by Julie Snyder
Shopping for cribs or bought one recently? New safety rules for full and non-full-size cribs will affect parents nationwide.
"The new mandatory crib standards will stop the manufacture and sale of dangerous traditional drop-side cribs and will vastly improve the structural integrity of cribs," said CPSC chairman Inez M. Tenenbaum. These rules will make crib hardware more durable, improve mattress support and slat strength and ensure more rigorous safety testing.
For more information on crib safety visit CPSC's Crib Information Center.
How can I tell if my crib meets the new standards? The new standards require stronger hardware and rigorous testing to prove a crib’s durability. If you continue to use your current crib, you are encouraged to check the crib frequently to make sure that all hardware is secured tightly and that there are no loose, missing, or broken parts.
I'm short and can't reach my baby without the drop side. What can I do? Some manufacturers make cribs with drop-gates rather than drop sides and cribs that are lower to the ground.
If you're short and are finding your newly fixed-side crib difficult to use, look for a safe solution to reach down to your baby. One solution could be a wide, sturdy step stool, such as the steps used in step aerobics.
I have a drop side crib. What should I do? If your manufacturer makes an immobilizer specifically for your crib, CPSC staff recommends that you get one and install it.
An older crib might not be safe. At a minimum, CPSC staff recommends that you don't use a crib that's older than 10 years. Older cribs won't meet the current voluntary standards leading to numerous safety problems. Check your crib regularly and stop using it if you are concerned about its safety.
How do I check my crib? Each time you change the sheets, make sure that all the components are tight and not broken (or loose). Create a checklist: Is the visible hardware securely in place? Is the drop-side on track and functioning? Are wood-to-wood joints lose or cracked? When going more in depth remove the mattress. Does the crib wobble? If you answer yes to any of these questions, the CPSC suggests replacing your crib. Don't put the loose side against the wall and continue to use the crib. Your baby is better off sharing your bed!
What are immobilizers? Immobilizers protect your crib's hardware and limit movement so that your baby can't get stuck between the drop-side and the rest of the crib. Only use immobilizers on cribs that don't have missing or broken hardware.
The National Institutes of Health strongly suggests that additional steps are needed to ensure safer sleeping environments for babies to reduce the risk of SIDS. These suggestions include: