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Like Sleeping? How Safe Crib Bumpers Can Boost Your Snooze

Warning…this post about safe crib bumpers is going to shock you. I’m going to actually suggest you use them. *maniacal laughter*

You knew that Mighty Moms was a different kind of parenting blog, but THIS…? This is just so…

…rebellious!

Why do I boldly state what no baby blog has stated before?  Because bumpers actually help some babies sleep better…AND because living in the 21st century is AWESOME, these new designs are actually safe!

What Type of Sleeper is Your Baby?

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?

Neither.

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.

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. 

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.

This Crib Mesh Liner is a great choice for babies who like to get entangled in the crib slats!

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
The Wonder Bumpers are a good safe choice for babies who love to headbang in the night.

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?

Tall and thin bumper sets like this one protect your baby’s precious sleep from both headbanging and contortionist movements all night long.

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.)

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.

You can help your contortionist and head-banging babies sleep well at night! You just need some creative and SAFE bumper solutions!

Have You Read These Yet?

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59 thoughts on “Like Sleeping? How Safe Crib Bumpers Can Boost Your Snooze

  1. Thank you for writing this! I’ve gotten the evil eye from so many people when they see my baby’s crib bumper. I did not use it early on, but we she started to become mobile (she’s a contortionist and a headbanger), I knew I needed something. I know that the risk of her banging her head or getting a limb stuck is much higher than the theorhetical risk of SIDS so it works for us!

  2. I was asked to report back if we went with the Bitzi bumper and we did. It’s a bit hard to describe. It’s a little like fabric wrapped around three long plastic cylinders with holes in them stacked on top of one another. The plastic and the holes remind me of a wiffle ball. So, it’s not very soft, but it’s better than banging against hard wood. It keeps pacifiers and baby limbs in the crib. But I think the design would prevent it from being used to climb out of the crib, which is good. Although our baby is still far from a great sleeper, I don’t think his wakeups can be attributed to banging against the sides of the crib. The downsides are the cost ($120) and that there is only one color to chose, but it’s a neutral color (“natural” is what they call it – so it looks like a dark ivory). Overall, we’re happy with our purchase and will continue using it, although I think the cost is too high.

  3. Kim,

    Talked this over with Heather. She does recommend the wonder bumpers.

    Here are a few more suggestions too.

    You’ll need to move him slowly into the crib if he’s been used to sleeping with you.

    1. Start having playtime in the nursery (if you haven’t already)
    Begin by playing with him on the floor of the nursery for a day or two.
    Then play with him while he’s in the crib for a few days.
    Then let him play in the crib while you sit next to him and read a book or something.
    Then let him play in the crib with you sitting there, then “remember” something after a few minutes and leave (no talking or eye contact, just leave when he seems distracted. If he cries, come in immediately with smiles. Do this for several days.
    2. In the meantime, start napping with him on the floor of the nursery on a mattress for 2 days.

    3. Then put him in the crib for the morning nap and “nap” in a chair (without making eye contact). If he stands, don’t speak, but go over and lay him back down consistently until he gets the message and stays down.

    4. Once he’s napping in the crib better, you can do the same thing for nighttime sleep. Use the shuffle with him, adding two days in the beginning where you sleep the night on the floor on a mattress while he’s in his crib.

    Hope this helps you make the transition!

  4. My 8 month old bed shares with us (which is getting to be quite a hassle for me, any advice would be awesome!). My issue is, he’s a headbanger and constantly pulls himself up to stand, and eventually falls in his crib, hitting his face, also gets his arms or legs stuck in the slats of his crib. Mind you, he still will not sleep in there, and he seems to be a crying makes him more upset… So all attempts at CIO have failed.

    What bumper would you recommend? The wonder bumpers? And if you have advice for the other issues, I’d love it. I think I’ve read all your sleep posts. Thank you!!

  5. I think it’s good to distinguish that there are two types of “normal” bumpers that have been used in the past. The first kind is very pillow-y and is NEVER a good idea. The second type are flat and tall, and can be useful — but still require consideration of the parents in regards to use.

    I would perhaps try it for a few days and see what happens. If it’s not working, you can return them (double check that to make sure). The bumpers did help us with the missing binky issue. Also, the more mobile your baby, the lower the SIDS risk is in regards to bumpers, so that’s also something to think over. Just make sure he doesn’t try to stand on the bumpers and climb out. 🙂

  6. I always read bad things about the “normal” bumpers and even secretly judged others for using them on their tiny babies until recently.

    We’ve used a mesh liner that is a combo of velcro and some small ties. I put it on when my son was about 2 or 3 months and he woke us up screaming bloody murder because his little leg was through the slat. He’s a big mover when he sleeps, and because of the design of his crib, I do think about changing to a more traditional type of bumper to attach it better since the one we have now is kind of loose in some spots and still leaves gaps in 3 corners. He’s now 9 months and fully mobile, even walking.

    In you opinion with bumpers, do you think it would help keep him from losing pacifiers at night? I notice they slip through the slats and then I have to squeeze under his crib to get it.

  7. It’s good for every parent to weigh the pros and cons – consider the risks. Thanks for sharing. I’ve not heard of the bitzy bumper before. Let us know if you give it a try, and what you think about it!

  8. We are exploring options for our almost 6 month old. I was hoping that as his age, with good head control, he was beyond the risky stage, but then I saw this: http://www.kidsindanger.org/family-voices/aiden/. Argh. So scary! Still, we’ve got a head banger, so I’m considering our options. I’m wondering if anyone has tried the  Bitzy Bumper and if that might be a safe option. Do you have any thoughts, Heather? http://www.bitzybaby.com/bitzy-bumper/

  9. Hi!
    I love your article! I came up with a design for a super safe crib bumper that I think you should have a look at. You can find it on Facebook under the page Adriana Powell – Expert Tailor or on my website. I would love to know what you think and hopefully share it with the world.

    Thanks 🙂
    Adriana Powell
    Expert Tailor

  10. It’s a tough call, Ty! I love, though, that there are some safe options out there for parents to try. Much better selection than when my kids were little. Thanks for sharing!

  11. We initially opted not to use a bumper. However, after our daughter got her leg and arm caught in between the crib slats on several occasions we decided to give one a try. We use the breathable mesh bumper, as she falls into the headbanging contortionist category.

  12. Brady,

    I’m not sure about the breathing monitor – I would check the manufacturer’s directions on that to make sure. At this age, I would start experimenting with the naps to see if you can find a “Sweet sleep spot”. Does she like the swing? car seat? A carrier sling? That’s amazing that she’s sleeping so well for you at night! Do make sure she’s still getting the calories she needs, though. That could be partly why she’s not napping as well during the day – she needs to eat to grow. I’m not suggesting you change anything! 🙂 Just make sure you mention it to your doctor and make sure she’s still gaining weight.

    Also, if you haven’t already I would start creating a “naptime routine” so she can start to understand when it’s sleepytime. Is she a sensitive baby? Then she may need a very stimulus-free room to nap. Perhaps holding her in the nursery, in the dark, with a noisemaker going, to help get her drowsy, and then laying her down for a nap then. If there’s nothing interesting to look at, and the noisemaker is helping to drown out stimulating noises, she may nap better for you. Just something to change.

  13. Hi! I have an 8 week old daughter who currently sleeps 8-9 hr straight at night in her bouncy seat next to our bed (reflux). Definitely planning to elevate the mattress and use the towel truck which was even suggested by pedi for reflux. My question is , we have the diaper clip breathing monitor and I’m wondering if that is still reliable when baby is on tummy ? We are looking to get her to sleep in her crib during the day and soon at night as she currently barely naps during the day! Help?

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