Thursday, December 16, 2010

Safety vs. Freedom

Safety is important to each of us. Whether it's walking down the street, flying in an airplane, or laying our babies down in the crib, we want to feel safe. Conversely, personal freedom and choice is very important to us. Unfortunately, there are times when you and/or I feel like our freedoms are sacrificed in the name of safety. We all have a line that we believe shouldn't be crossed. For some people, it's the body image scanning at the airports. For me, it's laws that restrict what we can and cannot do for our children.

For years, there have been safety issues with cribs that have a dropping side. Some of the sides get loose and swing out a bit, and it's enough for a baby to wedge his or her head through a gap and get stuck at the neck. Sometimes, the gap is larger, and babies fall and/or get wedged and suffocate. I guess I don't need to get descriptive here, but it's sad, and I'm sad for the families who have had losses due to these problems and malfunctions.

In response, manufacturers are no longer going to be able to make or sell cribs with a drop-down side. I'm disappointed in this reaction. On the one hand, safety is important, especially when it comes to our kids. On the other hand, informed parents should be able to make decisions that they deem best for their families.

I think the number of infant deaths due to cribs with a drop-down side is 36 in the last three years. That's literally a baby who dies every month. Emotionally, I think, "That's someone's baby!" Logically, I think, "Babies also die from using walkers, falling down stairs, eating and drinking chemicals in the home, car accidents, getting the cords from blinds wrapped around their necks, drowning in bathtubs...." The list can go on and on. My point with that very depressing list is to say that we don't outlaw the making of all those items. If I pointed out the number of fatalities from car accidents and tried to outlaw cars, people would (rightfully) think I was crazy.

We use a crib with a drop-down side. It doesn't pull out at all, but it does drop. My complaint with it is that it doesn't drop enough. I'm just over five feet tall, and I need something 32" (less than three feet) or lower to be tall enough to bend over it. Cribs are typically 53" tall, which is about the height of my neck.

Our crib's side lowers to about four feet. When Oliver was very young, it wasn't a problem because we could have the mattress up high so I wouldn't have to lower him too far into the crib (I'd lift him over and bend at the elbows to set him onto the mattress). When he started rolling over, we had to lower the mattress, and I could no longer lower him into the crib without dropping him. Honestly, I'd have to drop him as gently as possible the last couple of inches. This is the reason why, at about six months old, Oliver started napping on his mattress on the floor. I made the decision that it was safer for him to be able to fall or scoot or crawl off of the mattress and roam his room than it was for me to drop him onto his mattress for all of his naps.

Now, like I said, a baby a month has died from cribs with a drop-down side. How many babies will die a month from parents who have to have their babies sleep without a crib? I mean, as parents, we do our best to baby-proof, but I'm sure most of us miss things. Without a drop-down side, I think more mothers are going to be like me and have to put their babies to bed outside of the crib.

In cases like this, I think it's a very good thing for parents to be educated about the choices available to them, but I still think they should be choices. As mothers, we should be able to say, "There is a risk involved with this crib. The stronger my baby gets, the more likely it is he's going to be able to push the side of his crib out and get stuck. He can die. Conversely, he can sleep outside of the crib, and the older he gets, the more likely he is to wake up silently and crawl off of his mattress and get into things before I know he's awake. He can bite off the outlet covers or figure out how to pull down the garbage can." Then, as mothers, we should be able to make that choice.

1 comment:

Andrew jonson said...
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