How Safe is Your Crib?

Imagine walking into your infant’s room and finding her trapped beneath the crib mattress, strangling on the mattress support slats. That is what happened to me. It was single handedly the most terrifying moment of my entire life.

When I was pregnant, we looked high and low to find the best possible crib for our budget. After weeks of searching, we finally bought the Simplicity Aspen 4-in-1 crib. This crib has been sold globally at most mass merchant retailers at a price of $130.00. We put it together just before our daughter was due to arrive. For the first ten months, we never had a single issue with the crib.

On May 16, 2007 my son came to tell me that his sister was stuck and hurt. I got up and went to her room, thinking that her leg was stuck in the slats as it has happened numerous times. When I got into her room, I didn’t hear her crying nor did I see her in her crib. Knowing something wasn’t right, I quickly ran over to her crib. I noticed the mattress was slightly raised towards the middle of the crib. I reached down and pulled it up and found my daughter, hands to her side, essentially strangling herself on the mattress support slats. I immediately pushed her towards the center of the slat, forced her head to the side and down, then pulled her out from under the crib. There is no way she could have done that herself as her arms were to her side, while her neck was wedged between the metal slats. If it weren’t for the quick thinking of my three year old son, I shudder to think of what may have happened.

As soon as I got my daughter calmed down and got myself to some level of normal thinking, I found Simplicity’s phone number. As the manufacturer of the crib, I wanted them to know what had just happened. I called them up and got in touch with a seemingly nice and helpful woman. She took all of my information and appeared concerned and shocked at the events that had recently unfolded. She then offered to send me the retail replacement value of the crib, which was about $120.00. She explained that it would take three to five business days for it to arrive. My daughter has only slept in her crib, never anywhere else. What was I to do with her for the next three to five days with no crib to sleep in, instead of choosing the option to let her sleep with us in our full size captains bed? I was not willing to wait the required days, so I asked for the check to be delivered sooner. After talking with her Supervisor, they only agreed to send it one day faster, getting it here in two to three business days.

In January 2006 a 19 month old boy died at the mercy of his Simplicity crib. Apparently, the crib mattress support slats (then wooden) broke and he suffocated between the mattress and the footboard. This information is available at www.cpsc.gov under the “Simplicity Cribs” link. After this tragic incident, Simplicity placed a recall on all of the Aspen 3-in-1 cribs with the Graco logo. A retrofit kit was sent out to fix the apparent problem, therefore ensuring the safety of other children. However, the kits were difficult to install at best.

Simplicity then “upgraded” the crib to a different style. The actual crib is exactly identical to the recalled crib, only the mattress support slats are now metal. This was a very inexpensive quick fix, in my opinion. While it allowed the crib to be more versatile and sturdy, it didn’t prevent an infant from being trapped and strangled by the metal slats.

Simplicity has refused to recall the crib that my infant daughter could have killed herself on yesterday morning. It is my job as a parent to ensure her safety and make sure that other parents are not deceived when purchasing this product. I would love to see the crib mattress support changed from a slatted version to a solid wood slab. This would prevent any child from getting their body between the slats, and their head lodged between the metal bars. My daughter’s life was gratefully spared when she became entrapped. However, I fear that other parents and children will not be as lucky.

As a consumer, we have to take a stand on the products that are intended to keep our children safe. While the crib appears to conform to all Government guidelines, it is clearly unsafe and unreliable. As a parent, your job is to take a stand and keep your child free from harm. If you own, or plan to purchase a Simplicity crib, think twice about your endeavor. As this is not the only manufacturer that uses the slat system, evaluate all the mattress support sections of any crib in your future purchasing plans. Make an effort to do your homework, even calling the manufacturer before you make the purchase.

I will never forget the morning that I found my daughter practically strangulated by the slats under her mattress. How she even got under the mattress is still a question in our mind. We may never know. However, I will feel safer knowing that this crib is off the market or improved to make it safer for all other children who peacefully sleep in this crib.