The risk: While these pads can keep your baby from bumping her head, they may be risky. "Once a baby is able to roll, she can press her face against a bumper and suffocate," says Laura Reno, spokesperson for First Candle, a national SIDS nonprofit organization. Between 1985 and 2005, 11 infants were suffocated by a bumper pad, 13 died from being wedged between a bumper and another object, and three were strangled by a bumper tie. Older babies and toddlers can also use the pads to climb out of their cribs.
Safe strategy: Bumpers may make a crib look pretty, but it's really best to avoid them. If you do decide to use them, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises choosing ones that are thin, firm, and well secured. Be sure to remove them once your child can roll or, at the latest, when he can stand up in his crib.