Massive Crib Recall Reveals Design Defects

That Put Millions Of Infants And Toddlers At Risk

Every evening, families across the country set about the task of observing their own unique bedtime traditions and rituals, hoping to ease little ones into a night of restful sleep. But while soothing a cranky baby or convincing a stubborn toddler that it really is time for lights-out can be quite a challenge, a much more urgent concern has recently been brought to light. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), many of the cribs that have been sold in the U.S. over the past decade have design flaws that could cause serious injuries or even death.

Following up on a May 2010 warning about potential safety risks associated with drop-side cribs, the government agency announced a wide-ranging recall of more than 2.2 million crib units on June 24. Based on the CPSC’s rigorous product safety testing procedures and analysis of injury and fatality reports, the agency came to the conclusion that most drop-side crib units were “less structurally sound” than their fixed-side counterparts, and were more likely to pose a risk of entrapment to sleeping babies and toddlers. The CPSC also reported that 32 fatalities and thousands of injuries have been linked to drop-side cribs since 2000.

The recall is one of the largest of its kind in history, and applies to more than 2.2 million cribs manufactured between 2000 and 2009. The recall covers drop-side cribs manufactured by Delta Enterprise Corp., Evenflo, Jardine Enterprises, LaJobi, Million Dollar Baby, and Simmons Juvenile Products, as well as both fixed- and drop-side models manufactured by the now-defunct firm Child Craft.

Although cribs with side panels that can be lowered offer parents a measure of added convenience and flexibility, there have long been concerns about the stability of such designs. The additional moving parts that are required to allow the sides to be dropped can cause weakness in the stability of the crib. In most of the injuries and fatalities that have been linked to drop-side cribs, the side panel has become detached or dislodged, creating an open space where the infant’s head can get trapped, leading to strangulation or suffocation. What’s more, the CPSC has determined that the design of these cribs also makes it more likely that they will be assembled improperly, creating additional safety risks.

What should you do if your child’s crib is included in the recall? All of the manufacturers included in the current action are required to make free repair kits available to crib owners. These kits will render the drop-side panel immobile, lessening the immediate risk associated with the unit. To order your free repair kit, check the CPSC website (www.cpsc.gov) or the website of the crib’s manufacturer for specific instructions.

However, although the free repair kits that will be made available may reduce some of the risks associated with drop-side cribs, many parents are still understandably nervous about continuing to entrust the safety of their infants and toddlers to products with known design flaws. The fact that the CPSC has announced its intentions to ban outright the manufacture of drop-side cribs later this year has only served to heighten concerns about the safety of these products.

Heller Law Firm, APC of Calabasas, California, is one organization that has expressed such concerns. A father-daughter practice that focuses on personal injury cases, the firm has long been an outspoken advocate in the fight against unsafe consumer products, particularly those that put the most vulnerable groups at risk. “The dangers associated with drop-side cribs have been known for years,” said Stephen Heller, founder and principal of the firm. “We want to help those who have been impacted by this recall fight back.”