Safety of Crib Bumper Pads

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Took bumpers out as advised but baby got stuck

Dec 1999

I recently read in a Kaiser childproofing handout that one should remove crib bumpers on cribs of children over 5 months old, so I took the bumpers off my 6-month old's crib. He promptly got stuck in the crib with his legs hanging out of the slats. I'd like to put the bumpers back on to avoid this, but assume that the recommendation on taking them off is SIDS-related.

I'd be interested in hearing what other folks have done about crib bumpers, if others have had similar problems, & any other suggestions for avoid the leg-thru-the-slats problems.

It is my understanding that one is advised to remove crib bumpers after 5-6 months because some kids will use them as a step on their way over the crib rail and out of the crib, not because they present a SIDS hazard. My son is 20 months and I have never taken the bumpers out of his crib because he has always slept with his head jammed in the corner of the crib, against the bumper and because our bumpers squash down pretty flat and would not help any young escape artist much.

I kept the bumpers on my crib until my daughter was well over a year old. The reason? She still liked to sleep pushed up against the corners (she also liked to sleep with a pillow, go figure). I had knotted the bumper ties, so there wasn't any chance of her untying them and getting into trouble. I think keeping the bumper in just made the crib a more cozy place for her. A lot of the advice you get from the baby books are more general guidelines and less hard and fast rules. Just take into account what kind of baby you have (mellow/active/determined to escape the crib, etc.) and go from there.

Actually, my understanding is that the reason they tell you to take out the crib bumpers is to lessen the chances of the child standing on them and crawling out of the crib--not too likely at 5 months. There's also some risk that they could undo the ties, yank them off, stuff them in their mouths and choke on them. I ended up leaving the bumper in place till well after she was a year old, and obviously she lived to tell about it!

I had always heard to leave bumpers on until the kid is old enough to use them as footholds to climb out of the crib. We left our bumpers on until about 16 months of age. DIdn't seem to be a problem with my son, for whatever that's worth. He does now sleep with his feet sticking out through the slats (he's 21 months) We keep moving him, and he puts them back that way, so I figure he's fine.

To the parent concerned about removing the crib bumpers for their 6 month old -- Having not read the Kaiser handout to which you referred, I cannot comment on their reasoning. HOWEVER, I did not remove the bumpers from our child's crib until she was almost 2 years old. She is quite active while she sleeps, and was forever bumping her head/arms/legs on the sides of the crib -- fortunately she didn't get 'stuck', but on occasion she would hit the side hard enough to wake her up (and bruise!). The biggest reason I removed the bumpers was because she was using them to assist in climbing out of the crib (she's small for her age, so with the mattress on the lowest level, she had to really hoist herself to get up and out... the bumpers gave her a BIG assist!).

My child uses them to try to climb out of the crib in the mornings, especially (he's 14 mos), but they squash down when he does that. He, too, sleeps with his head wedged into a corner sometimes, so it's better to have the padding. He is walking and climbing very well, so if he _could_ get out of the crib, he would. He manages to turn on the room lights in the morning as the switch is near the crib -- we pull him away from the wall to prevent it, but he will use any firm object to extend his reach if he happens to have one in the crib. Something odd and amusing is that he likes to play quietly in the crib and explore (like turning on the lights) for 30 - 40 minutes before he makes any noise at all to awaken us (we have the monitor on).

To the crib/bumper inquiry: I had the same dilemma and opted for keeping the bumper. It seemed cozier and safer and actually my pediatrician told me it was related to them being able to hoist up and out as well as get their heads stuck under there. I took it off briefly and she bumped her head and got her foot stuck (her whole leg actually). My child was not super active or agile, and after thinking long and hard and observing her, I put the bumper back in.

I too had read that the bumper pads should be removed at 6 mos. It didn't make sense to have bumper pads when your child doesn't move at all and could not possibly sustain injury. Why remove them when they are rolling around and start bumping their heads on the sides of the crib. My daughter is 9 mos old and very active, and would have numerous bruises if not for the pads. I just made the conscious decision to keep them.