If there were no automobiles, children would never die from car accidents. Right.
But we need cars. They take us to cool and important places, like your Pediatrician’s office, or work, respectively. Therefore, we accept the risk of putting our children into cars, and do our best to make them as safe as possible. Carseats, anti-lock brakes, air bags, speed limits, rules of the road, etc.
If there were no crib bumpers, infants would never die from crib bumpers. Also right.
However, we don’t need crib bumpers. At all. Ever. They are seriously pointless, and worse, they can be deadly.
An article published by the Journal of Pediatrics this past year found that 23 infants were killed by crib bumpers from 2006-2012. Notice I didn’t say “only” 23 infants. These deaths are entirely preventable, making one such death needless and tragic.
So why are they still found in cribs?
Well, Pottery Barn Kids makes us think we need them; why else would they display them in their stores?
Pintrest makes us think we need them; how else can that barren crib look cute and cuddly?
I’ll grant even common sense might make us think we need them, to prevent limb entrapment, or banging a vulnerable head against a hard rail.
Ultimately, all of these considerations are misleading.
Proposed benefits of crib bumpers include preventing entrapment of head, neck, or limbs between the crib rails, or preventing head trauma. Fortunately, the width of the rails, or ‘slats’ are regulated to be less than the width of a soda can. Limb entrapment does occur, but is not prevented entirely by crib bumpers. More importantly, limb entrapment is not a serious or deadly injury. There was one case of an infant hitting his head on a crib rail, causing a bruise. We (and your infant) can live with that.
We (and your infant) can also live with a plain, boring, nothing-but-baby, crib.
Pediatricians have advocated strongly against their use, and all soft bedding, as part of a comprehensive safe sleep policy statement issued in 2008, and reiterated in 2011. I personally don’t let a family leave my newborn nursery without explaining the safest possible sleep environment, ie, the lowest risk of sudden unexpected infant death. I tell parents to remember your ABC’s of safe sleep: Place infants Alone, on the Backs, and in their own crib. No bumpers. No stuffed animals. Make pinterest scoff in pity and disapproval. Your baby is sleeping safe tonight!
But it’s not enough, clearly. In this recent article published last month in Pediatrics, investigators got sneaky and filmed parents and their infant’s sleep environment. I’m not kidding. 91% had the stuff I just talked about in their sleep environments (bedding, bumper pads, pillows etc).
If only we treated crib bumpers like we do other things that are completely unnecessary and dangerous. Like, nuclear waste. You can’t buy that stuff because its dangerous, and unless powering your 1985 DeLorean for time-travel purposes, is completely unnecessary to possess. It’s probably illegal. Wait. Yes! That’s it! What if a crib bumper, which is clearly a hazardous, unnecessary material, were illegal to sell? Impossible? Wrong.
Maryland’s state department of health did just that, and in two short years from conception to action, passed a regulation banning the sale of baby bumper pads. You can read more here.
The INAAP Perinatal and Infant Mortality Committee believes Indiana should follow suit. On Monday, October 17th we will be advocating “Ban the Bumper” day. On this day we invite everyone to share our messages through your Twitter and Facebook social media accounts, using #BanTheBumper.
Messages to share (cut and paste away!) include:
- Crib bumper deaths are needless, tragic, and 100% preventable! #BanTheBumper #LaborOfLove16
- 23 infants died because of crib bumpers from 2006-2012. We can put an end to this! #BanTheBumper #LaborOfLove16
- Indiana ranks 45/50 in perinatal mortality. Let’s do everything possible to save these lives! #BanTheBumper #LaborOfLove16
- A baby should be the only cute object in a crib #BanTheBumper #LaborOfLove16
- Boring crib = safe sleep #BoringIsBest #BanTheBumper #LaborOfLove16
- Your baby can live with a boring crib without crib bumpers! #BanTheBumper #BoringIsBest #LaborOfLove16
This date coincides with the Indiana department of health sponsored infant mortality summit, “Labor of Love,” where I will be presenting the dangers of crib bumpers, and advocating their removal from infant stores. And by all means, if you are driving by an infant supply store, or perusing Pinterest, and see these deadly, unnecessary objects in cribs, let them know they are endorsing a real threat to infant safety.
I hope you will join with INAAP as we encourage everyone to #BanTheBumper.
Tony GiaQuinta, MD FAAP