Safe Families

Jun 27, 2011 3:12 PM by AP

Tough safety standards for cribs going into effect

WASHINGTON (AP) - It's one of the biggest purchases for soon-to-be parents: a crib for baby. Beginning Tuesday, a new generation of cribs, designed to be safer, will be the only ones approved for sale - in stores, online, and even at neighborhood yard sales.

Ushering in one of the most significant changes in child safety in decades, the rule taking effect this week bans the manufacture, sale and resale of drop-side cribs. Drop-sides have a side rail that can be raised and lowered to allow parents to more easily place or lift a baby, but they have been blamed in the deaths of several dozen children.

Another significant part of the new federal standard mandates more rigorous safety tests for children's cribs before they hit the market. In the past, manufacturers were allowed to retighten screws and bolts on a crib in the middle of hardware testing meant to mimic how a child might rattle a crib - by jumping up and down or shaking a rail.

While the tests were intended to simulate a toddler in a crib, they don't mimic the reality of the parent. It's a rare parent who would know when to retighten obscure pieces of hardware on a crib during normal use by a child.

The retightening of screws and bolts during durability tests on cribs ends Tuesday, as part of the new rule approved last year by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Stronger mattress support systems and crib slats are also a major part of the new testing.

"After 30 years of having outdated standards, CPSC delivered on its promise and created the toughest crib safety standards in the world," Commissirs.

"Our members are currently selling cribs that meet the new federal standard and parents will continue to enjoy a large selection of cribs in a range of price points," said Michael Dwyer, executive director of the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, a trade group that represents about 90 percent of the crib industry.

A new crib can cost from about $120 to more than $700, with about 2.4 million of them sold each year.

While manufacturers have been making cribs to the new standard for months, some retailers still have cribs in stock that will be banned on Tuesday. One estimate suggests more than 100,000 noncompliant cribs costing more than $30 million in lost sales.

The two Republican commissioners at the CPSC tried this month to secure an extension for dozens of retailers, many of them smaller ones, to allow them at least a few more months to sell their inventory.

"I would have liked to have seen a three-month grace period for retailers," Republican Commissioner Anne Northup said in an AP interview. "We should have staggered it so that if we allow manufacturers to deliver up until June 28th, we should have allowed retailers a certain amount of time for them to sell what was legal."

The three Democrats on the commission, however, blocked an extension.

The agency is allowing daycare centers, hotels and companies that rent cribs additional time to comply - until Dec. 28, 2012, before they need to purchase cribs that meet the new safety standards.

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