The issues with drop-side cribs really didn't do much good for the lip service of crib sleeping this last year or so, as tons of babies were injured and some even died. Many people felt it was the fault of negligent parents who just "weren't using the crib right," even though that's not what any agency said in the slightest.
The sad reality is that between playpens, cribs, and bassinets, there have been 181,654 injuries in an 18-year period and 2,140 children died -- usually from becoming trapped or wedged in the crib. Since 2007, there have been 11 million recalls on dangerous cribs -- that's not just "user error."
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) approved a mandate on new crib regulations and they go into effect in June, but we still need to worry.
The changes are going to include the total and complete ban of all drop-side models (the kind where it drops down vertically -- the kind that falls forward on a hinge from about halfway up or more is still "safe"). Also, the mattress supports are going to be required to be much more durable, as is the hardware that holds the crib together. Last but not least, the safety testing regulations are going to be much more strict.
For manufacturers, all this has to go into effect in June, but daycare centers, hotels, and other child care facilities have 24 more months to comply. I get that it's because they don't want to put people out of business by suddenly requiring them to trash all their cribs and buy new ones, but this means for two years, there will still be cribs in use that have been proven to be much more likely to malfunction and hurt a kid. Scary.
It makes a case for co-sleeping. And so does a child falling out of a crib. Every day, dozens of babies are hurt by falling out of their crib. They almost always land on their head, neck, or face. While most parents know that the crib needs to be lowered as soon as the baby can stand, and lowered more if their shoulder level gets near the top, babies can often surprise parents with what they're capable of.
In fact, even though I co-slept with my son Rowan, he was sometimes put in his crib and he DID climb out. I remember hearing him hit the floor when I was in another room. As I rushed in, he came crawling towards me, THANKFULLY totally uninjured. I never used the crib for him again ... and he wasn't even a year old.
I'm not here to sell co-sleeping. I know it's not always an option for some families (and isn't always safe for others either), but I think crib users could take a thing or two away from co-sleeping family practices, and consider not leaving your mobile baby alone and awake in their crib. Use a monitor, and go to them when you hear them. If you want them awake and contained, use a playpen under adult supervision. The steps we as parents take can help our kids be safer in their cribs.
Has your baby ever gotten stuck in or fallen out of your crib?
Image via miguelb/Flickr