Are Crib Bumpers Safe? Everything You Should Know
Time to read 6 min
Time to read 6 min
Setting up a crib is a big part of getting ready for the arrival of your little one. Plenty of cute crib sets might include a matching crib sheet, blanket, and crib bumper—
Setting up a crib is a big part of getting ready for the arrival of your little one. Plenty of cute crib sets might include a matching crib sheet, blanket, and crib bumper—but are all those things safe for your baby’s bed?
You may have already heard some concerns about the safety of crib bumpers, and here we’ll explain everything you need to know about them.
The leading experts of safe baby sleep at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have strong recommendations against the use of crib bumpers. Along with other soft, loose bedding—like blankets and pillows—crib bumpers pose a risk of suffocation, strangulation, or entrapment.
It’s important to purchase a crib that meets all of the current safety requirements to create a safe sleep environment for your baby. A crib manufactured to meet the standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) does not need any added safety measures like crib bumpers were initially intended to be.
Crib bumpers are a cushion that sits inside the bed on top of the crib mattress and is secured with ties along the entire length of each side of the crib. They were meant to keep babies from bumping into the hard crib rails or getting their limbs stuck in between the crib slats. Crib bumpers were often sold in bundles of crib bedding sets and seen as a cute way to decorate a nursery.
While the intention was to keep babies comfortable, experts say the risks of using crib bumpers in your baby’s bed greatly outweigh the benefits. In 2022, the Safe Sleep for Babies Act was passed to discontinue the manufacture and sale of crib bumpers, along with inclined sleepers, and are now considered “banned hazardous products”.
You can’t buy new crib bumpers anymore, but you might find them in a box of hand-me-downs from your neighbor or you may still have crib bumpers that you used with your older children. No matter how long you’ve had them, you should not use crib bumpers in your baby’s bed today.
Even if you haven’t had a bad experience with crib bumpers in the past, it’s important to understand the risks involved in using them to make the best choices for your baby now.
The thick cushion of crib bumper pads creates a barrier between your baby and the crib that they cannot breathe through. If they roll too closely or turn their face to the crib bumper while they sleep, their breathing can become obstructed.
Crib bumpers are not permanent fixtures of the crib. They tie around a few of the crib slats with string or ribbon that can be easily removed by you—or your baby. If your little one gets a hold of the strings, there’s a risk of that string getting wrapped around your baby.
Another risk involved with how easily crib bumpers can be moved is the danger of your baby getting stuck. It’s possible that your little one gets wedged between the bumper and the crib mattress or frame. Babies may be able to get themselves into dangerous positions that they can’t get themselves out of.
For older babies who are learning to pull up and stand, a crib bumper in the bed is like having a step stool to help them climb out. Just a few extra inches of height can make the difference in being able to get up and over the crib rail. A bare crib with a lowered mattress is harder to climb out of and will help you avoid moving your baby into a toddler bed before they’re ready.
There are products currently on the market that are designed to be an alternative to crib bumpers, but are they actually safe for your baby?
These are the most similar to padded crib bumpers with an important difference—they’re not padded. Mesh crib liners create a breathable barrier between your baby and the sides of the crib. If your baby’s face is pressed up against the mesh liner, they’ll still have enough airflow to breathe easily.
However, breathability isn’t the only concern. These types of liners still pose a risk of strangulation and entrapment if they come loose and your baby becomes tangled up in the material. While mesh crib liners are not banned in the Safe Sleep for Babies Act, it’s still recommended to keep your baby’s crib bare.
This is the best alternative to crib bumpers in regard to your baby’s safety. Sleep sacks and wearable blankets velcro or zip up around your baby’s torso and legs. When your baby is wrapped up in a sleep sack you don’t have to worry about their legs getting caught between the crib slats.
It also prevents older babies from being able to climb up on the sides of the crib. Sleep sacks come in different sizes, so make sure you’re picking a well-fitted one for your baby. The great thing about wearable blankets is there are many different styles—long-sleeved, sleeveless, heavyweight, or lightweight fabric—to keep your little one comfortable in all seasons of weather.
When it comes to the aesthetics of your baby’s nursery, crib skirts are a great alternative to the decorative appeal of crib bumpers. A crib skirt placed between the mattress and frame support hangs below the crib and out of your baby’s reach while they’re in bed. Crib skirts sometimes come with matching crib sheets and other nursery decor to complete the theme of the room.
All new parents and caregivers should know how to set up a safe sleep space for every nap and bedtime. Following the safe sleep recommendations set by the AAP can help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
The main recommendations include:
At Nurture&, we’ve created The Crib to help you establish a safe sleep environment for your sweet baby. Nurture&’s collection of cribs meets all safety standards set by ASTM—incorporated with the CPSC regulations—to help you protect your baby from sleep-related accidents.
As parents, we know how important it is that everything that touches your baby’s sensitive skin—or inevitably ends up in their mouth—needs to be safe. The Crib is made with premium, non-toxic materials for further peace of mind.
Beyond setting up a safe crib, you can read more about creating a safe nursery here.
To sum it all up, crib bumpers are not a safe addition to your little one’s bed. There will be time for extra cozy bedding when your child gets older. For now, the best way to ensure your baby’s safety is to lay them down to sleep in their own bed with only a fitted sheet on the mattress.
Nurture& creates nursery furniture and baby products to accompany you throughout your parenting journey. Get to know more about our furniture collections made for parents, by parents. You can find more recommendations, tips, and tricks for pregnancy and parenting in our Journal.
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