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Strict new crib regulations take effect today: Does your crib pass the test?

Bye-bye, drop-sides. So long, wobbly cribs. The rules governing the sale of baby cribs in stores and even at yard sales just got a whole lot stricter.

Starting today, the federal government has banned the manufacture and sales of drop-side cribs -- meaning that all four sides of cribs must be fixed and unmovable. If you have a drop-side crib, you can still use it, but safety regulators encourage checking frequently to make sure they're assembled properly and don't have any loose or broken parts. Better yet, they say, buy a new one.

"I know times are tough, but I always felt like the price of a crib is minuscule compared to the price of your child's life," said Susan Cirigliano, a mother who has pushed for tougher standards after her son Bobby died in a defective crib in 2004, told the L.A. Times. "I was a normal mom raising her kids. Never in a million years would I have thought that could happen to me."

The new rules represent one of the biggest safety crack-downs in the baby market in years. They come after drop-side cribs were blamed for the deaths of at least 32 infants since 2000. The movable sides sometimes broke or were improperly assembled, creating a gap between the matress and the crib-side where babies could get trapped. Other babies have died as a result of faulty or defective hardware. In the last four years, the CPSC has recalled more than 11 million dangerous cribs.

The new rules go beyond just drop-sides. In fact, most cribs in use today wouldn't meet the new standards (it's OK to keep using them, just make sure they're sturdy and in good condition). Crib-makers now also have to strengthen slats and mattress supports, include anti-loosening devices to keep hardware from coming loose or falling off. In the past, the government allowed manufacturers to go in and tighten screws in the middle of tests simulating how a tot shakes a crib. (Because parents always sneak into their toddler's bedroom in the middle of the night to tighten crib screws, right?) Now the cribs will have to pass the safety tests without any adjustments.

It's illegal to sell or even donate a crib that doesn't meet the new safety regulations. But day care centers, hotels and companies that rent cribs have until the end of 2012 to use the old kind -- so you might want to double-check when you're dealing with any of those.

The new regulation isn’t a recall of all drop-side cribs, although some manufacturers have recently recalled their cribs as a result. Some of these companies are providing customers with the tools to immobilize drop sides -- a list is available on the CPSC website.

What do you think of the new safety standards? If your kids are still in cribs, will you be buying a new one?