Initially, crib bumpers may seem like a protective measure for our delicate, precious newborns. The thought of our baby potentially encountering a hard surface or slipping tiny hands between crib slats is understandably distressing for first-time parents. Naturally, the inclination is to surround them with something soft, cushiony, and snug.
Our instinct to shield and nurture our little ones is commendable. However, crib bumpers have raised concerns among health professionals who believe they may pose more risks than benefits.
If crib bumpers are deemed unsafe, why were they initially introduced?
Crib bumpers were developed before the regulation of crib slat spacing. Wide gaps between slats presented a danger for newborns, as their arms, legs, or heads could become trapped between the wooden or metal bars. At the time, crib bumpers may have offered a necessary solution and provided a slightly safer alternative.
However, contemporary regulations have significantly tightened the spacing of crib slats. Federal law now mandates that slats should be no more than 2 ⅜ inches apart, making it impossible for a newborn's head to get caught. Consequently, crib bumpers, despite their visual appeal, no longer address a pertinent issue and, instead, have been associated with their own set of problems. According to the Journal of Pediatrics, crib bumpers contributed to 77 deaths between 1985 and 2022, either due to suffocation or entanglement in the strings used to attach the bumper to the crib.
Concerns about bumperless cribs persist among parents. What about the baby rolling into hard sides or fingers getting stuck between slats? Health professionals generally agree that the risks of minor incidents like rolling head bumps or trapped limbs are preferable, as they are unlikely to result in serious harm to the baby. The usual outcome of a trapped limb is a few tears of frustration. Compared to the suffocation risks associated with bumpers, these smaller risks are considered more acceptable.
Even the federal government has taken steps to limit and potentially eliminate the use of padded crib bumpers. In May 2022, the President signed the Safe Sleep for Babies Act of 2021 into law, designating crib bumpers as a banned hazardous product under the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA).
What about mesh bumpers?
Mesh bumpers have emerged as a popular alternative to padded crib bumpers and are not restricted by the 2022 law. Mesh is promoted for its "breathability" and airflow properties, aiming to prevent suffocation while supposedly addressing the issue of trapped limbs. If a bumper is deemed necessary, mesh is considered a safer choice. However, even mesh bumpers still pose risks of entanglement or getting caught between the bumper and the mattress.
We advocate for bare cribs. Your baby's safety is our top priority, and all our cribs meet and surpass the highest safety standards for spacing, construction, and baby-safe finishes. We recommend using your crib with only a well-fitting crib mattress, a fitted sheet, and a sleepsack—nothing more.
We understand that nothing is more crucial than ensuring the safety of your little one. Therefore, we are committed to researching, developing, and sharing the most up-to-date safety tips and practices available