New federal requirements regarding crib safety that go into effect Tuesday will help ensure infants and toddlers and their parents sleep a little easier. Beginning this summer, traditional drop-side cribs cannot be made or sold.

Immobilizers and repair kits will not be allowed. All cribs sold June 28 or after must meet all of the new federal requirements for overall crib safety.

In addition to manufactures no longer being allowed to make drop-side cribs, the wood slats used in construction must be made of stronger woods to prevent breakage.

Other requirements include crib hardware must have anti-loosening devices to keep it from coming loose or falling off, mattress supports must be more durable and safety testing must be more rigorous.

Data gathered from emergency rooms across the country indicated that nearly 10,000 infants and toddlers are hurt in crib and playpen accidents each year. Although there has been a gradual decrease in the injury rate between 1990 and 2008, research shows that on average, 26 children daily were injured in crib-related accidents.

Overall, in that 18 year span, 181,654 infants were injured, but most were not hospitalized. The data also showed there were 2,140 deaths, but that figure does not include crib-related deaths in children who did not receive emergency treatment.

Most of the injuries were from falls in toddlers between the ages of 12 months to 24 months. Generally these children are old enough to attempt to climb out of the crib or playpen.

While parents may find it more convenient to place and remove infants in a drop-side crib, the moveable rails can become partially detached. This creates a gap between the mattress and rail where babies can get stuck.

Parents can help prevent injuries by lowering the crib’s mattress when children grow tall enough to lean over the rail. Children should be moved to toddler beds when they reach 35 inches tall.

Beginning Dec. 28 any crib provided by child care facilities and family child care homes must meet these new federal guidelines.

Manufacturers, retailers, importers and distributors must meet the regulations starting June 28, 2011. The new standards apply to full-size and non-full-sized cribs, including wood, metal and stackable cribs.

Parents and grandparents may be tempted to hang on to those older cribs, but safety is the key issue here. Dispose of older, noncompliant cribs in a manner that the cribs cannot be reassembled and used. Noncompliant cribs shouldn’t be resold through online auction sites or donated to local thrift stores.

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