Crib Bumpers: To Use or Not To Use

Many health agencies have suggested that crib bumper pads should not be used as they pose a risk of suffocation.

Crib bumper pads, like thick blankets and pillows, can restrict breathing if the baby's nose and mouth are covered by the bumper pad. Babies unable to move themselves around easily are most at risk for suffocation. Babies may be able to move themselves into a bumper pad, but may still be unable to move themselves away from it, especially if their airways are blocked.

Opponents of crib bumper pads also claim that bumper pads restrict the flow of fresh air to the baby. This increases the build up of carbon dioxide and decreases their ability to arouse themselves from sleep enough to prevent suffocation.

Health Canada has suggested that it is nearly impossible for an infant to hit their head hard enough on the crib to cause bruising or injury. It is believed that serious injury is not likely when a child puts his or her arms and legs through the crib slats. Parents have claimed that their active babies have received numerous bruises from hitting their head on the crib.

Listen to your baby. You and you alone know your baby's activity level and whether they like to sleep with their faced wedged in the corner or slip their feet through the slats. Many parents leave the bumper pads in the crib until their child is closer to 12 months or older. If your baby does wedge their face into the corner of the crib, you may find bumper pads provide a cozier alternative.

If you choose to use crib bumper pads, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests they should be thin, firm, well-secured to the crib, and not fluffy or "pillow-like". Crib bumper pads should be used around the entire crib until your baby begins to pull up or stand up. Then remove them so your baby can't use the bumper pads as steps to help them climb out of the crib.

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