Baby Crib Safety Specifications

By Jayne Elliott

The most recent update to the safety standards for baby cribs by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission went into effect on June 28, 2011. One major change to the safety standards was that drop-rail cribs were no longer considered safe and could no longer be manufactured or sold. Updates required that wood slats, crib hardware and mattress supports must be made more durable and meet higher standards. These changes apply to all cribs manufactured, sold and resold.

Inspecting Your Crib

Warning

Using a crib that does not meet the CPSC's safety standards could result in infant fatality due to suffocation or strangulation; therefore, it is vital to inspect any crib before using it.

Whether new or used, check your crib for these important items before using it:

  • Make sure that the crib slates are no more than 2 3/8 inches apart to prevent the baby's body from fitting through the slats.
  • The corner posts should be no more than 1/16th inch high.
  • No cutouts should appear on the headboard or footboard.

Buying a New Crib

Tip

Start your search by looking at the Consumer Reports list of recommended cribs, which is frequently updated.

When you assemble your crib, make sure that you follow the directions carefully. Read the instructions before you begin to ensure you have all the necessary tools and that none of the crib parts are missing from the box. After you assemble the crib, inspect it to make sure that you've assembled it correctly and nothing is broken or missing. For example, make sure no screws are loose or missing.

Used and Old Baby Cribs

Warning

Due to the updated safety standards, avoid using a crib that was manufactured prior to June 28, 2011.

Tip

Check to make sure the crib you're considering has not been recalled. You can search recalls at the CPSC's website by company or by the country where the product was manufactured.

Playpens and Mesh-Sided Cribs

Different safety issues apply to playpens and mesh-sided cribs. They don't have slats, so you don't have to worry about loose slats or the distance between slats; however, make sure no holes are in the mesh and that the mesh is less than 1/4 inch in size. The cover for the top rail should not have any rips or tears and must be securely attached to the top and bottom rails.

Using Your Crib

After you've selected, assembled and inspected your crib, remember these other safety considerations:

  • Select a firm mattress and cover it with a tight-fitting sheet.
  • Blankets, pillows, toys or crib bumpers should be avoided. 

Tip

You can swaddle your infant or put your baby in a wearable blanket for warmth and comfort.

Warning

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is "the leading cause of death in babies 1 month to 1 year old," according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development's Safe to Sleep campaign. It is important to follow these safety recommendations to avoid the risk of SIDs.

About the Author

Jayne Elliott has a Bachelor of Arts in English: creative writing from Miami University. She has worked in film and advertising. When she's not writing, she's exploring creativity through craft projects and recipe creation. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and baby boy.