Updated February 2013
A drastic change in the safety regulations for baby cribs went into effect last year, and churches that have not already done so will need to take action because of it. This issue affects the safety of the children that are placed in our care, and also affects our outreach and ministry.
Included in the new rules are a ban on drop-side crib rails and strict requirements for stronger hardware and supports than in the past. Only cribs which meet the new safety standards can be used by child care facilities and “places of public accommodation,” which includes churches.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) passed the new regulations in order to prevent injuries and deaths from babies being trapped between the mattress and a partially-detached rail. These tragedies have occurred with alarming frequency over the past decade.
There is no way to retrofit existing cribs to make them acceptable under the stringent new regulations. In other words, churches cannot get by with nailing the sides together so the rail does not slide up and down, because the drop-side rail is only a part of the danger. The bottom line is that most churches should have replaced their cribs by the end of 2012. The following information should help to clarify who is affected and what churches can do.
Does the law apply to my church’s cribs? According to the CPSC, churches with paid child care workers must comply with the new rules. A church that uses strictly volunteers to care for children during church services (and no one is paid to care for the children) is not subject to the new regulations.
Churches that use hospital cribs may also be exempt. Since hospital cribs are considered to be medical devices, they are regulated by a different agency (the FDA) and do not fall under the CPSC crib rule. Churches that own hospital cribs should contact their crib’s manufacturer to see if their model is exempt.
If your church provides a weekday child care ministry, South Carolina's DSS has ruled that only CPSC-compliant cribs may be used in their licensed facilities. In other words, they will not allow the hospital crib exemption.
Where do I find cribs? Many of the usual sources for church furnishings also supply cribs. Since June of 2011, all cribs being manufactured and sold must be in compliance with the new standards. See links below for a couple of sources.
What should we do with the old cribs? Take them apart and discard them. Do not resell, donate, or give away a crib that does not meet the new standards. This includes selling through an online auction site or donating to a thrift store.
Why does it matter? Obviously, we need to place the highest priority on the safety of the babies entrusted to our care. Additionally, however, we must consider the message it sends. Even in churches that are not required to do it, when parents see that you have not replaced the drop-side cribs, that will say to them that you don’t care about the safety of their child. It is very likely that those young guests will not return, and you will have lost your opportunity to influence that family for God’s Kingdom.
The following links provide further information about this law and about purchasing cribs:
The New Crib Standard: Questions and Answers (blog of the Consumer Product Safety Commission)
Crib Information Center, CPSC
Church Interiors - Crib comparison sheet
LifeWay- ordering cribs
State and local laws may vary.
The South Carolina Baptist Convention nor the Southern Baptist Convention assumes any liability for reliance on this information.