*This post first appeared on The PediaBlog on November 30, 2015.
“Bare Is Best”
In a 2011 policy statement regarding “SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Deaths,” the American Academy of Pediatrics expanded their recommendations to make a baby’s sleep environment safer by removing bumper pads from cribs:
Because there is no evidence that bumper pads or similar products that attach to crib slats or sides prevent injury in young infants and because there is the potential for suffocation, entrapment, and strangulation, these products are not recommended.
Since crib bumpers can be purchased wherever cribs are sold, new parents may get the impression they are safe when, in fact, they aren’t. A new study, published in November’s Journal of Pediatrics, highlights the growing dangers of bumper pads to young infants. Jane Greenhalgh says the number of injuries has increased in recent years:
Using data reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, an independent federal regulatory agency that oversees consumer products, the study found that 23 babies died over a seven-year span between 2006 and 2012 from suffocation attributed to a crib bumper. That’s three times higher than the average number of deaths in the three previous seven-year time spans. In total 48 babies’ deaths were attributed to crib bumpers between 1985 and 2012. An additional 146 infants sustained injuries from the bumpers, including choking on the bumper ties or nearly suffocating.
Alan Mozes spoke to one of the study’s authors, who wants crib bumpers banned:
The data shows they’re dangerous, Thach said. A baby’s face can get wedged against the bumper, or between the bumper and mattress, blocking the baby’s nose and mouth, he pointed out.
“The baby’s breathing can get completely blocked, or the baby ends up repeatedly breathing the same air in and out,” he said. “This continuous ‘re-breathing’ means that with every breath the air is increasingly depleted of oxygen, until eventually the baby suffocates.”
Some parents think the padding protects babies from bumping their heads against crib rails, “but we’ve found that if and when it happens, the result is only a minor bruise,” Thach said. “Padded bumpers are also designed to prevent things like limb entrapment [in crib slats], which can be done more safely with mesh bumpers.”
Crib bumper pads are neither useful nor safe. If you have them already in your baby’s crib, please remove them. If you are expecting a new baby, please don’t buy them. If you receive a set for a baby shower gift, politely exchange it for something safer and more useful.