Under federal mandate, traditional drop sides are currently banned, and drop-side cribs can no longer be made, sold, repaired, and not even donated. The federal ban was spurred by dozens of deaths and injuries of infants sleeping in these cribs. But regardless of the ban and nationwide product recalls, many parents still use them unaware of these cribs’ potential hazards to small children.
What is a Drop-Side Crib?
A drop-side crib is a rail crib with a side rail that slides down to give the parent easier access to their child. Drop-side cribs are not to be mistaken for drop-gate cribs, which are stationary cribs that feature just a small mobile portion at the top of the crib side that folds up and down to prevent parent back strain when handling the baby. Drop-gate cribs have not been banned, but they may cause serious accidents or deaths as well if they are not assembled correctly.
Why are Drop-Side Cribs Dangerous?
Americans have been using drop-side cribs for decades despite their risks. Over the years, however, countless infants have been injured or killed in these deadly cribs. Fatalities, on the other hand, have been often underreported as they were mistakenly believed to be either isolated cases or caused by other factors such as respiratory illnesses.
The problem with drop-side cribs is that it takes just one loosened screw for them to become a deadly trap in which babies can roll into and be seriously harmed or suffocated to death. The loosened screw may be caused either by faulty assembly (by parents or manufacturer) or by the normal wear and tear of the product.
The earliest reports of crib-related entrapment and suffocation deaths are from the 1930s. Some of those deaths were initially believed as being caused by wrong sleep positions which led to infant suffocation. Decades later, authorities found out that faulty crib designs were also to blame. Many infants became trapped between the crib mattress and the crib frame or other gaps in the crib that shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
It is estimated that 2,178 infants died in their cribs from 1980 through 1997 because of mechanical suffocation spurred by the physical surroundings. The new federal crib-safety standards have reportedly led to an 89% drop in infant deaths and injuries.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled 11 drop-side crib brands in 2008 when the crib ban was enacted. This means that those products were badly assembled from the factory or made from flimsy materials that posed a serious risk for small children.
The recalled brands include Generation 2, Delta, Lajobi, Storkcraft, Simplicity, Doral Asia, Bonavita, Fisher Price, ChilDESIGNS, and Caramia. (For a full list of crib recalls, check out CPSC’s official website.) Million more cribs, though, have not been recalled and are still being used by children worldwide to this day. So, parents exercise caution and check the cribs for any potential hazards.
Is There Anything I Can Do to Make a Drop Side Safer?
If money is an issue and you cannot afford to buy a new crib, you could make a drop-side crib safer by:
· Checking the product frequently to ensure that no parts have become loose and that there is no broken or missing hardware that might make the crib unsafe
· Never using the drop-side rail
· Adding a drop-side crib immobilizer to make the drop sides safer by securing them in place (for recalled products, manufacturers must provide an immobilizer free of charge).
Also, before buying a crib, check out CPSC’s list of banned products. Do not use sleep positioners to keep the baby in one position as they may cause infants to suffocate despite being marketed as accessories designed to prevent SIDS.
Can I Get a Refund?
Unfortunately, if the crib is not on CPSC’s list of recalled brands, you cannot ask for a refund from the retailer or the product maker. The only thing you could do if the crib is made from flimsy materials, isn’t assembled securely, or the instructions are unclear and your little angel was harmed in the crib is to get help for children injured by drop-side cribs from a seasoned product liability attorney.