Friday, September 25, 2015

Smart Safety: Drop Side Cribs

Are Parents Ignoring the Dangers of Drop Side Cribs? Search Data Says Yes. (Guest Post)

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death of infants in the United States. While SIDS deaths have been on the decline since the 1992, when the American Pediatric Association recommended that all infants be put to sleep on their backs, other sleep related causes of infant death, such as strangulation and asphyxiation have been on the rise. This is especially tragic because many of these causes are preventable if parents use the best sleeping practices for their infants.

Not all parents are well informed.

Drop side cribs are a dangerous kind of crib that has been linked to infant deaths. They were banned in 2011, but if you look at this chart, you can see that the number of people searching for drop side cribs has more than doubled since then.

Even worse, Google’s search suggestions show that most parents who are searching for drop side cribs aren’t even aware that they need to convert them to make them safe.

So What Should Parents Be Doing?

Keep Up To Date

The Juvenile Products Safety Commission (JPMA) publishes standards for the safest cribs. Cribs with a JPMA seal of approval are the best to buy. This means that the slats of your crib should be no further than 2 and 3/8ths inches apart, about the width of a soda can. In addition there should be no decorative knobs on top of the corner posts because your baby’s clothes can get caught on them and they can pose a strangulation hazard.


Double check all hardware such as screws and bolts to make sure they are secure and intact. This is especially important if you’ve recently moved or reassembled your crib. Finally, there should be no more than an inch of space between the side of your crib and the mattress. This snug fit should help insure that your baby doesn’t become trapped under a loose, shifting mattress.

Here’s another important thing to do: send in your product registration. Many parents don’t do this, but if you do the manufacturer will keep you up to date about any recalls or important legal changes like the 2011 changes that I mentioned earlier. Even conscientious manufacturers who sell safe cribs can’t predict future legal changes.

Beyond these basic safety precautions, minimalism is the most important principle when it comes to crib safety. Many parents add blankets, stuffed animals and pillows to your crib. You may be tempted to do the same because it looks cute, but remember that all of these things can pose suffocation hazards to babies under 1 year of age.


I tend to recommend that parents avoid bumpers. There is conflicting evidence about whether or not bumpers are safe. Some experts are concerned with loose and pillowy bumpers being a suffocation hazard, while others are concerned that older babies may use them as a foothold to climb out of the crib. The JPMA advises that bumpers are safe if used correctly, but for parents who wish to play it safe, the best bet is to steer clear

Use A Firm Mattress

Use a firm crib mattress. Some parents worry that their baby won’t sleep as well as they would on a soft mattress, but babies can sleep pretty much anywhere, and if you get them used to a firm mattress, they will sleep just fine.

Be Minimal

Even in the area around the crib and in the nursery, minimalism still the most important principle. 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.

Anything with string or ribbons should also be kept away from the crib, as 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.

Finally, there are mobiles. Mobiles can present a strangulation hazard, especially ones that hang down particularly low. I recommend that you get rid of your mobile when your baby can stand up, usually at about 5 months, because at this point your baby could possibly reach the mobile and become entangled in it.

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.

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