Crib bumper pads became popular in older-style cribs where the slats were far enough apart that a baby's head could become trapped between the slats, posing a suffocation risk. Today, all cribs sold in the United States and Canada are required to have slats close enough together that it's nearly impossible for an infant's head to fit through.
So why do we still use the crib bumper pads? For some parents, the reason may be as simple as liking the way the bumper pad looks. The matched in stores are often cute and the package deal makes for a nice coordinated nursery.
While SIDS deaths cannot be attributed to a specific cause, we do know that crib bumpers have caused infant deaths due to strangulation or suffocation, which indicates that the dangers may outweigh the benefits. A looked at infant deaths attributed to crib bumpers from 1985 to 2005 and found that 27 children under the age of 2 died due to strangulation or suffocation by bumper pads or their ties. The study also found another 25 children who were injured but not killed by bumper pads.
Some major children's safety organizations have recently suggested that parents and child care providers should remove crib bumper pads from baby cribs. The groups include: , , the , , and the . Some state and regional Back to Sleep campaigns now recommend removing bumper pads, as well.