While visions of sugar plums danced in your cherub's head over the holidays, the elves at the Consumer Product Safety Commission were busy trying to assure babies will sleep safely in daycare centers in the future. On December 28th, a new safety standard for cribs in daycare centers went into effect. It's actually the same standard manufacturers and retailers of new cribs were required to meet in June 2011. Childcare centers were given an extra year to comply with the standard, presumably because of the financial hardship of replacing multiple cribs at once. The standard applies to both full-size and non full-size cribs.
• Fixed sides. Drop-side cribs are no longer allowed.
• Stronger crib slats.
• Stronger mattress supports
• Higher quality hardware
• More rigorous testing
It applies to:
• Daycare centers (Non-residential facilities that care for children for a fee.)
• Preschools (Non-residential facilities that care for and educate children for a fee.)
• Home Childcare facilities (people who care for others' children in their home for a fee.)
• Church childcare facilities (Churches that operate childcare facilities for a fee)
• Licensed and unlicensed childcare facilities.
The daycare crib standard does not apply if you hire someone to care for your child in your own home --though every parent and baby could benefit from the new, stricter standard. The CPSC says at least 32 infants suffocated or strangled in poorly designed cribs between 2000 and 2010.
So how can you tell if your child's daycare center has come into compliance? You can identify banned drop side cribs with a visual once-over, but to be sure of the rest of the new features, you'll need to ask. Speak to the center director. If he or she is unsure, they can ask the importer or manufacturer for a certificate of compliance. In addition, proper cribs are required to bear a label showing when they were manufactured.
If you or your daycare center owns a crib purchased before June 2011 and you are looking to get rid of it, the CSPC is urging people not to donate these substandard cribs to thrift stores or sell them to other parents. They suggest disassembling the cribs and disposing of them in separate bundles so nobody can put them back together again.
One alternative if you can't stand the waste: many cribs now convert to toddler beds. You might be able to dispose of the crib-specific parts –like the slats–and re-use or pass down the rest as a bed for bigger, sturdier kids. If in doubt, check out the CPSC's guidance on its website. The site also contains other vital advice for putting your baby to sleep safely. Sweet dreams.