Drop-side Cribs No Longer Safe for Childcare Centers, Churches

Federal safety commission recommends replacing them with new cribs that meet standards

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has passed stricter mandatory standards for cribs for the first time in nearly 30 years. After June 28, 2011, all baby cribs manufactured, sold, or resold in the U.S. are required to have fixed sides, sturdier slats, and stronger hardware and supports.

Buy Cribs That Meet the New Standards

Childcare facilities, including family childcare homes and infant Head Start centers, are required to use cribs compliant with the new standards by December 28, 2012. Simply securing a crib’s drop side or adding an immobilizer won’t bring it up to the new standards.

The new standards:

  • Prohibit the use of drop-side cribs in which the entire side rail moves up and down.
  • Change side rail height and toe hold standards.
  • Require better labeling and instructions to minimize potential assembly mistakes.
  • Require increased slat strength.
  • Require increased mattress support strength.
  • Eliminate wood screws from key structural elements.

The rules apply to all hard-sided cribs. Bassinets, mesh-sided cribs, and play yards are excluded. You can find more information on the new standards at the CPSC’s crib information center.

Voluntary Compliance Encouraged

The law doesn’t apply to consumers or churches that provide volunteer-staffed nurseries during church services; however, it’s a good idea to buy cribs that comply with the new standards. Cribs that do not meet the new standards may endanger children and leave a church open to liability.

Churches that decide to continue using their current cribs are encouraged to install an immobilizer on each crib and check the crib frequently to make sure that all hardware is secured tightly and there are no loose, missing, or broken parts.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has recalled more than 11 million cribs since 2007. Visit the CPSC’s website to search for recalled cribs and determine if any used by your church have been recalled.

Inspect Cribs to Determine Condition

Until you have purchased cribs that comply with the new federal standards, the following tips can help you determine if your current cribs are safe to operate:

  • Every time you change the sheets, make sure there are no gaps larger than two fingers between the sides of the crib and the mattress.
  • Make sure all visible bolts and screws are tight.
  • With the mattress out of the crib, wiggle the crib to see how tight all the joints are. If the crib feels loose, tighten all hardware.
  • If the crib remains wobbly after tightening, look for loose wood-to-wood joints that may be causing the problem.
  • Stop using the crib if loose wood-to-wood joints are found or if the crib cannot be made tight and structurally sound.

Disassemble and Discard Old Cribs

If your church or childcare center purchases new cribs, remember that it’s illegal to donate or resell a crib that doesn’t meet the new crib standards. The CPSC says that all older, noncompliant cribs must be discarded in such a way that they cannot be reassembled and used again.

They are not to be resold at garage sales, thrift stores, or online auction sites. If your church hosts a sale of rummage or children’s items, it would be a good idea not to accept cribs manufactured before June 28, 2011.

For more information on how to help babies sleep safely, visit the CPSC’s Crib Information Center.