The rules for how cribs must be made are changing dramatically in the wake of the recall of millions of drop-side cribs that followed the deaths of about three dozen infants and toddlers since 2000.
On June 28, every store in America that sell cribs will have to purge its old inventory and only offer models that meet new, far tougher standards.
Here’s what’s different with cribs that meet the new standards:
- A ban on the manufacture and sale of drop-side cribs
- Strong mattress supports
- Stronger Slats
- More durable hardware
- More stringent testing to ensure durability
A group of smaller child furniture stores tried to get the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission this week to let them self off their old inventory before then, but the panel rejected that plea. The CPSC, which voted 3-2 to keep the deadline that was set late last year, said it would not be fair to all the retailers who have invested in meeting the deadline.
“While the economic losses that some retailers may suffer are unfortunate, and I have sympathy for those businesses, it was not completely unexpected that some businesses might fail to take the steps necessary to come into compliance,” CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said in a statement. “This behavior cannot be rewarded to the economic detriment of those businesses that did take these steps and have successfully met the original deadline set by the Commission.”
The executive director of the advocacy group Kids in Danger said it was disappointing that companies were still trying to push back this long-awaited step in crib safety.
“We were disheartened to hear at the 11th hour that retailers were still trying to stall this crib standard in order to ‘liquidate obsolete inventory,’ as they put it,” Nancy Cowles said. “Children’s safety should be the first priority. Already in the CPSC’s original decision was a six month period for complying the the desperately needed strong standard… All steps were taken to be fair to an industry, which lets face it, had stalled the improvements in the new standard for years.”
Cribs that don’t meet the new standards can either be exported or destroyed. They cannot be sold in the U.S. Be particularly wary of any crib or children’s product at a yard sale.
Toys R Us, the biggest child product retailer in the land, said it was not associated with the delay attempt and has been preparing for June 28.
“We expect to be fully compliant by the deadline, with a broad offering of cribs for our customers,” Toys R Us Vice President Kathleen Waugh told The Consumer Chronicle.
Toys R Us made a move on its own in January 2010 to stop selling drop-side cribs — before the government decided to ban them.
Facilities that use cribs in their business, from daycare to hotels, as well as those that rent cribs have an extra six months to comply with the new rules.
For those who can’t afford the new cribs, which are expected to be more expensive than what’s currently on the market, safety experts say portable cribs are a safe alternative if they are used just as they are intended — with nothing added to the interior. A handful of groups, including at least one operating nationally, offer assistance.
For more information about safe sleeping environments, read our guide to safe sleep for babies.
Consumer Chronicle editor Mitch Lipka is the safety expert for Parents.com, the website of Parents magazine and is the 2011 KID’s “Best Friend” for a career of work to promote children’s product safety.