By Jennifer C. Kerr, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — The baby crib, usually a safe haven for little ones, became a death trap for 6-month-old Bobby Cirigliano.
The side rail on his drop-side crib slid off the tracks and trapped his head and neck between the mattress and the malfunctioning side rail. His face pressed against the mattress, the boy suffocated.
"I just don't feel complete anymore," says his mother, Susan Cirigliano of North Bellmore on New York's Long Island.
Bobby was one of at least 32 infants and toddlers since 2000 who suffocated or were strangled in a drop-side crib, which has a side that moves up and down to allow parents to lift children from the cribs more easily than cribs with fixed sides. Drop-sides, around for decades and probably slept in by many of today's parents, are suspected in an additional 14 infant fatalities during that time.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission, which regulates cribs, has warned about the problem. Its chairman, Inez Tenenbaum, has pledged to ban the manufacture and sale of cribs by the end of the year with a new performance standard that would make fixed-side cribs mandatory. It could be several months into 2011 before becoming effective.
The industry has already started phasing out drop-sides and big retailers such as Babies R Us and Wal-Mart have taken them off sale floors. Yet there are still plenty for sale on the Internet, and that's part of the reason Congress is getting involved.
"There's a great urgency here. We have to make sure that no parent is unaware that drop-side cribs could kill their children," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said in an Associated Press interview.
She plans to introduce legislation this week to outlaw the manufacture, sale and resale of all drop-side cribs and ban them from day-care centers and hotels. Gillibrand wants to accelerate efforts for a ban, from Congress or the CPSC, and highlight concerns about the cribs to parents who are using them.
"There still are thousands and thousands of children who are sleeping every night in drop-side cribs and we need to protect them," said Gillibrand.
She outlined her bill at a news conference in New York on Sunday, joined by Bobby Cirigliano's parents and the family of 10-month-old Tyler Witte, who died in a drop-side crib in 1997.