New Jersey law requires that when a baby is born, hospital staff must ensure that new parents have a car safety seat before the family is discharged. This is great legislation, of course, ensuring a baby’s first ride is a safe one. But once home, the baby is likely to spend most of his or her time sleeping in a crib – especially for the first year - not driving in a car.
The State Senate is now considering important legislation – S. 2963 – that would ensure information about crib safety is readily available to new parents before leaving the hospital, including details about the latest product recalls, federal standards on the manufacture and sale of cribs and facts from the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission regarding how to keep babies safe in cribs, bassinets and play yards.
My non-profit organization, Keeping Babies Safe, is pushing this law – which received unanimous support from the Senate Health Committee on October 19. The bill if enacted, will help prevent injuries associated with unsafe cribs and unsafe sleeping environments throughout New Jersey.
Knowledge is the most important factor. The crib is the only place we leave our babies unattended. Far too often, babies come home and are put in cribs that are unsafe because they are broken, old, unstable or recalled.
Some are second-hand, with parents likely having no idea if they are safe. Just because parents are told that “it worked and nothing happened” to the prior baby, doesn’t make it safe for a new baby. Oftentimes, the dangers are not apparent. Requiring that the latest information be provided to new parents will arm new parents with key information to ensure the safest sleep environment for their little ones.
Keeping Babies Safe, along with the American Academy of Pediatricians and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, released a video entitled “Safe Sleep for Babies” that goes over all of the critical safe sleep facts. It is available through our website, www.KeepingBabiesSafe.org.
In addition, arming new parents with the best safe sleep advice will actually help make other legislation – both state and federal – more effective. Today, second-hand stores and consignment shops continue to grow, particularly in low-income areas of the state, with many inadequate cribs available for easy purchase.
Recent federal legislation makes it illegal to sell such cribs that don’t meet federal standards. This legislation speaks to the sellers of the cribs. But our focus is the users of the crib – the new parents.
By informing new parents of what is safe and what is not, we are providing parents with critical information so that they can make knowledgeable decisions about where and how to put their baby to sleep. As importantly, they will know where to obtain critical information about safe sleep.
By adopting this legislation, Gov. Chris Christie and the state Legislature will be helping to make the law even more effective in protecting babies. We salute all those who make this bill a priority as it continues to move through the legislative process.
Joyce Davis is President of Keeping Babies Safe.