The Chicago Tribune reports that major crib manufacturers have signed on to a proposal to ban drop-side cribs:
Such cribs allow parents to raise and lower one side for easy access. But bad designs, missing pieces and worn-out hardware have caused the adjustable railings to separate from cribs in ways that parents often couldn't see. Babies' bodies slid through the resulting gaps; in some cases their heads got caught and they strangled.
After three million drop side cribs have been recalled in the past two years, manufacturers seem to be saying "we give up. We can't design a safe drop-side crib."Sounds great, right? This will eliminate the problem (drop-side cribs), replacing it with static cribs that have no moving parts.We say, not so fast—this is potentially a really bad idea. Our points:• This will be a stealth tax increase on parents. Drop-side cribs are usually less expensive than static cribs: $100 to $300 less on average. Static cribs are often marketed as "convertible" models that morph into a full-size bed—this tends to justify the higher price. But some parents (and grandparents) just want a simple crib. • Shorter parents find static cribs hard to use. Drop-side cribs allow shorter parents to put a baby to sleep easier—the rail drops down six inches, making it easier to reach into a crib. With a static crib and the mattress in the lowest position, shorter parents find it hard to reach into a crib to put baby down to sleep.To address the last point, the government will let crib makers sell cribs with fold-down rails. But these cribs have also been the subject of recalls (see Baby's Dream in the 90's). And the fold down rail gives baby's a ledge to climb out of a crib—will we see more injuries from babies climbing and falling out of cribs with fold down rails?What's frustrating about this: prior to 1990, almost all cribs on the market were drop-sides. Somehow, engineers could design and manufactures could make these drop side cribs with few safety recalls. Now, suddenly, this can't be done?And let's not forget the law of unintended consequences. Remember CPSIA (the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) and thrift stores? If the government bans drop side cribs, what will stores and makers do with tens of thousands of drop-side cribs on the shelves today? And remember: there's no evidence these cribs are dangerous. There's only guilt by association.We wonder if crib makers see the writing on the wall: Democrats control Congress and the White House—there's no doubt this will become law. If they stand little chance of winning this fight, why not get ahead of the wave? And here's a bonus: you have the government mandate that only expensive static cribs will be sold in the future.Obviously, everyone—parents, consumer advocates and crib makers—want cribs to be safe. But that should be done through design standards and government enforcement of the rules. The government should NOT ban designs just because some companies have cut corners in design or manufacture of cribs. Feel free to weigh in on this topic!