New mandatory safety standards have been handed down by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission regarding infant bedside sleepers.

New parents will recognize these products as bassinet-like cribs that are made for the purpose of being secured to an adult mattress to allow a safe co-sleeping experience for babies up to about 5 months of age.

Florida child injury attorneys note the CPSC has received 40 product safety complaints related to infant sleepers in the last 12 years, with four of those incidents involving the death of a child. Those fatalities all occurred between 2007 and 2009, and they involved fabric-sided openings at the side of the sleepers.

According to the agency, all of the injuries and fatalities involved babies between the ages of 1 to 6 months.

About 60 percent of the incidents were the result of some type of failure, defect or design flaw in the product. Several consumers reported the risk of suffocation by a child sleeping with his or her face against the fabric siding. Other incidents include infants who fell to the floor while using a recalled product when a horizontal bar on the side became detached.

Additional reports involved products that failed after consumers failed to assemble them properly.

The announcement of these new mandatory manufacturing rules is part of the Danny Keysar Child Product Safety Notification Act, which requires the agency to issue safety standards for products intended for use by infants and toddlers. As part of that, the commission has so far implemented strict safety guidelines for all kinds of cribs and play yards, plus bed rails, toddler beds, cradles, bassinets, swings and carriers.

The new standard on bedside sleepers was passed Jan. 15, 2014 and is effective by July 15, 2014. Per the final rule. Among the specifics outlined by the commission:

  • There must be no more than a 0.5-inch gap between the sleeper and the adult mattress. This is to help mitigate the risk of possible head and neck entrapment.
  • The upper surface of the non-compressed mattress has to be at least 7.5 inches lower than the top surface of the lowest side in all intended positions.
  • Mattresses must pass the same flatness and stability tests required for bassinets and play yards.

Rules like this are critical to protect infants from possible hazards during sleep.

The commission passed new safety standards for infant and toddler cribs in July 2011, with updates made in January 2013. These changes included the elimination of drop-side cribs (which haven’t been sold legally since June 2011). Child care centers, nurseries and other facilities have been barred from using this type of crib since December 2012.

Other rules require that the wood slats have to be made of stronger wood in order to prevent failure. Hardware has to have anti-loosening devices to keep it from coming loose or falling off. Supports for the mattress have to be durable and safety testing has gotten more stringent.

There are things parents can do also to improve their baby’s nighttime safety. Those include:

  • Never placing pillows or thick quilts where the baby sleeps.
  • Making sure there are no gaps larger than two fingers between the sides of the mattress and the crib.
  • Making sure to follow all assembly instructions so that every part is installed correctly. Those who aren’t sure should call the manufacturer.
  • Not using cribs that are modified, broken or older than 10 years. Doing so could be infants at risk for strangulation.
  • Never putting a crib near a window with a curtain cord, blind or baby monitor cords, as infants can strangle on the cords.

The Ferraro Law Firm handles medical malpractice claims as a result of defective medical products or dangerous pharmaceuticals. Call (888) 554-2030 for a free and confidential consultation. Offices in Miami and Washington, D.C.