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Risks of Hand-Me-Down Cribs

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Risks of Hand-Me-Down Cribs

Oct 20, 2014

Crib standards were last updated in 2011, just a few years ago. Pediatrician Nathan Bexfield explains why a used crib can be a risky proposition. Learn what to look for to keep your baby safe.

Episode Transcript

Interviewer: A lot of time parents are looking to save a little extra money and maybe a crib might come into your life because it's a hand me down or it's something you found at a garage sale. Should you buy it? We'll examine that next on The Scope.

Announcer: Medical news and research from University Utah physicians and specialists you can use for a happier and healthier life. You're listening to the scope.

Interviewer: Secondhand cribs, are they a good idea or not? We're with pediatrician Nathan Bexfield from University of Utah Hospital. Secondhand cribs, what do you have to say about that?

Dr. Bexfield: So first, and foremost it's probably not a good idea to use a second hand crib.

Interviewer: Under any circumstances?

Dr. Bexfield: Under most circumstances I would say.

Interviewer: That's a pretty strong statement, why is that?

Dr. Bexfield: Well, there are so many different cribs out there and actually we see a lot of recalls for cribs. It's kind of hard to find out which ones have been recalled and which ones haven't. Although there is an excellent website, you can go to and you can look and see if that particular crib has been recalled. But they get lost in the mix of things and people go to yard sales and they find a crib and they need a crib and they just buy it without checking into it. The reality is the rules for how cribs are made changed in July of 2011. Some of those changes we have seen are that drop side cribs are pretty much illegal.

Interviewer: Really?

Dr. Bexfield: Yes, you can't sell them in the store.

Interviewer: So don't pull that mattress tag off and don't get a drop side crib.

Dr. Bexfield: No, definitely do not get that drop side crib.

Interviewer: All right.

Dr. Bexfield: You actually see a lot of those in yard sales. We have a yard sale in our neighborhood every year and I think we see one every year just on the side of the road.

Interviewer: And what makes them so dangerous? Why should you avoid them?

Dr. Bexfield: Because it's very easy for the child to drop that side of the crib and fall out.

Interviewer: Okay, or be able to get into things that they shouldn't get into.

Dr. Bexfield: Yes and they can actually get trapped under that side of the crib, they can get pinched on that side of the crib, and like you said, it's pretty dangerous for them to be out roaming around when you think they're safe in their crib and asleep.

Interviewer: What other things should you watch out for when it comes to those used cribs?

Dr. Bexfield: Other things that I watch for with used cribs are things that go into the crib, namely crib bumpers. You want to make sure that the crib bumpers are actually mesh material that fit tight to the side of the crib. Crib bumpers are generally used to keep babies' arms and hands from getting trapped through the slats of the cribs. A lot of crib bumpers are made that do not have that mesh material that are breathable and can actually suffocate children if they're used inside cribs.

Interviewer: All right, so avoid the garage sale crib. Look out for those crib bumpers if they're the solid plastic kind it sounds like. When it comes to cribs what else should you look out for?

Dr. Bexfield: When it comes to cribs you should look out for the old cribs that were made before 2011. Sometimes the height adjustment on those can be somewhat unsafe for the child. If the child is able to get up and get over the side of the crib then they're going to fall and hurt themselves potentially.

Interviewer: That's another issue. But you would just avoid all these things entirely, it sounds like.

Dr. Bexfield: Completely. I would buy a brand a new crib.

Interviewer: All right. Any final thoughts?

Dr. Bexfield: I would say that you want to be smart and make sure you put your child in the safest position possible in their crib and make it so they don't have those sorts of hazards around them while they're sleeping or playing in their crib.

Announcer: We're your daily dose of science, conversation and medicine. This is The Scope. University of Utah Health Sciences Radio.