Washington, D.C. It’s the end of the traditional crib that has cradled millions of babies for generations.
The government outlawed drop-side cribs on Wednesday after the deaths of more than 30 infants and toddlers in the past decade and millions of recalls.
It was a unanimous vote by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ban the manufacture, sale and resale of the cribs, which have a side rail that moves up and down, allowing parents to more easily lift their child from the crib.
The new standard requiring cribs to have fixed sides would take effect in June. The move by CPSC would also prohibit hotels and childcare centers from using drop-sides, though those facilities would have two years to purchase new cribs.
CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum hailed the new standard for cribs as one of the strongest in the world.
“I believe these new standards will markedly reduce crib-related hazards and help to ensure that young children sleep more safely in their cribs,” Tenenbaum said after the vote.
Around for decades, drop-side cribs have come under scrutiny in recent years because of malfunctioning hardware, sometimes cheaper plastics, or assembly problems that can lead to the drop-side rail partially detaching from the crib. 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.
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 cribs from big-name companies such as Evenflo, Delta Enterprise Corp., and Pottery Barn Kids.
Michele Witte of Merrick, N.Y., lost her 10-month-old son, Tyler, in 1997 when the drop-side rail on his crib came loose, partially detached and then trapped his neck between the rail and the headboard.
“It’s been a long 13 years,” said Witte. “I feel like it’s a celebratory time because things are finally being done about the issue.”
Witte appeared at a news conference on Capitol Hill with Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., all of whom have pushed for stronger crib safety rules.
The new standard mandates tougher safety testing for cribs, tests that more closely mimic a child in a crib.