Is your baby at risk? According to the first-of-its-kind study on nonfatal crib-related injuries in children younger than 2, every day dozens of babies are injured in falls from baby cribs. Published in the March 2011 issue of the journal Pediatrics, researchers from Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio examined crib injuries between 1990 and 2008. During that time, an estimated 181,654 children younger than 2 years were treated in US emergency departments for injuries related to cribs, playpens, and bassinets. The majority of these injuries involved cribs, and the most common type of injury involved falls.
In nine of 10 cases, the child was alone when the fall occurred, and most of the injuries were to the head and neck. Of those injured, 2,140 children (1.2 percent) died, most from becoming caught or wedged in the crib.
The study found that crib injuries increased with the children's age, leading researchers to speculate that a baby's ability to pull up—and eventually scale—the side of the crib or playpen, increases fall risk. "As the child gains mobility, they're able to climb out," Dr. Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, says in a New York Times article on the study.
What's a parent to do? To give crib safety a boost, say researchers, caregivers should immediately adjust the height of the mattress when babies start to pull themselves up. Because many times, "the child is not standing one day, and then the next day off they go," notes Dr. Smith, parents should pay close attention to baby's behavior in the crib. As many parents have learned the hard way, even an infant as young as 3 months may be able to pull up on the crib.