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FAQ: Crib and Cradle Safety Regulations

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Archive-name: misc-kids/crib-safety-faq
Last-modified: Wed Jan 25 23:48:39 EST 1995

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Editor/Author: Chris Lewis,
	(automatic if you reply to this posting)

		Copyright 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 Chris Lewis
	Redistribution for-profit hereby prohibited without consent
	of the author.  Redistribution via printed book or CDROM
	expressly prohibited without consent of the author.

New or changed material is marked with a "|".  You can skip to the
new sections by typing "g^|" in most newsreaders.

Changes this issue: See reference to US regulations, and US-specific change
		    on corner posts.

I will extend this from time-to-time as comments come in, or it
seems appropriate to add new stuff.  This is not formated as Q&A,
just as a series of points.

This is a summary of the "Crib and Cradle Safety" pamphlet published
by the Ministry of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, Canada.
The date on the pamphlet seems to be 1987.  I don't imagine that
it's changed much since then.  The pamphlet ID is:

	C&CC No 190 17342 B 87-07

From what I've heard of US regulation, they're fairly close.

More detailed US specifications are available from the US Consumer Product
Safety Commission by writing them at:

Publication Request
Office of Information and Public Affairs
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Washington, D.C. 20207

You should ask for publication #202 ("The Safe Nursery - A Buyer's Guide")

These are probably a good start when you're determining the safety
of an existing crib or are thinking of building your own.  When in
doubt, though, it is suggested that you obtain the latest applicable
regulations.  I've done my best to transcribe them accurately, but
I do not warrantee the accuracy or current applicability of these

The measurements in this pamphlet are metric.   I'll take a stab at
the conversions, but if there's a conflict, take the metric.
(for reference, you divide centimetres (cm) by 2.54 to get inches.
There are 10 millimetres (mm) in a centimetre).  Even if these
are a direct copy of the USA's (or vice-versa) people should be
aware that the actual US regulations will probably not be
exact conversions (eg: it's been rounded off one way or the other)

slat spacing: maximum: 6cm (2 3/8")  [This may seem unreasonably
narrow - no child that's likely to be at home is going to have a head
*that* small.  True.  But a child's body can often slip through
a gap only a little larger, resulting in strangulation when the
child's head gets caught.]

corner post protrusion (above rails/frame): 3mm max (1/8", 1/16" US)

When the mattress support is at the lowest position and the drop side
is at the highest, the top of the rail must be at least 66cm (26")
above the top of the mattress support.

When the mattress support is at its highest, and drop side at lowest,
the top of the rail must be at least 23cm (9") above the top of the
mattress support.

Other rules:
	- drop side requires two separate positive and simultaneous
	  actions to release the side, and engages automatically.
	- there must be no gap between the lower edge of the end panel
	  and the upper edge of mattress support.
	- all small parts are firmly attached and able to withstand
	  a 90 newton (20 pounds) of force, pull or push
	- there are no split, cracked or broken, loose or missing slats,
	  or broken or missing hardware or screws
	- threaded bolt ends are either inaccessible or covered by
	  an acorn nut
	- mattress support mechanisms are firmly attached so that they
	  cannot be released with an upward push from under the mattress
	- there is no mmore than a 3cm (1 3/16") gap between the mattress
	  and the sides or ends of the crib when the mattress is pushed
	  into a corner.
	- the labeling on cribs, cradles and their containers clearly
	  identifies the manufacturer, model number and date of manufacture.
	- all open holes are too small for a child's finger to become caught.
	- crib mattresses should be no thicker than 15cm (5 7/8").
	  They should be kept in good condition.  if they're too soft
	  or worn down in any area, a gap or hollow may be created where
	  a baby could become trapped and suffocate.

    Literature which must accompany the crib or cradle should:
	- state and show clearly how to assemble the product
	- contain a warning on proper use of the product, including a
	  statement not to use it if the child is able to climb out
	  unaided or, in the case of cribs, is taller than 90cm.
    Mattress support mechanisms:
	The mattress support mechanisms or hangers on some cribs may
	not be secure.  Check them by rattling the mattress support,
	thumping the mattress from the top and repeating the thumping
	on the support from the bottom.  If the support dislodges, your
	child's life could be in danger.  To prevent this, prop up the
	mattress support firmly from underneath, perhaps by using large

	[Ed note: when in doubt, bolt it together.  This one item is
	probably responsible for more deaths than all of the other problems
	put together]

	- Some people like to protect the mattress with waterproof sheets -
	  but these could hamper a child's breathing and should not be

	  [Ed note: many new mattresses come with integral waterproof
	  coverings.  You should use a quilted mattress protector *and*
	  a fitted mattress sheet (cotton or flannelette) over top.]

	- bumper pads are used to protect a baby's head if he or she happens
	  pump it against the side of the crib.  Bumper pads come protected
	  with a plastic cover, which should be checked as often as possible.
	  If it's punctured or torn, it could be chewed or torn even
	  further, and a baby might swallow or inhale pieces of it and
	  choke.  A torn plastic cover also leads to holes in the bumper
	  pad, and babies have been known to stick their heads in these
	  holes and suffocate.

	- Always make sure that your crib is assembled strictly in
	  accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, and that
	  each component is properly and securely in place at all
	- If you own a portable mesh crib, make certain that the drop side
	  is fixed very securely in the raised position.  Otherwise, the
	  baby might roll into the mesh pocket formed when the drop side
	  is not fully raised.  The baby's head or chest could easily
	  become compressed between the floor of the crib and the mesh
	  side and the baby could suffocate.
	- Never leave a baby in a crib with something like a necklace,
	  elastic, scarf or with a pacifier on a long cord...
	- People like to hang mobiles over cribs.  These should be too
	  far to be reached by a baby standing in the crib.
	- Babies should never be tied or harnessed in a crib.
	- As soon as your baby is able to sit up, remove crib exercisors
	  or other toys that are strung over the crib.
	- As soon as your baby is able to stand, ensure that the mattress
	  is at its lowest position, and remove the bumper pads from the
	  crib, as well as any large toys that could serve as steps for
	  climbing out.
	- Avoid using a crib with toeholds - ie: slat/spindle cribs with
	  cross-bars in the head or foot board.  There should be no foot
	  hold that is less than the above side minimum height specifications
	  from the top.
	- When your baby is old enough to climb out of the crib, it's time
	  to stop using it.

New rules/recommendations:
	- rocking cradles (rocker or swing type) should be designed so that
	  they will rock less than 10 degrees when a child is all the way
	  to one side, or be supplied with spring-loaded bolt locks.
	  "Loose pin" locks are inadequate, because they may fall out or
	  be forgotten or lost.  If the cradle rocks more than 10 degrees
	  under the weight of a child, very young children can roll into a
	  corner, become entangled in the bedclothes, be unable to move
	  and suffocate.

Political Correctness:

    Some senior health officials consider having your child sleep in
    your bed with you to be extremely hazardous, because, asleep, you
    could roll over and crush or suffocate your child.  Worse, some of
    these same officials, plus those in child welfare agencies consider
    it to be prima-facie evidence of child abuse, and being sufficient
    in itself to result in a child being removed into state care.

    Of course it's all horse manure.  Having children sleep by themselves
    in cribs is a phenomena unique to just a few western cultures, and
    that only in the very recent past.
    However, some of these people have very broad discretionary powers,
    and caution is advised.

[Canada only] If you have further questions, please contact your local
office of Consumer and Corporate Affairs Canada.

Building your own crib/cradle (not from the pamphlet)


Ideally, you want to use a totally non-toxic finish, because some children
tend to act like beavers....  The best solution is to use some sort of
edible oil.  Unfortunately, most of the vegetable oils (corn oil, sunflower
oil et. al.) take a long time to dry, if at all, and under some circumstances
will go rancid and smell and may cause a child some distress.  Three oil
finishes that are known to be suitable are:

	- pure tung oil (make sure it says it's *pure*.  Most "tung oil"
	  finishes are combined with metallic driers and solvents to improve
	  hardness or speed up the drying)
	- walnut oil.
	- Behlen's salad bowl finish.

It's recommended that you let these finishes dry for two weeks or longer.

Some of the standard finishes will dry to a non-toxic state, but this
will depend on the brand, and a long drying time.  This FAQ will make
no recommendations as to whether any are suitable.

Mineral oil can be used because it is non-toxic, but it never really
dries completely.

Note that there have been reports that cribs painted with old-fashioned lead
paints can actually have direct toxic affects on a child.  If you obtain
an old cradle (70's or earlier), it might be worth testing it for lead
if it has a paint finish.

Materials:  Many woods can cause skin irritation or other problems.
If you stick to a domestic hardwood (maple, cherry, walnut, poplar,
pine, oak, beech etc.) and use a reasonable finish, the cradle will be
safe.  Woods to avoid without extra precautions are: most exotic
hardwoods (especially rosewood, teak), cedar, juniper (aromatic cedar)
and some of the less common domestics, such as Oleander and Mimosa.

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