It’s a good thing I sold my crib last month because it will soon be illegal to do so. Come June, traditional drop-side cribs — the gold standard for years, though that will soon change — will no longer be able to be sold, re-sold, manufactured or distributed. New federal standards will also bar them from hotels and daycare centers.
It will be the first update to crib standards in almost 30 years. (More on Time.com: Bye-Bye, Baby: Why Selling Your Crib Hurts)
About 4 million babies are born each year in the U.S., and most of them go to sleep in cribs. Since 2001, 32 of those millions of babies have died in them. Proportionally, that may not seem like a lot. But if it’s your child, you — like Michele Witte, a mom from Long Island whose 10-month-old son, Tyler, was trapped between the side rail and headboard of a drop-side crib — want things to change.
Now they have. On Wednesday, Witte joined politicians and Inez Tenenbaum, head of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), to announce the new rules.
Drop-side cribs make it easier for parents to gain access to a baby; the side slides down, then back up, but the plastic drop-side hardware that enables that to happen can break apart. Babies who slip through the gap could suffocate or strangle. (More on Time.com: A Baby is Born, His Mother Dies; Read About It on Facebook)
In May, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Joseph Crowley, both of New York, spearheaded an effort to ban the cribs. The new rules — which also legislate sturdier crib mattress supports and hardware, along with more rigorous compliance testing — are in line with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008, a wide-ranging child-safety law that requires baby gear to meet mandatory safety standards.
In the past three years, 11 million drop-side cribs have been recalled; Toys “R” Us has stopped selling them. (More on Time.com:Christmas Shoppers, Rejoice: Toys Are Safer…or Are They?)
“I made a promise to parents and Congress at the beginning of the year that there would be new and improved federal crib standards this year and that promise was fulfilled today,” Tenenbaum said at the press conference announcing the new laws. “After nearly 30 years, these new crib safety rules will usher in a new generation of safer cribs. I believe that a safe crib is the safest place for a baby to sleep, and our actions today will help parents have confidence in the safety of cribs they buy in the future.”
But what about the millions of drop-side cribs that are already out there, cradling babies night after night? The new law ostensibly doesn’t address cribs already in homes. No inspector is going to show up in your nursery to confirm your baby isn’t sleeping in one. Parents of babies, knowing drop-side cribs have been deemed dangerous, will you still keep using them?