Are crib bumpers safe? – Cleveland Clinic

Padded crib bumpers certainly sound like a good idea. What baby wouldn’t love to sleep in a cozy ring of plush stuffing, right? Also, the nice patterns on the bumpers provide a much better visual than the wooden rails.

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There’s only one problem: crib bumpers can be deadly – the reason they’re now banned in the United States. The Safe Sleep for Babies Act enacted in May 2022 prohibits the future manufacture or sale of padded bumpers.

Of course, this legislation does nothing about the millions of bed bumpers previously sold and currently in use.

If a crib used by a baby in your home still has padded bumpers, the recommendation is to remove them. Pediatrician Heidi Szugye, DO, IBCLC, explains why removal should be at the top of your to-do list.

The risks of bed bumpers

Padded crib bumpers can cause suffocation, strangulation and entrapment, and there’s a heartbreaking statistic to prove it: The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has linked 113 infant deaths to bumpers. – padded crib shocks between 1990 and 2019.

For many, this tragic tally comes as no surprise.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advised caregivers against using padded bed bumpers in 2011 given the potential danger. This action followed a 2007 study that described the dangerous properties of the product.

“There is no doubt that they can be harmful,” says Dr. Szugye. “For years you have seen crib bumpers marketed as sleep safe. They are not.”

The federal ban does not include unpadded mesh crib liners. But Dr. Szugye recommends staying away from all protective products, as they offer no real benefit while adding risks.

Angled sleepers are also prohibited.

The Safe Baby Sleep Act has also placed a “hazardous product prohibited” label on slant sleepers for infants. These sleepers – which tilt at a slope greater than 10 degrees – pose a suffocation hazard.

The CPSC reported 73 deaths among 1,108 incidents involving reclining sleepers between 2005 and 2019. Testing by the agency found no reclining sleeper safe for infant sleep.

Prior to the ban, slant rails were subject to numerous product safety recalls.

How to Create a Safe Sleep Environment for your baby

OK… take a deep breath. After all this information about dangerous sleeping conditions, let’s focus on how your baby can sleep safely.

The AAP’s “safe sleep” recommendations always start the same way: place your baby on their back to sleep. “Make sure you do it,” advises Dr. Szugye. “There is no doubt that this is the safest way for your child to sleep.”

The push for babies to sleep on their backs began in the 1990s. The movement led to an immediate drop in sleep-related deaths and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Other AAP suggestions related to cribs and sleep include:

  • Let your baby sleep in their own space. Sharing a bed or couch with an adult can be dangerous for infants. There is an increased risk of suffocation from bedding and pillows, as well as the possibility of being rolled over by the adult.
  • Do not use swings or car seats for sleeping. These pose the same risk as reclined sleepers – mainly that your baby’s head may fall forward due to the tilt and create breathing difficulties.
  • Make sure your crib meets current standards. Avoid using cribs made before 2011, when new safety standards came into effect. Older cribs often have drop sides and wider slats which can be dangerous.
  • Use a firm mattress that fits well in the crib. A gap between the mattress and the crib looms as a choking hazard. Your mattress is too small if you can fit more than two fingers between the bedding and the side of the crib.
  • No loose blankets, pillows or stuffed animals in cribs. “All you need for the crib is a flat fitted sheet,” says Dr. Szugye. “You don’t want anything loose that might interfere with your child’s breathing.” (Pro tip: Use a “sleeping bag” instead of a blanket.)

“Your baby’s sleeping position and environment still it doesn’t matter, whether it’s for a nap or at night,” says Dr. Szugye. “Following these recommendations is a simple way to reduce the risk of SIDS or other sleep-related deaths.”

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