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Major Developments in Product Liability for Infant Gear

As of June 28, 2011, major new safety standards went into effect for a leading category of infant gear and products—cribs. These new safety standards are actually a new set of federal rules that serve to update the former body of existing laws. These updates are long overdue because that former body of crib safety standards is approximately 30 years old. The updated federal rules were established by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSU). They are largely a response to the massive recalls in place since 2007 for approximately 11 million infant cribs.

Highlights of the New Federal Rules for Infant Cribs Established by the CPSU

Some highlights of the new federal safety standard rules regarding infant cribs include:

  • Drop-side cribs are no longer able to be manufactured or sold. More than 30 infants died from strangulation or suffocation from this type of crib. They are too dangerous per the CPSU to use, make, and sell.
  • Tougher standards are now in place for crib slat strength.
  • Tougher standards are now in place for mattress supports.
  • Standards for crib hardware now require it to be more durable.
  • Standards are now more rigorous for safety testing measures.
  • Any seller or manufacturer of infant cribs must adhere to these new federal rules as of June 28, 2011.
  • Note, however, that crib rental companies, day care facilities, and hotels that have cribs in their inventories have until Dec. 28, 2012, to come into full compliance.

Tougher New Standards Cannot Guarantee Injury-Free Experiences for Infants

Sadly, if not tragically, the tougher new safety standards embodied in the CPSU's federal rules cannot guarantee parents and caregivers that infants will no longer be injured or even die in cribs. Additionally, infants and children may also be injured or die from being exposed to older cribs that have existing defects. There is no way to guarantee that secondary markets such as yard sales, consignment shops, thrift stores, or similar resale venues will not unknowingly or intentionally resell older, defective cribs to unaware and unwitting consumers.

Vigilance and Caution Are the Best Safeguards to Preventing Infant Crib Injuries

The leading crib hazards that have been publicized recently concern crib drop sides that detach without any warning whatsoever, large openings between the side of the crib and the crib mattress, crib slats loosening or detaching, and crib mattresses folding or collapsing. Parents and caregivers are advised to:

  • promptly register purchased crib products with manufacturers
  • seek store employee assistance and advice when making crib purchases
  • check model, serial numbers and product names against recall notices
  • carefully and regularly test and check infant cribs for problems