I found myself rolling my eyes at the recent headlines that ALL drop-side cribs had been banned. Yes, there have been some big recalls in recent memory, but I wondered if anyone apart from me noticed that they were all companies that had received poor grades from “Baby Bargains” (the upper middle class parent’s bible–combining Consumer Reports ratings and parent ratings)? If you buy a product from a company receiving an “F” in quality and safety…should you really be surprised when it turns out that the products by the company are sub-par and not the equal to a company with a B/A average?
I think Lenore at Free Range Kids summarizes my feelings best when she says
Over the past nine years, 32 children have died in these cribs. That is tragic. My heart sinks thinking about it. But — and yes, there IS a but, and this “but” does not make me a heartless bean counter, or a crazed Free-Ranger who laughs in the face of danger (I am, at base, a nervous mom) — we are talking about roughly 3 deaths a year in a country where about 4 million babies are born annually. That is, about one death per million.
That does not prove that the cribs are UNsafe. It proves that the cribs ARE pretty safe. Safer than stairs (1300 deaths/year), safer than eating (about 70 kids under age 10 choke to death on food each year), safer than just sitting there and the next thing you know, you’re bitten by a venomous spider (5 deaths/year).
I realize that these stats are jumbled — they are not the deaths of infants, whose main cause of death is birth defects (5623/year) — but my point is that 3 deaths a year from any cause for any large population is almost something that statisticians call “de minimus.” Not that these deaths don’t count. Of course they do! But when a cause of death is that rare, you can’t base your life on it, or you couldn’t do anything. Go outside? No, there are spiders! Go downstairs? No, you could trip! Eat a sandwich? No, you could choke! (And then would you sue Wonder Bread?)
The loss of any child is tragic. I can’t imagine what the parents of those 32 kids must feel. But at the same time, I feel like it’s equivalent of me walking the streets grabbing every pregnant woman I see and warning her about the risk of sepsis in a newborn. According to this study, neonatal sepsis is the cause of 13-15% of neonatal deaths–a far more common reason for death than a drop-side crib–and still incredibly rare. So you’ll have to excuse my eye-rolling when politicians use this “issue” to come out like they’re the next great defender of children.
Items are less solidly made because WE, the consumers, demand them faster and cheaper. Simplicity’s cribs retailed for about 300 USD less than what I paid for mine…for a reason. They were made of flimsier materials, used short cuts and cheaper parts.
Recalls are also being done for stupid reasons. The recent Fisher Price highchair recall involved my chair, and two screws that my child would have to climb under the chair to access, and at best might have scratched herself on if she gave it some real effort. I read the recall, assessed the “risk” and elected to not bother with the “fix.”
Let us also examine the question of parent error. Assembling the crib incorrectly? The stroller? Not keeping an eye on a child? And rather than accept responsibility for a mistake, the reaction is litigation?
There are real reasons to do recalls. I also own a 2008 Bugaboo Bee, which was the subject of a recall over a brake issue. I think we can all agree that your stroller’s brakes not working is a serious issue? So sure, a recall/fix was appropriate.
As for me, I own a mid-range, well rated drop side crib that I used without incident for 18 months with E, and will continue to use with my second child whenever they appear on the scene. It has made an awesome co-sleeper (remove the side, match the mattress with ours, push it against my side of the bed), a good crib that took a great deal of abuse from E, and with the next child we’ll also do the toddler bed conversion (although the “day-bed” conversion is pushing it–it looks like a crib, not a day bed, but I’m sure it was a nice idea). As we’re in Singapore, I’ll also be able to sell it when I’m done, which I wouldn’t be able to do in the US.
No thanks, nanny state…I’ll keep my drop-side crib and you can keep your hysteria.