Toys R Us Cracks Down On "Death Crib" Makers

One of the main features that a crib should have is “does not accidentally kill the baby,” so Toys R Us has decided to crack down on the manufacturers of the cribs that it sells, says the Chicago Tribune.

Asserting that government and industry safety rules don’t protect children from the hazard, Toys “R” Us is dictating stricter tests and design standards that cribmakers have balked at for years. The company, which also owns Babies “R” Us, has the clout to do so because it sells so many cribs—hundreds of thousands annually.

Toys “R” Us is specifying the trees its suppliers can use, the way they attach spindles to crib railings and even the type of glue. Manufacturers that don’t follow the new rules can’t sell cribs in its stores.

The move by Toys “R” Us shows that major retailers, responding to parents’ concerns, are using their purchasing power to redefine the safety of children’s products—more quickly and more stringently than government regulators and groups that set standards for the industry.

Toys R Us says that it can speak for consumers when the government won’t.

“We saw that there were products that passed the existing standards but had problems in the real world,” Toys “R” Us chief executive Gerald Storch said. “Something needed to be done, so we did it. . . . We think that it will spread to the market as a whole.”

“Clearly a consumer is not going to say, ‘You need a slat integrity test,’ but they want to feel confident shopping for products,” said Storch, the Toys “R” Us CEO. “What we try to do is stand up for the consumer and say, ‘What would they do if they had the facts?’ ”


Toys ‘R’ Us gets tough with cribmakers
[Chicago Tribune]
(Photo: What Rhymes With Nicole )

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  1. mbz32190 says:

    Good…its nice when a store actually cares about the items it sells. If I ever have children, they would be my first choice now.

    • @mbz32190: It makes you wonder if they are doing it purely b/c they “care”. If you can say your company won’t sell cribs that kill, you are implying that other stores will, which will drive people to your store. I’m not saying they don’t care. In this case, you can care, and still make a profit.

      • punkrawka says:

        @Git Em SteveDave is starlost: It’s called “Doing well by doing good.” Tends to be a win-win for society :) I also applues TRU for this move.

      • Jabberkaty says:

        @Git Em SteveDave is starlost: Not killing babies is a marketing tool. Deliciously evil genius.

      • YamiNoSenshi says:

        There seems to be this air around that companies can either can for their customers or want to do more business, as well as the belief that any chain store is just trying to screw you over. I like to think that some stores do both, especially in this case. Yes, of course Toys R’ Us wants to make more money. It is a business. But they also can genuinely care for the safety of their customers’ babies.

        I’m not pointing out anyone specifically, so don’t take personal offense. Just a feeling I get.

        • Snowblind says:

          @YamiNoSenshi:

          Sorry, that does not fit into the crypto marxist theory that all corporations are evil by definition.

          Please do not disturb my world view by causing cognitive dissonance

      • harlock_JDS says:

        @Git Em SteveDave is starlost: who cares what the motivation is. Things like this show that the market can take care of unsafe products without the government stepping in.

        • Sarge1985 says:

          @harlock_JDS: Wish I could have put it better.

        • Rhayader says:

          @harlock_JDS: “Things like this show that the market can take care of unsafe products without the government stepping in.”

          My thoughts exactly. This kind of story is refreshing because it shows that consumers (through the businesses they buy from) can affect important change much more effectively and quickly than any government body ever dreamed of doing.

          Legalize drugs, lower taxes, and stay the hell away from my phone line. Libertarianism all the way baby!

    • Adam2010 says:

      @mbz32190: Retailers need to hold their suppliers accountable for the crap they sell us.

  2. One of the main features that a crib should have is “does not accidentally kill the baby,”

    – right up there with “does not purposely kill the baby”. I won’t make that mistake again!

    giggle :)

  3. Mayor McRib says:

    Bravo to Toys R Us. You will be rewarded with my business from now on, although you got most of it anyway.

  4. junkmail says:

    A quick little semi-unrelated FYI:

    If you buy diapers in bulk, (and if you have a baby, why the hell wouldn’t you?) ToysRUs usually has the best prices on the large boxes.

    Also, while you may pay a little more for the cribs and other big-ticket baby items, the quality is usually significantly better than other big box stores.

  5. mariospants says:

    Good job, TrUs/BrUs. Now can we get an official recall on that deathtrap convertible crib thingy consumerist has been talking about lately, too?

  6. incognit000 says:

    While Toys “R” Us has done a noble thing here, what really concerns me is that the only way for something to be done about a blatant public hazard that makes great television (when have you /not/ heard about a crib recall due to dead infants?) is for a company to step up of it’s own accord and demand higher standards. The government, which we pay for, isn’t bothering to develop adequate safety standards, and that concerns me. What if there’s a changing of leadership at TrUs and the new guy thinks that dead babies aren’t a TrUs problem, and lets things go back to the government standards? Not to mention we’re clearly getting ripped off by a federal agency that is so negligent in it’s task that a private corporation has to step up to the plate just to keep it’s customers kids from getting killed.

    • mythago says:

      @incognit000: The business lobby has a two-step plan on safety issues:

      1) Push for ineffective regulation, or better, no regulation at all.

      2) Insist that the company should therefore be immune to lawsuits because it complied with all applicable government regulation, and if the government wanted you to do better, it should have said so.

      This, by the way, is the reason they’re always whining about ‘uniform federal standards instead of a patchwork of state regulations’. It’s much easier to have one lobbyist in Washington than to have to send them all over the country to make sure you don’t have California breathing down your neck.

    • floraposte says:

      @incognit000: How would I know when I’ve not heard about a crib recall, since by definition I would not have heard about it?

    • @incognit000: BRA. VO.

      Good for them though, and I hope their example and the resulting good press convinces more companies that acting in the public’s best interest is acting in theirs.

      As for good television, maybe it’d be a nicer world if more information about consumer issues was on the thing. Televise The Consumerist! m/

  7. TheFlamingoKing says:

    Wait, you mean the market can self-regulate without government intervention? Say it ain’t so!

    (Really, I should say “when government intervention fails” instead of “without intervention”. I sincerely doubt the government will stop testing cribs any time soon.)

    FTA: “What we try to do is stand up for the consumer and say, ‘What would they do if they had the facts?”

    Good Lord, informed consumers? That’s scary as Hell! It might just mean that people get screwed a whole lot less and companies have to do the right thing more.

    • BrianDaBrain says:

      @TheFlamingoKing: LOL.

      I think this s a great move by Toys ‘R’ Us. More companies need to jump on the boat of speaking for consumers instead of just selling everything that is carted through their doors. Great job, Toys ‘R’ Us!

  8. Velifer says:

    Here is a link to a list of cribs sold by Babies ‘R Us that were recalled: [www.cpsc.gov]

    We have model 0303J00, it’s not on the list. It is *identical* to the other 0303*00 cribs, but this one is a different color.

    The natural, white, or cherry stained ones are baby traps. Oak stained furniture never hurt anyone. Weasels.

  9. SegamanXero says:

    toys r us/babies r us just got on my good list. very few companies are on it. actually only toys r us/ babies r us is on that list…

    anyways kudos to them, if they ever are in the neiborhood ill buy them dinner… lulz

  10. stezton says:

    I am glad to hear that TRU is taking a proactive step in crib safety. As a parent of an 18 month old in a crib, I can say choosing a crib was a big concern. I searched the internet to make sure there wasn’t recalls or posts detailing problems from other parents on the one I chose. It’s good to know that TRU’s selection should be safer than the general selection at other retailers.

  11. zerj says:

    Not to really doubt what TRU is doing here but are the government standards inadequate? All the crib death stories I have heard about recently involved cribs that were already violating the government standards.

    So I do wonder if this is just a clever marketing ploy to gain goodwill. If so it certainly has worked judging by the above comments.

    • Rachacha says:

      @zerj: No, the government standards are not inadequate, and the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act [www.cpsc.gov] mandates that manufacturers MUST soon (October 29) have their cribs tested by an accredited testing organization.

      I suspect that this is a pre-emptive strike to look proactive if the CPSC adopts new standards (also allowed by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act), TrU will be able to say that “We adopted it before we were required to”

      The big question that I have is what happens when a baby is killed by a TrU “safer” crib, will a parent have a good case for a lawsuit because the TrU standard was not vetted through normal standards review processes and was somehow deemed insufficient. Typically if a product complies with a properly vetted standard, and the standard is found deficient, manufacturer liability is limited, but if the manufacturer (or retailer) DEVIATES from the standard (even if they have nothing but good intentions), the liability I would suspect would be higher. What if the trees they specify are found to have some sort of toxin? What if the glue they specify breaks down when exposed to saliva?

      Go ahead and call me pessimistic!

  12. Tankueray says:

    This is a good thing, but when these new cribs come out, there will be less to choose from and they can charge whatever they like. What’s the general cost of a crib right now? $200? So after all this is over, the average cost will be like $400. Worth the cost to keep your baby alive, but I’m just saying… I have no children, so I don’t know how much this stuff costs.

    I’m just getting tired of paying more for the same product on the same paycheck. (And don’t start with the political comments, Roz won’t like it.)

    • Sarge1985 says:

      @Tankueray: So are the rest of us. And until the government gets out of the way and lets the free market control itself, it will continue that way. This isn’t about Repubs/Dems or Right/Left, this is about right and wrong. This is about a retailer realizing that there is a problem with a product they offer and doing something about it. Not “taking it seriously,” but actually taking some sort of action.

      • lightaugust says:

        @Sarge1985: Yes, but I’ll go out on a limb and say somethings are worth not waiting for the free market to sort itself out on… dead babies being one of them. I mean, if we know there’s a problem (i.e. crib has potential, albeit rare, to harm kids), is it really sacrificing some great principal to say rather than wait days, weeks, months, years for the free market sieve to run itself out, we just make a rule that says you just can’t sell them?

  13. lightaugust says:

    …principle, darn it. (I’m in educational administration in real life, so it happens often).

    • Rhayader says:

      @lightaugust: But the moral of this particular story is that often, the market can respond more quickly and effectively than the law can. We already saw several posts about the government being unable to correct this situation. Who knows how many months or years of litigation would have been needed to sort this out?

      Instead, TRU took care of it inside of a week.

      • lightaugust says:

        @Rhayader: Well stated, and it gives me pause, but then I think, they didn’t take care of it. I just went to Target or Walmart or BigLots and bought my Deathtrap Brand Crib cheaper cause demand is slightly down. And by the time the free market (maybe) filters it out of the market, who knows what could have happened?

        Your post, however, did make me realize that I was completely oversimplifying it by saying they could ‘just make a rule’ and bango! it’s all taken care of.

      • Rachacha says:

        @Rhayader: Playing devil’s advocate here, but who says that the law is broken? If a crib is properly designed to comply with the existing standards, the chances of injury are minimial (if there is any risk at all).

        The problem is that the market is making and selling products that do not comply with the published standards, and TrU believes that by mandating compliance with what they believe is a more stringent standard that all problems will go away.

  14. r0ckaby3 says:

    You could always bypass the standard crib and take your chances with a baby hammock!

  15. theczardictates says:

    Good for them. I’ve also noticed that at the entrance to my local TrU, any recall notices are prominently posted (you may recall that certain red-painted toys from China were a bit leady last year…). I don’t see that at any of the department stores that happen to carry toys…

  16. whitjm5 says:

    In my retailing class, a rep from TrU was a guest speaker. I realize there was some propaganda, but from what he said, the company really does go above and beyond what’s ‘required’.