Although the use of crib bumpers has long been a hotly debated topic amongst parents and safety groups, their use remains widely accepted and legal throughout most of the country. As safety experts and parents ourselves, we are constantly frustrated to see parents choose the best in safety gear and the safest crib available, yet bolster that crib with bulky and dangerous bumpers.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is now reiterating it’s guidelines for the use of crib bumpers in hopes that parents will finally heed the warning. The following is part of an article published in the February 2012 issue of Parenting magazine.
Bumper pads should never be used in cribs, according to guidelines released by the AAP. There’s no evidence the bumpers protect against injury, but they do carry a potential risk of suffocation, strangulation or entrapment because infants lack the motor skills and strength to turn their heads away from the bumpers. Here’s the scoop on the new policy:
Q: Why are bumpers suddenly off-limits?
A: Reports in the Chicago Tribune from late 2010 and early 2011 allege that federal regulators knew for years that crib bumpers posed a suffocation hazard but had failed to warn parents of the danger. Chicago recently became the first U.S. city to ban the sale of crib bumpers, and Maryland has also proposed a ban. “We conclude that if there’s no reason for them to be in the crib, it’s better to get them out of there, in light of the reported deaths associated with the bumper pads,” says Rachel Moon, M.D., chair of the AAP’s sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) task force and lead author of the guidelines.
Q: Are bumper alternatives safe?
A: The AAP also wants to warn against bumper alternatives, including those made of breathable mesh. “As of now, we’re recommending nothing in the crib,” Dr. Moon says.
Q: Why do parents opt for bumpers in the first place?
A: They make the crib look cute, and many parents mistakenly believe bumpers prevent a baby from hitting his head on the crib or getting his limbs stuck in slats. But Dr. Moon says young babies simply don’t have the strength to fling themselves against the crib hard enough to hurt themselves. And safety experts have long recommended that crib bumpers be removed when babies become strong enough to pull themselves up and could potentially use the bumpers to climb out.