A recent study in the current issue of the Journal of Pediatrics has found hidden dangers in using soft cushioned bumpers around cribs and bassinets. These bumpers supposedly stop babies from banging or trapping their heads against the bars of the crib, but researchers say they can lead to suffocation for the infant. Pediatric researchers found that 27 babies and toddlers up to age 2 were accidentally strangled or suffocated by bumper pads and another 25 children were injured. The research team examined database reviews from three U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissions on deaths related to crib bumpers and other crib-related injuries from 1985 to 2005. According to lead author of the study, Dr. Bradley Thach, many babies lack the motor coordination to free themselves when they become wedged between the bumper and another surface. In some instances, if the bumper is too soft the baby's face can get pressed up against it, leading to suffocation. If the bumper is too firm the baby can climb up the pads and fall out of the crib.
The reports revealed that 11 infants suffocated when their face rested against the bumper pad, 13 died after being wedged between the bumper pad and another object, and 3 were strangled by a bumper tie. All of the pads were found to be hazardous because of a space left between the bottom of the bumper pad and the mattress - where the infant's head could get lodged. Researchers state that the bumper pads should not be placed in cribs since they provide no benefit and do more harm than good.