Bumper pads should never be used in infants’ cribs, according to new guidelines released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). This recommendation, issued as part of an updated and expanded set of guidelines on safe sleep and SIDS prevention for babies, is the first time the AAP has officially come out against the use of crib bumpers. According to the AAP, there is no evidence that bumpers protect against injury, but they do carry a potential risk of suffocation, strangulation, or entrapment because infants lack the motor skills or strength to turn their heads should they roll into something that obstructs their breathing.
When the AAP issued its last policy statement on sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in 2005, it recommended using bumpers that were thin, firm, well secured, and not ‘pillowlike.’ What’s behind the change in thinking to remove bumpers altogether? Recent studies have shown that bumper pads may be far more hazardous than previously thought. “In 2005, when we last published a policy statement and recommendations, we had some concerns about bumper pads, but we didn’t really have a lot of evidence that this was a real problem,” said Rachel Moon, MD, FAAP, of the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, chairperson of the AAP SIDS task force and lead author of the new guidelines. “Since then, there have been some published studies looking at bumper pads, and we concluded that if there’s no reason for them to be in the crib, it’s better to just have them out of there, particularly in light of the deaths that have been reported, that have been associated with the bumper pads.”
Since the AAP released its landmark guidelines in 1992 that all babies be placed on their backs to sleep, deaths from SIDS dramatically decreased initially, but have plateaued in recent years. At the same time, sleep-related deaths from other causes, including suffocation, entrapment and asphyxia, have increased.
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