Crib Tent Dangers

by Renee Miller

Crib tents are structures typically made of mesh that fit over the top of your baby’s crib or play yard. They are often used to prevent babies from climbing out of play yards or cribs and injuring themselves. However, before you buy a crib tent, there are a few facts you should know regarding the safety of these devices.

1. Not Regulated

Most baby products that we must use daily, such as cribs and play yards, are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. This regulation ensures that all manufactures must follow established safety guidelines to prevent injury or death. Because they’re a crib accessory, like a bumper pad or a mobile, crib tents are not regulated. This means that manufacturers do not have to make sure that your baby can’t be injured by the tent’s construction. The tent may include ribbons, ties or framing that can strangle your baby should he become tangled in them. In addition to these unsafe design elements, many tents are not tested on every model of crib, so you cannot be assured of their safety.

2. Strangulation Risk

Crib tents usually consist of mesh fabric walls to prevent suffocation, and most have wide openings at the top to allow good air circulation. They’re tall enough that your baby can stand in his crib without being able to push up on the top. However, while the mesh doesn’t pose as much of a suffocation risk as other materials, your baby is still at risk of strangulation due to the other design elements, including zippers, frames, ribbons and ties. Over time, crib tents begin to wear, and the seams can rip, zippers can break or clips can become lost. If the mesh tears, your child may push his head through and become tangled, and this can become a strangulation risk.

3. Injuries and Deaths Reported

There have been recalls on a variety of crib tents in recent years, including a recall by Tots in Mind for about 330,000 crib tents and play yard tents due to a serious risk that a child could become entrapped or strangled. There have also reports of injuries caused by crib tents. For example, when a 2-year-old boy in Massachusetts attempted to climb out of a play yard that was covered by a crib tent, he became trapped between the play yard and the crib tent, and died by strangulation. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that between 2007 and 2010, it received at least 10 reports of incidents where injuries or death occurred due to the use of crib tents.

4. Crib Safety Tips

If your child is able to stand in his crib, measure the distance from the top of the mattress to the top of the crib railing. If it is less than 26 inches, or your child is able to climb out of his crib, the safest decision is to move him to a toddler bed. If you’re concerned that your child may fall out of a toddler bed and injure himself, a mattress on the floor is still safer than using unregulated crib accessories. However, do not use an air mattress. These pose a suffocation risk for young children. If your child has not yet climbed out of his crib, monitor him daily. While he might not be able to climb out one day, the next morning he may figure it out. Any child who is sleeping in a crib is safest in a bare crib that does not have bumper pads, pillows, stuffed toys or tents.