The Problem with Dropside Cribs

dropside cribs not OK

After over 9 million drop-side crib recalls and at least 30 deaths over the past decade the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has outlawed drop-side cribs. Starting in June 2011 they will no longer be sold in the US and hotels and daycare providers will no longer be able to use them. This is going to have a huge impact on the companies that make cribs, daycare providers, and the current expectation is that the cost of a new crib will rise about 10%.

If you currently own a crib, there is a 99% chance that it is a drop-side crib. If you go to a store tomorrow to buy a crib, there is a 99% chance that you will only have drop-side cribs to select from. So what do you do with the information that the CPSC has determined that drop-side cribs pose a significant enough safety hazard to your child that the manufacture and sale of such cribs has now become illegal in this country?

What Does This Mean to Expecting Parents?

  1. Do not buy a new crib at this time. If you HAVE purchased a new crib I would suggest pushing to return it for a full refund.
  2. Do not accept a used crib. Cribs can be a major expense but if cash is tight, you want to make sure to invest in baby safety (crib, car seat, etc.). All other baby brick-a-brack (diaper stackers, stuffed animals, wall art, clothes, etc.) can be skipped or purchased at yard sales. But there are few items more critical to the health and well-being of your child than their crib and car seat and you do not want to gamble with used, out of date, or potentially hazardous products when it comes to safety.
  3. Postpone purchasing a crib. Your child will likely be sharing your room for the first 6 months (ideally sleeping in a baby swing or safe co-sleeper) and probably won’t see the inside of their own crib until they move into their own room. Over the coming months crib manufacturers will be coming out with an increasing selection of non-drop-side cribs. You don’t need it today.

What Does This Mean to Existing Parents?

  1. Check to see if your crib has been recalled. It can be VERY difficult to discern given the complexity of manufacturing product IDs. You can also try calling your manufacturer directly although in my experience they have been non-responsive.
  2. Manually check the wear and tear on your current crib. Plan to do this periodically – is anything loose, does it look worn, does it drop unexpectedly if you lean on it?
  3. How old is your crib? Many families use the same crib for each baby year over year. If it is older than 10 years throw it out. If its relatively new it may be a question of making the judgment call based on your manual inspection and the age of your child. For example if you have a 2.5 year old who will likely be moving to a bigger bed soon and the crib (after inspection) is in good condition, you may choose to continue to use it. However if you are pregnant and had planned to use your older child’s crib for your new baby, it may be time to consider purchasing a new crib.

All hotels and daycare providers will need to upgrade their cribs within 2 years. If you are using daycare or will be in the future, talk to them about their plans for this change. Make sure they are aware of the issue and have a plan to update their cribs. Make sure they inspect and will allow YOU to routinely inspect their crib hardware for wear and tear.

Some of you may suggest that this is much ado about nothing. After all about 2.4 million cribs are sold in the US each year so statistically there are very low chances of yours having a problem that results in injury or worse. All of which is entirely true. However, you want to do everything in your power to ensure that when you put your little one to bed at night that their environment is as free from hazard as is humanly possible. Your child will likely be sleeping in that crib until they are about 3 years old which means the price of a new non-drop-side crib buys you approximately 900 nights of stress-free sleep. The CPSC has spent years researching and debating this issue before making the decision to outlaw drop-side cribs. And I think that means something.