Could Crib Tents Be Dangerous?

Why buying a crib tent may not be the best way to keep your baby safe

Baby in a cot
Sally Anscombe / Getty Images

Have a little escape artist on your hands? If you think a crib tent will put a swift and safe end to those dangerous, late-night jailbreaks, think again.

Available for standard cribs, portable cribs, and play yards, crib tents offer protection from insects and household pets while conveniently preventing children from jumping or falling out of their cribs. However, evidence suggests that these popular mesh crib coverings could be dangerous - even deadly.

Safety Stats and Recalls

Between January 1997 and April 2012, the Consumer Product Safety Commission received 27 reports of product failures concerning crib tents manufactured by “Tots in Mind, Inc.” While most victims suffered only minor injuries, one two-year-old boy died after becoming entrapped between the top rail of his play yard and the bottom rail of a framed crib tent. Another two-year-old child sustained a catastrophic brain injury after his dome-style tent inverted. A broken rod pinned him at the neck.

The CPSC has since issued a recall of all crib tents made by the now-defunct distributor; however, other brands of crib tent remain on the market. Does that mean these products are safe? Don’t bet on it. 

Other Unsafe Crib Accessories

Availability is a poor indicator of safety. Extensive study has proven that crib bumpers kill, prompting official safety warnings from no less of an authority than the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Yet bumpers continue to line the shelves of almost every baby-mart in the country. Even so-called “SIDS-safe” products, such as sleep positioners and alternative bumpers, do not currently fall subject to FDA regulation, leaving manufacturers free to make unsubstantiated safety claims about their products.

When it comes to your child’s safety, it pays to do your homework. While no official statement has been made regarding the safety of crib tents on a whole, many child safety advocates and parental resource sites express concern, maintaining that crib tents may collapse and injure children. The popular consumer guide, “Consumer Reports,” includes crib tents on its list of dangerous baby products, suggesting that a child who becomes entangled in the mesh of a failed tent could be strangled or otherwise suffocated. Although the AAP has not issued a safety warning against crib tents in general, the organization encourages parents to avoid using all such crib accessories, insisting that products like crib tents pose an unnecessary safety risk in an unsupervised sleeping environment.

Clearly, the potential for harm associated with crib tents outweighs the benefit of an uninterrupted night’s sleep. That being said, crib falls should not be taken lightly.

Accident Prevention

To prevent accidents, make sure to keep up with your child's development. As soon as your little one can sit up independently, adjust the crib mattress to its lowest position. You'll also want to remove any furniture from around the crib that could be used to help them climb down.

Once your child reaches 35 inches in height, it’s time to transition them to a toddler bed. If you've already caught your mini monkey mid jailbreak, don't be afraid to make the big move even earlier. A child who has successfully jumped out of his crib will almost certainly try it again. Eventually, his luck may run out. 

If you’re struggling to keep your newly promoted “big kid” in bed, try adding a sleep-training clock to your bedtime routine. These popular training tools help children to learn the difference between night and day by letting them know when it’s OK to get up.