Baby cribs introduced into interstate commerce after January 31, 1974, must meet new safety regulations for design and construction, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced today. The final regulations will be published soon in the Federal Register.
The safety regulations for full size baby cribs are primarily directed at protecting infants from strangulation, suffocation, and falls.
CPSC Chairman Richard 0. Simpson said the Commission will soon propose affirmative labeling requirements so that consumers will be able to identify cribs which comply with the new regulations since cribs manufactured prior to the February 1, 1974, effective date may still be on the market.
An estimated 150-200 infants die each year in accidents related to crib design or construction. The Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System which monitors 119 hospital emergency rooms nationwide estimates that between July 1, 1972, and June 30, 1973, 12,000 infants received emergency room treatment for crib-related injuries.
The safety features, which will add from $5 to $15 to the cost of new cribs, include:
- a maximum 2-3/8 inches between the slats or poles to insure that infants will not slip between the slats feet first and be caught by the head
- standardized crib sizes and snugly fitting mattresses so the child cannot become wedged between the sides of the crib and a poorly fitting mattress
- a rail height of 26 inches from the top of the railing to the mattress support at its lowest level t0 help prevent infants from falling out of the crib
Other requirements include: no hardware within the crib that could present a hazard of injury to the child; sturdy drop latches; wood surfaces that are smooth and free from splinters and cracks; a warning label on the crib stating the dimensions of a mattress which will fit properly; detailed but clear assembly instructions; and a warning statement in the assembly instructions that urges parents to place a child more than 35 inches tall in a -- youth bed or regular bed.
There currently are some 11 million cribs in use by American families. In November, the Consumer Product Safety Commission undertook a nationwide crib safety campaign to inform consumers about what they can do to make old cribs safer.
Families with old cribs should take the following precautions:
- if the distance between the slats is more than 2-3/8 inches, use bumper pads at least four inches high all around the crib and secure them with at least six ties:
- if two adult size fingers can be inserted between the edge of the mattress and the sides of the crib, fill the space with rolled towels;
- check the latch on the drop rails to make sure it fastens securely and cannot be opened by the child;
- inspect all surfaces for sharp points, rough edges, or splinters.
- as the child grows taller, lower the level of the mattress.
Proposed regulations for portable and undersized cribs are under consideration by the Commission.