Cribs are small beds designed specifically for infants and are meant to provide a safe place for babies to sleep from birth through 36 months of age.
According to the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA), about 50 babies suffocate or strangle within their cribs each year in the United States. The majority of these deaths occur due to crib manufacturing or design defects. The JPMA and other Federal agencies exist specifically to ensure cribs made and sold in America meet very strict safety guidelines to prevent death or injury to babies. Buying, selling, or using a crib that is more than a few years old compromises these agencies’ ability to govern the safety of children, as the industry is continually changing and improving to address new concerns discovered through actual accidents and injuries.
Some of the defects that may be present in cribs and create vulnerability for infants include:
- Crib rails or barrier slats may be too widely spaced, creating room for a baby to become entangled, particularly by the head or neck, causing strangulation
- Mattresses may not fit the bed adequately, leaving a gap or space for the infant to become trapped and suffocate
- Small hardware or parts may be removable by the infant or otherwise may become dislodged and provide a choking hazard
- Exposed hardware, screws, splinters, or hard edges create abrasion hazards
- Paints may contain toxic chemicals such as lead
- Decorative aspects may become detached from the bed and present a choking hazard
- Corner posts extending above the crib base offer potential for a baby to become entangled and strangled by loose clothing, bedding, or other items
- Headboard cutouts or open designs provide space for the infant’s head to become lodged and may cause strangulation
- Moving parts such as fold-down sides create pinching and finger amputation hazards, particularly in hinges
- Slats may become detached or broken, causing impalement and abrasion hazards, as well as entrapment concerns
General Product Failure
Some examples of defective manufacturing and design of cribs that resulted in recall and action by the Consumer Protection Safety
- In 2008 and 2009, several hundred thousand cribs created by several manufacturers were recalled, as the design did not prevent infants from falling out of the crib
- In August 2007, Stokke, Inc. recalled 1000 oval-shaped Sleepi crib foam mattresses, as the specially-designed mattress for this oval crib design did not properly fit and presented a suffocation hazard
- Within the period of one year from 2007 to 2008, the CPSC conducted five crib recalls due to defective, broken, or missing hardware
In the past two years, more than 5 million baby cribs have been recalled in the United States due to safety hazards and defects. From 2003 to the first quarter of 2009, 31 different crib brands were recalled due to safety defects. Nine of these recalls were caused by violations occurring against current regulations of the Consumer Products Safety Commission, and 22 were attributed to manufacturing defects.
Cribs are often the cause of injury and death amongst infants. Recalls of cribs by both the manufacturers and the Consumer Product Safety Commission are fairly constant, with dozens recalls occurring each year. Some examples of injury and death resulting from cribs include:
- In September 2007, Simplicity, Inc recalled more than 1 million cribs due to defective detachment of a drop-side railing. Entrapment and suffocation of two babies resulted in death and there were 55 incidences of occurrence and seven entrapments leading to injury reported by the time of the recall.
- In October 2008, Delta Enterprise Corp. recalled more than 985,000 cribs with drop-side railings as missing safety pegs in the railing operation caused at least one infant death. An 8-month-old child became entrapped and suffocated.
- In November 2007, Bassettbaby cribs sold exclusively at Babies ‘R Us were recalled due to loosening bolt hardware which presented a space for babies to become entrapped or strangled. One 13-month-old child suffered injuries as a result of this defect.
In 1996, the Canadian Government provided results of a very thorough investigation into crib safety and infant injury and death associated with use of cribs. Below are some of that study’s findings regarding causes of non-fatal crib injuries :
- 46.3 percent result from falls from the crib
- 9.3 percent involve falling within the crib
- 4.4 percent included body parts becoming caught in the crib
- 1 percent are associated with crib breakage or collapse
- .3 percent surround ingestion of crib parts or splinter injuries
- .3 percent of cribs tipped over, causing injury