baby in bed

Movie merchandising is a good thing, I guess. Until it kills children.

Today I have learned that a pirate-themed chest bed killed a toddler in Roseville, California.

Bayside Furnishings has announced a recall of about 9,350 boat and pirate themed children’s beds, sold at Costco and elsewhere, in cooperation with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

CPSC has received one report of a death involving a 22-month-old boy of Roseville, California. He was strangled by the lid of the boat bed’s toy chest when it fell on the back of his head and trapped his neck. [Source: news]

The beds in question are LaJolla boat bed and the Pirates of the Caribbean bed. Both beds include a toy chest attached to the foot of the bed. The toy chests that come with the beds are designed in the shape of a ship or boat’s “bow” and attached to the beds as a footboard.

The lid supports on the toy chests fail to prevent the lid from closing too quickly, putting young children at risk of getting trapped and strangled by the lid.

Both are twin size trundle beds made of hardwood and heavily decorated.  They were sold at Costco,, and furniture retail stores for between $700 and $1,400.

Surprise, surprise: both beds were made in China.

Don’t get me wrong: there are thousands of perfectly safe and solid toys and other baby items coming from China. I guess the blame is on the designers of these stupid beds and on equally thoughtless parents who are carried away by this entire movie extravaganza. I truly doubt that a 22-month toddler would insist on his parents buying a pirate-boat-shaped bed. At this age they are more about toy trucks, teddy bears, and Thomas the Train, at most.

So what makes a perfectly safe baby bed? Here are some ideas.

If possible, go second-hand, vintage, or handmade. Brand-new baby furnishings made of MDF or glued together with conventional furniture glues are most likely to off-gas formaldehyde which is linked to abnormal hormone “mimicking” and developmental defects.

Second-hand or older cribs will have already off-gassed harmful fumes. But if you feel uncomfortable about the safety of an older crib, buying an unfinished hardwood version is the healthiest choice. Better yet, find a local craftsman and get a crib made to order. It will make an adorable family heirloom and will serve many generations of kids, provided that you pass it along to the young family when you are done using it.

Look for cribs made from certified, sustainably-forested hardwoods, which can be converted to a full-size junior bed as baby grows. Here’s what to check for in any crib, new or used.

• No missing, loose, or broken screws or brackets.

• No more than two and three-eighths inches between crib slats.

• No corner posts above the end panels.

• No decorative headboards or footboards with large openings.

• No cracked or peeling paint or splinters.

• Drop-side latches that remain at least four inches above the mattress when lowered

Babies spend in bed half of their life. Isn’t that a good enough reason to make it as safe as possible?