As the owner of a drop-side crib, I was disheartened at the news of another major drop-side crib recall. This recall comes just 7 months after a similar recall of 2.1 million Stork Craft drop-side cribs. Last Thursday, the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) in conjunction with seven major crib manufacturers, issued a voluntary recall of more than two million drop-side cribs due to suffocation and strangulation hazards created by the drop-side. Add Thursday’s recall to others issued in the last five years, and the tally of recalled drop-side cribs now exceeds 9 million. In the most recent recall, it is indicated that the drop-side can malfunction or detach “creating a space into which an infant or toddler can roll and become wedged or entrapped, which can lead to strangulation or suffocation.”
Until now, I had not been aware of the dangers associated with drop-side cribs. Last month, the CPSC issued a general warning to parents and caregivers about such dangers. In a review of infant fatalities reported to the agency between January 2000 and the present, the CPSC identified 32 infant and toddler deaths and hundreds of incidents associated with drop-side detachment, as well as 14 other deaths that may be related. The CPSC determined that drop-side cribs are generally less structurally sound than fixed-side cribs. For those of us who have heard or seen our toddlers tug on or shake the rails, it’s easy to see why. According to the CPSC, “drop-side hardware is prone to break, deform, or experience other problems during normal or foreseeable use. The older the crib, the more problems can be expected.” When the drop-side hardware breaks or deforms, the side can detach leading to the issue described in the above recall.
In that same statement, CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum committed that the agency will issue new mandatory federal standards for cribs this year which will ban drop-side cribs from the U.S. market.
Like me, you may now be asking yourself, should I stop using my drop-side crib? The answer? If your crib is the subject of last week’s (or a prior) recall, then the answer is a definitive yes. You should stop using your crib immediately and find another safe place for your child to sleep such as a bassinet, play yard, or mattress on the floor, until you can request and install the repair kit to immobilize the drop-side. The article located here provides a helpful summary of last week’s recall and what you should do if yours is on the list. For a list of previous recalls, visit the CPSC’s Crib Information Center here.
Now, if your crib has not been recalled, your crib can be safely used provided it has been properly assembled and has no damaged or missing parts. The CPSC recommends the following steps to check your drop-side crib’s safety:
(1) Check that all visible hardware is secure
(2) Make sure the drop-side is on its track and functions well
(3) With the mattress out of the crib, wiggle the crib to see how tight all the joints are.
(4) If the crib remains wobbly after tightening all hardware, look for loose wood-to-wood joints that may be causing the problem.
(5) Stop using the crib if loose wood-to-wood joints are found or if you cannot fully tighten any screw.
The above recommendations are illustrated in this public service announcement prepared by the CPSC.
To my surprise, after performing these steps on my daughter’s crib, I discovered a loose wood-to-wood joint. I attempted to tighten the screw and shook it again. This time, to my horror, I was able to pull the side entirely apart!! Suddenly, I’m feeling like a terrible mother. I consider myself lucky that we hadn’t had an injury or worse. And I’m kicking myself for not having checked her crib sooner. Someone is moving to her big girl bed immediately! Please, everyone, check your cribs regularly.
For more information on crib safety and creating a safe sleep environment for your child, click here.
To subscribe to recall announcements and product safety alerts from the CPSC, click here.
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