Kids & Parenting

What are new crib safety standards?

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New crib standards mean greater safety in daycare
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New crib safety standards take aim at unsafe baby cribs

December 2012 marks the beginning of the new crib safety standards for groups, businesses and facilities that provide fee-based daycare or infant care.

The regulations, which were passed in 2010, will affect public, private, non-profit and religious infant care programs across the country.

What the new crib safety standards say

The cribs that most of us grew up with (or used with our own children) will no longer meet the Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) rules.  Gone are the drop-side cribs, soft crib mattresses and flimsy hardware.  In its place are mandatory standards on crib sides, tough new requirements for crib hardware durability, and regulations that specify just how firm crib mattresses have to be.

The changes came as a result of more than three dozen infant deaths due to drop sides, broken hardware and mattresses that allowed babies to suffocate.

Who's affected by the new standards?

The new regulations impact four primary groups who use cribs:

  • Private, fee-based day care centers, including drop-in centers, daytime only centers and overnight care centers. This includes in-house day care centers at companies, even though they only provide care for the children of employees.
  • Publicly-funded day care centers, such as those sponsored by or funded by a government agency or school.
  • Family-based (in-home) daycare programs which charge a fee for child care, whether licensed or not.
  • Public accommodations such as hotels, motels, inns and guest-houses

The regulations include for-profit, not-for-profit and non-profit child care facilities, including churches and other religiously sponsored facilities where a staff is paid to care for the children or a fee is charged for children using the facility.

The regulations also apply to both single, free-standing cribs and stacked, multi-crib units.

Who is exempt from the new crib safety standards?

Although the new regulations include improvements every concerned parent and care provider should welcome, there are some exclusions from the new law.

Not covered by the mandatory regulations are:

  • Families caring for their own children at home
  • Extended family or friends caring for babies without charge
  • Foster care families who care for a child 24/7, without fee, except for the standard foster care payments associated with the program
  • Child-care situations that are free, temporary and limited in time, and staffed strictly by volunteers.

This would include parents or other volunteers who care for children during church services, a meeting or a special event.

Why the new regulations matter to parents

In the past 6 years, the CPSC has recalled over 11 million defective baby cribs.  The old crib designs posed major hazards to infant safety, resulting in not only the deaths mentioned above, but also hundreds of emergency room visits for crib-related injuries.

Parents who were careful in selecting a baby crib for their home were often faced with unsafe cribs in day care centers or even a hotel while on vacation.  The new regulations give parents the peace of mind to know that the crib at the daycare center is at least as safe as the one in the nursery at home.

What daycare centers and other covered businesses need to do

Before the regulations become mandatory, read over the new guidelines.  Then inspect the cribs at your center or business.  If they fail to meet any of the requirements, now is the time shop for new, compliant baby cribs (or to make approved repairs to existing cribs).

While the initial cost of replacing cribs may seem high, the cost of non-compliance in terms of fines, possible loss of business licenses, and of course, injury to your tiny charges far out-weighs the price tag on that new, safer baby crib.

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