The Consumer Product Safety Commission, or CPSC, has announced new crib safety guidelines aimed at reducing the risk of serious injury to infants and children.   The requirements set forth took effect for manufacturers in June of 2011, and locations such as child care facilities and family child care homes, as well as hotels and rental crib companies, will be required to upgrade all cribs to be compliant by December 28, 2012.  The revision marks the first significant update to the regulations that govern crib safety in over 30 years.

The CPSC’s new standards apply to all cribs, including full-size, non-full-size, wood, metal and stackable cribs.  The new standards include requirements such as:

                No drop sides

                Stronger mattress supports

                Stronger crib slats

                More durable hardware

                Stricter testing standards

It’s a common misconception that the drop-sides are the central focus of the revised guidelines, and that immobilizing the sides is sufficient for compliance.  However, there are numerous issues covered by the guidelines, and immobilizing a crib’s sides will not make it compliant.  Additionally, facilities should be aware that compliance cannot be determined simply by looking at a product, and care must be taken to buy products that bear a certificate of compliance.

Facilities, families and other locations where non-compliant cribs are being upgraded should not sell, donate or otherwise give away any cribs that are not compliant, or where compliance is unclear.  Cribs should be disposed of in a way that ensures they cannot be reassembled and used.

It is important to bear in mind that these new guidelines have been created for the express purpose of protecting infants and small children.  The CPSC reports that 150 deaths between 2007 and 2010 were attributed to crib-related suffocation and strangulation.  

While cribs used in private, non-childcare homes are not required to comply with the revised guidelines, parents are urged to consider upgrading their cribs to reduce the risk of preventable injury.  Parents can view a list of recalled drop-side cribs on the CPSC website; if their crib is part of the recall, parents should contact the manufacturer for a free immobilizer kit.  Even if a family’s specific crib has not been recalled, parents should frequently check the crib for that hardware remains securely fastened and that there are no loose, broken or missing parts.  Any signs of wear or weakness should be addressed immediately.  Parents should also note that, even if a crib was bought before June of 2011, if it is repaired under warranty by the manufacturer, any replacement crib must be compliant.

Organizations that are uncertain whether they are required to upgrade cribs to be compliant should review the CPSC’s website for specific details.   Locations that may be affected include child care facilities and nursery schools, residential child care homes, churches, hotels and places of accommodation.  Even those locations that are not specifically required to comply by law should consider upgrading cribs to ensure the safety of the children that may use them.