In a case of the solution truly being worse than the problem it was designed to solve, pediatric researchers have found that the risks posed by infant crib bumpers far outweigh any perceived benefits of the devices and that they have no place in an infant’s crib.
Placed around the inside of a baby’s crib, the soft, padded bumpers are designed to prevent impacts, such as those from the baby’s head, on a crib’s vertical slats. Proponents of the devices also cite the risk of the baby getting limbs stuck in the spaces between the slats; possibly leading to broken bones.
However, in findings published in the Journal of Pediatrics, researchers have found that, at worst, a baby may suffer a minor bruise on the head if they hit a slat. Any further fears about crib dangers are largely unwarranted.
This has led to calls for a ban on the sale of crib bumpers because of the very real dangers that are introduced by their presence in a crib – particularly when it comes to suffocation.
A baby’s face can easily become wedged into a corner of a crib bumper and create a situation where the baby is continuously breathing in the same air that he or she just exhaled. Each time this occurs, more and more oxygen is replaced by carbon dioxide. The end result, unless discovered in time, is suffocation and the eventual death of the child.
In a heartbreaking analysis of the data, researchers found that 48 infants died in their cribs of crib bumper-related suffocation in the US between 1985 and 2012. Of those, 32 could have prevented had no bumper been present.
38 lives in 27 years may not seem like a large number, but to the parents who lost their babies, those 38 lives are everything.
The numbers also support these claims as part of a rising trend, as today’s parents seek new ways to further protect their children. Crib deaths related to the use of bumpers have tripled in the seven years from 2006 to 2012. Similar seven-year periods over the past 25 years saw no such increase.
Those parents that are concerned with their babies getting limbs through the slats in their cribs are encouraged to use mesh-style barriers that keep hands and feet in the crib but don’t restrict airflow in the event that the infant has wedged his or her face into a corner or side.
Parents will always try to do the best thing for their children and to keep their children safe; particularly when they are as helpless and dependent as they are as infants. However, caution should always be used when determining whether a new product will introduce more risk into a child’s environment than the risks that it mitigates.