Crib Safety Standards

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has instituted a new safety standard for cribs, and that may mean the crib you use is dangerously outdated. As of June 28th 2011, only cribs that comply with the improved federal safety standards can be manufactored, sold or used in a child care center or other public venue. The new crib regulations prohibit the sale of drop side rail cribs, and they require that manufacturers strengthen crib and mattress supports, improve the quality of the hardware and commit to rigorous testing. You may really want to use the crib you slept in as a baby for the sake of nostalgia, but for the safety of your baby, be sure to use a crib that conforms to the updated safety standards that came into play on June 28th, 2011.

Make sure your crib meets the mandatory industry safety standards as set by The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) and the voluntary standards as set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM F-1169 and ASTM F-996). Cribs that meet or exceed these safety standards are certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA).

Cribs that are JPMA certified are clearly labeled and the certification seal should be displayed prominently on the crib itself or the shipping carton. Ask the retailer or manufacturer whether the crib in question complies with 16 CFR 1219 (the new standard for full-size cribs) or 16 CFR 1220 (the new standard for non-full-size-cribs). By law, the production date of the crib must be displayed both on the crib and the shipping carton. Buying a new JPMA certified crib assures you that your crib meets the latest federal and voluntary safety standards. Drop sides, slats, or hardware that may have been weakened as a result of previous use or exposure to dampness or heat during storage could endanger your baby.

A quality manufacturer will test and re-test your crib to ensure it meets all mandatory and voluntary safety standards.

Current industry safety standards include:
  • No crib can be made or sold with traditional drop side rails. Since gaps can form quite easily between the drop side rails and the mattress, the risk of suffocation increases considerably with these styles of cribs. The malfunction of these rails have been linked to at least 32 infant deaths since 2000.
  • There should be no broken or missing crib slats and all wooden parts should be free of splits, cracks, and other defects. Crib slats should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart to prevent your baby from slipping through the slats. The easiest way to check the spacing of the crib slats is to attempt to pass a soda pop can between the slats. Properly spaced slats will not allow the soda pop can to pass through the slats.
  • There should be no missing, loose, damaged or improperly installed hardware, including screws, bolts, or brackets, on the crib or mattress support.
  • Corner posts should not be higher than 1/16" above the end panels of the crib, including decorative knobs or canopy posts. This prevents your baby's clothing from becoming tangled on the crib.
  • The mattress support hangers should be secured to the crib frame with bolts or closed hooks. If a mattress support hanger becomes unhooked, the mattress support could dislodge creating a space between the mattress and sides of the crib. Your baby could easily slide into this space and become trapped. The mattress should fit in the crib snugly, with no more than two finger widths between the inside edge of the crib and the edge of the mattress . The crib mattress should also be firm to provide adequate support for your baby's growing body.
  • The crib mattress support should always be set so your baby cannot climb out of the crib. Set the crib mattress support at the highest setting for newborns. Use the middle setting when your baby is able to push up on their hands and knees, usually around 4 – 6 months. Use the lowest setting when your baby can stand up in the crib, usually around 8 – 12 months.
  • There should be no decorative cutouts in the headboard or footboard of your crib that can trap your baby's head or body.

The CPSC strongly discourages use of second-hand cribs. Two common hazards found in older cribs include cutout designs on the headboard and footboard or pictures painted in a lead-based paint. But even if your current crib does not have drop sides or these potentially hazardous accents, it's very unlikely that it will measure up to current safety standards. If you are unable to purchase a new crib,check with the CPSC to make sure your model is not on the recall list, check it frequently to ensure everything is in good working order and, if the crib has drop side rails, request a drop side rail immobilizer from the manufacturer or retailer.

To ensure your baby's safety, always keep your crib at least 3 inches away from drapes, ribbons, blind cords, and decorative wall hangings. Never use string, rope, or cord to hang toys, a diaper stacker, or other items near or on the crib. The crib is the one place your baby will be left unattended. You want to keep your baby far away from anything they can pull down on themselves or climb onto while they are in their crib.

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