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Color Their World - Safe! Articles on child health and safety, from Nanny's Place

Safety Tips for Buying a Crib

The first step in buying a safe crib is to buy a new one, if at all possible.

In September, 1995, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a roundup to crush and destroy used cribs. The reason? At that time, about 50 babies were suffocating or strangling each year because of accidents with older cribs that had broken parts or unsafe designs.

I’m well aware of the fact that not all of us can afford new cribs! If you must buy a used one and you live in the U.S. look for one of recent design that has a certification seal showing that it meets national safety standards.

If there’s no seal (or whatever would be comparable in the country you live in), there are several things you can check for yourself. In fact, you should use this check list even when buying a new crib that is certified. Your baby’s life and safety are worth a few extra minutes to check it out for yourself!

If you already have a crib, please look it over to see if it meets these guidelines. If it doesn’t, destroy or repair it immediately! Your baby’s life could be at risk.

These tips are compiled from information on the CPSC web site: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/cribs.html and
http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml95/95166.html
and also from information in Economics and Rural Sociology, Penn State, May 1990, which I found online in 1993. Some would seem to apply more to used cribs, but be careful, even a new one can have a loose screw or rough edge!

Check List for Buying a Safe Crib

*The crib should have a firm, tight-fitting mattress, and a mattress support that does not easily pull apart from the corner posts. If the mattress is loose, your baby could become trapped between the mattress and the side of the crib and suffocate.
Try putting your fingers between the mattress and the side of the crib—if you can fit more than two fingers,the mattress is too small.

*Take a soda can with you when you go to look at cribs. If it fits easily between the slats, the spaces between the slats are too wide. They should not be more than 2 3/8 inches apart; if there’s more space, your baby's body could fit between them.

*Also make sure there are no missing or cracked slats. The paint should not be cracked or peeling and there should be no splinters or rough edges. If there are, prepare to fix them before you put your baby in the crib!

*Check to make sure there are no missing, loose, broken or improperly installed screws, brackets or other hardware on the crib or mattress support. Again, if you do find any of these problems, buy what you need to make repairs to the crib before you use it.

*Be sure to physically examine the crib for stability. Check that the frame and headboard are strong, and that the mattress support structure fits securely.

*If you buy a used crib, make sure all the hardware is present and in good condition. Check the wood joints to be sure they are not coming apart.

*The corner posts should not be more than 1/16th inch high so your baby's clothing cannot catch. If they are too long, cut them off and sand down the edges. The exception to this is posts 16 inches or higher that are used to support a canopy.

*There should be no cutout areas on the headboard or foot board, such as are often found on older cribs. These look pretty, but your baby’s head could get trapped in them.

*Buy a crib with as large as possible a distance between the top of the side rail and the mattress support. Many crib accidents happen when older babies try to climb out and this will discourage your child from doing this.

Tips for buying a mesh-sided crib or play yard

*Make sure the mesh is less than 1/4 inch in size. This is smaller than the tiny buttons on a baby's clothing, so bring a button with you to check. If you can push it through the mesh, the mesh is too big.

*Check that the mesh does not have tears, holes or loose threads that could entangle a baby. Also make sure it is securely attached to the top rail and floor plate.

*The top rail cover should have no tears or holes.

*If staples are used, none should be missing, loose or exposed.

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Last updated Sun, Jun 4, 2006

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