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Safer Baby Cribs

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

Babies spend most of their time sleeping, and the safest place to drift off into dreamland should be their crib.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted unanimously to approve new mandatory standards for full-size and non-full-size baby cribs as mandated by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). The federal crib standards had not been updated in nearly 30 years and these new rules are expected to usher in a safer generation of cribs.

Once they become effective, the mandatory crib 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.

CPSC has recalled more than 11 million dangerous cribs since 2007. Detaching drop-side rails were associated with at least 32 infant suffocation and strangulation deaths since 2000. Additional deaths have occurred due to faulty or defective hardware. These new standards aim to prevent these tragedies and keep children safe in their cribs.

Effective June- 2011, cribs manufactured, sold, or leased in the United States must comply with the new federal standards. Effective 24 months after the rule is published, child care facilities, such as family child care homes and infant Head Start centers, and places of public accommodation, such as hotels and motels, must have compliant cribs in their facilities.

The full-size and non-full-size crib standards adopted the current ASTM International voluntary standards with additional technical modifications.

The rule will be among the toughest in the world, CPSC Chairman Inez Tenebaum said. Tenenbaum has made crib safety one of the biggest priorities at the CPSC in her 18-month tenure. Her “safe sleep” initiative is broader than the crib rule, encouraging parents to place sleeping infants on their backs and warning about the risk of suffocation from soft bedding.

The regulations approved today will result in cribs with tighter fittings and more durable sides and mattress supports. Tougher tests will be used to simulate wear over time.

A trio of child-care industry groups — the National Head Start Association , the National Association for Family Child Care and the Early Care and Education Consortium — puts the price tag for replacing cribs at $600 million.

“Parents and caregivers should have peace of mind that when they leave their baby in a crib that their baby will be safe,” said Rachel Weintraub, product safety director for the Consumer Federation of America. “For too long, that has not been the case.”

The need for the tougher testing was evident for years before Congress acted, said Nancy Cowles, executive director of Chicago-based “Kids in Danger”, an advocacy group. Aside from the drop-side design, other kinds of hardware failures have resulted in fatalities, she said.

Cribs made under the new rule will be much safer than existing models, even ones that have been repaired through recalls, Cowles said.

“There’s going to be a huge difference in how sturdy these cribs are,” she said.

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