Bassinet and Cradle Safety Standards and Tips

Baby's Sleep Space Gets a Safety Upgrade

Mom and Baby with Bassinet
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Federal safety standards for bassinets and cradles went into effect in April 2014. If you're shopping for a cradle or bassinet, take a look at the changes made to improve the safety of baby's sleep space.

Why New Standards?

Until 2014, there were no mandatory safety standards for bassinets and cradles sold in the U.S. As part of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) was charged with creating new, mandatory standards for a variety of baby products.

CPSC addresses about two products per year to allow time for investigating and creating the standards. So far, new standards have been created for strollers, cribs, play yards, bath seats and baby walkers.

As with most of the other new standards, the safety improvements for bassinets and cradles are based on voluntary standards from ASTM. Many baby products manufacturers already use the voluntary ASTM standards when designing their bassinets or cradles. Now, with the federal safety standard in place, all manufacturers will be required to meet and exceed those ASTM standards in order to sell bassinets or cradles in the U.S. This means parents won't have to double-check for voluntary standard labels as they're shopping for these products any more. All cradles and bassinets will need to be safe enough to pass.

Since 2010, CPSC is aware of at least 70 incidents involving bassinets and cradles.

Some of these incidents injured babies. Thirty-eight of the incidents were fatal. Two of the deaths were related to product design or stability. Many of the deaths were due to soft bedding in the cradle or bassinet, or the baby becoming wedged against the side.

Many of the injury incidents happened when a child that was too old or too big for the bassinet or cradle was allowed to continue using it.

This is a very important consideration for parents who might buy a bassinet for their baby. It is a temporary sleep space for newborns. Bassinets and cradles are designed for babies under 5 months old, and who cannot push up on hands and knees. No safety standard can prevent injuries if you continue to use the product beyond its intended age or weight range!

What's In the Standards?

These standards are designed to prevent entrapment, falls, asphyxiation by soft bedding, accidental folding and more. The following components of the new requirements come from the voluntary ASTM standards.

  • uniform slat spacing to prevent entrapment on sides
  • mesh and fabric openings must not entrap fingers, toes, or buttons
  • a static load test is done to check structural integrity even when a very large child is inside
  • stability tests check to see if the product can be tipped over by a toddler
  • sleeping pad thickness and dimension requirements reduce risk of entrapment in gaps or suffocation due to extra padding
  • locks and latches are tested to prevent accidental folding
  • warning labels address the risk of suffocation when extra bedding is added
  • rocking and swinging limits to prevent a child from being pressed into the side
  • side height requirements to prevent falls
  • segmented mattresses have a flatness requirement to prevent suffocation in folds

CPSC added some stability testing procedures, changed the segmented mattress flatness test, and added a removable bed stability requirement.

The safety standards apply to all bassinets and cradles sold in the U.S., including those that are attachments for small cribs or play yards. Bedside sleepers that convert to a bassinet are also included. Stroller and swing bassinets and Moses baskets are not included in the standards unless they're used on a stand or base that converts it to a cradle or bassinet.