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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

End of an era: Drop-side cribs outlawed



crib.jpgWe used to call it "sticking the landing." When you have a sleeping baby in your arms, transferring the comatose infant to the crib is like handling Nitro. If you don't stick the landing smoothly, it's like you dropped some Mentos in a Pepsi bottle -- instant explosion, crying baby, start all over again tired Momma. For short women like me, this was only possible with a drop-side crib. Trying to drop a baby gently into bed while stretching on tippy-toes just never worked.

But it turns out those cribs used by millions have a deadly flaw. On Wednesday the Consumer Product Safety Commission voted unanimously to ban them.

This is a long time coming, and no surprise considering the frequent issues with the cribs. In all, drop-side cribs have been blamed in the deaths of at least 32 infants and toddlers since 2000 and are suspected in another 14 infant fatalities. In the past five years, more than 9 million drop-side cribs have been recalled, including well known names like Evenflo, Delta Enterprise Corp. and Pottery Barn Kids.

The problem is if the drop-side rail detaches from the crib, something that can go unnoticed easily. When that happens, it can create a dangerous "V"-like gap between the mattress and side rail where a baby can get caught and suffocate or strangle.

The government Wednesday outlawed the manufacture, sale and resale of the cribs, which have a side rail that moves up and down. The rules take effect in June, and hotels and child care centers have 18 months more to replace what CPSC says is about 935,000 drop-side cribs. Parents who are using drop-side cribs are advised to check the hardware on the cribs to be certain it's working properly and to make sure their crib has not been recalled. You can check here at the CPSC's crib information center.

Crib makers were already phasing out drop-side cribs over the last couple years, amid increasing problems with them. And last year, the organization that sets voluntary industry standards — ASTM International — approved a drop-side ban. And most companies will send customers a free fix: an immobilzer that keeps that sliding rail in place, essentially turning it into a fixed-side crib.

Many parents, however, still have drop-sides in their homes. They can also be found at secondhand stores. Will the hot new baby shower gift for short moms be a step stool?

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Thursday, December 16, 2010 9:16am]


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