Are Parents Ignoring the Dangers of Drop Side Cribs? Search Data Says Yes.
I learned recently that many parents are ignoring some of the most important sleep safety practices. In the United States, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death, but since the since the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) decided in 1992 that all babies should be put to sleep on their backs, other causes of death such as strangulation and asphyxiation have been on the rise. Parents can reduce the risks of strangulation and asphyxiation with good sleep and crib safety practices, but many parents don’t know what the best practices are.
Take a look at this Data.
Drop side cribs are a dangerous kind of crib that has been linked to infant deaths when the “drop” side of the crib malfunctions, but people are still searching for them!
But why are people searching for drop side cribs? Five of the top searches are from people looking to fix or refurbish old drop side cribs, without even converting them to make them safe! These parents don’t know that they could be putting their infant at risk by using a drop side crib.
So What Should Parents Be Doing?
Make sure that your crib meets current safety standards. The Juvenile Products Safety Commission (JPMA) publishes standards for the safest cribs. The federal government has its own standards for safe cribs, but because the laws changed in 2011, people are still buying used cribs that don’t meet the new standards. Plenty of old cribs are beautiful and perfectly safe BUT you must be extra careful that you’re not buying a damaged crib, a drop side crib, or another crib that doesn’t meet current safety standards for a different reason.
The slats of your crib should be no further than 2 and 3/8ths inches apart. In addition there should be no decorative knobs the corner posts. These knobs are dangerous and could pose a strangulation hazard if your baby’s clothes get caught on them. In addition you should make sure that your mattress fits snugly in the crib, the gap between the mattress and the edge of the crib should be no more than an inch.
Remember to send in your product registration. If you do the manufacturer will keep you up to date about any recalls or important legal changes like the 2011 ban on drop side cribs.
While bumpers can be used safely according to the JPMA, the CPSC says “there is considerable evidence that bumper pads have played a significant role in causing the deaths of young children.” To add to the confusion, Target has recently been selling breathable mesh baby bumpers that they claim mitigate the suffocation risk presented by bumpers, but there have been no scientific studies to assess their claim. I ALWAYS RECOMMEND AGAINST THE USE OF BUMPERS, because a bruised leg is always better than a risk of suffocation. But if you insist on using bumpers, please use them correctly, that means not cushioned bumpers and no sagging.
Use A Firm Mattress
Use a firm crib mattress. It’s so important and there is no reason not to do it. Soft crib mattresses are always dangerous and there is no benefit to them. Other than the mattress, your crib should ONLY contain a crib sheet and a mattress protector pad. Anything else is unnecessary and dangerous.
Even in the area around the crib and in the nursery, minimalism still the most important principle, that means no blankets, pillows or stuffed animals in the crib. Be sure that you don’t have anything heavy above or near your baby’s crib. Books, potted plants and vases on shelves and windowsills are all common things found in homes that can fall and injure a baby, and they’re so commonplace that many parents don’t even think about them.
String and ribbons should also be kept away from the crib, because your baby could get tangled in it and it prevents a strangulation hazard. The most common such thing is window or blind cords. This is another thing that you might not even notice because it’s so commonplace, but it is important to be wary of these things if you place your baby sleeps near a window.
Mobiles can present a strangulation hazard especially ones that hang down particularly low. Mobiles are beautiful and popular with parents, but I recommend that you get rid of your mobile at about 5 months, because at this point your baby could possibly reach the mobile and become entangled in it.
Those are the basics of crib safety. Just remember, stay up to date and keep it simple!
John Bryant works for Simply Baby Furniture where he researches infant sleep safety and handles regulatory compliance.