Are you considering getting crib bumpers for your baby’s crib? We urge you not to do it. Please don’t fall for the enticement of these soft, fluffy, cute bumper pads, and we will tell you why. Though many parents still consider crib bumpers a necessary baby product, there have been repeated safety warnings over the years discouraging their use.
Parents still use crib bumpers, thinking they are making the crib safer for their little ones despite warnings from safety agencies and advocacy groups clearly stating that the crib bumpers pose a risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) suffocation and strangulation.
In a statement released by the AAP, the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commissioner (CPSC) Elliot Kaye says that bumper pads are nothing more than “deadly clutter” in the nation’s cribs. This statement was alongside a report analysis of 107 fatal and 282 non-fatal incidents between 1990 and 2016 related to bumper pads. What’s worse, in more recent studies done from 2008 to 2012, it has been shown that the annual rate of crib bumper-connected death has almost tripled. As a result, the AAP is of the stand that crib bumpers should never be used.
The warnings do not end there. The Baby Sleep Doctor, Dr. Edward Kulich, says crib bumpers should not be available to consumers, and he gives these reasons why he recommends parents to stay away from crib bumpers:
- Babies less than 3 to 4 months old can’t roll and are very unlikely to generate enough force to be injured.
- Babies aged 4 to 9 months can roll with their face into a crib bumper, which is just like a pillow, so there is a potential risk of suffocation.
- Toddlers between 9 to 10 months are able to pull themselves to a standing position and can use the crib bumper as a step to get out of the crib, resulting in a fall.
The bottom line is traditional crib bumpers are dangerous to have in your baby’s crib. But, they still regard them as an essential part of their babies’ cribs by many parents. Jacobsen, a worker with families that struggle with the idea of not using crib bumpers, recommends going the mesh route.
Mesh crib bumpers are not the only alternatives available. There are several more options that can protect your baby without the risk of SIDS including the use of a breathing baby monitor.
Having said all that, we urge you to forget the idea of buying a crib bumper and opt for a safer alternative.
Why crib bumpers are not safe and how to mitigate their risk
Originally, crib bumper pads were used to prevent the baby’s head from being stuck between the crib’s slats-the gaps used to be wider than they are today. Nowadays, parents use bumper pads to keep the baby from hitting their head on the crib slats or prevent the baby from extending their arms or legs through the slats resulting in injury.
Here are the main reasons why health organizations and child safety organizations discourage the use of crib bumper pads:
Risk of suffocation
A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics in 2007 recorded 27 infant deaths linked to bumper pads.
Crib bumpers pads can restrict airflow, causing babies to rebreathe stale air and suffocate. This is also because small babies are unable to move their heads away from the bumper pad, causing suffocation. This is a major risk of SIDS.
How to mitigate: Avoid bumper pads or any alternatives when your baby is 0 to 4 months. Young babies cannot move or rollover, so it’s not possible for them to bump their heads on the crib rails or even get their arms or legs stuck between crib slats.
You can rest assured of your baby’s safety if you follow the AAP’s safe sleep practice- nothing in the crib except a firm mattress and a fitted sheet, and place your baby on their back to sleep.
Risk of strangulation
Strangulation is another cause of infant death related to traditional crib bumpers. In the same 2007 study, baby entanglement in crib ties was reported to be a cause of infant death.
How to mitigate: Use safe crib alternatives with Velcro or zipper instead of ties. Or ensure you the crib bumper ties are tightly tied with no strings left loose or hanging.
Risk of entrapment
Crib bumper pads that are pillow-like create a possibility of the baby’s head becoming stuck between the crib bumper and crib mattress, causing suffocation as the baby is unable to move their head.
How to mitigate: use only thin and firm crib bumper pads, and avoid those as thick as a pillow.
Risk of falls
Often parents forget to remove the bumper pads once their baby can stand up in the crib. The bumper pad can then provide a foothold, enabling your baby to climb out of the crib, resulting in falls and injury.
How to mitigate: Take out the crib bumper from the crib once your baby can stand.
What to use instead of crib bumpers
Vertical crib bumpers are considered the safest option in the market compared to any other crib bumpers. Instead of lining the crib to protect your baby against problems associated with the hard crib rails, vertical crib bumper pads are attached directly onto every rail on the crib.
These vertical bumper pads prevent your baby from being injured on the rails and make it hard for the baby to get stuck between the slats.
The bumper pads are spaced out enough to allow adequate airflow in and out of the crib, but not so much that the baby would be able to extend their arms or legs out.
Mesh bumpers are highly regarded as safe alternatives by many parents as they do not prevent airflow like padded crib bumpers. As a result, chances of your baby suffocating or rebreathing stale air are greatly minimized.
But, that is not to say that the mesh crib liners are completely suffocation-free. That’s why it’s not advisable to use them with a small baby who can’t move their head if they are sleeping close to the mesh liner.
Also, note that you should take off the mesh liner from the crib once your baby can stand up so they can’t use it as a booster to jump off the crib.
Crib Rail Cover
A crib rail cover is another safe option that doesn’t compromise your baby’s safety. It may not protect when your baby bangs their head during sleep but it will work when the baby is standing in their crib.
Additionally, the rail cover also comes in handy once your baby starts teething. It prevents them from chewing on the crib railing and ingesting paint or being injured by crib splinters.
A wearable blanket/Sleep Sack
Wearable blankets are designed to keep your baby warm and comfortable instead of using loose blankets, which can cause suffocation.
A wearable blanket also prevents the baby from extending their legs between the slats and getting stuck.
Finally, they also keep the baby from being able to stand up to climb out of the crib leading to falls.
Reviews of Top Alternatives to Crib Bumpers Available in 2021:
The Pure Safety vertical crib bumpers encourage airflow into the crib and reduce any risk of suffocation while preventing entrapment, climbing out.
Made from luxurious Minky fabric, the liners are soft to the touch and create a cozy and safe environment for your baby. When placed around crib rails, they protect your little ones, face, head, and body against injuries from bumping on the hard slats.
There is no strangulation risk with these liners because they use lead-free zippers instead of strings to secure. They come in a pack of 2, 24, or 38 liners, and they measure 24 inches high and 6 inches wide. They can be stretched or compressed to fit any size crib.
Do you like to keep things simple with classic colors that blend with any bedding set? These liners come in white variations, ecru, gray, and mint green color options.
Made with hypoallergenic and lead-free material, these award-winning and pediatrician-recommended mesh liners help reduce the risk of suffocation, entanglement, and climbing. In addition, they use special Air Channel Technology which promotes airflow.
A pack comes with two panels, both measuring 11 inches high. The short panel covers the front railing while the longer panel wraps around the remaining 3 sides of the crib. They use textured fasteners instead of dangerous ties and are machine washable and fast drying.
Do you like a jungle-themed nursery? Then, use these safari-themed breathable meshes in the crib and watch how your nursery will come to life with fun animals like the lion, elephant, and monkey.
The breathable mesh keeps your baby’s arms and legs from getting stuck between the crib slats while allowing maximum airflow in the crib. Made from 100% polyester, the lightweight mesh is safe around your baby as it’s also free from harmful chemicals and flame retardants and is also endorsed by doctors.
A pack includes two long panels with Velcro to attach to the head and foot of the crib and ties to secure to the crib rails.
Perhaps you have already agreed to ditch the idea of a crib bumper but still need an added layer of protection. A padded rail cover protects your baby against injuries when they accidentally bang their head and does not restrict airflow. Not just that, the covers also keep your teething baby from ingesting harmful toxins and leaving marks on the rails.
The Trend Lab fleece rail covers come in vibrant colors that will add a nice touch to your nursery décor. You can get two covers for the crib’s short sides (8 inches x 18 inches) or long sides (27 x 18 inches). The covers have a soft fleece top, padded middle, and waterproof back for maximum protection. There are short ties to fasten.
While these really cute plush braids will not protect your baby from banging their head while standing, you can definitely line around the crib if your baby is able to sit, stand and roll over on their own. This will create a soft protective environment around your baby.
Juju and Jake braids are hand-made using only 100% soft cotton fabric and hypoallergenic stuffing. They are available in multiple colors and sizes to fit your crib coverage needs, and you can also have them custom-made for you.
Keep in mind that braided bumpers are not recommended for small babies who can’t move their heads if sleeping close to the braid due to the risk of suffocation.
Mesh liners from BreathableBaby are the best quality and most popular, and we love that they have a wide selection of color patterns to match any nursery theme.
For those who love a more neutral aesthetic for your nursery, this starry mesh liner is attractive and perfect as a crib bumper alternative. It allows airflow and, at the same time, prevents your baby from getting their arms and legs stuck through the slats. Even when they are older, they can’t climb out because the liner collapses if they try to step onto it.
Yet another breathable mesh liner from BreathableBaby, the owl pattern is super cute and the colors are perfect for any little girl’s cribs.
With this liner, you never have to worry about your baby getting stuck through the slats or not breathing.
How to make a crib bumper pad
You don’t have to buy bumper pads for your baby’s crib. If you have basic sewing skills, and a few hours to spare, you can easily make your own bumpers with colors and patterns that you love.
What you need
- Sewing machine
- 1 to 2 yards of fabric
- Cotton batting
- Tracing paper
Measure your all the way around the inside of your crib and add one inch to both the length and height you choose.
Cut the tracing paper into the right size you want your bumper to be. You may need to join together several pieces of paper using the tape to get the correct length.
Measure where the crib ties ought to be placed so that the ties will reach the crib slats. Mark these lengths on the pattern.
Fold the fabric right side together such that the side with the pattern is facing itself.
Place the pattern on the fabric and pin it together
Cut the fabric to get the total length needed. You may need to cut several sections of fabric to get the right length. Stuck the short ends of the fabric together and sew a seam to join them. Continue sewing pieces together until you have the correct length required to cover the entire length around the inside of the crib.
Cut cotton batting to match the size of the pattern. Place the batting on top of the fabric, with the fabric’s right sides still facing together. This will make the batting to be on the inside of the fabric once you turn the finished bumper right side out.
Cut 12 pairs of ribbon ties at around 10 inches long.
Place the ribbon ties perpendicular to the seam along with the fabric in every place that you marked on the pattern. Then, pin the ribbon in place. The ribbon ties should be located between the two pieces of fabric such that when the finished bumper is turned right side out, the ribbon will be seen on the outside and will extend beyond the fabric both on the top and bottom.
Remove the paper pattern and pin the fabric together for sewing
Sew all along the edge at about ½ inch from the edge. Leave one small end open to enable you to turn the fabric right side out, and then stitch the end closed.
I am Ashley Davis, a mom of three kids and the editor here at 10BabyGear. I have been a parent since 2011 and have been doing full-time consulting as a baby sleep expert since 2019. When I am not researching or testing the next baby gear hitting the market, you’ll find me teaching my toddlers a trick or two – especially over the last few months with the lockdown. I hope you’ll find my guides and reviews helpful as you make your next purchase decision. If you have any questions, you can reach me at email@example.com.