Because of deaths and injuries associated with play yards, CPSC has started drafting mandatory safety standards for them. In fact, earlier this month the commissioners at CPSC voted unanimously to move forward with proposed rulemaking aimed at making play yards safer than ever before.
Play yards have been involved in about 50 deaths and about 2,000 non-fatal incidents, including 165 incidents that resulted in injuries such as cuts and bruises since November 2007. The majority of the infant deaths were 1-year-old or younger. New standards are aimed at reducing the risk of injury and death.
To protect your baby, know the risks. Deaths associated with play yards included children who climbed out of the play yard and drowned in a nearby pool. Caregivers should remember that play yards are meant for children who are less than 35 inches tall and who cannot climb out of the play yard.
Other play yard deaths include entrapment from a collapsed play yard, strangulation from a looped strap hanging in the play yard and a child found entrapped between an unfolded mattress pad and the play yard floor liner.
Consumers should be especially careful about play yard attachments. Changing tables and bassinet attachments must be carefully installed. CPSC has received reports describing how the corner of bassinets detached from the frame of the play yard. Caregivers are reminded to review warning labels and instruction materials carefully when assembling play yards and play yard accessories, like bassinets.
About 90% of incident reports describe the collapse of the play yard’s side rail. If the side rail collapses, a child can get their neck entrapped in the collapsed side rail, lose their footing and strangle. Side rail collapses also are dangerous because children can escape and may be injured outside the play yard.
Unfortunately, even a new federal standard can’t fully protect your baby from an unsafe sleep environment, so it’s up to you to keep the environment free of suffocation hazards. The primary cause of play yard deaths is babies being placed in an unsafe sleep environment full of soft or extra bedding, such as pillows, quilts and comforters. Always remember a bare environment is best!
Another leading cause of death is infants being placed face down. Babies should always be placed on their backs in a safe sleep environment such as a crib or play yard that meets current standards.
Caregivers also should ensure that play yards are placed away from window blind cords or computer cords that can fall into the play yard and strangle children inside.
To keep your baby safe check CPSC’s website for play yard and other nursery product recalls. Visit www.CPSC.gov/cribs for additional resources and safety information and sign up to get e-mail notification on recalls.