CPSC Warns Consumers That Used Cribs Can Be Deadly

August 31, 1995
Release Number: 95161

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) today is releasing a report warning consumers that used cribs are responsible for about 50 infant deaths a year. CPSC released these findings this morning at a press conference with representatives of industry and children's safety organizations.

Our message is simple but vital," CPSC chairman Ann Brown said. "The best investment you can make for your baby is a crib that meets all of CPSC's standards."

According to CPSC's report, cribs account for more deaths of infants than any other nursery item. About three-fourths of the victims were under one year of age with virtually all victims under age two. Most of the incidents occurred in the child's home rather than in daycare or at other locations.

In most cases, infants strangled or suffocated when they became trapped in the crib side or end that had separated from the rest of the crib because of loose or missing hardware. Some infants became trapped between an undersized mattress and the side of the crib, in gaps created by missing or improperly attached mattress supports, or in areas between broken or improperly spaced slats. Others strangled when clothing or items around their neck became entangled on the crib corner posts or crib hardware.

The majority of cribs involved in these incidents were previously owned or used. Parents and caregivers reported obtaining these used cribs as "hand-me-downs" gifts from friends and relatives or by purchasing them at yard sales, flea markets, and used furniture stores.

Beginning in 1973, CPSC and industry have worked together setting standards for safer cribs that addressed side height, slat spacing, mattress fit, corner posts, and cutouts in crib end panels. Since these standards have been in place, infant deaths in cribs have declined from an estimated 150 to 200 a year to about 50.

"Government and industry are working together to make sure that the cribs you buy are safe. We're asking parents to do their part by making sure that the crib they use meets these standards," said Chairman Brown. "A crib is the one place where you should be able to safely leave your baby unattended. And since babies spend more time in cribs than any other furniture item, a crib must be safe."

Representatives of industry and consumers, including The Danny Foundation, the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Consumer Federation of America, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the National Safe Kids Campaign, joined CPSC at the press conference. These groups are also promoting safe cribs with a national print campaign to reach millions of people that will be distributed by pediatricians, retailers, consumer groups and the public health community. Many of the groups involved in this program are sponsoring local community efforts to roundup and destroy unsafe used cribs. Used crib roundups are planned for San Francisco, Denver, Rochester, New York, and in Washington on September 16 at 10 a.m. in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School parking lot.

Participating retailers, such as Toys "R" US, will offer discounts on new cribs purchased during Baby Safety Month in September. Several crib manufacturers, such as Cosco, Simmons Juvenile Products, and Delta Enterprises, will donate new cribs to low-income families in the area.

CPSC recommends that cribs meet the following safety guidelines:

-No missing, loose, broken, or improperly-installed screws, brackets, or other loose hardware on the crib or the mattress support.

-No more than 2 3/8 inches between crib slats so a baby's body cannot fit through the slats. If a soda can fits easily through the slats on a crib, the spaces between the slats are too wide.

-A firm snug-fitting mattress so a baby cannot get trapped between the mattress and the side of the crib.

-No corner posts over 1/16 of an inch above the end panels (unless they are over 16 inches high for a canopy) so baby cannot catch clothing and strangle.

-No cutout areas on the headboard or foot board so a baby's head cannot get trapped.

-A mattress support that does not easily pull apart from the corner posts so a baby cannot get trapped between the mattress and crib.

-No cracked or peeling paint to prevent lead poisoning.

-No splinters or rough edges.