Recognizing potential recalls – lessons from the drop-side crib ban

Graco was founded nearly 70 years ago, and Evenflo and Child Craft have been around even longer. In fact, most of the prominent baby supply manufacturers have been in the baby business for decades, so I am always appalled when their products are recalled. Haven’t they perfected the art of manufacturing safe baby products yet? Drop-down side cribs are the latest example in faulty designs. In the past year, manufacturers announced the recall of many drop side cribs. Ultimately, last week, the Consumer Product Safety Commission completely banned drop-down side cribs  because they have been implicated in the deaths of at least 32 infants since 2001. 

Recalls occur slowly. Here’s an example. My husband and I discovered some of the plastic pieces which held up the mattress support for our firstborn’s crib had cracked in half when we tried to set up the crib for our second born. Thinking we had used too much force to snap the pieces into place, we simply ordered more parts and put the crib together. Not until after my third child was born, five years after my first, did a recall on this crib go out. Other families experienced some of the pieces snapping while babies were in the cribs and the mattresses fell to the ground.

Through the years, I’ve noticed most recalls are only for a handful of reasons. Look at your children’s toys and equipment for these potential dangers before the recall occurs:

  • Head entrapment – The most common story is that the baby slides through a leg hole of a stroller or baby carrier and his neck gets stuck. A baby also may strangle when his neck is wedged between parts of a piece of equipment. This problem occurred with drop-down side cribs. The recommended width between crib rails is 2 3/8 inches (the width of a soda can) because a child is more likely to trap his head in any larger of an opening.  Make sure there are no openings or potential openings larger than 2 3/8 inches.

  • Choking – Any part that can be pulled off and fit into a toilet paper tube is a choking hazard.

  • Restraint failure – Equipment is often recalled for inadequately restraining a baby, e.g. loose swing straps.

  • Lead ingestion – Lead needs to be consumed to cause poisoning so anything your baby chews on, including railings, are suspect. Lead check kits are readily available; the one I use is

If your child is injured because of faulty equipment, even with an injury which seems inconsequential, remember to report the problem to the consumer product safety commission and to the manufacturers.  

Forget waiting for the recall. It could be years. Don’t buy something that makes you suspicious in the first place.

For more baby proofing hints, please see our post The In’s and Out’s of Baby proofing.

Naline Lai, MD with Julie Kardos, MD

© 2010 Two Peds in a Pod

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  • Reply Barbara P December 22, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Of course you’re right to advocate for safety, but I can’t help but to joke when I see the picture you included: “What are you THINKING lady! Do you want your baby to DIE?” Unfortunately, that crib would not pass muster today (slats are too far apart).

    I think that information is good, and acting on that information is good, but too much anxiety is not. It can be paralyzing.

    I’m also just a little sad that we now must throw away the Child Craft drop-side crib that Matthew used for 3 years with absolutely no problems or worries. (Not that I planned to sell it, but it’s so wasteful.) Couldn’t a “proven” crib be safer than a new one? (Assuming it’s not so old that it’s deteriorating.)

    It’s also worth noting the bias that people often have toward more expensive items. They may not think to be suspicious of a really pricey crib. They may also be overly suspicious of one that’s more affordable (to the detriment of people on smaller budgets).

  • Reply Eliza December 23, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    We’ve been using a drop-side crib with our 16-month-old since he was 3 months. It meets all other safety requirements, and is of a style different to the one seen above.

    Although I certainly understand that there is some inherent danger, this crib has been a godsend for me; I’m barely 5′ tall, and could never have reached into the crib to either pick up or put down my son without the drop-side. All of the (mostly very expensive and overly-large) cribs we saw would have been impossible for me to use.

    I hope that the industry will also bear in mind that there are parents who will have a very difficult time using the non-recalled cribs that are currently available.

  • Reply Eric Graham December 30, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    I never used drop-side baby crib on my children ever since before. We agreed with my wife to not used for safety concerns. Of course there are drop-side cribs that are proven high in quality but still we are afraid of such accident that might happens to our child.

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