The Honorable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, today announced that the Government is taking action to further protect the safety of infants and children by launching a public consultation process which could lead to a new prohibition against drop-side cribs.
The Government is asking for feedback on proposed changes to the Cribs and Cradles Regulations of the Hazardous Products Act that would, most notably, prohibit the advertisement, sale and importation in Canada of traditional drop-side cribs, as well as other cribs with sides that are not rigidly attached to the crib ends.
The hardware on these types of cribs can break or fail, allowing the drop-side to detach from the crib. When the drop-side detaches, a hazardous gap is created between the drop-side and the crib mattress in which infants and toddlers can become wedged or entrapped, posing a risk of strangulation and suffocation. In addition, children can fall from the crib when the drop-side detaches or fails to latch and lock in the manufacturer's recommended use position. Health Canada is aware of approximately 90 drop-side crib incidents occurring in Canada in the last ten years.
"The safety of children's products, especially something as fundamental as a crib, is of the utmost importance to our government," said Minister Aglukkaq. "Our crib requirements are already among the strictest in the world, but in the past few years we have worked with industry to voluntarily recall several models of drop-side cribs. We believe that an outright ban on the traditional style of drop-side cribs may be required in order to better protect our children."
In addition to this proposed prohibition, the proposal calls for an allowance for the uppermost portion of the crib side to fold, pivot or move with respect to the frame in order to provide easier access to the occupant.
If it becomes law, the proposed prohibition would apply to traditional retailers, second-hand stores, flea markets and garage sales, as well as products sold on Web-based retail establishments, such as EBay, Craigslist and Kijiji.
The Government is also asking for feedback on a number of other potential amendments to the Cribs and Cradles Regulations, including changes to performance requirements and test methods for crib accessories such as change tables. For complete details on proposed amendments, please see the consultation document posted on the Health Canada website. Interested parties are invited to submit comments by December 15, 2010.
There are a number of steps that parents and caregivers can take to help make sure their crib is safe:
Consult the Consumer Product Recalls Database to verify if their model of crib has been recalled and, if so, what further action is recommended.
Parents and caregivers should also regularly verify the safety of their baby's crib.
Cribs should not be used if any parts are loose or missing or if there are any signs of damage.
Cribs should also not be used if they can not be assembled properly as per the instructions.
Only parts obtained from the original manufacturer must be used for repairs. Broken crib parts must not be repaired with tape, wire or rope.
For more information on safe sleeping practices for infants, visit Health Canada's Consumer Information - Safe Sleep Practices for Infants.