As new parents we do everything in our power to make sure our babies are safe. Advertisers and manufacturers of outrageously priced baby items use this innate protection instinct to market things to us parents that we may not actually need. So before buying any new "safety" baby item, it's always helpful to do a little digging first and especially when it comes to baby's sleeping space. So, are breathable bumpers safe? While it's understandable to worry about your baby's limbs being caught in the rails of their crib, there are a few things to consider before you hit "purchase" or head to the nearest store.
Numerous companies across the internet claim their one-of-a-kind design of mesh crib bumpers are the safer alternative to soft crib bumpers. Those same companies are usually quick to point out that in cribs without bumpers, babies can get their legs and arms caught between the slats. This, they say, can cause an anxiety provoking and potentially painful experience for babies and parents alike. In fact, a study published in 2011 and reported by NBC News found that "almost 10,000 infants and toddlers are hurt in crib and playpen accidents each year." Due to the risk of suffocation associated with traditional soft crib bumpers, these newly developed designs promise parents a peace of mind they may not find when purchasing and/or using regular crib bumpers.
While it's more than understandable that new parents would worry about their children becoming stuck — and even severely hurt — in their cribs, it's important to note that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not differentiate between different types of bumpers. They do, however, recommend against parents using any kind of crib bumper, as anything additional in the crib has been found to increase the risk of suffocation. The AAP's safe sleep recommendations specifically state:
Keep soft objects, loose bedding, or any objects that could increase the risk of entrapment, suffocation, or strangulation out of the baby's sleep area. These include pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, blankets, toys, bumper pads or similar products that attach to crib slats or sides.
The American Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Institute agrees. In their safe sleep recommendations they state several times that a bare crib, with nothing but a fitted crib sheet, is the only safe way for a baby to sleep. Their guidelines specifically require parents to remove crib bumpers before putting baby down to sleep.
Some doctors recommend a sleep sack if parents are still worried about the bumps and bruises that happen when babies appendages get stuck between crib slats. Why? Well, because the research is very clear: crib bumpers, even the breathable mesh kind promising parents safety and security, are not safe in a baby's crib.