CPSC Approves New Mandatory Crib Safety Standards

In the wake of a government ban on drop-side cribs, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a new set of standards, which manufacturers must be in compliance with by June 2011.

Included in the standards are provisions to stop the manufacture and sale of traditional drop-side cribs, make mattress supports stronger, ensure crib hardware is more durable and measures to improve safety testing.

According to the CPSC, drop-side rails have been associated with at least 32 infant suffocation and strangulation deaths since 2000. Before these new standards were unanimously voted on, federal crib safety regulations hadn’t been updated in over 30 years.

Child care facilities, hotels and other places of public accommodations must have compliant cribs 24 months after the rule is published.

For more information on crib safety, check out the CPSC Crib Information Center site.

CPSC Approves Strong New Crib Safety Standards To Ensure a Safe Sleep for Babies and Toddlers [CPSC]


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  1. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I truly feel crib makers did this to themselves, and ruined it for the rest of us. I do not believe it’s impossible to make an incredibley safe drop-side crib, but the manufacturers sure seem to have not tried.

    • lockdog says:

      Plastic parts are cheaper than steel and corporations, not being human, don’t have the morality to see that lives are worth more than the few cents in profit each substandard part nets their investors.

      • Jimmy60 says:

        Don’t forget that consumers themselves frequently choose the cheapest as opposed to the best. If only expensive well made cribs sold, while the cheap crap never sold, you wouldn’t be able to buy the cheap crap. Corporations typically only give consumers what they want.

        I would say it’s often the consumer who is willing to have their infant not be safe so they could save $20 who are the problem.

        • mythago says:

          You’re assuming that the consumer has perfect information about the relative safety of the crib they buy.

        • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

          Customers are not all structural engineers, and they trust the crib manufacturers to have built a product that meets ordinary safety and usability standards. But go ahead and blame the customer, after all that’s what this site is about, right?

        • kujospam says:

          No customer trades in safety for cheaper price.

  2. zrecs says:

    Manufacturers rejoice! Thanks to ASTM and the CPSC, cheap megabrands can now rest easy that they need not raise their standards, while those willing to make safe drop-side cribs (with metal rather than plastic parts) are prevented from doing so.

    Here’s one take on the issue:


  3. neilb says:

    1) Our drop side was very safe.

    2) Short people really NEED that drop side.

    3) The numbers on this (32 in the past decade) don’t seem to justify action. As many children have likely died from eating the wood of the crib or having the floor under the crib give out or any other number of really rare things.

    4) WalMart ensures the death of MORE children per year by adhering to the minimum standards insofar as kid-proof medication bottles. This saves them a cent or so per bottle (relatedly, Meijer, Target, and most others do not make this choice). Where are the commissions to require a more stringent standard for those?

    5) It seem to be a shameless kickback to crib manufacturers. This is the equivalent of auto manufacturers requiring all existing automobiles to be deemed unsafe and requiring the repurchase of all fleet vehicles in 24 months.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      “3) The numbers on this (32 in the past decade) don’t seem to justify action. As many children have likely died from eating the wood of the crib or having the floor under the crib give out or any other number of really rare things.”

      I haven’t followed this very closely. The death rate of 32 really doesn’t seem significant when put up against several hundred thousand cribs. How many babies have been severely injured from them? I can’t imagine it would take much for a baby to lose an appendage.

    • Southern says:

      Yeah, just one more small step to a nanny nation.

      Give it 15-20 more years and we’ll all have to ask the government for permission to do pretty much anything.

      • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

        Including, hopefully, make hysterical reactionary doom-mongering posts on Interweb blogs.

        Get over it. You’re the kind of person who opposes anything the government does, just on principle, regardless of whether it’s a good idea or not. This is a good idea.

        Remember, WE are the government. If you don’t like what the goverment’s doing, look in the mirror.

        • Southern says:

          And you, sir, have an avatar that must pretty much sum up your attitude, in that your opinion is the only one that matters.

          I do *not* think this is a good idea, and that is my opinion. Fortunately, I’m still allowed to have one, unlike the government deciding FOR US that we are no longer allowed to smoke in own homes or cars, deciding that people shouldn’t be allowed to smoke a “strawberry” cigarette, but they’re ok with them smoking a regular or menthol one, they can’t buy a happy meal for their children, can’t use tanning beds (if you’re under 21), can’t allow your children to bring their own lunch to school (because it just MIGHT have something sugary in it!), can’t hold bake sales or throw birthday parties for the same reason, etc., etc.

          I’m tired of Government thinking that I’m not smart enough to figure out what’s good, or bad, for myself and my children (although my children are adults now), and that “Society” needs to step in and protect me from “bad decisions” through the passage of laws.

          • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

            Everyone’s opinion is, to themselves, the only one that matters. :P

    • mythago says:

      Yeah, those 32 were other people’s babies, so screw them, I want my drop-side crib!

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      As a short person, I’ll ask: do short people really need that drop side or can they find cribs that are more low to the ground? Do those exist? Someone needs to develop a baby tractor beam.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        My sister is short enough that she wound up just cutting the legs off of her standard crib. My wife and I are fairly tall but we use a drop side that I built (from a kit) about 10 years ago. I’m over 6′ but still find it easier to drop the side and pick up our baby (I have some pretty serious back problems to begin with).

      • mythago says:

        You can cut down a crib or use a playpen. It’s really not that big a deal unless you want to whine about the Nanny State.

  4. TacomaRogue says:

    According to my mom my sisters and I all used the same drop side crib and there is a 7 year age gap between the oldest and youngest. We (obviously) all live with all our parts intact, but I really think it had more to do with the quality of the product as opposed to the design. The fact that regulations on crib design are just now changing after so amny years says a lot about the design. If it was unsafe from the get-go it would have been banned years ago.

    As a short woman planning on maybe having a kid on the future it sucks for me that the drop side crib won’t be an option because getting a baby out of a standard crib is a bit of a pain in the ass (and chest) when the top of most cribs is even with my arm pits.

    Boo at the manufacturers for making an awesome product into a crap product save? Make some money

    • mythago says:

      “We all survived” is a logical fallacy.

    • neilb says:

      I found the quality to be more important than the design as well.
      Once kids can shake the side, the quality of the parts is more important than the fact that it has a drop side. Heck, we never once used the drop side functionality so it never differentiated itself from a non-movable side.
      We may see some displacement of solid-wood drop-side cribs with solid side particle board. I know which one I would rather have my 1 year old jumping on/shaking.
      My skeptical side does not think that these manufacturers are looking for an opportunity to upgrade their materials.

  5. guymandude says:

    OMG! 32 deaths in 10 years! 3.2 deaths a year! That’s just completely outrageous! More people are killed tripping on their steps and breaking their necks. That’s some fine consumer protectionism there Lou. But I am glad to see da gubmnt spending it’s time and $ on worthwhile initiatives.

    • kingofmars says:

      What average number of infant deaths a year do you think there should be before the government intervenes with guidelines? It seems that you think that 3.2 preventable deaths a year is too low, so maybe 5, 10, or 100 deaths a year? Keep in mind that gathering the information is probably the hardest part, while coming up with the guidelines is relatively simple.

  6. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Let’s brainstorm some alternatives to drop-side cribs that could make cribs usable again…

    1) Instead of a drop-side, a rise-bottom? Maybe with a ratchet mechanism? (Too cyberpunk, eh…)
    2) Crib sides that open like cabinet doors (hinge protection needed to keep from pinching baby fingers)
    3) Stretchy elastic sides (with fabric netting like playpens have) strong enough that an adult can lean on them and deform them with their body weight, but a baby can’t pull them down
    4) Force fields

    OK, I’m running out of ideas at the moment. You try. :)

    • Southern says:

      Why use a crib at all? Just use a playpen and design a (square) mattress for it.

      Wouldn’t that solve the problem?

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        Would it? I thought part of the problem was that people with short arms had trouble reaching all the way into the crib from a normal standing position.

        • Southern says:

          A playpen usually sits at ground level though (or just a few inches above it).. I know my children took naps during the day in their playpens, this would just be an extension of that.

          With the webbing all the way around, it seems to me it would be much safer than anything made from wood and has a railing 4-5 feet above the ground (in which case if your toddler can climb over, a 5 foot fall would probably be pretty painful). :-)

    • mythago says:

      A crib that’s low enough to the ground that short parents don’t have to drop the side.

      See, that wasn’t hard.

  7. neilb says:

    Sorry to sound crass, but I am a statistician and tend to overlook anecdotes. 32 is an anecdotal number of deaths considering the larger number that lies in, well, pretty much every other potential cause.

    Here are some “deaths per decade” comparisons from http://www.childdeathreview.org/causes.htm (their one year estimate * 10):

    230,940 Natural causes, not SIDs
    25,320 SIDS
    64,660 motor vehicle accidents
    20,000 abuse/neglect
    1,740 firearm accidents
    12,420 intentional firearm uses
    12,360 drowning
    19,460 fires

    We have to apply our money efficiently to save as many lives as possible. Given an unlimited amount of money, we could save many more lives than this. The low base rate makes this an unlikely contender.

    • Southern says:

      It’s a “Feel Good” thing, much like the Window Blind issue.

      Yes, there’s still new recalls along THAT front, too.

      Lowe’s just recalled *11 million* window blinds because 2 children ALMOST strangled themselves.

      Let’s just completely ignore the fact that parents shouldn’t be leaving cords dangling on window blinds in the FIRST place.

    • mythago says:

      If you’re really a statistician, then you should understand concepts like ‘false diliemma’. You should also understand the meaning of ‘anecdote’, which doesn’t mean ‘very few’.

      It’s the CPSC’s job to get needlessly unsafe products off the market. The fact that other things hurt children more means nothing, unless you’re trying to argue that the CPSC’s getting drop-side cribs off the market significantly impacts, say, the NHTSC’s efforts to prevent children from dying in auto accidents.

      • neilb says:

        “False dilemma” is a new term to me. I can see how it applies, sort of (either you do or do not see it as a threat). I see it as a small-to-nonexistent threat, which is the point of the post.

        At any rate, I would label this as a “not enough information to make an informed judgment” sort of situation–and even if we COULD find statistical significance then the effect size (the relationship between the presence of a drop side and deaths) is so small as to not be above reasonable everyday risk.

        The other numbers provide context. There are other items that can be regulated (e.g., pill bottles and car seats) that address FAR larger problems. Why waste time picking the fruit on the highest branches (except if you happen to be part of the “bureaucracy of high branch-picking” and need to justify your existance)?

  8. ironflange says:

    How did all of us old farts ever survive childhood?

  9. MEoip says:

    Can I still make a crib with a side that rises up like a garage door or slides open like bi-fold door? Maybe I can put it next to my wall and have a pocket door.

  10. JManBrody says:

    I was told by a lady who is in charge of the infant’s merchandise for a large retail chain that the reason the drop sides were problematic was because cheap plastic parts were being used for the latch mechanism on these faulty drop side cribs. I own a higher end crib (purchased from a garage sale), which has all metal parts that will probably last for many decades before failing. Why couldn’t the regulators just make sure that these companies use reliable parts instead of banning drop sides? Most of the infants furniture sold in retail chains is designed to have a limited lifetime so that instead of buying one crib for three kids, you’ll have to buy at least two. There should be regulations to prevent poor quality products from being manufactured on a large scale.