WASHINGTON — 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,” said 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, 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 Dec. 31 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 Walmart 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.

“We have to make sure that no parent is unaware that drop-side cribs could kill their children,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

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.

More than 7 million of these cribs have been recalled in the past five years, often because screws, safety pegs or plastic tracking for the rail can come loose or break. The industry insists that babies are safe in drop-sides that haven’t been recalled.