Crib bumpers are still included in most infant bedding sets, but that doesn’t mean they should end up in your crib. In fact, a team of experts is calling for a ban on bumpers after new research shows they’re more dangerous than we ever imagined.
In a new study published in The Journal of Pediatrics, three researchers reviewed crib-related accident and injury reports from the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). They classified each incident by the mechanism that caused it and ended up finding that crib bumpers — not blankets, pillows, or stuffed animals — are the sole cause of injury or death in the majority of crib accidents.
According to a Washington University press release, the researchers found 48 infant deaths were linked directly to crib bumpers from 1985 to 2012. What’s even more disturbing is the number of deaths seems to be increasing, despite repeated warnings against using bumpers. There were 23 bumper-related deaths reported to the CPSC from 2006 to 2012, which is three times higher than bumper-related accidents reported during the previous seven year period.
What it all boils down to is the fact that crib bumpers are bad news, and the researchers behind this study want them banned. Said the lead study author, Doctor Bradley T. Thach, “A ban on crib bumpers would reinforce the message that no soft bedding of any kind should be placed inside a baby’s crib. There is one sure-fire way to prevent infant deaths from crib bumpers: Don’t use them, ever.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics changed its stance on crib bumpers in 2011, recommending that parents avoid them entirely — yes, even the thin mesh ones. Despite that, many people still use them. In fact, a Baby Center post about this most recent study is littered with comments from people defending bumpers and calling a potential ban on them “too extreme.” Writes one, “23 deaths in 6 years is statistically insignificant. It is very sad that it happened but not a reason to ban something.”
The thing is, each of those 23 deaths was entirely preventable. If we know there’s a way to prevent a child’s death, shouldn’t we do it? Isn’t it worth a ban, or at least a warning label that explains there’s a significant risk in using crib bumpers? Yes, 23 is a small number over six years, but it’s huge when you consider that zero kids would have died from crib bumpers if they weren’t being used.
We do the best we can as parents, and it’s easy to feel judged when these studies come out and point a finger at something we do or a product we use. In this case, though, it’s worth considering the evidence and making a change. Even a statistically small chance of harm is a big deal when it’s easily preventable, and it’s worth it to adapt to keep kids safe.