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Here’s the Deal With Crib Bumpers and Bumper Alternatives

All new parents need to know about these.

shnuggle air bedside sleeper infant crib

Are you considering purchasing a crib bumper for a baby on the way? Fluffy, patterned, and soft to the touch, crib bumpers have been sitting on the shelves of mainstream retailers for decades.

Though seemingly harmless, crib bumpers can actually increase the risk of SIDS. (Yikes!) From 1990 to 2016, 107 fatal and 282 nonfatal incidents (related to suffocation, strangulation, and entrapment) were directly connected to crib bumpers. Even scarier? In the more recent years of the study (2008 to 2012), the annual rate of crib bumper-related deaths nearly tripled.

Dr. Edward Kulich, The Baby Sleep Doctor, says crib bumpers should "absolutely not" be available to consumers, and he gave us three reasons why he recommends parents keep crib bumpers far away from, well, the crib:

  1. Until about 3 to 4 months old, babies don't roll, and it's unlikely an infant would generate enough force to be injured.
  2. Before 4 to 9 months old, babies can roll face-first into a crib bumper — the equivalent of using a pillow. There's certainly a theoretical risk of suffocation.
  3. After 9 to 10 months old, most infants can pull themselves to a standing position, and use the crib bumper as a step to fall out of the crib.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also states crib bumpers should never be used — and the warnings don't stop there.

Alison Jacobson, aka “The Safety Mom,” lost her son, Connor, to SIDS, and now she's the CEO of CJ First Candle, an organization that works to prevent and eliminate SIDS.

"There's just no need for crib bumpers," she urges. "Parents worry about their child getting an arm or leg caught in the rails, but crib bumpers can lead to major issues."

The potential danger related to traditional crib bumpers is clear. For many parents, however, bumpers are still an essential part of outfitting their little one's crib. Jacobsen, who works with families that have trouble parting with the idea of a crib bumper, recommends going the mesh route.

"Some parents will be purists and choose nothing at all, but for parents who want to use a crib bumper, mesh is the only way to go," she says.

Crib bumper alternatives are available. They're typically made with mesh or other breathable fabric. If you are going to use one of these alternatives, you have to remove them before the baby is able to pull themselves to standing. Otherwise, they can be used as a step to pull themselves out of the crib, potentially causing a hazardous fall.

Ditch the idea of bringing home a crib bumper altogether, and opt for a safer alternative. Here are seven of our favorite crib bumper alternatives for the parents who won't go completely bare.

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1 BreathableBaby for Pottery Barn Baby Linen Mesh Liner
pottery barn

Keep it simple with a subtle, light gray liner. Made of breathable mesh, this crib bumper alternative's air channel technology will help parents rest easier when the lights go out. It doesn't hurt to buy two, either, so you have a backup when the other is being cleaned.

More: Start Looking Forward to Bedtime With These Weighted Blankets for Kids

2 2-in-1 Breathable Mesh Mini Crib With Mattress

Take out the middleman: You don't need to worry about a bumper if the entire crib is essentially a bumper. The mini crib from Breathable Baby is a wooden crib with fully mesh sides. It comes with a mattress, and the whole thing is slightly larger than a play yard. It's a great balance.

3 Shnuggle Air Bedside Sleeper Infant Crib

She's beauty, she's grace, she's a space-age, breathable crib.

This crib from Beaba can be a smaller infant height, or a full-depth crib. There's no need to worry about baby's arms or legs getting stuck because the exterior is mesh. It's beautiful, comfortable, and truly just an absolute feat of engineering.

4 Classic Breathable Mesh Crib Liner

This breathable mesh liner is so cute. Featuring an adorable whale pattern with a navy blue trim, this crib bumper alternative is the perfect addition to a nautical-themed nursery.

5 CribWrap Wide Long Pink Fleece Rail Cover
Trend Lab

Maybe you're ready to part with the idea of a crib bumper, but still need an added layer of protection. A padded railing cover protects your little one from banging their head accidentally, without restricting airflow.

This fuzzy fleece Trend Lab rail bumper is in an upbeat, bright color and design to blend in with any nursery decor.

6 Classic Breathable Mesh Crib Liner

You won't have to worry about your babe getting stuck in their crib with this fun, printed, protective-mesh crib liner. If you have a woodlands nursery theme, this owl liner will be the perfect fit.

7 Classic Breathable Mesh Crib Liner

If you want a more neutral aesthetic for your baby, this starry mesh liner is the perfect crib bumper alternative. BreathableBaby offers some whimsical patterns to jazz up your baby's nursery.

For a nursery that isn't following any particular theme, this is a charming addition.

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