Bedding, Tips & Trends

Crib Bumper Reader Poll

With over 60 nursery and kids’ room designs to our credit, we think it’s safe to say that we’re asked about crib bumpers a lot.  For some parents, the crib bumper is an absolute must.  For others it’s a resounding no-no.  And for many, it’s a hazy gray area of uncertainty.  Today, we wanted to share our thoughts, and more importantly get yours.  Please let us know where you stand on crib bumpers by commenting on this post.

crib bumper by Little Crown Interiors

As a mother of two young children, I admit that I used crib bumpers.  The charm of a beautiful bumper is appealing to both my sense of style, and my desire to keep my babies cozy.  From the very first time I put my infant son into his big huge crib, I was happy that I’d opted for a bumper.  However…

On the flip side, last Fall, we sat down with Kimberlee – owner of BooBoo Busters, (a professional baby proofing service) to get her take on bumper safety.  Her statement: “bounce the bumpers”.  Additionally, in a recent conversation with a prominent parenting magazine, we learned they will no longer be printing photos of bumpers without a safety caveat.  With slightly different form and function, alternative styles are available to combat the safety concerns of standard bumpers – like the Breathable Bumper shown here.

While my own children are plenty old enough to be out of harm’s way (huge sigh of relief!), the controversy irks many families who are expecting or have infants at home.  So, we reached out to one of our favorite crib bedding manufacturers – Katy Mimari of Caden Lane – to get her thoughts both as a Mom and as a maker or adorable crib bedding. According to Katy, “As any expecting parent will find, there seems to be pros & cons to everything involving your child… to breast feed or bottle… to swaddle or not…. pacifier or thumb…. the debates are endless! And at the end of the day, each parent decides on what is best for them and their child. There’s no question that the bumpers help finish out a crib, it’s like having a comforter & shams on your master bed. The design aspect is there. But there’s also a practical aspect to them, they protect little arms & feet from slipping between the slats of the crib, and keep peeking eyes from seeing you sneak into the room to make sure they are asleep. But remember, you can take them off the first year, and put them back on after that. Or don’t use them at all! It’s truthfully your choice.”

Finley Crib Bedding

Katy went on to say: “Remember, always secure your bumpers to your crib. And every manufacturer does their bedding differently, so do your research and see what products fit best into your lifestyle & nursery design. Caden Lane bedding has several distinct features that set them apart from other companies. First, our bumpers are four separate pieces, so you can choose which pieces to remove if necessary, and it allows you to continue to use them with convertible cribs. Second,  we have slightly longer bumper ties so that they can be tied tight even around the thickest of wood cribs (watch out for short ties that don’t reach around the crib). Third, all of our bumpers are slip-covered. So don’t stress if some kind of icky bodily-fluid gets on them – everything is machine washable”.

So, Project Nursery reader, what’s your take?  Do you use bumpers or not, and why?  Please share your thoughts by commenting on this post.


  1. 1

    We use them. I didn’t at first, but I put them in when she was about 6 months old and woke up crying with her arm stuck between the slats.

  2. 2

    Nobody knows what causes SIDS but if there is even a slight possibility that a bumper could contribute to it (either because the baby pushes his face against it and can’t breathe or because he/she gets trapped beneath one) then I don’t really know why a parent would take that risk with their kids life. It is not the same as the debate between thumb and pacifier or swaddle or not…one of these might not result in death. A bumper could. Other arguments for bumpers also don’t seem to matter for me when I compare it to the alternative of possible death.

    1) “Finishing out the crib” and making it pretty vs. possible death
    2) “Peeking eyes” seeing me sneak into the room vs. possible death
    3) “Little arms and feet slipping through the slats” vs. possible death

    Even when people argue that their kids bumped their heads on the slats…I’d rather have a slight bump then possible death of my child.

    I wish this post had mentioned more the reasons why BooBoo Busters said to bump the bumpers and the parenting magazine will be posting a warning. A link to some of the reasoning behind the bumper warnings or even reposting some of the the reasons for the threat would be more balanced. There was a lot more space given to the crib bumper manufacturer. I would consider that as somewhat biased source but understand that much of your business probably depends on maintaing that good relationship. However, when people continue to see bumpers on blogs, design sites, and in stores (it’s very hard to find baby bedding that doesn’t come with a bumper) then people assume they must be safe. I applaud the parenting magazine that will show both sides of the story…the pretty bumper AND the warning.

    Aside from the SIDS risk there is also the risk from the time the baby can sit up (around 5-6 months) that they will use the bumper to pull themselves up and out of the crib. There are so many injuries every day from kids who fall out of their cribs because they’ve used a bumper to stand up on and the parent wasn’t quick enough to either lower the crib mattress or take the bumper out in time. Sometimes a kids can learn a new “skill” in as little as a few hours. This risk also wasn’t mentioned in this post. If you must have to toss the bumper after a few months why have it in the first place? The double risk of SIDS and falling out of the crib combined with the short use time period you get out of a bumper all make bumpers a bad choice in my opinion.

    Personally, I would like to see more design blogs like this take on the decorative challenge of showcasing great bumperless designs and alternatives to bumpers . It’s easy to throw a pretty bumper on something and call it a day…it takes creativity to make a room work without it.

  3. 3


    Although no one really knows what causes a baby to stop breathing, I also feel that there are some risks that aren’t worth taking. However, I did have a crib bumper for my son who is now 4. The crib bumper wasn’t really for decorative purposes. I felt that it helped keep him safe and comfortable. Without a crib bumper, there is still a risk that a baby can fall or at least get his face buried between the edge of the mattress and crib sides. I actually tied the bumper tightly with knots and also squished it into the tiny space between his mattress and crib rails so there was never a hole he could “fall” into. Trust me, that thing wasn’t going anywhere! When he started sleeping in his crib between 5 and 6 months, we made sure the crib mattress was lowered so he couldn’t climb out…he never did! I was very afraid of SIDS, and I utilized a few options to ease my mind.

    1. I kept him in my room next to my bed (not co-sleeping with me though) for more than four months in a large bassinet. From what I have read, having them in your room is one of the safest places they can be.

    2. I also purchased the Angelcare Sensor pad monitor system which seemed to be the best SIDS preventive device on the market. Although we never had an incident, I knew it worked because I “checked” it all the time. If he was taken out of his bed and the monitor was not turned off, the alarm would sound within seconds so theoretically the same thing would have happened if he had stopped breathing or moving.

    3. I kept the room temperature cool and used a fan to help with air circulation. Overheating is also thought to be a contributing factor of SIDS.

    4. I never swaddled my baby. I believe that the “startle” reflex is a baby’s natural instinct to wake themselves up in an “emergency.” Actually from what I have read, swaddling is also thought to be a major contributing factor of SIDS. I would dress him comfortably for bed…mostly in an infant gown. He was a Spring/Summer baby so he didn’t need blankets for warmth.

    5. I prayed all the time for my baby’s safety. Perhaps this is the best option we have!

  4. 4

    I am on the fence about this topic but I’m so happy you posted it! We had bumpers with my eldest but now that I have a week old newborn, I haven’t unpacked my bumpers and put it around the crib. Even though I do think that the bumper would make the crib look “finished” it’s really not worth my child’s safety. I’m looking into the breathable bumper as an alternative, since it’s not the aesthetics but I just don’t want her to end up with her face against the crib bars.

  5. 5

    I purchased a bumper to go with my daughter’s bedding set. However, I haven’t had it in her crib since she was born. It was important to me to limit the amount of things in her crib for her safety. My daughter is 10.5 months now, and we haven’t had any problems with her getting limbs caught in the slats or bumping her head – and she is a very active sleeper.

    I agree that a bumper finishes the look of the crib. In fact her bumper and comforter (which hasn’t been used yet, either) were the inspiration for the entire room! I plan on using the bumper and comforter when she converts to a toddler bed.

  6. 6

    As a soon-to-be first time mom, this is an issue I am so grateful to see addressed! SIDS is a scary thing, but sometimes it seems that, as with autism, the fact that we don’t really know what causes it makes parents afraid that *everything* can cause it. I’m trying hard not to buy into the paranoia *and* do what’s best for my child — quite a challenge in this culture of judgmental sancti-mommies and media-induced hysteria!

  7. 7

    The Chicago Tribune has an investigative reporter who has been looking into crib deaths for the past year. There are many infant deaths linked directly to crib bumpers. I don’t see why you would put them into your baby’s crib in light of this information. I know they are cute, but the safety of your child should be a priority over anything else, and a little bump here and there up against a wooden crib won’t hurt a baby. I will never understand why parents choose to use bumpers after this evidence has been released.,0,7241340,full.story

  8. 8

    Nope! I did for my son for a short amount of time but then removed it. I’m having another baby this week and although it would look nice in her Oeuf crib, I’m not putting one in there. I am concerned about safety and it’s convenient because they are pricey anyhow.

  9. 9

    I think that I would like to add my voice to this. I agree that SIDS is a very scary thing. When my son was still a baby, I woke up every night fearing that he wouldn’t be breathing. I think we’ve all gone through that as well. With a lot of awareness groups saying that crib bumpers increases the risk of SIDS, I echo the comment that “why take the risk?”

    Now am I missing something? Why isn’t anybody suggesting alternatives for crib bumpers, both for safety purposes and comfort purposes?

  10. 10

    JNCJJ you have summed up my thoughts exactly.
    I love design as much as the next mum does but in all honestly there is no way I would ever put style above the safety of my child. My 6 month old is a very active sleeper and we have had arms and legs through the cot sides and bumps in the night, which just call for some gentle repositioning back down to the bottom of the cot. I would much rather have this then to find my baby has been caught under a bumper and unable to get out…

  11. 11

    It is so stressful to be a new parent, and every controversial subject seems to have avid believers in it (on both sides). I feel like if it was truly dangerous to the infants, wouldn’t they recall them from the market? Isn’t a child just as likely to suffocate from a blanket draped over their car seat? I think Katy is right… you have to make an educated decision on what is best for you and your child. It doesn’t seem to be an all or none choice – and once your baby arrives, you’ll know what’s the best thing to do.

    Personally, i used and LOVED my bumpers. But when my daughter was young, she had terrible reflux, so it was easier for me to keep the bumpers off to change the crib sheet (multiple times a day)… once she was done being a vomit-ator we put the bumpers back on b/c it drove me crazy when I couldn’t even peek in the room to see if she was okay without her seeing me right through the crib slats! And, she is still in her crib (at almost 3 years old, yes, i know… time for a big girl bed), and every night she squishes her head up in the corner, if I didn’t have those bumpers there, i’m sure that she wouldn’t sleep near as soundly slammed up against hard wood.

    I would never do anything to harm my child, and although the comment “why take the risk” is a valid one… as parents, we are neurotic enough about our children being hurt, sick, etc… at what point do we go with our gut and make our own decisions on the heath and well being of our children.

    I’m not saying there’s a wrong or right answer here, i just think the best answer would be to take the bumpers off in the beginning newborn stage, and once the fear of SIDS passes (since that seems to be the biggest concern) then you put the bumpers back on? Isn’t that the most simple answer?

  12. 12

    I use bumpers. My oldest daughter is 4 and I used them, although I did take them off her crib around 4/5 months when she started rolling over. My youngest daughter will be a year old in 2 weeks. I did the same thing with her, I used them…then around 8 months I took them off. For 3 nights she would scream when we put her in the bed, I tried everything. I took her to the doctor. I rocked her. She went from sleeping through the night to waking up and then only sleeping in our bed. So, for some reason I thought to put the bumpers back on. Since then, she has been fine.

    I’m sure alot of people would disagree with what I have done, and say I “obviously don’t care about my daughter’s safety” but that’s not true at all. It’s just my choice. Some people may agree, others may not.

  13. 13

    I put them on when I was decorating the nursery and kept them on when she first moved into the crib (before she could roll). I took them off when she started to roll, but immediately discovered that her arms would get stuck in the slats. I opted for the breathable bumpers. Functional, just not as cute.
    Oh well, I think it was partially a first-time mom mistake. I didn’t know any better.

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    We used bumper pads with all 3 kids. We used baby monitors and kept ceiling fans running in each room. I know there’s a lot of controversy, but it was the right choice for us.

  16. 16

    Every time I consider the cute look of a bumper, I imagine what it would be like to sleep with pillows surrounding my face (blocking airflow) and not have the ability to move them. Then I don’t use a bumper.

  17. 17

    I put the bumper in my son’s crib to take pictures of his nursery before he was born, then out it came. It’s just not worth the risk. I had a breathable bumper in for awhile, but removed it once he learned to stand so that he couldn’t use it to climb out. The breathable bumper is so thin, it didn’t really provide much padding anyway. That being said, I think all crib bedding manufacturers should start making bumpers breathable. That way, parents can still have the stylish bumper that matches their crib bedding without the safety risk.

  18. 18

    We used a breathable bumper, Didn’t want to take the risk otherwise.

    We didn’t buy a bedding set, but if we had, I might’ve torn the bumper apart to make a matching window valance, as I read on a design blog somewhere.

  19. 19

    Our son was a month old when he was put in his crib, at first we had no bumpers because he was swaddled, but as he learned to roll, and gave up his swaddle we put some breathable bumpers on. When he hit 7 months he would take them off because they are velcro. So we dropped the bumpers from our crib set in at the advice of our doctor. He said to turn a fan on to keep the air flow, but that at 7 months the risk was much less. I am glad we did because while washing them Andrew was napping and I went in because he started screaming and his little leg was caught!!! He had a huge bruise and red indentation. My advice is to use breathable bumpers for the first few months and then if you really want to switch over.

  20. 20

    I too want to thank JNCJJ for the comment, as it reflects some of my thoughts. I’m glad to see breathable bumpers mentioned in the blog post. I agree; it would be great if companies started included such bumpers with bedding sets. And, gallery inspiration without bumpers would be helpful in our house!

  21. 21

    We have never used bumpers (oldest is 8), I just never felt right about it. We put both our kids in sleep sacks to prevent legs from getting caught and only had one arm incident. Now, on to #3 and I’m happy to see that they have started selling bed sets without bumpers. This was not an option 5 years ago. For now, little missy will sleep in her sack and if we have any troubles with arms or legs getting caught, I will choose a breathable bumper hands down. It’s not worth the risk…a regular baby monitor is not going to tell you if your child stops breathing, this allows me to sleep better at night (if I actually get some sleep! LOL)

  22. 22

    I agree with JNCJJ. I love good design as much as the next gal, but compromising my child’s safety is simply not something I’m willing to do. I plan on experimenting with either swaddling or having my child sleep in a sleep slack when he arrives to address some of the legs/arms getting stuck between the slats concerns. As far as bedding goes, all I really need are sheets. I’d LOOOOVE to see blogs and gallery submissions showcasing cribs without bumpers more often. There are so many other ways to accessorize a room and tie everything together than just through bumpers.

  23. 23

    We didn’t use crib bumpers for any of our three kids, with no ill effects. We could argue until we’re blue in the face about the for’s and against of using them or not. Whatever each person is comfortable with…

  24. 24

    With my first I used them until she was old enough to scoot around the crib and then I took them off. I tried putting them back on when she was a little older, but then she just tried to pull on them so they came off again. When we transitioned the bed to a toddler bed I put them back on, which was super cute. Her bedding was a Caden Lane bedding, and they are right about the long ties on the bumpers. It was really nice because her crib had thick parts to it. Also, I like that the Caden Lane is double sided, and when I used them for her as a toddler bed you could see both sides when it wrapped around the front.

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  26. 27

    I think that there really is no use for these crib bumpers nowadays. Unless you’re repurposing an old crib made 10 or 20 years ago, you don’t need crib bumpers to protect your baby from getting his head in between the slats anymore. It’s all for decorative purposes, and the tradeoff is really severe. Not to sound morbid, but what would you do with a great looking crib with a great looking crib bumper if you don’t have your baby anymore?

  27. 28

    Bumper pads were around fifty rears ago when my son was born. I didn’t use them very long. I can’t remember the reason exactly, probably because the strings holding them were not too strong.

  28. 29

    As Katy mentioned, “As any expecting parent will find, there seems to be pros & cons to everything involving your child.” This is so true. You need to trust your gut and make smart decisions that are right for you and your family.

    My first daughter barely moved when she slept in her crib as a newborn. I kept her bumpers in. My second daughter was a wiggle worm from day one and I replaced her gorgeous bumpers with Breatheables. She’s turning one this month and I just too the Breathables off and put the bumpers back in.

  29. 30

    In my research re: SIDS, it seems bumpers are one of many risk factors to consider….I’ve also read that the majority (I can’t remember the exact percentage but it was extremely high) of SIDs deaths are attributable to multiple factors being in place (i.e. sleeping on tummy, too warm climate, and a smoker’s home for example). There are also risk factors involving things one can’t control like living in a cold climate (hello! I live in NH!) which probably results in keeping the house really warm which contributes to the risk. I say all that to say, I can’t worry about every single ‘risk’ out there…I’d go mad and my baby wouldn’t have fun, like ever! So I do my research and then try to determine the greatest risks and go from there. As a side note, I did try taking the bumper off at one point but after my little munchkin kept tossing her pacifier out of the crib and waking up, I decided to put it back on. Call me crazy, but that was one of many reasons I decided to keep using it!! Anyway, I agree that until bumpers are banned our outlawed, it’s a personal choice and I’m quite comfortable with my choice.

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  31. 32

    I put the bumber in my daughter’s crib when she was first born, and then took them out as soon as she started moving around. I found it was hard to find bedding sets without bumbers, and I liked how the bumper looked (at least for showing off the room before she arrived).

  32. 33

    I kept the bumpers, and clipped Snuza Halo movement monitors on my twins’ diapers. Win/win. Now that they’re moving around their cribs, we switched to Cozy Wedge bumpers which protect noggins when rolling at night, but won’t provide a place step up when they’re standing in their cribs. ;-)

  33. 34

    I used the crib bumpers until my girls could roll and then I took them out. With each of my children, I found them rolled over in their swaddle, face first in the bumper. Of course at that moment, bumpers were out and the swaddle needed to be done too. That being said, I LOVED my girls’ crib bumpers (twins) because of the fabric swatches on them and felt they added to the decor and beauty of the room. So I basically took apart the bumpers in order to get the material. Then I had the swatches of material stretched onto 4 wooden frames and hung them on the wall in my girls’ nursery. This way, I still get to enjoy the beauty of the fabric and the frames look like artwork on their wall!

  34. 35

    With the safety concerns, bumpers seemed to be a needless risk to me. Besides, I love my daughter’s crib, it doesn’t need any embellishments. Even though my mom and older sister thought it was a bit odd, my daughter had nothing in her crib–no toys, no blankies, no nothing. She slept in a nice warm sleepsack in the colder months. When she got a little older and was rolling around in her crib–to be honest I can’t remember how old she was then, maybe eight or ten months–I got a Breathable Bumper because she occasionally got an arm or leg stuck between the slats.

    I just don’t see the point of possibly risking your child’s life to make the crib look prettier. Even if the risk is infinitesimal, who would take that risk for such a silly reason?

  35. 36

    And as far as baby bedding is concerned–all you need are sheets and possibly a dust ruffle, you don’t have to buy the sets that come with bumpers. Most of those sets are useless anyway. You don’t need a quilt, you’re going to have so many blankets anyway, and the pillows are even more dangerous than the bumpers. You can buy sheets separately in many places, so you don’t have to use the “but I couldn’t buy bedding without a bumper” excuse. I got mine from the Company Store and Pottery Barn Kids–I was given a couple of the cheap ones from Gerber and such that they have at Babies R Us, but they didn’t fit on my crib mattress. The ones from the more expensive stores are bigger with deeper pockets. Nicer fabric too.

  36. 38

    The debates always go back and forth. An instance where possible death could occur was the debate about putting babies on their stomach or their back.

    Things to think about:
    1)Once a baby can move his/her head, they are out of the woods for suffocating because of a bumper.
    2)If you place an infant (who can’t move his/her head) in the center of a crib, they would not be able to move close enough to the bumper.

    All in all, bumpers are not a necessity, most baby products are not. It is up to the parent to decide if they want to use one.

  37. 39

    as a mother who has lost a child, topics such as this are very important to me. my 2nd child was born still. since his death, i have become very aware of the ways babies die both before and after birth. i will never, ever use a traditional bumper pad with my 3rd child (due in july.) it is not worth the risk. i’ll take an unfinished crib, broken arm and bump on the head any day over a dead baby.

    i recently came across this website. the link is to the story of a baby who was suffocated by his bumper pad.

    if you don’t think it can happen to you, think again. i never thought my baby would die in my womb.

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  39. 42

    A pretty crib v. hurting my baby. Now, that’s an easy one! I understand some mom’s really want “the look” and will use a bumber but for me, there’s no way in H-E-double hockey sticks. Personally I think a beautiful crib skirt and beautiful sheets are plenty of pop for my babies bedding and for me.

  40. 44

    A pretty crib means nothing. If a newborn is at risk, don’t use them. My grandson is now 9 months. and moves freely around his crib and of course has control over his head. Maybe the safety concerns are all about newborns, as nothing I read addresses the use of properly installed, thinly padded bumpers for older babies who rock in their sleep and hit their heads on the rails. My grandson rocks himself in his sleep, and hits his head and I am worried he’ll hurt himself. sometimes he hits head with pretty decent force!

  41. 45

    Katy Mimari completely danced around the danger topic of SIDS. No mention of it as well as completely avoiding any danger correlation between bumpers and our babys’ safety. This article’s purpose was to address that, no? I could care less that her bumpers come in four different sections, or that her ties are slightly longer than others. Least of all, I don’t know any mother who cares more about the aesthetics of her child’s crib bumper that she would so far as worry about getting “icky” bodily fluid on it. After all, this is what motherhood entails, and we are talking about our children and the natural occurrences of babyhood. I believe that interviewing the owner of a high-end baby bedding company is a waste of time, if we are searching for the truth. Her comments were simply self-promoting and pretentious. As a mother, who doesn’t mind coming into contact with my child”s bodily fluid, I will always opt to take the “better safe than sorry” route when it comes to my child. A nursery can be beautiful and endearing minus the bumper.

  42. 46

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting that a pretty crib is worth risking your baby’s safety. I find it odd that everyone anti-bumper is making that point. No one with any sense would put their baby in danger for a cute crib.

    I think the point is that there is some confusion about if these bumpers are an actual risk vs the concern of your baby’s arms getting stuck in the slats of the crib. It’s a judgement call at this point. There is so much sensationalism when there is even a HINT of any trouble and everyone who does these investigations (both pro and con) have agendas. So it’s hard to get good clear advice.

    I can’t say if I’m pro or con yet and I still have to some time. But what I can say for sure about any decision I make is that I need to act on my own common sense, look at the risks and make sure I’m going with my gut, not a knee-jerk media-fear-induced reaction.

  43. 47

    As a mom of 3, I am surprised and annoyed to find that I just cannot find normal crib bumpers anymore!! everything is 4 piece!
    Other than the style aspect, which is really not the point, my kids tend to roll and turn in their sleep and hurt their heads.
    Without a bumper I would have crying fits dozens of times each night and day.
    This whole entire trend sounds so silly to me… I am looking for a normal, one piece all around bumper for my little one!!! I wish I hadn’t given away my 9 year old son’s bumper!

  44. 48

    We compromised with the bumper. My song aw waking up with his arm stuck in the slat or throwing his pacifier out through the slats at 3 months old! I took the bumper but tied it to the outside of the crib instead of the inside. There is enough of a gap with the slats that if his face does get pushed against the side he can still breath and it’s just enough to keep his arms in as well. Just tie it a little below the mattress line so arms can’t go under the bumper.

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