New Crib Mattresses Pose Safety Hazards, Danger to Children

It should be the safest place in the house for sleeping babies. But NBC 5 Investigates reveals a safety loophole that parents and caregivers need to know about.

The popular baby product in question: supplemental or add-on mattresses for play yards or play pens. The problem: when caregivers buy mattresses that are not made for their specific play yard.

It’s an easy mistake to make, according to Kids In Danger’s Nancy Cowles.

“When they see it in the store, they’re going to assume it’s safe. Why else would it be sold?”

NBC 5 Investigates found supplemental mattresses are readily available online and in retail stores, like Babies R Us. Manufacturer made replacements are not. Adding the to the concern, play yards and mattresses that come with them are regulated. Add-on mattresses are not.

“There are no standards, so anyone can make them, and make them any size,” says Cowles.

Industry groups like the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association warn of the danger on its website: “using the wrong size mattress or adding one on top of an existing mattress can create a gap around the edges, where a baby’s face could get trapped, causing suffocation.”

The death toll is grim. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports 39 deaths linked to play pens or play yards in the three years between 2009 and 2011. The most common culprit – soft bedding, which should never be in a baby’s sleep area – and add-on mattresses. Because the temptation to make a crib comfy is so hard to resist, Cowles and other safety experts are urging manufacturers to stop marketing the dangerous choices.

"The easiest thing is to simply take extra play yard mattresses off the market.”

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