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Don't Buy Drop-Side Cribs: Tips on Choosing a Safe Crib for Your Child

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If you haven’t heard the warnings already: don’t buy drop-side cribs. The Consumer Product Safety Commission issued recalls earlier this month on 387,000 drop-side cribs that have been linked to 32 infant deaths since 2001. Furthermore, no single manufacturer is at fault; rather it is a problem with drop-side cribs in general. Specifically, the side rail that is designed to lift up and down to help a parent lift their infant out of the crib can become loosened over time. Consequently, the rail can detach and create a space large enough for an infant to become wedged between the rail and the mattress, leading to suffocation.

While some will argue that drop-side cribs have been around for years, and passed on from generation to generation, drop-side cribs weren’t always made as cheaply as they are now. According to Corinna Hall, an executive buyer for the Once Upon a Child store, “[newer cribs] are made with plastic parts; they just don’t work”. However, even secondhand cribs can be dangerous—if shopping for a used crib at a garage sale, make sure it’s intact. Look for broken or missing pieces; shake the crib and make sure that no parts fall off.

Furthermore, safety experts also warn parents to avoid antiques, since old cribs can be painted with lead paint, which causes neurological disorders in children. The first thing children do when they learn to lift themselves up in their cribs is chew on the handrail. Additionally, there are several other factors to look out for when choosing or dressing your infant’s crib:

1. Don’t fix cribs yourself—your fix-it nails and screws may not be strong enough to hold the crib together. The manufacturer should have guidelines for repairs and it is important to follow them to ensure the safety of your child.

2. Don’t use bumper pads—only use a bottom fitted sheet made for a crib. A too-large fitted sheet or bumper pads can enmesh a baby and create risk of suffocation.

3. Never place a crib near a window—with the tragic strangulations of infants in curtains or blind cords that hang down, the last thing you want to do is put your child in danger by placing a crib near a window.

4. Gauge strength—if a child is able to pull him or herself up and it looks like they could climb out of the crib, it is unsafe for a child to be in a crib any longer. Switch to a mattress on the floor or a toddler bed.