and always ask your pediatrician if you are unsure.

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