Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cribs recalled

A series of cribs were recalled recently. Many news sources have been reporting that the cribs were defective in some way. According to the CPSC report, they were not. Consumer Affairs has a decent summary and you can read the full announcement at CPSC.gov. There is also a video (the video is a little weird - they have a little intro and then images of the crib with an incorrect installation and how the babies could get caught, then about 2 minutes of a video of a baby sitting in a completely different crib for no apparent reason while a mom operates the drop-down door).

In short, these cribs failed because of improper assembly. The CPSC has been exemplary in its efforts to inform consumers of the issue. However I disagree with their public statement.

"A crib is one of the few products that's actually designed for a parent to leave a child unattended. When there's a problem of this magnitude with a crib, there's a huge breach of trust with the manufacturer," she said.
Yet the cause of the failure is incorrect installation. I do not know if the instructions itself is incorrect, or whether this is just a failure to follow instructions, but it does seem to be that the supposed problem is that the gate on the crib was not designed to be impossible to install incorrectly. In other words, the manufacturer is being blamed for not making the product so idiot-proof that it would be impossible to mess it up.

A crib is certainly nothing to put together yourself if you don't know what you are doing. If you think it is possible that you can assemble it wrong, and there is always that possibility, you may want to have someone else do it for you. It is ultimately the parent's responsibility to ensure that the products they use are safe and secure for their children.

If you ask me, the drop-down mechanism on the crib is a little strange to begin with. After watching the video, it seems to do offer nothing and the door and mechanism even in the fancy non-recalled crib looks pretty shaky. Buy a high quality, solid crib.

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