It may be time to drop that drop-side crib off—at the dump. According to a May 7, 2010, safety warning from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in the last five years, the CPSC has announced 11 recalls involving more than seven million drop-side cribs due to suffocation and strangulation hazards created by the drop side—including the latest recall of over 170,000 C&T International/Sorelle drop-side cribs (also issued on May 7). Since January 2000, the CPSC has been alerted to 32 infant and toddler suffocation and strangulation deaths and hundreds of accidents—caused by or related to—drop-side detachments in cribs.
Why are drop-side cribs so dangerous? In some of the incidents investigated by the CPSC, the drop side detached without parents noticing the detachment, while other fatalities occurred after a parent or caregiver tried to repair the detached drop side, but the repair ultimately failed. In other incidents, parents unknowingly installed the drop side or crib hardware incorrectly—the drop side still appeared to function as intended, but the stress on the crib hardware resulted in the side becoming dangerously detached. If an infant or toddler rolls or moves into the space created by a partially detached drop side, the child can become entrapped or wedged between the crib mattress and the drop side and suffocate.
Due to a new voluntary industry standard, many manufacturers and retailers have already stopped selling drop-side cribs—or will do so beginning June 1, 2010. According to CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum, a new mandatory federal standard for cribs will be released sometime this year.
Already using a drop-side crib? The CPSC urges parents to check the crib regularly and make sure it has not already been recalled. According to the agency's warning, drop-side cribs are generally less structurally sound than cribs with four fixed sides. Even when installed properly, drop-side hardware is prone to break, deform, or experience other problems during normal use. Parents should always inspect all sides and corners of the crib for gaps and disengagement.
And because drop-side cribs are being phased out, if you do have one, chances are it is older crib. In this case, the CPSC also cautions parents to be aware of safety problems in older cribs:
- The longer a crib is used, the more wear and tear on hardware and joints, allowing screws to loosen and fall out and plastic parts to flex and break.
- Repeated assembly and disassembly increases likelihood that crib parts can be damaged or lost.
- Wood warps and shrinks over time and glue can become brittle. This can lead to joint and slat failures.