Old baby cribs can be dangerous for your grandchild.
Your grandbaby is coming to visit and your neighbor has offered to lend you the crib they have stored in their spare room. Should you accept their offer?
If the crib is more than 10 years old, the answer is almost certainly no.
In 2011, the drop-sided cribs we all used when our children were babies were outlawed. Too many infants were trapped in the space between the bars and the mattress when the mechanism became loose or damaged. Over 9 years, 32 babies died and many more had close calls.
Even if it’s not a drop-side crib, old cribs can be unsafe. There are safety considerations you need to be aware of before using any old crib. As of December 2021, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends making the following safety checks on any crib.
Check your used crib for safety
Is the mattress firm and tight-fitting? Can you fit more than two fingers between mattress and crib frame? If so, don’t use it.
There should be no more than 2 3/8 inches between crib slats. Can you pass a soda can between the slats? If so, a baby's body could fit through the slats. Don’t use it.
Are there any missing or cracked slats? If so, don’t use it.
Are there corner posts over 1/16th inch high? If so, a baby’s clothing could get stuck on them, causing strangulation. Don’t use it.
Are there cutouts in the headboard or footboard? A baby's head could get trapped—don’t use it.
Are there any missing, loose, broken or improperly installed screws, brackets or other hardware on the crib or mattress support? If so, don’t use it.
Mesh-sided portable cribs
Maybe you found a great deal on a used portable crib instead. These, too, need to be carefully examined before putting your grandchild in one. To see if a mesh-sided crib or play yard is safe, look for all of the following:
Is the size of the mesh over 1/4”? If so, the tiny buttons on a baby's clothing could get stuck, causing strangulation. Don’t use it.
Are there any tears or holes in the mesh or the top rail cover? If so, don’t use it.
Is the mesh securely attached to the top rail and floor plate? If not, don’t use it.
Are there loose, missing or exposed staples? If so, don’t use it.
See the full guidance and check for any changes here.
These safety checks should be made before each visit from your grandchildren. Don’t assume that the portable crib you used for the last grandchild will still be in perfect shape for the next one! Always do a safety check as part of your routine for getting ready for a visit.
And finally, if the crib you plan to use passes all these safety checks, look for safety issues at recalls.gov.
Now you can be sure you are providing a safe place for your precious grandchild to sleep!
Putting baby to sleep
While you may not be in charge of putting baby down in that crib, it’s important to know the latest safety tips so parents aren’t stuck with educating you. Here’s the safest way for baby to sleep:
Place baby on his/her back.
Nothing should be in the crib except the baby. No pillows, blankets, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, bumper pads or stuffed toys in the crib. Keep baby warm with a sleep sack instead of a blanket.
Use only a fitted bottom sheet specifically made for the size of crib you are using.
Whatever you do, don’t be the grandparent who says, “We did it this way and nothing happened to you!” Something did happen to someone else’s child, causing these changes to be made. So let’s all check our old baby cribs before we put our new babies in them!
For more important safety information for new grandparents, check out New Grandparent Essentials.