Feds Change the Way Cribs Must be Made; Nearly All Cribs Unsafe Under New Rules

crib safety rules changeThe U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission today made sweeping changes about how cribs must be made -- banning the once ubiquitous drop-side crib -- and requiring safety standards that few cribs on the market today can meet. That means virtually every crib in use or for sale in the country today will be considered unsafe under the new standards.

About 10 million cribs have been recalled in the past few years as the enormity of the design failings of drop-side cribs have become more clear in the face of hundreds of documented incidents, including some 50 deaths over the past decade. The main culprits have been the drop-side crib and flimsy hardware. The resulting hazard has caused infants to get trapped -- and sometimes suffocate -- when gaps opened between the side of the crib and the mattress."This new mandatory standard, the strongest in the world, will ensure that new cribs coming onto the market will provide safe haven for babies and their families," Nancy Cowles, executive director of the advocacy group Kids In Danger said in a statement sent to Consumer Ally. "We applaud CPSC for their hard work and tenacity in developing and adopting this landmark rule."

It has been clear for a year or more that these safety changes were on their way. The CPSC also coincidentally launched a "Safe Sleep" campaign to help educate parents and caregivers about their role in ensuring babies' sleep environments are as safe as possible.

Under the new rules, a portion, but not all, of the crib rail will be allowed to be lowered to lessen the chance a baby will become trapped.

Other changes include:
  • A far more stringent setting of testing of the slats, durability and mattress support that involve simulating use of a crib over a lifetime, since many of those recalled had deteriorated over time.
  • A change in warning labels to alert parents to potential assembly issues.
  • Additional warnings that include educating parents on what to watch for so they know when to stop using a crib. Toddlers falling out of cribs are the most common source of crib-related injury.
Manufacturers and retailers have six months to comply with the rules after they are published in the coming weeks, which could at least temporarily drive up costs for cribs. Hotels, day care centers and other facilities that have cribs will have 18 months after that before they are required to have cribs that meet the new standards.

New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who had proposed a federal law banning drop-side cribs, was pleased with the new rules.

"Enough is enough. Time and time again, drop-side cribs have trapped and suffocated infants, destroying families across the country," she said in an email sent to Consumer Ally. "These products are deadly, and this critically needed action will prevent further senseless deaths by ensuring they never reach another home, nursery room, store, or day care center."

Here some tips from the Safe Sleep campaign to help ensure your baby is safe:
  • Place infants to sleep on their backs
  • Use a firm, tight-fitting mattress
  • Never use extra padding, blankets or pillows under the baby
  • Remove pillows or thick comforters
  • Do not use positioning devices – they are not necessary and can be deadly
  • Regularly check cribs for loose, missing or broken parts or slats
  • Do not try to fix a broken crib
  • Place cribs or playpens away from windows and window covering cords to avoid fall and strangulation hazards
  • Place baby monitor cords away from cribs or playpens to avoid strangulation.
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