Will Drop-Side Cribs Be Banned?

Filed under: In The News

drop side crib

Some safety advocates say drop-side cribs are dangerous and should be banned. Photo toysrus.com

We all know that to avoid injury, you should always lift with your legs, not with your back. That's all well and good unless you've got a baby. Try picking a child up out of a standard crib without straining your back. Can't be done. That's why drop-side cribs were invented. With three stationary sides and one that lowers, parents can pick up a child without bending quite so much. But while these types of cribs may make life easier for parents, there is concern that drop-side cribs can create a safety hazard for children.

Over the past two years, 4.2 million cribs have been recalled due to hazardous defects and at least five infant deaths have been attributed to a recalled crib. Most of the recalls were due to issues with durability and hardware and the vast majority of them were drop-side cribs.

What is most alarming about these recalls is that most of them involved cribs that met current mandatory safety standards put in place by the federal government as well as the voluntary standards set forth by ASTM International, a U.S.-based standards-setting organization. This fact has prompted the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to schedule a meeting with consumer advocates, crib makers and other industry stakeholders to revisit and possibly revise those standards.

"It's the most important product in the home for babies, and we've got an obligation to look at the safety issues," says CPSC Acting Chairman Nancy Nord. "Durability is something that the CPSC and crib makers need to be paying close attention to."

Safety advocates say that the current standards don't take into account the way many families use their cribs. In general, cribs are not designed for many years of use or to withstand the taking apart and reassembling that so often occurs. "We need to address hardware failure, knowing people are going to use these for years and multiple kids," said Nancy Cowles, executive director of Kids In Danger, a Chicago consumer-advocacy group.

Because drop-side cribs have more moving parts to wear out and are more likely to be assembled incorrectly, The ASTM has proposed a ban on them. Some crib makers support that ban and Toys R Us has already stopped ordering them for their stores and will eventually stop selling them altogether.

"There are enough concerns raised about drop-side cribs that we're moving forward and we're going to phase them out," says Jerry Storch, Chairman and Chief Executive of Toys R Us.

Until such time as the standards are revised, many safety advocates advise against buying drop-side cribs. They also caution against purchasing any crib second-hand and urge parents to periodically check the hardware on their cribs to make sure they are in proper working order. To keep abreast of crib recalls, visit the CPSC Website.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.