Crib bumpers may look cute in your baby's nursery but might not be the safest decor choice for your little one. The plush fabric that encircles the inside of the crib could be beneficial for keeping your baby from bumping her head or getting her arms and legs caught between the crib slats, but bumpers also pose a risk for suffocation. In response, some manufacturers now market mesh crib bumpers, which they claim don't impede breathing.
General Crib Bumper Guidelines
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against using any type of crib bumpers because a baby could get her face pressed against the bumper. Young babies may not have developed the muscle control necessary to move themselves when they're not breathing, potentially leading to sudden infant death syndrome. Babies can also get trapped or strangled by the crib bumper ties. The changes to crib bumper recommendations evolved in response to several reported SIDS deaths as a result of their use. The bottom line is that the risks far outweigh the benefits, and skipping the crib bumper is your safest bet.
Mesh Crib Bumpers
Some baby gear companies have started selling mesh crib bumpers for parents who want to reduce the risk of SIDS but also worry about crib slats causing injury. However, the AAP recommends against using any type of crib bumper, mesh or otherwise. Even a bumper marketed as "breathable" poses a risk for entrapment or strangulation from the ties used to secure it to the crib.
Safe Crib Bedding
While some states are considering banning the sale of crib bumpers, they are still available for purchase in most baby supply stores. Understanding proper crib safety can help you make the right choice for your baby. The AAP urges parents to use a firm, snugly fitting mattress in the crib and avoid any plush blankets, crib bumpers or stuffed animals. In essence, your baby should be in her crib alone. Use a blanket sleeper to keep her warm and save the toys for when she's awake. Make sure your little one sleeps on her back at all times.
Avoiding crib bumpers is one way to keep your little one safe in her crib; it dramatically reduces the risk of SIDS or suffocation. In addition to following safe crib practices, the AAP recommends breastfeeding your baby and keeping her immunizations up-to-date, both of which help reduce the risk of SIDS in combination with the avoidance of pillows, blankets and stuffed animals in the crib.