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Cribs Frequent Cause of Injury for Babies, Toddlers

Study: About 1 Child Every Hour Is Taken to ER After Being Hurt Around a Crib, Playpen, Bassinet

How Kids Get Hurt in Cribs continued...

About 1% of children died, sometimes after becoming caught or wedged in the crib. Most of these deaths involved a diagnosis of suffocation or sudden infant death syndrome. Two-thirds of the deaths occurred in babies younger than 6 months.

Part of the problem, experts say, is that parents think that it’s safe to put soft products like pillows, blankets, and crib bumpers in cribs, when those products can be dangerous in two ways.

Infants may roll over into soft material and suffocate while they are sleeping. Babies who are older and stronger, on the other hand, may use materials like bumpers to pull themselves out.

“What we’ve looked at before have been deaths associated with sleep areas, and one of the big issues is that in trying to prevent injuries, many parents will put pillows and bumper pads in cribs to try to prevent injuries,” Moon says, when in reality, these kinds of materials are often the problem.

“The only thing that should be in the crib is the baby,” Moon says.

The study authors say a big part of the problem has been flaws in crib manufacturing and design that have led in recent years to the recalls of more than 11 million cribs, many of them drop-side models.

“This is all because cribs have just had a terrible track record,” Craig says. “The design hasn’t really changed for over two decades, so right now we’re seeing a big shift in our understanding of how to make them safer.”

In June, new government regulations will take effect that prevent the sale of drop-side cribs, a design that has contributed to 32 deaths, studies show, since 2000.

Industry Responds

“JPMA reminds parents of how important it is to carefully follow the manufacturer instructions, recommendations, and restrictions on all sleep-related products to ensure the safest environment possible,” Chezem says.

As the study mentions, "Caregivers need to be aware of their important role in the correct use of cribs and related products, such as checking routinely for compromised structural integrity of the crib and keeping track of their child’s developmental milestones to assess the changing risks of injury."

Steps Parents Can Take

Experts advise parents should be wary of hand-me-down cribs or equipment purchased at yard sales.

“Parents should check any previously used equipment at the web site Recalls.gov to make sure it hasn’t had safety issues,” Smith says.

When using any crib, new or used, experts advise parents to double-check the bed is assembled correctly and that the hardware is not loose. Mattress size is also important. There shouldn’t be any gaps between the mattress and the frame.

And as your child grows, move the mattress down so the bars stay too high to climb over.

“When your child gets to 35 inches in height, it’s time to transition them to a toddler bed,” Smith says.

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