Crib bumpers or bumper pads are a very popular accessory favored by many parents of newborns. Sold separately or as part of baby bedding sets, these pads are attached to the inside walls of cribs to prevent infants from getting body parts stuck between the crib’s slats.
Despite the fact that crib bumpers are marketed as a safety product, however, many consumer watchdog groups and child advocacy groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Kids in Danger, and First Candle, say bumpers often end up doing more harm than good. And the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), while not coming out formally against the use of crib bumpers, urges parents to follow the “bare is best”dictum for a baby’s sleeping area.
But what is it about crib bumpers that make them so dangerous? Here are just a few of the potential hazards associated with them:
- Suffocation: It’s all too easy for newborns to get their head stuck between a bumper pad and the mattress and suffocate—especially since they lack the strength and motor skills required to free themselves once trapped.
- Strangulation: Bumper pads that are fastened to the crib walls with decorative strings or ribbons pose a high risk of strangulation, as it is possible for newborns to get tangled up in the ties.
- Stale air: Bumper pads prevent fresh air from circulating freely through the crib, which may force babies to rebreathe stale air and thus potentially increase the risk of SIDS.
- Stepping stone: Older babies or toddlers might use bumper pads as a stepping stone to help them climb out of cribs when left unattended, which of course opens up a whole new set of dangers.
To ensure your baby has the safest sleeping environment possible, crib bumpers, both the padded and mesh varieties, should be avoided. The potential health and safety hazards posed by these products are not worth the small amount of protection they provide, so follow the CPSC’s “bare is best”advice and keep all unnecessary items out of the crib.