Crib bumpers, the often colorful padding you wrap around the inside of a baby’s crib, may look like a good idea, but they aren’t. Intended as both a decoration and to protect babies from banging their heads or getting stuck in the slats of cribs, it turns out that these readily available products actually do more harm than good. In fact these pads can cause serious injury and even death.
A recent study that analyzed both government data and data from National Center for the Review and Prevention of Child Deaths, found that crib bumpers were the cause of at least 77 infant deaths between the late 1980s and 2011, with those numbers climbing more recently. Due to reporting issues, this may actually be an underestimate. Even the newer styles of bumpers that are less than two inches thick were implicated in three deaths in the study. Suffocation can occur from the bumper alone when a baby gets wedged between the bumper and another object. Some deaths occurred from as a result of strangulation by the bumper ties, suggesting that any type of bumper or even mesh could be an issue.
Any additional items in a baby’s crib including not only bumpers, but also blankets and pillows can increase the risk of suffocation. That’s why the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the government agency which ensures that products are safe, says that when it comes to cribs bare is best.
Recently we were joined on the show by Dr. Michael Goodstein a neonatologist from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and Nancy Cowles, from the consumer protection group Kid’s in Danger who both go a step further. These organizations are calling for a ban on crib bumpers altogether, because the risks are far too great and there are no benefits. Parents don’t need to worry about their babies getting their heads caught in crib slats anymore, as regulations have made the space between them smaller. And according to these experts, preventing the minor bumps and bruises that could occur from banging against the side of a crib don’t justify the risk of death.
Some local governments have already taken steps to protect their communities by prohibiting the sale of bumpers. Recently Chicago banned all forms of bumpers and the state of Maryland banned the padded ones. Unfortunately despite the best efforts to get the word out about the safest sleep environment, some parents continue to buy these products thinking that if they are sold in stores, they must be safe. That’s why it’s time for the Consumer Product Safety Commission to not only recommend that bare is best, but to ban these products across the country. They are in the middle of deciding what to do about crib bumpers now so it’s the perfect time to let them know what you think. We’ve started a change.org petition and are calling on the CPSC to ban bumpers once and for all; we hope you will join us.