Just Say No to Bumper Pads

Over the past couple of clinic days, I have had quite a few parents ask me when they should take their bumper pads off their baby’s crib.

My immediate reply? Now.
Honestly, I had no idea that bumper pads were still so widely used. I know they sell them as part of adorable crib bedding ensembles. I recall having the most beautiful pink Hawaiian inspired bumper pad to match my daughter’s room decor. It was so huge and cumbersome. After painstakingly tying it to the crib slats, I just as soon ripped it off. It looked like pillows surrounding her sleeping area. Surely, that was not safe.

The reality is, all you need and should have in your baby’s crib is a firm mattress and a tight fitting sheet.

Boring, I know, but essential for your baby’s safety. Bumper pads con pose a significant suffocation risk to babies. This article in the Chicago Tribune highlights some tragic stories related to crib bumper pads.

The risk is just not worth it.

So, let’s talk about the essentials of crib safety. Think of the three B’s: Bare, Boring, and no Bumper pads.

Don’t worry your baby will add enough beauty and personality to more than make up for the lack of color coordinated crib bedding.

Here are the Essentials of Crib Safety:

  • Make sure your crib is JPMA certified.
  • The crib slats should be no more than 2 -3/8 inches apart.
  • Do not use a drop side crib. These have received a lot of media attention recently due to injuries and deaths over the last decade. There will be a official ban on these in June 2011.
  • Check this website to make sure your crib has not been recalled.
  • Make sure your crib has a tight fitting and firm mattress.
  • Use a tight fitting crib sheet.
  • Do not use bumper pads. Don’t worry about your little one bumping his head against the crib sides. If he does, the minor head “bumping” would be mild in comparison to the real risk of suffocation.
  • Your baby’s crib should not have any extra blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, or toys that could pose a strangulation or suffocation risk.
  • Do not use sleep positioners
  • Always place your baby to sleep on her back.
  • Sleep sacks are a great way to keep your baby warm at night without adding the risk of suffocation due to a loose blanket in the crib.

Remember, when it comes to your baby and sleep, safety is paramount.

Did you know about the dangers of bumper pads? What questions do you have about SIDS and crib safety?

Complete list of crib safety: Healthy Children
CPSC ban on drop side cribs
AAP Sleep Safety Guidelines

*Every Wednesday I will be answering a question from You! Please submit your parenting or health related question to mommamd4two(at)aol(dot)com. I’m looking forward to hearing from you and featuring your question. *

26 Responses to Just Say No to Bumper Pads
  1. Rachel
    April 6, 2011 | 4:55 am

    At our newborn care class at the local hospital, the nurse petrified me when she talked about bumpers. I did, however, buy a mesh wrap that goes around my little man's crib. It keeps his arms & legs (& pacifier) inside, but even if he mushes his face up against it, he can breathe. And now that he's walking, he can't stand on it to try & get out!!

  2. Jamie
    April 6, 2011 | 6:47 am

    I have a drop sided crib. I'm glad I bought it before the recall. It sounds horrible, but I'm only 5'2" and without that drop side, I couldn't get my sleeping baby into the crib. We make sure the hardware is tight and the baby is 20 months, so she won't be in a crib much longer anyhow. I feel sorry for the short mamas coming down the pike. I don't know how I'd get a baby into or out of a fixed rail crib.

    ANYHOW, I'm surprised they still sell crib bumpers. My oldest was born in 2000 and there were a no-no then.

    • Heather
      August 14, 2012 | 7:44 pm

      I’m 5’2 and have absolutely no problem putting my sleeping baby into the crib.. just bend over.

  3. Liz
    April 6, 2011 | 7:04 am

    So I have (and am currently) breaking a few of these rules, but I won't confess to which. 😉

  4. Lexie Loo & Dylan Too
    April 6, 2011 | 9:25 am

    Wonderful post!!! When my son was born 6 years ago, we put up the bumper, out of fear that he would get stuck or bump his head. When my daughter was born, we skipped it, and we soon learned that it was completely unnecessary! Same goes for the sleep positioner. We didn't even use blankets until our kids were much older-sleep sacks are a wonderful investment!

    I honestly wish more people knew how unsafe these items are. Great way to spread the word!

  5. Erica
    April 6, 2011 | 9:32 am

    Lots of people were surprised that we didn't pick any bumper pads or cute blankets for our crib. Just some crib sheets. But it's easy maintenance, cheaper and less worry. Now that my daughter is older (19 months) I have toys and books in her crib but when she was a little one, it was bare.

  6. Pat the PI
    April 6, 2011 | 10:45 am

    When I came home from the hospital in 1951, I slept in a dresser drawer until I outgrew it, then on to a regular bed. How did I ever survive?

    Suggestion regarding the short mothers and cribs without drop sides; cut the legs down so the top edge is at an appropriate height for you. Customize for YOU. You and your baby will be better off for it.

  7. Dalia (Generation X Mom)
    April 6, 2011 | 11:25 am

    I remember with my first the crib was all pretty, by the third there was a sheet. So many people asked me where the rest of the crib was. They claimed she would hit her head on the hard crib. My thought – better than suffocating – but try to keep my 'baby' opinions to myself ;).

  8. Barbara Manatee
    April 6, 2011 | 11:50 am

    We bought bumpers for my twins before they were born but then took them back before they were ever born and never used them. I was strict about putting them on their backs to sleep and had quite a disagreement with my MIL about it when she watched the babies for us once.

    I did re-consider bumpers as my kids got older – my daughter 'rocks' in her crib and will bump her head against the sides. Still at age 4. it drives me crazy to hear her, esp when she gives herself a bruise or mark on her forehead but our Ped. insists its common and to not worry. She's typically developing but has a lot of sensory issues. He keeps saying she'll grow out of it but i keep wondering when!?!

    April is Autism Awareness Month. I'm blogging all month long about Autism.

  9. Katherine
    April 6, 2011 | 11:56 am

    I had no idea. This is what happens when you've been out of the newborn loop for a while.

  10. The mad woman behind the blog
    April 6, 2011 | 12:46 pm

    Thank you! We're in the market for a new crib and new MALE bedding. And now I know what I WON'T be shopping for!

  11. Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds
    April 6, 2011 | 3:03 pm

    It's curious that they still sell them!

  12. Amy
    April 6, 2011 | 3:14 pm

    My baby's "bumper" isn't really fluffy at all. It's thinner and light like a quilt. It's tied tight to the rails of the crib so I don't feel like it's a huge risk. She can't pull it down.

  13. Rebecca
    April 6, 2011 | 6:27 pm

    Great post! My 6 month old has only a sheet in her crib, but now that she rolls, she gets her legs through the slats and cries. We go back in and move her, but she always wakes up from it. We were considering mesh bumpers (Breathe Baby or something like that is the brand). What do you think of those?

  14. alison
    April 6, 2011 | 7:04 pm

    i had such a hard time pulling the bumper pads off my babies' cribs….but i always did. it always seemed like such a waste not to use them, but at the same time i wasn't going to risk my precious ones' lives just for cute bumpers. besides, the bumpers made it SO hard to get the mattress up to change the crib sheets! i will have to admit that i used a sleep positioner of sorts for all three of mine. it was a memory foam pad that went into their cradle that elevated them just a tad. it was either that or let them sleep in their carseat and i felt the positioner was the safer option!

  15. Cheryl D.
    April 6, 2011 | 10:25 pm

    Yikes, my daughter had bumper pads and a drop-side crib. Plus, her crib was a hand-me-down that was about 8 years old by the time she used it. I'm sure the slats were too wide. Whew! We got lucky!

  16. Annette
    April 7, 2011 | 2:10 am

    I never even thought about this, and just like Cheryl above me, we got lucky. We had bumper pads in Lewie's room too. I'm shocked that bumper pads are sold so widely (and we pay lots of money for them as part of the entire crib decor package) when they pose such a safety risk. Thanks for bringing awareness on this important topic.

  17. Eat. Live. Laugh. and sometimes shop!
    April 7, 2011 | 6:37 am

    So glad I am out of this stage (reminder: go take birth control pill). Our crib is now obsolete (suppose I can get it out of the attic so I don't kill my future grandchildren) and my gorgeous heirloom bumper pads I spent oodles and oodles of cash on because they would last forever (what was I thinking) can go in the trash as well.

    I love that we get smarter and smarter, but it really isn't very green!!

  18. Stefanie
    April 7, 2011 | 8:13 am

    I LOVE the 3 B's! What a great way to remind new parents of the best way to keep their little one safe. Thanks!

  19. 30ish Mama
    April 7, 2011 | 3:20 pm

    Our bumper was really thin as well so I didn't really think it was a risk. I just took the bumper off last week because I was afraid she might step on it and launch herself over the crib railing.

    Thanks for bringing our attention to this!

  20. Lady Jennie
    April 8, 2011 | 3:45 am

    I couldn't do without the bumpers. The baby looked so lost in there and I was afraid little limbs would get stuck in the bars. Fortunately all three turned out alright.

    On a related topic I read the SIDS was due to the fire-proof chemicals in new infant mattresses. Did you hear that?

    Thank you, thank you for leaving such an encouraging comment on my post.

  21. Ameena
    April 10, 2011 | 9:06 am

    I never knew bumper pads were bad! We had them for Maya and I'm glad that nothing bad happened. Thanks for bringing my attention to the dangers!!

  22. Janae
    June 8, 2011 | 7:41 am

    Suggestion for the short moms: buy a cute step stool that matches your nursery….

  23. A Mother's Love
    July 17, 2011 | 10:54 am

    Hi there! I came across your blog and love it! We have a son who died of SIDS are we are passionate about saying NO to bumper pads!!!!

    Thank you for posting this! I preach this whenever I can!

    Thank you on behalf of all the sweet little babies who have died of SIDS.

    Kelley, Grayson's mom forever

  24. Megan
    July 13, 2012 | 4:57 am

    we are using a toddler bed(aka: trundle of old)that bumper bad is not how kids climb out. it just sinks down when stepped on. they can still get out of crib. you ever know a kid who fell out and got brain damage when climbing out. or died it has happened. cribs are unsafe for this and many reasons. I drove adults at ARC that that is what happened to put them there. toddler beds are lower. so when kid climbs out they wont fall on head. floor is reachable. I like the idea of cutting down legs of crib but rail is still to high for a fall. and we co-sleep at night. best way to save you kid from sids. do research and then follow the co-sleeping rules.

  25. Diane
    July 31, 2012 | 4:02 pm

    Thank you for this. I totally agree. I recommend against buying those matching bedding sets since the comforter, blanket and bumpers are off limits anyway. Just buy some tight-fitting sheets a la carte.