How to Make Crib Bumpers Safe to Use

These are not your mom’s crib bumpers. These are actually safe.

In This Article...

Want to hear something truly shocking?

It is entirely possible to use SAFE crib bumpers on your baby’s crib.

The first thing you’ll have to determine when wondering if a crib bumper could help your tiny tot, is to determine what type of sleeper you’re dealing with.

Type 1: The Lazy Caterpillar

This baby greets you in the morning in the exact same spot you put him to bed on.  If this is your baby, reading any further is pointless.  Go back to your Netflix binge.

Type 2: The Contortionist

This baby dreams of joining Cirque du Soleil: twisting, shifting, and sliding her way around the crib, locking her limbs between the slats. (Which, of course, wakes her.)

Type 3: The Headbanger

This baby rolls around his crib like he’s practicing for the Pinball Olympics.  The constant movements frequently cause him to nail his head against the slats, causing him to wake up screaming.

3 Reasons Why They Say Crib Bumpers are Evil (And How I Rehabilitate Them)

What is a mom supposed to do if her baby is a headbanging contortionist every night? Well, the One-Thought-Fits-All parenting experts all shout that “CRIB BUMPERS = BAD PARENT.”

So do you suffer in silence and watch your sleep slowly drip away?  Or you do use the bumpers, struggling with guilt and terror every night?


I think you can have your sleep and safety too.

#1: They May Contribute to SIDS

This is a legitimate concern.  No one wants to mess with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The theory here (and it is a theory, since no one knows the specific cause of SIDS) is that it restricts the fresh air flow, and that perhaps your baby could re-breathe her carbon dioxide and asphyxiate.

My solution here is simple.  Use a safety schedule.

Like Sleeping? How Crib Bumpers Can Boost Your Snooze -

Bumpers Off:  at birth

Bumpers on:  Once she can easily flip her head from side to side if something is bother her nose and rolling is achieved skill. (Tickle her nose a little when she’s awake on her back.  Does she easily turn her head away?)

Bumpers Off:  When she starts pulling herself up to a standing position.  She could learn to step on the bumper to help her climb out.  For my Elena, who rolled like a baby-possessed, I never took them off.  (My crib was a fortress, none of my kids ever managed to crawl out of it, bumpers or no.)

#2: The Strings are a Strangulation Hazard

So tie them. TIGHTLY. 

Tie a double-triple knot or use the zipper-designed Wonder Bumpers.

#3: They Can Be an Entrapment Hazard

This is also true.   The concern here is that a baby’s head will get stuck between the bumper and the crib mattress and the baby will suffocate.

See this crib bumper style? This is the perfect photo of a Bumper Gone Bad.  This is not a bumper pad. This is a bumper pillow. 

Like Sleeping? How Crib Bumpers Can Boost Your Snooze -

Bumpers like this are, in fact, an entrapment hazard.  Your baby’s head could easily get stuck between the massive pouffy pillow and the mattress. Avoid them.  Burn them.  Let the dog sleep on them.  But do not, under any circumstances, put these big fat caterpillars inside your crib. 

Try one of these safer alternatives instead.

Like Sleeping? How Crib Bumpers Can Boost Your Snooze -

Safe Crib Bumper Options:
The Breathable Crib Mesh Liner

The Breathable Crib Mesh Liner is a good choice if you have a Contortionist Sleeper who likes to twist his arms and legs around the slats (and then scream until you come to untangle him. Since it’s so then and mesh-y, it’s not a help for babies who are Headbanger Sleepers.

Here are some of the reasons the Breathable Crib Mesh Liner is a good crib bumper choice:

  • Prevents contortionist babies from getting arms and legs caught.
  • Allows for great air-flow, reducing SIDS risk
  • No chance of entrapment against the mattress
  • No string ties
Like Sleeping? How Crib Bumpers Can Boost Your Snooze -

Safe Crib Bumper Options:
Wonder Bumpers

The Mesh liner is to Contortionists as the Wonder Bumpers are to Headbangers. These pads are individually zipped up each slat, which means that air-flow and entrapment isn’t an issue here.  Also, since they ZIP, there’s no need to worry about long strings getting untied.

For the sake of consistency, though, let’s list out the pros for the Wonder Bumper design:

  • Zip up around each slat, so no long ties to worry about
  • Air-flow is not an issue
  • Entrapment is not an issue
  • Great cushion for headbanger babies

Obviously, this bumper design isn’t going to help with Contortionist babies. There’s still a gap in between the slats where they can squeeze their leg through.

So what do you do if you have a Headbanging Cortortionist Sleeper? Who does it all?

Like Sleeping? How Crib Bumpers Can Boost Your Snooze -

Safe Crib Bumpers:
Tall and Thin Bumper Sets

 The Tall and Thin Crib Bumper Set is ideal for babies who like to be everything. They love to headbang AND wrap themselves into a pretzel. No limitations on these kids! No sirree.

Unlike those gosh-awful caterpillar crib bumpers above, these are THIN which makes entrapment very unlikely (especially if you rotate your bumpers and leave them off until your baby has mastered the Turning of the Head skill.)

If you decide to go with these kinds of bumpers, always use the “schedule” I listed at the very beginning of the article just to be safe!

Should You Use Bumpers?

You know what I think?

I think you’re one smart mama and whatever decision you make (to use or not to use) will be the best one for your family.

The good news, of course, is that you have options.

Help your contortionist and head-banging babies sleep well at night with these creative and safe crib bumper solutions!

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