Adjust the Crib—and Avoid the Emergency Room

Problems with defective cribs have been well-publicized, but there is one easily prevented danger many parents may overlook. A new study published in Pediatrics identified the most common crib-related accidents among young children. Topping the list? Injuries caused by youngsters falling out of their cribs.

Almost 10,000 Crib-Related Injuries Every Year

The study examined nearly two decades of figures from a national database that tracks injuries treated in emergency departments. Every year, on average, there were close to 10,000 crib-related injuries among children ages 2 years and younger requiring emergency care. This does not take into account young children taken to urgent care or pediatrician offices.

More than 66 percent of these injuries involved children falling out of their cribs. And because babies are naturally top-heavy and tend to land head-first, the most common of these injuries are to the head and neck.

Steps You Can Take to Prevent Accidents

Safety experts recommend a number of ways to reduce crib-related risks. Always follow these prevention steps and teach them to other caregivers:

  • The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission no longer recommends the use of cribs with drop-down sides. If you must use a crib with a drop-down side, stop using the drop-side function and ask the manufacturer or retailer for a device called an immobilizer to ensure the side doesn’t move.

  • Use only a firm mattress. Once the child becomes more mobile and starts to pull himself or herself up, adjust the height to make sure there is at least 26 inches between the mattress platform and the top of the crib railing.

  • Never place blankets, pillows, padding, bumper pads, or other items in the crib. In addition to being a suffocation risk, little ones can step on items in the crib, potentially boosting themselves over the crib railing.

  • Don’t use a crib tent to keep your infant from climbing out of the crib. These can trap children and increase the risk of strangulation.

  • Know when it’s time to transition your little one to a toddler bed. A general rule of thumb is to make the switch when the child reaches about 35 inches in height or is able to climb out. The risk of falls from the crib greatly increases with age. In the study, falls accounted for 38 percent of injuries among infants up to 5 months old, but 71 percent for those ages 12 to 17 months.

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