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Crib Bumpers: Should I Use One?

If bumpers are dangerous, why are so many stores still selling these complete bedding sets?

I have reached the point in pregnancy where you get to stop worry about everything that will (but actually won’t) go wrong, and you can finally focus on fun things like registering and nursery decor.  I am one of those people who can’t make even the smallest decision without doing endless rounds of research, comparisons, and multiple in-person visits.  It drives my husband completely nuts.  And it should come as no surprise that my neurotic and indecisive tendencies have come out in full swing now that we are trying to decide what items we need (want) for our baby.

The problem is, for as much as I pore over safety standards, latest recall lists, and Consumer Reports most highly recommended items, I’m also a total sucker for things that look good.  While reading a book of recommended baby do’s and don’ts last weekend, I couldn’t help but feel myself both confused and conflicted when it comes to one particular baby item: crib bumpers.  What is the verdict on these?  Are they safe or not?  And if not, why are so many retailers still including them as part of their bedding sets?

I know there are many research studies that are now urging parents not to use bumpers as they can potentially pose a risk for suffocation, should an infant roll into one and not be able to roll back.  As a first-time-mom-to-be, nothing terrifies me more than something threatening to suffocate my baby while he is sleeping!  The newest thing on the market is the breathable bumper, which protects the infants from climbing or getting tangled up between crib bars, without posing the risk of suffocation caused by fabric bumpers.  And if you keep looking, there is plenty of research saying that both fabric and breathable bumpers should be avoided, and the only thing that should be in the crib is a well-made mattress covered in a very tightly fitting crib sheet.

So what does a new mom-to-be do?  Conflicting research and advice abounds, and yet everywhere I look, all I see are bedding collections that include crib bumpers!

While I spend endless hours on the internet browsing beautiful crib bedding collections, every single one that I find includes a decorative bumper along with the matching sheets, crib skirt, and other accessories.  Now I’m not a total fool – I realize that the inclusion of a $100+ crib bumper is also a means to sell more products to excited new moms with designer nursery visions.  But in many cases, including this beautiful set from Land of Nod that I have been coveting, the crib bumper seems to be the pinnacle piece of the set.  Without it, the crib decorated with a rising sun and pretty trees will instead just have simple dotted sheets with nothing else to tie the theme together.

If having a simply decorated, just-the-fitted-sheet look really is the safest option, then that (of course) is exactly what I will do.  I’m sure it will be easy to pull in additional decorative elements with rugs, lamps, curtains, and all of the other things marketed to new moms that get our credit cards swiping.  I know that selling totally unnecessary and expensive “must have” items to new moms is a big business.  But I know that scaring new moms into obsessing over every detail is also quite lucrative.  So where does the crib bumper fall in this back and forth between researchers and retailers?

How have other expecting and experience moms handled this dilemma?  To bumper or not to bumper?

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