Since 2007, more than 11 million cribs have been recalled by the CPSC, many of them due to concerns over the drop-side of the cribs detaching and seriously (sometimes fatally) injuring infants and toddlers. In May 2010, the CPSC issued a formal warning regarding these cribs, and encouraged parents to thoroughly and regularly inspect their cribs to make sure all hardware was attached.
But the big news came last week. For the first time in 30 years, federal crib standards have been updated. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) just approved new mandatory standards that will take effect in June 2011. According to the CPSC press release, the new standards will: (1) stop the manufacture and sale of dangerous, traditional drop-side cribs; (2) make mattress supports stronger; (3) make crib hardware more durable; and (4) make safety testing more rigorous.
As a consumer and parent, I think the one we need to pay the most attention to immediately is the first one: Drop-side cribs will no longer be sold because they’re considered unsafe.
I know these are the traditional cribs that many of us have used or are using for our infants. I know there are many convenient features about drop-side cribs (I admit, it makes getting a baby in and out a lot easier, especially when the mattress is lowered).
But I’m a person who always puts safety first. So, wearing my “safety hat”, I have the following suggestions for drop-side crib owners:
1. Check recall lists to make sure your crib has not been recalled. If the model has been recalled, please stop using it and contact the manufacturer and the CPSC.
2. Check your crib to be sure the hardware is working properly. To check the crib, the CPSC recommends:
- Every time you change the sheets, make sure there are no gaps larger than two fingers between the sides of the crib and the mattress.
- Make sure all visible bolts and screws are tight. With the mattress out of the crib, wiggle the crib to see how tight all the joints are. If the crib feels loose, wobbly or structurally not sound, tighten all hardware.
- If the crib remains wobbly after tightening, look for loose wood-to-wood joints that may be causing the problem. Stop using the crib if loose wood-to-wood joints are found.
3. See if your crib can be converted. If the crib is working properly and hasn’t been recalled, I’d consider calling the manufacturer anyway. Many companies have kits available that are designed to convert the crib from a drop-side into one with four stable sides. Check this list of companies providing crib immobilizers from CPSC.
4. Shop with the standards in mind. If you’re an expecting parent and still looking for a crib, you want to look for one that follows the new standards.
5. Consider a different safe-sleeping option. Other safe-sleeping options for young infants who are not yet pushing up on their hands and knees are bassinets, co-sleepers, and play-yards. But again, make sure these products haven’t been recalled and are put together properly.
For more information on the new standards, please see The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Crib Information Center. And remember that here at Isis Parenting, we take safety very seriously. If you’re looking for more information on safe sleeping practices, consider our Newborn Essentials class. Among many other valuable topics, we discuss the most up-to-date safe sleep recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Teresa Stewart MS, MPH
Early Parenting Instructor, CPR/First Aid Program Lead, and Mom of one