crib_bumper_padMaryland is the first state in the nation to propose, and put into effect, a ban on the sale of crib bumper pads. This new regulation was adopted last November by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH), and came into effect on June 21, 2013. The decision to make it illegal to sell crib bumper pads came after an 18-month long, extensive investigation into the safety of bumper pads. Results of this scientific, technical and public review showed that bumper pads do more harm than good and pose potentially serious risks that far outweigh the lesser benefits of the product.  Chicago already has a similar ban in place.

Bumpers are soft, cushiony pads that line the inner circumference of a crib (pictured). They are often used as a form of crib décor and are also believed to keep babies from hurting themselves when they roll over and bump into the sides of a bare crib. They are intended to be used until the age when an infant can pull to stand, or about six months. The ban adopted by Maryland applies to crib bumpers made out of non-mesh type materials, but don’t apply to vertical bumpers that wrap tightly around individual crib rails or mesh crib liners. However, neither the DHMH nor KID recommends the use of any such products in infant cribs.

Bumper pads are unnecessary and dangerous. They can cause strangulation, suffocation, choking, and entrapment, to infants. Bumper ties and straps can lead to strangulation and choking and the baby’s face being too close to the bumper pad can cause asphyxiation and suffocation. If they are left in the crib for too long, babies can also use the bumper pads to climb out of the crib, causing them to fall and injure themselves. KID became impassioned about eradicating the use of bumper pads after we learned about the deaths of Aiden and Preston.

This new policy also promotes safer sleeping practices for infants, which should lead to a reduced number of infant deaths and injuries in Maryland caused by bumper pads and other unsafe sleep products or environments. We hope other states will follow in Maryland’s footsteps and prohibit the sale of bumper pads as well.  KID would like to stress that any family still using bumper pads in their home remove the product from the crib and stop using it immediately to avoid unnecessary risks to their child.

At KID, we encourage parents and child care providers to have babies sleep on their backs in bare cribs that are free of blankets, pillows, toys, and of course, crib bumpers. Families should follow safe sleep practices by allowing babies to sleep alone, on their backs, and in a crib.

Read more about KID’s response to the ban and Secretary of DHMH, Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein’s testimony in favor of the ban here.

Find a fact sheet on bumper pads here and a poster warning against their use here.