Drop Side Cribs - a Safety Question!

Updated on October 11, 2011
H.1. asks from Des Moines, IA
14 answers

We are traveling to the other side of the country to stay with family for a week. My son (17 months) has gotten uncomfortably big for our pack n play as well as I feel he does not sleep good in them for whatever reasons. I feel much more confident that he will be rested and ready to handle the traveling/visiting etc if he can be assured a comfortable place to sleep in while there. Our options are a) use our pack n play or b) borrow from our relative's friend a drop-side crib.

What are the specific safety threats associated with drop side cribs? I'm assuming everyone in the world has not gotten rid of drop side cribs they have been using so I wonder are there ways to make them safer? Would you ever consider using it for just a week's time? I'm really worried about the alternative - a crabby baby day in day out while there and sleepless nights! Please no comments about what a terrible mom I am for even considering this. I am just wondering what the specific risks are and how they apply to my son and situation. Insight would be appreciated, thank you!

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So What Happened?

Also, I could have the drop side face the wall which means he can't fall because of it, but maybe the risks from drop sides are from something else..?

Add: I dont feel a mattress on the floor or other such options are going to be possible for us. Giving him the freedom of being able to get out of his bed is an adjustment anyway, but to do it while on a trip in a new place? I can't see that ever working...he would be roaming around all night not sleeping one wink. I'd rather save that transition for the comfort of our own home.

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answers from Richmond on

Oh please, you're not terrible, just practical!! I screwed the drop side on my son's crib so that side is completely immobile... took 4 screws and 5 minutes of my time. Problem solved :)

ETA: Facing the drop side part to the wall won't correct the safety hazard; it has to be completely immobile.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Albuquerque on

Millions upon millions of drop sided cribs have been used over the last however many years, and the absolute vast majority of those cribs were perfectly safe. Like 99.999%.

There are two potential problems: 1 is that cheap plastic hardware can break and the drop side fall off. The easy way to prevent this problem: look at the plastic parts. Are they cracking? If no, you're fine. 2 is that the drop side can gap due to soft wood and cheap screws and a baby's head can get stuck. At 17 months old, your son is probably too big to have this happen - but if you're worried, just pull on the drop side. Does it bend? If no, then don't worry!

I would not hesitate AT ALL to put a 17 month old in a borrowed drop side crib. Just look it over like you would do any other borrowed baby item. If it's in decent shape, your son will be just fine.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

All of my childrenhave done just fine with drop side cribs.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Never had a problem with our drop side crib.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Reread Momma L's post: These things DO happen. It happened to her family.

The risks are much worse than an arm or leg getting trapped. As someone else posted, the child can suffocate when he or she gets trapped between the crib side and the mattress. There are also strangulation risks.

Please go to the Consumer Product Safety Commission web site at www.cpsc.gov and search the words "drop side cribs." This is just the start of what you'll find there:

"As part of its commitment to ensure safe sleep for young children, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is once again warning parents and caregivers about deadly hazards with drop-side cribs. In the last five years, CPSC has announced 11 recalls involving more than 7 million drop-side cribs due to suffocation and strangulation hazards created by the drop side. CPSC staff is actively investigating several other crib manufacturers for potential drop-side hazards as part of a larger effort by the agency to rid the marketplace and homes of unsafe cribs. CPSC will continue to take aggressive action to address any risks and will keep the public informed.

CPSC staff has completed a comprehensive review of crib-related infant fatalities reported to the agency between January 2000 and the present. [2010] CPSC staff is aware of 32 infant and toddler suffocation and strangulation deaths and hundreds of incidents that were caused by or related to drop-side detachments in cribs made by various manufacturers."

Thirty-two deaths -- at least -- others may never have been reported to CPSC as being related to cribs. You say your only options are the pack and play or the borrowed crib, but you could also purchase an inflatable bed for him from www.onestepahead.com. These beds look like little life rafts; you don't use sheets on them (it would be unsafe) but they have a soft flocked surface. They were great when our daughter was small and we were traveling overseas and within the U.S. Yes, he will be able to move around -- it's like a toddler bed, not a crib, and is the equivalent of a mattress on the floor but with high sides so he can't roll off.

I think drop-side cribs are not worth the risk. It's only for one week, sure, but only takes one incident for a child to be injured or worse. And some people's argument that "My kids did fine in drop side cribs" is just silly; we all survived ratting around in our parents' cars with no seat belts but would we really put our kids in a car like that now? Nope. So why does "my kids were fine" get to be an argument in favor of continuing something that is dangerous?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Syracuse on

Just make the drop side of the crib secure, drill some screws through the rails so it can no longer slide up and down. You could also find out the type of crib it is and go online/contact the manufacturer to see if there is a drop side conversion kit for that particular crib. Our crib was recalled and the company mailed us what we needed to convert it...basically some screws.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Are there places where you can rent a crib for the week?

They will deliver & set up all for around $25. It might be money well spent for some peace of mind.

We used to rent cribs for beach houses and vacation condos all the time. Very affordable and easy. They will HAVE to be safe and meet code in order for them to be rented. And they have always been meticulously clean.

Bring your own crib sheets and you'll be all set!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

All three of my kids have used a drop side crib. My last one will be out of it soon. I've never had any concerns. I really think its because they were misused or not put together properly. However, I can understand the industry and parents being cautious. Can you take your pack n play with you?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Drop side cribs are unsafe because the drop down side is known to slightly bend, making it easy for a child to roll in the gap between the side and mattress and suffocate.

You can call the crib manufacturer and some of them offer a safety hardware kit you can screw on. The manufacturer info should be on the bottom or side of the crib, then you can google the company name and get the information. We had to do this with our crib, but it only was a temporary fix until the side started coming lose again, then we got rid of it. Or, you can screw the dropping side to the bed frame and all around the sides to ensure it doesn't go down.

In the meantime, I would put the mattress on the floor and let your baby sleep on that.

***It can still happen even if the drop side side is next to a wall. It being next to the wall doesn't create a strong enough seal. hold, the child can still fall throguh the tiny crack just enough to choke. The side needs to be screwed down completely. It happened to us and my son's head got stuck when the drop side was completely next to the wall. That was several years ago before they were considered unsafe**


answers from Dayton on

My kids wouldn't/won't sleep in a crib. But if they did, I would put them in our lovely drop side crib in a instant.
There are many more far riskier things in life that we do everyday, than using a drop side crib. ;)



answers from Minneapolis on

The CPSC is pre-ceding on the side of caution. There were enough incidents and claims and analysis of the drop-down side cribs that a massive recall was done across ALL manufacturer's styles of this crib mechanism. The key problems I heard about were flimsy hardware when the cribs were changed them in China which cheapened the hardware. But the other critical issue was it was hard for parents to install the mechanism into the crib when installing it. It was hard to know if the plastic part was upside down or upright. So, when put the wrong way it could not do its job to keep the drop-side down crib from easily slipping off. So it is not only that the drop-side down was a problem for many and harm occurring but one should compare the instructions to how the parts were installed to make sure the parts are not upside down. And it is even a tricky thing to know and do! That is why the CPSC banned the cribs from being sold anymore. And for cribs in general they ruled the hardware must be much better quality. As for your situation. using another option is the best case, but if the crib was the only choice? Then like others said use common sense and try getting the crib to drop-down by pushing on it on the inside like a baby might do and see it stays up for falls down. When they would fall down, a gap occurs between the Mattress and the drop-side down railing. That is where the babies body could slide down and the head then caught between the railing and the mattress. It was good others even told you simply turning the drop-down side against the wall was not the "answer". But others saying Call the Manufacturer for a kit to repair if it is an option, is a good idea. Others saying Immobilizing the railing so it is tight and not budging up down or sideways. So it remains still is good advise also. If it was my child and had to use the crib, I would bolt it down with long screws in several places where ever I could and not let the baby be able to reach the screw with soft rounded head or sunken in flush with the wood post if flat. And why not put a cushion or box under that side just in case the screws, kit, checking if the parts were installed correctly or not just as an extra step of precaution. And of course a monitor would be good too. It also depends on the baby's strength and activity in a crib too.
Was the drop-side crib a good idea? Yes for any shorter adult trying to lift a baby out of the crib, especially! Now the latest idea is the manufacturers are designing the cribs so instead of the crib being so high up they re-position the mattress that lays in the crib in one of 3 positions to lower or raise the mattress to the railing. I saw that at the All Baby and Children's Show (trade only) in Kentucky a few weeks ago.
Did the CPSC "over-react" well today they seem to see black and white.
While your respondents see the gray. But the, CPSC has to deal with all parents needs for a safe crib for all babies. Ultimately it is your decision and confidence in what you can and can not do to protect your baby in such a crib At the show I saw New crib bumpers that can be let air through that they even had the adults test it too! The crib bumper is another concern to deal with! here is the link to that: http://breathablebaby.com/




answers from Minneapolis on

My son is 17 months old as well, so I have never used a drop side crib.But I don't think the risk for drop side cribs was that it can drop down suddenly and baby can fall out of the crib. So putting it against the wall is not the solution for baby's safety .
The risk as far as I know is with babies getting stuck in the space between the mattress and the drop side part of the crib. I read there were few babies who died from suffocation after getting stuck there, and that's the reason drop side cribs were considered totally unsafe and were recalled. At 17 months , I don't know if this would still be an issue as your son can pull himself out even if he gets stuck or maybe he is too big now to get stuck in there. I am not sure about this as I have never used one.
Maybe you can put some sheets/pillows tightly to fill up the gap? (I know pillows or anything else is not recommeneded in the crib for very little infants, but for your son is much older)
Also , can you try having your son sleep in toddler bed before your vacation? If he does good ,you can use that crib without the drop side. In this case, you need to make sure the room is child proofed in case your son decided to get out and wander by himself.
Or you can try co-sleeping if you are ok with that.



answers from Honolulu on

Both my kids as babies, slept in a drop side crib.
We never had a problem with it. It was our, crib. Not someone else's.
But we are only 1 example.

Then, where does your baby sleep, at home?
He is outgrowing his pack n' play.
So where will he sleep at home? Not just when you are on your trip?

A crabby sleep deprived baby, is not gonna be fun.

Go by your gut instinct.

Or, he can sleep in one of these:

My kids have slept in these. On a trip. They were fine.



answers from Pittsburgh on

All manufacturers can provide you with the appropriate hardware to convert the drop side crib to a fixed side crib - for free. If you have the model info for the one you want to use just contact the manufacturer. I got the kit for my Pottery Barn crib - they actually have a hotline devoted to the issue. It was fast and easy. And I cannot even imagine how horrible it would be for my back to not have a drop side - I loved it. And I am not even short.

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