Recognizing potential recalls – lessons from the drop-side crib ban

Graco was founded nearly 70 years ago, and Evenflo and Child Craft have been around even longer. In fact, most of the prominent baby supply manufacturers have been in the baby business for decades, so I am always appalled when their products are recalled. Haven’t they perfected the art of manufacturing safe baby products yet? Drop-down side cribs are the latest example in faulty designs. In the past year, manufacturers announced the recall of many drop side cribs. Ultimately, last week, the Consumer Product Safety Commission completely banned drop-down side cribs  because they have been implicated in the deaths of at least 32 infants since 2001. 

Recalls occur slowly. Here’s an example. My husband and I discovered some of the plastic pieces which held up the mattress support for our firstborn’s crib had cracked in half when we tried to set up the crib for our second born. Thinking we had used too much force to snap the pieces into place, we simply ordered more parts and put the crib together. Not until after my third child was born, five years after my first, did a recall on this crib go out. Other families experienced some of the pieces snapping while babies were in the cribs and the mattresses fell to the ground.

Through the years, I’ve noticed most recalls are only for a handful of reasons. Look at your children’s toys and equipment for these potential dangers before the recall occurs:

  • Head entrapment – The most common story is that the baby slides through a leg hole of a stroller or baby carrier and his neck gets stuck. A baby also may strangle when his neck is wedged between parts of a piece of equipment. This problem occurred with drop-down side cribs. The recommended width between crib rails is 2 3/8 inches (the width of a soda can) because a child is more likely to trap his head in any larger of an opening.  Make sure there are no openings or potential openings larger than 2 3/8 inches.

  • Choking – Any part that can be pulled off and fit into a toilet paper tube is a choking hazard.

  • Restraint failure – Equipment is often recalled for inadequately restraining a baby, e.g. loose swing straps.

  • Lead ingestion – Lead needs to be consumed to cause poisoning so anything your baby chews on, including railings, are suspect. Lead check kits are readily available; the one I use is

If your child is injured because of faulty equipment, even with an injury which seems inconsequential, remember to report the problem to the consumer product safety commission and to the manufacturers.  

Forget waiting for the recall. It could be years. Don’t buy something that makes you suspicious in the first place.

For more baby proofing hints, please see our post The In’s and Out’s of Baby proofing.

Naline Lai, MD with Julie Kardos, MD

© 2010 Two Peds in a Pod

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