June 28, 2011

New Safety Rules For Baby Cribs Take Effect Today

Beginning Tuesday, safer, modern baby cribs will be the only ones approved for sale in stores, online, and even at neighborhood yard sales, according to an Associated Press (AP) report.

Errors in assembly or installation, or perhaps wear or malfunction, may cause gaps to form between the crib mattress and the drop side rails. Infants can become trapped in the gap and suffocate as a result.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), detaching drop side rails were associated with at least 32 infant deaths since 2000.

Significant new federal standards mandate more rigorous safety tests for cribs before they are allowed on the market. In the past, manufacturers were allowed to retighten screws and bolts on a crib in the middle of hardware testing meant to mimic how a child might rattle a crib by jumping or shaking the sides.

The previous tests, although intended to simulate a toddler in a crib, do not mimic the real-world use of the crib. It's a rare parent who would know when to retighten obscure pieces of hardware on a crib during normal use.

"After 30 years of having outdated standards, CPSC delivered on its promise and created the toughest crib safety standards in the world," Commission Chairman Inez Tenenbaum told the AP. "Parents can now shop for a crib with confidence."

The updated crib design won't really look different other than the obvious absence of a movable side that drops down. All four sides will now be static and the cribs should be sturdier because of the tougher testing requirements.

Manufacturers have been making cribs to the new standard for months, however many retailers still have cribs in stock that will be banned.  The two Republican commissioners at the CPSC tried this month to secure an extension for dozens of retailers, many of them smaller ones, to allow them at least a few more months to sell their inventory.

"I would have liked to have seen a three-month grace period for retailers," Republican Commissioner Anne Northup said. "We should have staggered it so that if we allow manufacturers to deliver up until June 28, we should have allowed retailers a certain amount of time for them to sell what was legal."

Additional time is being allowed  for daycare centers, hotels and companies that rent cribs to comply by the CPSC. These businesses have until the end of 2012 before they need to purchase cribs that meet the new safety standards.


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