A crib bumper pad is a padded cushion that fits around a baby’s crib on the inside of the crib. They come in many different styles, often coordinated to match other bedding, and are usually affixed to the crib by ties around several slats. At one point, the crib bumper pad made a lot of sense, since the slats in cribs technically were large enough for a baby to get his/her head through. It is highly recommended that you do not use an older crib for this reason, but instead purchase one that has much smaller mandated distance between slats, so that you do not risk the life of your child.
This of course begs the question as to whether a crib bumper pad, in use with a new crib is really such a good idea. In fact, there are numerous organizations, especially Sudden Infant Death (SIDS) awareness groups that suggest bumper pads aren’t very safe and may increase risk of accidental suffocation. Similarly a large quilt that may accompany a crib bumper pad is considered unnecessary and hazards the same risk for a child being accidentally suffocated. SIDS awareness groups recommend using small light blankets or blanket sleepers instead of large comforters under which a baby could become trapped.
If you do decide to use a crib bumper pad, you should settle baby in the middle of the crib, and you should remove the bumper pad when baby can roll over or start to move around in the crib at night. Some restless babies are able to wriggle themselves over to the side of a crib, even if they can’t roll over yet. If you note that your baby is able to change positions easily, you should get rid of the crib bumper pad sooner.
Though many crib bumper pads are pretty, and often very attractive to new moms, current crib safety laws make them largely unnecessary. In particular they may pose a risk to your child, and no aesthetic value is worth the life of your baby. One potential solution is a variety of crib bumpers that are made of mesh instead of being heavily padded. Since mesh allows for breathability, this may be a good solution if you worry that a baby’s arms or legs might get stuck between the crib slats. Look for breathable bumper pads that are recommended by SIDS groups.