Drop-Side Cribs Outlawed: MGM Continues

After 32 infants and toddlers have died over the past 10 years from being left alone in drop-side cribs, without an adult caregiver nearby keeping watch, the cribs will now be outlawed by the U.S. government. The banning comes after a unanimous vote by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Images of how the cribs have played a roll in these deaths are ubiquitous in the news this month (above, below). Yet somehow, in the midst of all the hoopla over yet another baby-item banned, we continue to overlook the 117-229 baby boys (numbers which are likely on the low end of actual statistics) who die each and every year in the United States from circumcision surgery complications. (1, 2)

In 2010, more infant boys died as a result of unnecessary circumcision surgery in the U.S. than from choking, from auto accidents, from suffocation, from SIDS, from (the recently recalled) sleep positioners, and from drop-side cribs.

The question begs to be answered: Where is this recall?

The Associated Press reports from Washington:
It's the end of the traditional crib that has cradled millions of babies for generations.

The government outlawed drop-side cribs on Wednesday after the deaths of more than 30 infants and toddlers in the past decade and millions of recalls.

It was a unanimous vote by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ban the manufacture, sale and resale of the cribs, which have a side rail that moves up and down, allowing parents to more easily lift their child from the crib.

The new standard requiring cribs to have fixed sides would take effect in June. The move by CPSC would also prohibit hotels and childcare centers from using drop-sides, though those facilities would have a year to purchase new cribs.

CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum hailed the new standard for cribs as one of the strongest in the world. "I believe these new standards will markedly reduce crib-related hazards and help to ensure that young children sleep more safely in their cribs," Tenenbaum said after the vote.

Around for decades, drop-side cribs have come under scrutiny in recent years because of malfunctioning hardware, sometimes cheaper plastics, or assembly problems that can lead to the drop-side rail partially detaching from the crib. When that happens, it can create a dangerous "V"-like gap between the mattress and side rail where a baby can get caught and suffocate or strangle.
 "These products are deadly"
In all, drop-side cribs have been blamed in the deaths of at least 32 infants and toddlers since 2000 and are suspected in another 14 infant fatalities. In the past five years, more than 9 million drop-side cribs have been recalled, including cribs from big-name companies such as Evenflo, Delta Enterprise Corp., and Pottery Barn Kids.

Michele Witte of Merrick, N.Y., lost her 10-month-old son, Tyler, in 1997 when the drop-side rail on his crib came loose, partially detached and then trapped his neck between the rail and the headboard. "It's been a long 13 years," said Witte. "I feel like it's a celebratory time because things are finally being done about the issue."

Witte appeared at a news conference on Capitol Hill with Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., all of whom have pushed for stronger crib safety rules.

The new standard mandates tougher safety testing for cribs, tests that more closely mimic a child in a crib. As children get older, they can apply more force to the crib — shaking on it, running around in it, jumping up and down. The new tests aim to make sure the cribs can take that kind of pressure.

Better labeling on crib pieces will also be required — a measure that aims to cut down on the misassembly problems that some parents have encountered, problems that can lead to the death of a child.

Parents who lost their children in drop-side cribs say Wednesday's ban couldn't come soon enough. Chad Johns, whose 9-month-old son, Liam, died in a drop-side crib in 2005, said he was a little relieved. "Yes, it's a long time coming," said Johns from Roseville, Calif. "But the fact that it is happening — that's what is important."

Crib makers were already phasing out drop-side cribs over the last couple years, amid increasing problems with them. And last year, the organization that sets voluntary industry standards — ASTM International — approved a drop-side ban.

Many parents, however, still have drop-sides in their homes. They can also be found at secondhand stores. Parents who are using drop-side cribs are advised to check the hardware on the cribs to be certain it's working properly and to make sure their crib has not been recalled. The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, which represents over 90 percent of the crib industry, says properly assembled drop-sides that haven't been recalled can be safely used.


(1) Baker RL. Newborn male circumcision: needless and dangerous. Sexual Medicine Today. 1979;3(11):35-36.

(2) Bollinger, Dan. Lost Boys: An Estimate of U.S. Circumcision-Related Infant Deaths. Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies. 2010;4(1):78-90.

See also:

Death From Circumcision

Intact vs. Cut Outcome Statistics

Another Baby Dies After Circumcision Surgery

Better baby sleep options:

Healthy Infant Sleep: A Review of Research

Turn your crib into a co-sleeper

Time to Abolish Cribs?

A collection of quality, helpful baby sleep books is located here.



  1. wow, good thing we took the drop-down side off our cot to sidecar it while co-sleeping :P

  2. I'm actually rather annoyed by this recall. Why not make the hardware better instead of banning the whole thing? What are short parents (who don't co-sleep) supposed to do?

    Also, I love my drop side crib. We took the side off and have it sidecarred to the bed for extra sleeping space for my cosleeping family. Kiddo needed more space, we didn't want to by a new bed, and voila! Bigger bed!

  3. Funny... I got a drop side crib from my mother when my daughter was born. When I tried to follow what everyone else thought was appropriate and put her in there in her own room, I discovered she could stand. I also discovered that her little baby legs could slip down right between the mattress and the bars. That was the last time she was ever left in that crib unattended. I still use the crib, but I took off the drop side and made it a cosleeper. It does an excellent job for that:)

  4. @Ashely: In 2007 I was pretty annoyed for the same reason. I couldn't find a drop side crib anywhere. I'm pretty short, and it was really helpful having one in '97 when my first daughter was born. But fast-forward to my son's birth in '07 and they were nowhere to be found.

    What I have to do is keep a wide step-stool (so baby and I don't fall) next to the crib so I could use it when baby is young, or have my husband put baby to bed. It isn't such an issue now. My youngest daughter is using the crib and she can stand for me. When ready, we'll turn it into a daybed (its a 5-in-one).

  5. Wow, I'm shocked! Drop side cribs are all you can buy here in New Zealand - I wonder if we'll see the effects of this here?

    It was only a few years ago that it became illegal to sell a cot here with corner posts of more than 5mm. A friend's niece strangled on her singlet when it became caught on a corner post :(

    I used a drop-side, but I'd decided if I ever had another baby I'd be doing some sort of modified cosleeping with a side-less cot anyway, so it doesn't bother me if they're banned here.

    It is so very odd, though, that the USA still cuts its boys.

  6. Bag-style slings were recalled after 17 infant deaths in 20 years. Now they've recalled these cribs after 30 infant deaths in 10 years.

    Does this mean hopefully they are outlawing circumcision soon? 100+ infant deaths EVERY YEAR.

  7. If we are going to ban things that kill babies, routine infant circumcision needs to be at the top of the list. More babies die every year from circumcision than SIDS and choking combined.

  8. My drop-side crib is as old as I am... Literally. My mother used it for all four of her children, and I used it with my first after we transitioned from co-sleeping, and I plan to do the same with my current baby. It bears the marks of 5 teething children, but aside from that, it is still in excellent condition. The mattress touches the bars on both sides (you have to wedge the darn thing in when you change the sheet!) and the bars themselves are only a couple of inches apart. When did they start making crap? When I looked for a new one while pregnant with my 6 month-old, I couldn't find one... I guess this explains why, but it doesn't explain why boys are still suffering from mutilation. I can't imagine using a stationary sided crib. As Ashley mentioned, I'm short. There's no way I could reach a baby lying down in a crib that didn't have a drop side without a step-stool.

  9. Maybe they'll start making the stationary sided ones lower? That would help out you short mamas. I always wondered what they expected short women to do with those.

  10. you are all missing the point of this post. who gives a crap about the drop side cribs and it's ban... stop mutilating baby boys. period.



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