How Seriously Should You Take a Crib Recall?
Say you're expecting, or know someone who is. Maybe you have a crib from your older child collecting dust in the garage, or even one from when you were a kid. Is it worth buying a new one when there's already a seemingly decent crib right there?
In case you don't feel like reading all the details, we'll cut to the chase: Used cribs need to be examined carefully, and if a crib is recalled, your baby should not be in it. Period.
Here are the (somewhat scary) details about cribs, used cribs and crib recalls.
Why Do Crib Gets Recalled in the First Place?
Products get recalled all the time. Car engines, medications, toys, you name it. The thing is, companies really do not want to recall a product. The bad press surrounding a failed product isn't a good look, so if something is recalled, it's usually for a very good reason.
Think Samsung's exploding phones, Ford's deathly cruise control and that time around a million Easy-Bake Ovens were recalled after 29 parents reported their kids got their fingers stuck inside the oven. Yikes.
Cribs get recalled for similar reasons: because they pose some kind of safety hazard to the precious babies and toddlers they're designed to protect.
Even Popular Crib Models Get Recalled Now and Then
Fortunately, very few cribs have been recalled recently. If you picked a crib up from BuyBuy Baby in 2021, the likelihood that there's anything wrong with it is extremely low. Older models, however, should only be used with an abundance of caution — if they're used at all.
Even cribs from reputable brands have been recalled. Almost every major crib maker once offered drop-side cribs, in which one of the sides slid down to make it easier for caretakers to pick the baby up. As convenient as they were, it was too easy for a gap to form between the crib mattress and the drop side. They were also prone to hardware failures resulting in cribs collapsing with toddlers still inside.
After 32 infant and toddler deaths were reported between 2000 and 2010, drop-side cribs were banned entirely. They're now, thankfully, illegal to sell. More recently, a few toddler beds from Land of Nod were recalled, along with four popular models that used to be sold on Amazon and at Target.
Reusing Old Cribs Isn't the Best Idea
We're not telling you all this to keep you up at night compulsively checking the baby monitor. The number of crib-related mishaps dwarfs in comparison to the number of cribs sold. Even the cribs that were recalled had few reported injuries. Many, in fact, are recalled before any injuries happen at all thanks to additional product testing.
Consider this a cautionary tale and a learning experience, not a cause for panic. As a rule of thumb, avoid any crib over 10 years old, and drop-side cribs are strictly off-limits. To double-check if a crib gets the green light, look it up on the Consumer Product Safety Commission site and make sure there haven't been any recalls.
Safe Sleep Is About More Than a Safe Crib
Buying a safe crib and periodically checking for recalls is a great start, but it's not the only step to creating a safe sleep environment for your baby or toddler.
- Assemble any crib or toddler bed carefully according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you have any concerns, most local fire departments will gladly assist you, just like they will with car seat installation.
- Check that all screws are tight at least once a month, just in case.
- Avoid any gaps larger than two finger widths between the edge of the crib mattress and the slats.
- Don't place cribs near a window with blinds, curtains, or anything else with loose cords. Even the power cord from a baby monitor can be a strangulation hazard.
- As cozy as they look, keep pillows, stuffed animals and blankets out of the crib until your baby is at least 12 months old. Eighteen months is even safer.
For more information on how to put your baby to sleep safely and minimize the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), check out these helpful guidelines from the NIH's Safe to Sleep campaign.