After numerous recalls and more than 30 confirmed infant deaths, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commision (CPSC) has outlawed drop side cribs in the United States.
In a unanimous decision on Wednesday, the CPSC voted to ban all drop side cribs from the market, including the sale, resale and manufacture of the cribs. The vote came after the drop-side crib design has been linked to 32 infant and toddler deaths since 2000, and are suspected in 14 other fatalities.
By June, all cribs on the market in the United States will need to have fixed sides, and hotels, childcare centers and other facilities that provide cribs will have one year to replace any drop side cribs they use. In addition to the ban, new crib standards are being put in place that require more stringent safety testing and better labeling of parts for cribs that need to be assembled.
Drop-side crib safety issues have resulted in millions of cribs being recalled in recent years. The cribs are designed to allow easy access to the baby by having one side that can be unlocked and lowered. They have been particularly popular with shorter parents or those with back problems who have difficulty reaching over the rails of a standard crib.
Problems with the designs of many drop-side cribs have allowed the moving parts to become loose or fall out, creating a gap that can trap or suffocate the infant. Problems with drop side cribs have involved malfunctioning retractable pegs, metal locking pins that came loose, broken slats and other issues.
One of the biggest concerns surrounding drop side cribs is that they are not sufficiently durable. Many parents reuse the cribs for multiple children or pass them down to other family members. When the cribs are disassembled and then reassembled the risk of design defects causing dangerous conditions increases greatly, and many of the cribs are inexpensive and built without durable parts.
Safer alternative designs are available, which still allow parents to have easy access to infants, including “drop gate” cribs. Instead of having the entire side of the crib slide down, a drop gate crib hinges the upper portion of the side rail on one side of the crib, allowing it to fold down outside the crib. However, the portion of the side of the crib at the level of the baby remains rigid and firmly attached to the rest of the crib.