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Safety Alert: Crib Bumpers

Bumper pads make a crib look cozy, but new research shows that almost all of them are dangerous, since bumpers or their ties can suffocate or strangle a baby. And they don't prevent any major injuries, so they're not worth the risk, says lead study author Bradley Thach, M.D., of Washington University in St. Louis, who analyzed 20 years of data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Presently, guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) say that bumpers are fine as long as the pads are not "pillow-like" and are securely attached to the crib. But the AAP may change its recommendation in the future, as the study found firm pads can be dangerous, too (trapping an infant's head in the space between bumper and mattress). So for now it's safest to avoid using bumpersĀ --or at least practice these tips:

Go mesh. A breathable mesh bumper that's snugly attached should be a safer way to keep little arms and legs from slipping through the rails.

Keep ties short. The study found bumpers on the market with ties longer than 9 inches, which are a strangulation hazard. After you've tied on the bumpers, make sure you trim any excess.

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