In the early 1970s, injuries associated with cribs lead to about 200 infants deaths each year. As a result, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published mandatory standards for cribs. As a result of standards, total crib related have dropped drastically. Between January 1, 1997 and July 15, 2002, there were 156 crib related deaths reported. That is a reduction to about 30 deaths annually from crib related deaths. However, despite this cribs still cause more deaths than any other nursery item!
Crib related deaths often occur with older models, cribs in poor condition, and cribs that are repaired inappropriately (using tape, fabric, etc).
We suggest buying a new crib when possible, and checking for recalls or product alerts for the model you buy. Also when buying a used crib, do not buy any crib that is more than 10 years old. These models do not meet today’s safety guidelines. Also, check the crib for any missing parts, damage to the slats, and modifications to the original design, and the general condition of the crib. Safety is always the most important factor to consider when buying a crib.
A common cause of injury is due to children slipping through the side of the crib or having their head or chest trapped. This occurs when the sides of the cribs are loose as a result of problems with missing or loose screws, bolts, or other hardware used to fasten the sides of the crib to the end panels. We suggest that when buying a crib that requires assembly, either hire a professional or if doing the assembly yourself, follow the manufacturer’s instructions very carefully. Once done, check that the crib is solid and that there are no missing nuts or bolts.
Another common cause of injury is due to children becoming trapped between crib slats. This is why it is important to buy a crib that is newer, and follows the mandatory standards. These standards include requirements for slat spacing, side height, mattress fit and other aspects.
Children can become tangled with cords from window coverings. Children may try to play with the cord, or during movement may end up with the cord around themselves. This can lead to devastating consequences such as strangulation or even hanging. As a result, it is never a good idea to place your crib near a window, light fixture, or other
Children can become trapped between the crib and another object such as a dresser. Older children may try to climb out of the crib and end up trapped between the crib and a wall or bed or dresser.
Children can suffocate when there are extra items in the crib such as pillows, extra bedding, quilts, etc. A bare crib is always best, and you should avoid putting extra items in the crib. Even a stuffed bear left in the crib can end up on top of your baby and be a problem.
Mattresses that are not the right size and specifications for your crib can also lead to injury. A child can become trapped between the mattress and the side of the crib, especially if the mattress is too small for the crib. The distance between the side of the crib and mattress should be 2 fingers or less.
Traditional drop side cribs are a common cause of injury and are now illegal in the US and Canada. These cribs have one side, called the drop side, that can be lowered to allow parents to easily put the child in the crib or take them out. However, because this side is movable, the entire crib is not as solid as a crib with all 4 sides fixed. Problems often occur as a result of the weaker construction. They can also occur as a result of poor assembly, damage to the crib, or improper repairs to the drop side. The drop side can become detached at the bottom, and a child can fall into the gap created and become trapped between the side rail and mattress.
One corner of the drop side can become detached and a child can become trapped between the “V” shaped gap that is created.
We suggest that before buying a crib, old or new, have a look at the Crib Standards published by the CPSC. A nice poster can be found here.
Bassinet and Cradle Safety
Bassinets and Cradles are small beds designed for very young infants. Bassinets generally have fixed legs or casters. Cradles, on the other hand are used for rocking a baby to sleep and for sleeping when in rest position. Included in this category are infant products such as Moses baskets that when in rest position are 10 degrees or less from the ground.
There are strict safety standards for bassinets and cradles, therefore it is always best to buy a newer model that complies with current guidelines. In 2008, the government released new standards for manufacturers. Considering this, we suggest buying a model made after this date or checking the manufacturer’s website for compliance with new standards.
Bassinets and cradles should not be used for infants older than 5 months or for infants that can push up onto their hands or knees. When buying a bassinet, look for a newer model that has a stable resting position. Also look for one that is not stable enough that it won’t rock over easily.
When using a basinet/ cradle, just as you would with a crib, bare is best. This means, you should avoid extra bedding and fabrics.
- CPSC Archive: Crib Safety
- CPSC: Crib Related Deaths
- CPSC: bassinets and cradles
- Federal Register: Safety standard for Bassinets and Cradles