Pediatricians Warn Crib Bumpers are Dangerous
Safe baby bedding recommendations have been changed once again according to the American Academy of Pediatrics on October 18, 2011. These recommendations are to help in the prevention of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The most recent addition to those recommendations is that for children under the age of one year crib bumpers should not be used.
For many years the AAP has been issuing guidelines for their safe sleeping recommendations which included suggestions to have an infant sleep on their back, and with no soft toys, pillows, or blankets. Now they have added crib bumpers to the list of items that should not be allowed in the crib. I always thought that the crib bumpers provided a way for the kids’ head to not hit the side of the crib but this new warning does bring up some valid points.
Crib bumpers were originally designed to prevent a baby from falling out of a crib or getting their arms or legs trapped between the crib slats. However, since crib guidelines were changed to only allow for 2 3/8″ between slats, the danger of these problems is not likely. The new crib guidelines do not allow enough space for a baby’s head or body to fit between the slats, and the most probable outcome if a baby were to get an arm or leg caught would be discomfort or upset until help arrived. With these guidelines in place, a serious injury should not be possible. The other thought behind crib bumpers was to protect the baby from banging his or her head against the railing and causing a head injury. The AAP believes that the possibility of a baby having enough strength or force to bang their head hard enough to cause injury is inconceivable.
The new idea from the AAP is that crib bumpers pose a bigger hazard than a help. An infant may roll up against the crib bumper during the night, and not be able to roll away, or not be able to move their head enough that they can breath. Due to babies’ developing muscles and motor control, they may not have the ability to move themselves into a safe position and may suffocate. Also, the ties used to connect the bumper padding to the crib itself can become a danger if the baby were to become tangled in them. Crib bumpers have been linked to suffocation and strangulation deaths for these reasons.
Parents may think they need the crib bumpers because they make the crib look welcoming and comforting. They may also think that just because it comes in the bedding set that it is safe. This is not true. Crib bumpers are more dangerous then helpful, and a safe bed is more important than a pretty one.
In order to provide a safe sleeping environment for a baby, parents should use only a fitted crib sheet with a firm mattress. There should be no gaps between the crib mattress and the railings. No soft items such as pillows, blankets, soft toys, and crib bumpers should ever be used for an infant.