I have two problems with this.
First off, why is the railing installed upside down in the first place?? Shouldn't that be considered user error? Would someone actually bend all the way down to raise and lower the side?
Secondly, I can't see how one of those side rails would given way under the weight of a baby simply rolling into it or leaning on it. In my mind, for this to happen, it would likely take a toddler. Likely a jumping/pushing/pulling/kicking toddler. And not likely a toddler who is jumping/pushing/pulling/kicking QUIETLY. And once said child did manage to get themselves stuck like this, I can't imagine them being QUIET about being in that position.
Do you see where I'm going with this? I almost hate to say it because I would hate to add any pain or guilt onto parents who are already suffering one of the absolute worst experiences a person can go through (remember, I know what it's like to lose a child), but if they'd checked on their baby when they were jumping/pushing/pulling/kicking and likely yelling or screaming, would they have prevented harm to their child? Why does our society insist that it's okay to let a baby cry?
There's no way to know all of the circumstances surrounding the reported deaths. I know I'm jumping to some conclusions. But even without knowing the specifics, I know that many parents out there will put their babies to sleep in their crib, on their own, alone in their room. We're told it's normal and even necessary for babies (even very young infants) to sleep in their crib, on their own, in their own room. We force independent sleep on our babies straight from birth in many cases. We're told we need to "train" our babies to sleep on their own. This sleep training almost always involves crying. In their cribs, on their own, alone in their room.
Why is it that North American society is so insistent on this? Parents in almost all other societies and cultures share rooms with their babies IF NOT BEDS. The Canadian Government's Health Canada even went so far as to opt against a crib recall because of fears it would lead to co-sleeping.
You know, I haven't even bothered to check our crib make and model., although I bet it's one of the defective ones. I'll tell you why. Andrew's crib is in our room, two feet from my pillow. Even if our crib is effected by the recall, I do not feel that Andrew is at risk. I wake up when he coughs. When he sighs. There is NO WAY he'd be able to hurt himself without me knowing. For naps, I go to him within minutes of him waking. He doesn't even have time to stand up, let alone shake the bars hard enough to break them loose. He is not left alone in his crib while I do housework/cook/clean/watch TV/check email. He's not left alone in his crib to cry it out in the hope of training him to be a better sleeper (and for the record, he's a pretty awful sleeper).
I just don't see how the above pictured scenario could occur without there being noise involved. Noise that the parents didn't check on, for whatever reason. When the noise stopped, I imagine they assumed their child had gone to sleep. And when they went to rouse their sleeping baby... they found every parents' worst nightmare.
I hope that this is not coming across as uncaring or unfeeling towards those parents who lost children. Although Nathaniel's death was not a tragic accident, it was still tragic. Although I know the pain those parents are feeling, I can't imagine the guilt of knowing that their child's death could have been preventable.
I think we, as a society, need to re-examine how we use cribs and why we use them. I just don't think that different cribs are the answer.
I wanted to add this comment that Julie from Coffee with Julie left:
Hi Amy -
Just as FYI, all four deaths involved young babies (6 mo, 7 mo, 7 mo, and 9 mo), not toddlers.
My understanding is that the deaths had no resemblance whatsoever to this image, so I can't understand why it is the most pervasive image being shown. I understand that there was a space between the crib mattress and the crib side bar (i.e. the mattress and bar did not make a tight perpendicular line) and baby slipped into this crack between the two and suffocated. With this kind of scenario, it is easy to imagine a young baby (already asleep, not necessarily crying) slipping into the space and simply not waking up despite lack of air/face pushed against mattress.
The image does show user error -- installed upside down -- and the product is being cited, among other things, as too complicated to install/put together. I don't think this image is the most helpful, it's just the most shocking I suppose, so it gets used.
The picture is totally misleading then! The media really drives me crazy. The doll used in the picture above would compare to at least a 12-18 month old, I'd guess, and I have no idea why they'd show the drop-side rail installed upside down if this wasn't the issue in any of the cases. Do you know whether the mattresses in the cases where an infant died were the right size? There's no way even a tiny baby could roll or push its way in between our side bar and the mattress without the side completely breaking free.
And in response to Cath in Ottawa's comment (thank you for your heartfelt comment, Cath), to be honest, I was a bit uncomfortable writting this post, so I know where you're coming from. And maybe I didn't express myself well. The last thing I would want to do is heap guilt onto an already grief-striken parent. I do take issue with a society that insists that it's okay and normal -and even necessary- for a baby to cry itself to sleep. If parents were taught and encouraged to respond to their baby's cries, perhaps some of these awful, tragic deaths may have been avoided.