Crib Designs and Safety Concerns
There are many different types of cribs available on the consumer marketplace. This should come as no surprise as there are many different consumers in the market and each has their own specific needs.
For example, someone who lives in a small NYC studio apartment will require a different size crib as opposed to someone who lives in a spacious Malibu home. Of course, these examples are provided solely for illustration. You could live anywhere and reside in any type of living quarters. However, the environment in which you live will often dictate what type of crib you purchase.
Hardwood cribs – As the name would imply, this is a type of crib that is made of various different types of wood. Specifically, the wood used is durable and long lasting.
Convertible Cribs – These are cribs that can “convert” into other baby furniture. That is, a crib can convert into a toddler bed, love seat, child size bed, etc. This way, there is no need to perpetually purchase new furniture as the child grows.
Loft Cribs – These are cribs that are amazingly crafted in design and are devised in such a way that they are slightly elevated from the ground.
Custom Cribs – As the name would imply, these are cribs that are custom crafted for quality in look, appearance, and safety. Obviously, these particular types of cribs can be expensive since they are made to order. However, their value often overrides this concern.
Now, while the design of the various cribs on the market is varied, in order for any crib to be worthwhile it must embody a number of safety concerns. After all, if the cribs are not designed in a safe manner they can pose a great risk to the baby. That is why it is important a crib possesses the following safety attributes:
Sturdiness – The crib must not be prone to tipping over. That means the design must not embody narrow legs or any other unsound aspects. This will ensure that the crib is not knocked over easily.
Does not collapse or fall apart easily – If a crib is prone to collapsing or falling apart it will prove to be life threatening to the baby. In addition to the obvious damage that the impact could cause, there is also the potential for suffocating under the debris of the crib. This is why it is critical not to purchase a brand that is known for this defect.
The Causes of Infant Deaths from Cribs:
Fall hazards – There are a host of fall hazards associated with poorly designed, constructed, or assembled cribs. Some cribs, by their very design, possess a greater fall hazards. A drop side crib is a design that is notorious for its fall hazards. If the drop side disengages unexpectedly, the child can end up falling out of the crib. This could lead to significant injuries when the child’s body impacts with the floor. Sadly, a fall hazard is not the only hazard associated with these types of cribs. Entrapment hazards are common as well.
Entrapment hazards – A child’s fingers can get caught (entrapped) in a drop sided cribbed. This is an extremely dangerous situation as it can potentially severe the child’s fingers. This will clearly necessitate rushing the child to the hospital. If the child does not reach the emergency room immediately, the child could die of rapid blood loss. Some may assume that such accidents are not commonplace. Actually, it is estimated roughly 20,000+ children are rushed to emergency rooms every year due to entrapment related accidents. Clearly, that is cause for extreme alarm.
Suffocation hazards – Quite possible one of the grimmest hazards associated with cribs is the potential for suffocation. Cribs that come with a mesh are probably the most commonly associated with this type of hazard. As such, avoiding any cribs that come with detachable meshes would be well advised.
Other hazards – There are other less common but equally dangerous hazards associated with cribs. Poison hazards, for example, can occur when a crib is coated with lead paint. (This poison can be ingested if the child swallows chipped paint from the crib) Then, there are choking hazards that may rear their head when components of the crib can be detached. Really, there is no end to the potential hazards cribs come with. That is why consumer vigilance is necessary prior to purchasing a crib. However, there are other hazards that may not have anything to do with the manufacturing of the crib. For example, improper maintenance of a crib can cause a host of problems. That is why repair work should always be left to the experts.
Crib Manufacturing Defects from Overseas
Many have looked over the recent developments in the aftermath of crib recalls wondering what the common thread among them may be. It would seem that there are two common denominators to the situation.
The first is that many cribs suffer from manufacturing defects. The second is that many of these cribs were produced overseas in Taiwan, Indonesia, and China. This has led many to wonder why companies entrust their manufacturing to overseas markets.
There are a number of reasons why a company would prefer to have its products manufactured overseas. The most obvious would center on costs of production. It simply is significantly cheaper to produce goods in foreign markets than it is to produce them domestically. Labor costs are much lower and taxes on the businesses are almost non-existent. This allows the company that is outsourcing the work to maintain a greater profit margin.
However, it is not only the company that earns from such overseas manufacturing. The consumer public does not have to pay high prices that factor in the high costs of domestic production. Then, the country that is providing the domestic workforce also gains significantly from the arrangement. The influx of foreign investment leads to a decrease in their unemployment levels since the citizens of these countries are provided jobs from wealthier nations. This is simply the main crux of globalism and free trade. (That is not a knock on either; it is simply a clear definition) However, there are a number of potential hazards that can arise from this arrangement.
But, what is the root of these problems? Why is it that these foreign manufacturing markets lack the ability to produce quality products? There are a number of reasons why this is so and the most common reason is the lack of regulatory oversight and safety standards.
In the United States, manufacturers must abide by a series of laws, rules, and regulations which provide for consumer and employee safety. This does come with a number of costs so companies go overseas for their manufacturing needs. As one would surmise, the domestic laws of the United States are not applicable to domestic policy of Indonesia, China, Taiwan, or anywhere else. As such, manufacturers are not bound by the same regulations and standards. Again, this keeps costs low but it comes with a number of dangers. Mainly, when safety and quality standards are not mandated, the potential for dangerous good to enter the marketplace is possible. This was exactly the case with the numerous defective cribs that have proliferated on the consumer marketplace.
The CPSC and Crib Safety
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission is an agency that lives up to its name. It seeks to protect the consumers in the marketplace from any serious problems. These problems may result from defective products or any other product that comes with an unreasonable risk of harm. Of course, the sheer number of products that the CPSC provides clear oversight over is vast. (The actual number of products is roughly around 15,000) Recently, the CSPC has invested significant research into improving safetyassociated with cribs.
This is no minor issue. A critical aspect centers on the fact that a baby will be unable to protect him or herself from harm. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that the manufacturer of a crib must go the proverbial extra mile to make sure they do not present an unnecessary safety risk. Since this is not always possible on the manufacturer’s part (oversights and mix-ups do happen), it becomes important that a watchdog agency take action to maintain the public safety. Again, this is where the CPSC comes into play. It provides the much needed safety buffer that the manufacturer might not provide.
Some actions undertaken by the CPSC are swift and sweeping. There have been no less than five recalls enacted to remove unsafe cribs from store shelves. These recalls were not issued flippantly. They were enacted after clear and present danger was obvious. However, the proof of such problems often comes in the form of an injured child. In order to avoid this from ever occurring in the first place, the CPSC has enacted a preventive maintenance program. The program has been dubbed the CPSC Early Warning System in fall of 2007. It is this warning system points out a number of obvious problems that consumers can become immediately aware of. Such warnings include notifications that “hardware was broken, missing, or [otherwise] failed to function.”
Then, the website of the CPSC also provides a great deal of helpful tips that can greatly reduce any potential safety hazards that a crib might possess. These tips include the following:
- examining cribs for damaged or missing pieces
- occasional inspections on the sturdiness of the crib is helpful
- make sure moving parts are always aligned properly
- do not even attempt to repair the crib if you are not sure how to do so properly
- hiding the broken side against the wall will serve no purpose.
Of course, there are many other aspects one can examine to make sure a crib remains safe. However, these are among the main aspects that the CPSC points out as being among the most important. No one should feel limited to CPSC recommendations as they are not the complete totality of what must be taken into consideration when purchasing a crib.
Online Resources for Crib Safety
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) – The CPSC is the main government agency to visit for information of crib safety. It is the CPSC that acts as the valuable watchdog looking out for flaws and problems in cribs and other products. It is also the CPSC that wields enormous influence as far as initiating recalls. So, it is the CPSC’s website that should always be the first stop when seeking information on crib safety.
Oregon Safe Kids – Of course, there are many excellent state government resources that provide valuable information on crib safety. However, Oregon’s Safe Kids informational resource deserves special recognition. Its website provides detailed information and illustrations on the subject. This allows it to be an excellent recourse for those looking for clear information on the subject.
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) – This hospital truly deserves a great deal of credit for providing an online informational resource in response to the many crib related injuries its staff has dealt with. While most hospitals deal mainly with care and treatment, this hospital takes the extra step to provide a valuable help to its community. Such actions are commendable. Additionally, the information provided on the hospital’s web page is far from cursory. That is, it is a detailed resource that can guide a novice into understanding the severity of crib related problems.
Babies Online – Babies Online remains a popular destination for those looking for information of taking care of a baby. One such area that the website deals with is the issue of crib safety. In fact, this web site provides a very detailed question and answer page that covers many aspects of this topic. And, yes, there are many questions people have on the subject.
Safe Kids USA – Safe Kids USA is another online coalition that seeks “preventing accidental injury” as its goal. This is not a state or federal government sponsored website. It is privately funded for the altruistic purpose of reducing child injuries and fatalities. There are many different areas that this particular organization focuses on with crib safety being only one of them. However, the information that this resource provides on the subject is so detailed that it deserves a special mention.
Recent Crib Recalls
In the aftermath of the recent Delta Crib recall, many have wondered whether or not their cribs may be safe even though they may not be Delta Cribs. While most cribs are safe, there have been many instances in the past where cribs needed to be removed from the marketplace. Crib recalls have occurred that effected manufacturers such as Bassettbaby Bellissimo Collection, Simplicity & Graco Crib. None of these recalls were initiated flippantly. They all centered on serious concerns. As such, each recall will be examined in a brief overview so as to identify these very serious concerns.
Bassettbaby – Considered a somewhat “minor” recall, 8 units of Bassettbaby drop side cribs were removed from the marketplace due to potential entrapment and strangulation hazards. Specifically, the crib’s spindles on the drop side were loose creating gaps which could cause potential hazards. No injuries were actually reported making this recall more “preventive medicine” than a response to injuries.
Bellissimo Collection – Cribs produced under the Bellissimo collection are often considered the best on the market. This is due to their unique and well crafted design. In November of 2007, however, close to 9,000 of these cribs were recalled from the public square. Per the CPSC, the bolts utilized to connect the top corners of the cribs had a propensity to come loose. As a result, a gap can be created that might pose the potential danger for entrapment and strangulation.
Simplicity – The recall surrounding Simplicity was one of the most serious recalls in recent memory. There were over one million of these cribs recalled after the death of two infants. Additionally, the CPSC reports 7 known instances of serious injuries and 55 other instances that can be referred to as “close calls”. The recall occurred in June of 2007 and centered on the “Nursery in a Box” crib. This was a drop side crib that possessed the serious manufacturer defect of the entire drop side detaching. It would seem the design of the cribwas serious flawed leading to these serious problems. In the aftermath of the injuries and deaths, a voluntary recall was issued.
Graco Crib – These cribs tie directly in with the aforementioned Simplicity crib recall. This is because Graco was the brand name in which Simplicity cribs were sold. In one of the strangest situations surrounding crib product liabilities, Graco Cribs drew much of their problems from the fact the instructions for the cribs contained errors. So, consumers assembled the cribs incorrectly leading to a great many of the hazards.
The Delta Enterprises Crib Recall
The Delta Enterprises crib recall caught many parents by surprise. Actually, surprise is not the best word to use.
For many parents, the Delta Enterprises crib recall also brought about a feeling of a sense of betrayal. This is no minor point. Parents place much trust in crib companies since they rely on the companies to keep their children safe from harm.
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A crib is more than just a location for a baby to sleep and its placement in a room is designed for more than mere ornamentation. The primary purpose of a crib is to provide a safe resting spot for a baby. After all, a baby’s ability to protect itself is limited. A baby will rely exclusively on parental oversight in order to remain safe. Of course, this oversight can not be provided 24 hours a day. Parents must get their rest as well. As such, over time various means of providing a safe environment for a baby at rest were developed. The crib is probably the most well known since it provides a baby with a clear resting environment.
The details of the Delta Enterprises’ crib recall are, sadly, more severe than most would imagine. Specifically, one million of these cribs were recalled after two children died. Worst of all, these deaths were completely preventable. The main reason behind the disaster centered on the wooden pegs used in the construction of the cribs. When these pegs are not properly devised they come with a multitude of risks. Not the least of which is the fact that the crib many collapse if a peg becomes dislodged. (Again, it is the pegs which hold the crib together in spots) When the crib collapses, there is the potential that the child may suffocate. This is the reason for the recalls.
But how could Delta be so irresponsible as to start producing defective cribs after so many years in the business? One reason is that the company began to outsource its crib production services to Indonesia and Taiwan. This allows the company to save significant costs on labor and parts. However, the lack of oversight and production standards outside the United States makes it very difficult to ascertain whether or not the cribs are being properly constructed. In this case, the cribs were produced with a multitude of defects. These defects led to the tragic consequences that took the lives of two infants.
Crib Safety Tips for Parents
A crib is more than a resting place. It is supposed to make sure a child is kept safe. This should always be the most critical concern of the parents. In order to make sure that a crib purchase maintains such safety, here are a few tips on the proper way to purchase and maintain a crib.
Avoid purchasing used cribs. There is an old saying about purchasing used items. The process is little more than the inheritance of someone else’s problems. That is, any defects a secondhand crib presents will be inherited by the new owner. Therefore, it is best to avoid purchasing any cribs that are previously owned. Yes, there are a great many deals out there on Ebay and other online sources. However, when the health and safety of your child is at issue, it would most definitely be better to stick with new, off the shelf items.
Look for any obvious defects on the crib. Problems that make a crib dangerous are not always hidden to an untrained eye. Unsafe cribs will sometimes display a number of obvious problems. For example, a crib that is prone to collapsing might display missing pegs. (Missing pegs are woefully common among cribs produced overseas) Therefore, it is important to look over a crib to see if there are any missing parts, cracks, defective items, etc. This will work wonders for making sure the child’s sleep time remains as safe as possible.
Avoid placing stuffed toys in the crib. While it might seem helpful to place a blanket, pillow, or stuffed animal into a crib there are many potential hazards here. These are not minor hazards. There is a great chance of suffocation when someone places these items into the crib.
Select the right mattress. Avoid using fluffy or loose mattresses. This would also bring the aforementioned suffocation risk. Instead, it would be advisable to stick with a mattress that is firm and properly fitted for the size of the crib.
Pay attention to recall information. Delta cribs were recently recalled due to a number of safety issues. Keeping your eyes open for any news about recalls will avoid any potentially dangerous situations.
Product Liability and Its Impact on Children and Infants
The Dept of Health and Human Services provides some sobering facts about infant mortality. 2 out of every 100,000 deaths are the result of suffocation. 7.4 out of every 100,000 deaths are the result of poisoning. 6.4 out of every 100,000 deaths are the result of falls. And, yes, many of these deaths are related in some way to product liabilities. And, while instances of mortalities are cause for alarm, the sheer numbers of injuries that occur dwarf the mortality statistics. Common children’s toys, for example, are the number one cause of choking incidents that result in emergency room visits.
No parent wishes to see any harm befall their child. That is why most parents will take extraordinary steps to ensure a safe a living environment for their child. However, much of this safe environment revolves around consumer trust that products purchased for the child will not come with serious and adverse safety risks. Unfortunately, there are far too many instances where products make their way into the consumer marketplace that presents risks to a child. This is an unfortunate breach of trust that sometimes comes with serious consequences. Granted, no manufacturer purposely releases a harmful product on the market. But, oversights and accents do happen and sometimes they happen with tragic consequences. Numerous crib recalls provide a sobering warning regarding child products safety. While crib recalls have received much media attention, there have been other instances with other products where dangerous risks have been present.
Toys from China – To provide a comprehensive list of the dangerous toys that have been imported from China would be space prohibitive. Suffice to say, Chinese manufacturing has been far from cautionary in relation to child safety. The presence of dangerous lead paint in toys is among the most dangerous risks. Lead paint is poisonous and it can lead to fatalities if ingested. Hence, there have been a number of Chinese toy recalls.
Stroller Recalls – Much like crib recalls, a number of baby strollers have been pulled from the marketplace as a result of defects. Graco strollers were among those pulled from shelves. This does not bode well for the brand’s name since Graco cribs were also targeted in recalls in the past as well.
Car Seats and Infant Carriers – Once again, and the reason that parents purchase these items are to ensure the safety of their child. And, once again, many parents are shocked to discover the shocking degree of product defects in many of these items. For example, Playtex, ZoloWear, and Durel have all been the subject of recalls and warnings.
Stuffed Animals – Yes, even seemingly innocuous items such as stuffed animals come with a multitude of smothering, choking, and suffocation risks.
Teething Supplies – Without a doubt, no other product defect could strike more fear in parents than a defective teething product. This is in large part due to the choking hazard presented. As previously mentioned, the number one cause of infant/child fatalities is choking. So, documented problems teething items sold by Duckie, Magic Cabin, and Prestige Toys probably create a sense of nervousness among many parents.
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Splinters and chipped paint pose a safety hazard – This is an aspect of crib safety that is often overlooked. Yet, the dangers posed here are enormous as a child can swallow splinters or chipped paint. This can cause a number of internal injuries as well as poisoning. As such, close inspections of cribs for such defects is mandatory.
There are many more different types of cribs on the market and there are many more safety issues one should be concerned with. Ultimately, if one educates oneself about these issues the potential to avoid mishaps is increased.