Family Matters

Not All Babies Have Cribs; Help Those Without Get One

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Searching for the perfect last-minute gift or a worthy effort deserving of some end-of-year giving? The New York City Health Department is trying to raise $25,000 to purchase 250 cribs for babies who don’t have them.

Part of the national Cribs for Kids program that began in Pittsburgh in 1998, NYC’s initiative has the potential to impact a lot of infants. There are 125,000 babies born each year in the five boroughs; the Health Department estimates 10% of those families are in need of a safe place for their baby to sleep.

But cribs too have their faults. Last week, the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission announced it would ban the sale of drop-side cribs come June after 32 babies became trapped between the headboard and moveable side of their crib and died. The cribs delivered to Cribs for Kids families are not drop-side cribs; they’re Pack ‘n Plays — a cross between a portable crib and a playpen — made specifically for the program by baby-products manufacturer Graco. (More on Baby Asleep in a Drop-Side Crib? Soon They’ll Be Banned)

Since New York City launched its program in 2007, it’s given away more than 4,000 cribs. On Wednesday, the city announced its latest push, to find $100 donors this holiday season to underwrite 250 “safe sleep survival kits” for families in need — Pack ‘n Play, sheets, even a pair of pajamas. Donate at

“Parents can rest assured that putting their new baby to sleep on his or her back in a crib that doesn’t have any soft bedding can lower the risk of suffocation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome,” says Deborah Kaplan, assistant commissioner for Maternal, Infant and Reproductive Health at the Health Department. “By providing cribs and education to families in need, we hope to help prevent these tragedies.” (More on Parents, Stop Using Infant Sleep Positioners; They’re Linked to 12 Deaths)

Injuries are the second leading cause of deaths of among babies under 1 year in New York City; suffocation accounts for many of those deaths. Cribs for Kids participants have indicated that after receiving the free crib and accompanying information, they were:

  • Five times more likely to put their baby to sleep alone
  • Three times more likely to put their baby to sleep without soft bedding
  • 60% more likely to put babies to sleep on their backs.

Some safe-sleep tips from the Health Department:

  • Babies should sleep on a firm mattress in a crib with no soft bedding or stuffed animals.
  • Put babies on their backs to sleep.