Tougher Rules for Baby Cribs Now in Effect
Because baby cribs with detaching drop-side rails led to the deaths of at least 32 infants since 2000, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has instituted new mandatory safety standards for cribs. The rules, which went into effect on June 28, include stopping the manufacture and sale of dangerous, traditional, drop-side cribs. The drop-side design has allowed gaps to form between the crib mattress and the drop-side rails (due to assembly or installation errors, wear, or malfunction from use), and infants could thus become trapped in the gap and suffocate as a result.
The new rules — the first update in federal mandatory crib standards in almost 30 years — will help to provide a safe environment for infants as they sleep. In addition to outlawing the manufacture and sale of drop-side cribs, the standards will make crib hardware more durable, mattress supports stronger, safety testing more rigorous, and will improve slat strength.
As LA Times reports in an article by Patricia Callahan of the Chicago Tribune:
Newly required safety tests are so stringent that few cribs in American homes — even those that have escaped recall after recall — are sturdy enough to pass them. As a result, federal regulators recommend that families that can afford to do so buy new cribs and destroy their old ones.
‘I know times are tough, but I always felt like the price of a crib is minuscule compared to the price of your child’s life,’ said Susan Cirigliano, a mother from New York’s Long Island who has pushed for tougher standards after her son Bobby died in a defective crib in 2004. ‘I was a normal mom raising her kids. Never in a million years would I have thought that could happen to me.’
The biggest challenge for parents will be to verify that the crib they are buying meets the new rules. There is no standard label to distinguish a crib made under the new rules from an older one. Parents should not rely on a simple label that says the crib ‘meets or exceeds’ federal and voluntary standards; millions of cribs recalled for deadly hazards carried such assurances.
The regulations require manufacturers to provide a certificate to retailers listing where and when samples of their crib models were tested under the new standards. Although the law does not require stores to provide those certificates to customers, consumers can ask for them if they want documented proof that the cribs meet the new rules.
According to the LA Times/Chicago Tribune article,
But Target, Wal-Mart and Babies R Us — among the largest sellers of cribs — told the Tribune they don’t plan to provide the certificates in stores. All three chains said the models in their stores and sold on their websites meet the new standards, and all said they have programmed registers to block sales if any older cribs slip through the cracks.
The law eliminates the secondhand market for cribs because it has now become illegal to sell a crib that fails to meet the new standards. In addition to checking stores that sell new cribs, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission will be monitoring eBay, Craigslist, and other sites to make sure older cribs are not resold, according to Commission spokesman Scott Wolfson.
Crib rental companies will be given until December 28, 2012, to update their inventory with compliant cribs, which is the same crib upgrade deadline for the public facilities the rental companies serve, such as hotels, motels, family child care homes, and infant Head Start centers.
For more information on crib safety and safe sleep environments for babies, visit www.cpsc.gov/cribs.