Crib bumpers may look cute as part of a pastel-colored infant bedding set,
but researchers are warning parents that the padding that lines the inside
of baby's bed can possibly be deadly and are calling for crib bumpers
to be banned.
"An analysis of crib injuries and deaths was recently published in
The Journal of Pediatrics," says
Sandra Mathur, DO, a board-certified pediatrician at
St. Jude Heritage Medical Group. "While the number of 23 reported crib deaths during the seven years
from 2006 to 2012 sounds relatively small, it's about triple the number
reported during earlier years. Looking at an even wider span of time,
from 1985 to 2012, the study found 48 reported deaths -- 32 of which could
have been prevented if there hadn't been bumpers in the cribs."
The study authors -- who also believe there are more injuries and deaths
related to crib bumpers that aren't reported -- have called for an
outright ban on bumpers.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, National Institute of Health, and the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also caution against the use
of crib bumpers. That's because bumpers can pose the risk of strangling
or trapping infants, who can't easily move on their own. "While
parents may think crib bumpers are safe because they keep the baby protected
from getting caught in a crib's slats, they aren't necessary if
the crib conforms to current safety standards, with only 2 3/8 inches
between slats," Dr. Mathur says. "Conversely, there aren't
any federal laws governing the manufacturing of crib bumpers." Any
ban on crib bumpers would have to come from the U.S. Consumer Product
In addition to not using crib bumpers, there are other steps parents can
take to ensure baby's bedtime safety, Dr. Mathur says:
- Don't use a vintage crib, which may have slats wider than contemporary
- When purchasing a new crib, make sure it has a safety seal from the Juvenile
Products Manufacturers Association.
- Use bedding and pajamas that are flame retardant.
- There shouldn't be any gaps between the mattress and crib rails. The
mattress should also be at least 26 inches lower than the top crib rail.
- Cribs don't have to be fancy. Solid headboards and footboards offer
an extra layer of safety and parents should avoid any type of design that
could hurt the baby.
- Keep toys, blankets and pillows out of the crib.
- Position cribs away from windows and don't use blinds that have dangling
cords a baby can get caught in.
"Taking these precautions, which includes avoiding crib bumpers, will
allow parents to sleep more soundly at night knowing they are providing
a secure sleep environment for their child," Dr. Mathur says. "If
parents have any questions, they should talk with their pediatrician.
Remember, in the words of the safety commission's public awareness
campaign, that when it comes to baby's crib, 'bare is best'."
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.