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New Safety Standards for Cribs Begin Today

New federal rules are now in effect that ban the manufacture and sale of baby cribs with drop-down side rails.

June 28, 2011 -- New federal rules take effect today banning the manufacture and sale of baby cribs with drop-down side rails.

The cribs have been linked to at least 32 infant deaths since 2000, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The new rules, released by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, require manufacturers and retailers to meet new safer crib standards that include making crib hardware more durable and mattress supports stronger. The rules also require more rigorous testing of cribs by manufacturers.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, drop-side cribs are dangerous. It has been determined that gaps sometimes can form between crib mattresses and drop-side rails, which have occurred due to errors in assembly or installation or to wear or malfunction from use.

Infants could become trapped in the gap and suffocate, the National Institutes of Health says in a news release.

Tips for Safe Infant Sleep

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said in December 2010 it was banning the cribs with drop-down sides. Yvonne T. Maddox, PhD, deputy director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, says in a statement that the new standards "are an important step in ensuring a safe environment for infants as they sleep" and calls on parents and caregivers to take several other steps to make sure sleeping environments of babies are safe.

These include:

  • Infants should not share a bed with adults or other children.
  • Infants should sleep in a separate but nearby place, such as a crib that meets safety standards, to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Infants should sleep in the same room as their mother.

Those steps, based on recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, should reduce the risk of SIDS. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that infant cribs or bassinets be placed in parents' bedrooms, and that infants should never sleep on a couch or armchair.

Preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

The National Institutes of Health says other steps also are needed to ensure safer sleeping environments for babies and to reduce the risk of SIDS. These include:

  • Always place an infant on his or her back to sleep -- for naps and at night. Infants who sleep on their backs have a lower risk of SIDS compared to infants placed on their stomachs or sides. Infants who usually sleep on their backs face an even greater risk of SIDS if placed on their stomachs.
  • Place infants on a firm sleep surface for sleep. An example would be a crib mattress with a fitted sheet. Infants should never be placed on a soft surface, such as a pillow, quilt, or sheepskin.
  • Pillows, cushioned crib bumpers, toys, loose bedding, and other soft objects should be kept out of an infant's sleeping area. And all items should be kept away from an infant's face.

Starting today, anyone who manufacturers or sells baby cribs will be required to meet the new standards.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission voted this month to give short-term crib rental companies until Dec. 28, 2012, to comply with the new mandatory standards for baby cribs. The extension will give such companies time to update their inventories with cribs that are in compliance with the new federal rules.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says safety standards for cribs had not been previously updated in almost 30 years and that the new rules will mark the beginning of safer cribs for infants.

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