Product Hazards – Cribs

Read First: A new federal safety standard went into effect on June 28th, 2011. All cribs manufactured after that date must comply with 5 new standards, and cribs manufactured before that date should not be bought, sold, or used. See the CPSC website for more information.

More infants die every year in cribs than from any other nursery product. In the last 20 years 1,100 children have died from crib related injuries. Over 12,200 children were rushed to emergency rooms with injuries in 2011 and an average of 49 deaths are associated with unsafe cribs.

The types of hazards found in recalled cribs include drop-side and mattress support hardware failures that allowed portions of mattresses to fall or a gap to form, posing suffocation hazards to young children. Crib slats separating from headboards and gaps between side rails and crib mattress supports created additional entrapment hazards. Other recalls were due to spindles loosening and detaching, posing dangers of falls and entrapment; paint containing high levels of lead; and chipping paint posing a choking hazard.

Recalls and corrective actions for cribs have been issued for various reasons including:

  • non-compliance with safety standards
  • strangulation hazards
  • risk of head entrapment when side rails, spindles, and slats in side rails become loose
  • risk of suffocation
  • choking hazards
  • risk of falling
  • danger of laceration when fingers become trapped in folding drop gates

Although mandatory standards exist for cribs, only recently has an effort been made to strengthen those standards and require testing and verification of new cribs. All cribs must include proper assembly instructions and diagrams as well as cautionary and warning labels as required by federal law.

When choosing a crib, be sure:

  • The crib was manufactured AFTER June 28th, 2011, when new federal safety standards were put into place
  • A soda can cannot pass between any of the slats of the crib
  • There are no corner post extensions or decorative cut-outs on the crib
  • Hardware (screws and bolts) which secure crib components are not loose or missing
  • Crib is free of protruding rivets, metal nuts or bolts, knobs, and wing nuts
  • Mattress is tight-fitting; 2 fingers cannot fit between the mattress and crib’s side
  • Joints and parts fit tightly, and wood is smooth and free of splinters
  • There is no cracked or peeling paint, and all painted surfaces are lead-free
  • Lowered crib sides are at least 9 inches above the mattress support
  • Raised crib sides are at least 26 inches above the mattress support in the lowest position
  • To avoid drop-side cribs – they do not meet mandatory standards

When using a crib, be sure to:

  • Read directions for set up, use, and care of the crib.  Replacement instructions can be obtained from the manufacturer.
  • Remove all soft bedding such as pillows, sleep positioners, blankets, bumper pads, and stuffed toys
  • Use a fitted sheet that is tight-fitting
  • Check that the mattress support system is connected on all four sides and all hardware is tight and in good condition
  • Position mobiles or hanging crib toys out of child’s reach and remove these items when child starts to push up into a sitting or standing position
  • Never hang anything on or above the crib with ribbon or string
  • Drop mattress to the lowest position when child can pull themselves up
  • Stop using a crib with loose or missing attachments or support hardware and contact the manufacturer for replacement hardware. Do not attempt to repair a broken crib

Crib recalls began to rise in 2005. Since 2007, over 9 million cribs have been recalled.

In Memory of Danny Lineweaver

This page is dedicated to the memory of Danny Lineweaver and the efforts of the Danny Foundation, named in his honor. From 1984 through 2005, his parents and the Danny Foundation worked to improve crib safety. Thanks to their efforts, fewer children die from corner posts and other unsafe crib designs.

Further Reading

Liam’s story
Abigail’s story
Safe Sleep Tips
CPSC Safe Sleep Poster (Spanish)
CPSC: Check your crib for safety video
Dangers of Drop-side Cribs
Dangers of Drop-side Cribs (Spanish)
Dangers of Drop-side Cribs (Polish)