Here’s a confession. My three daughters each slept in a drop side crib.

What’s more, that same drop-side crib that my wife and I purchased in 1992 was given to friends, who used it for two children of their own without incident.

“Were we just lucky?” is a thought that has crossed my mind from time to time while covering the more than one dozen crib recalls issued by the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission in the past five years. Those safety alerts add up to more than 7 million crib recalls, mainly for hardware malfunctions that can create strangulation hazards. What’s more, the CPSC says 32 infants died in drop side cribs and hundreds more were injured since 2000.

The drop side crib issue has spawned a cottage industry of bloggers raging against “killer cribs.” Their ire has been fanned by CPSC Chief Inez Tenenbaum's announcement favoring an outright ban on drop side cribs. In addition, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), whose children slept in drop side cribs, recently proposed outlawing the sale and resale of drop side cribs, as well as their discontinued use at daycare centers and other child-care businesses.

Even more recently, on May 26, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan subpoenaed the Mt. Laurel, NJ-based Juvenile Products Manufacturer’s Assn. to hand over any of its internal documents related to its safety certification program. Many of the 7 million recalled cribs had met JPMA testing requirements to earn its safety seal of approval.

“The fact that they (JPMA) knowingly are putting a seal of approval on a deadly product is outrageous. It should be illegal and it needs to be stopped,” Madigan told the Tribune.

‘Our Crib Was Good’
Ironically the crib we trusted for our babies’ dream time was the only piece of baby’s first furniture that we were happy with from the moment it was delivered. We were forced to return a changing table and rocker because of serious color variations of the parts.

We liked the drop side design. By lowering the rail, we could conveniently scoop our child out of the crib or place her in it to sleep. As an added bonus, raising the rail created a “baby jail” that kept our growing child in check until she reached the age where she might climb out.

My failing memory does not allow me to recall what company manufactured the crib, but I do remember that the box it was delivered in was clearly labeled, “Made in the USA.” I also remember that all of the key hardware for the drop side mechanism and supports were made of metal. Our crib was good. It was well constructed and built to last.

Conversely most of the cribs recalled by the CPSC were imported, most notably from China. Many of the problems associated with failing drop sides were tied to malfunctions of plastic parts.

Of course, there are in some cases mitigating circumstances. Manufacturers and importers of cribs have no control over child caretakers that don’t assemble or maintain their products properly.

Yet, in an age when we can buy digital devices that continue to get better and less expensive, it’s sad that the apparent deteriorating quality of baby furniture threatens to bring an entire product group to its knees.

 
The drop side crib my wife and I purchased in 1992 served us well for each of our three daughters. 

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