2010-12-10 / Columnists

Notes On Consumer Affairs

Crib Safety
Commentary By Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer

AUDREY PHEFFER AUDREY PHEFFER Of all the shopping decisions facing new parents, the selection of a safe and sturdy crib is by far one of the most important since the baby will spend much of his or her young life, sleeping away the hours, within its confines. While most cribs in use and on the market today are safe, in recent years, more than nine million cribs have been recalled, including several popular drop-side cribs. A new law that became effective on October 28, 2010, prohibits the import, manufacture, and sale of cribs in New York State that do not meet stringent safety standards. Despite this new protection, parents should familiarize themselves with the latest crib safety information in order to avoid potentially unsafe cribs and ensure a safe sleeping environment for their baby.

The wide variety of cribs available can be overwhelming, but selecting a safe crib doesn’t have to be a frustrating experience. First, if possible, it is best to purchase a new crib, rather than acquiring or accepting a secondhand model. Older cribs are less likely to meet current safety standards, and structural issues resulting from everyday wear and tear can increase the risk of injuries. Second, experts advise expecting mothers and fathers to keep things simple and select a basic crib that is sturdy and free of any decorative features, such as knobs or bows that could catch on the baby’s clothing or fingers. Parents should note that under the new crib safety law, which I sponsored along with several of my Assembly colleagues, the sale of drop-side cribs that do not meet recently strengthened federal safety standards, which includes many models sold or offered for sale during the past five years, is prohibited at both retail and secondhand stores. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), at least twelve infants have died in recent months after becoming entrapped in the space formed between a malfunctioning drop side and the crib frame or mattress. Finally, be sure to buy the crib and mattress at the same time so that you can select a mattress that fits properly. You can check the fit by

placing two fingers between the sides of the crib frame and the mattress. If there is any room between your fingers and the frame, you need to select a larger mattress.

Once you have purchased a crib, it is very important to assemble it properly. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely and double check to see that all parts are installed correctly. Position the crib away from windows, curtains, wall hangings, and other furniture to keep the baby far from these potential hazards. In order to protect your child from suffocation, refrain from placing pillows or thick blankets in the crib. Lastly, check the crib on a regular basis to make sure that all fittings are tight and that no parts are loose or missing.

For more information about crib safety and to view the latest crib recalls, you may visit the CPSC’s Crib Information Center website at: www. cpsc.gov/info/cribs/. If you previously purchased a drop-side crib, you may wish to read the Consumer Protection Board’s recent alert concerning these products available at: www.con sumer.state.ny.us/pdf/educating/safe ty/dropside_crib_alert.pdf.

The alert contains information about the nature of the problem, the availability of repair kits for certain cribs, and tips for parents and caregivers on how to check the safety of such cribs and prevent injuries.

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