Are Cot Bumpers Safe?

A Google search for ‘cot bumpers’ will bring up a multitude of results; from padded to plaited and fabric to mesh, there are a number of styles to choose from. They may look beautiful and add a whimsical touch to your little one’s cot bed, but the important question to ask is “are cot bumpers safe”?

Baby in a cot with bumpers

What are Cot Bumpers?

Cot bumpers are soft, padded liners which are attached to the inside of a cot or cot bed. They are often secured to the four panels of the cot bed and are several inches deep. They may look modern, but they are quite old fashioned. Did you know they were originally invented to prevent babies’ heads from falling between the slats on a cot bed?

These days, to conform to current safety standards, the gaps between the slats must be a particular width and are far smaller than they used to be.

An argument for cot bumpers is that they protect particularly wriggly babies from bashing their limbs against the sides of their cot, however it’s this wriggling and moving around that makes cot bumpers more of a danger.

Cot Bumpers and Your Baby's Safety

In September 2007, an American study published in The Journal of Paediatrics concluded that traditional cot bumpers are unsafe. The study also found that cot bumpers don’t prevent serious injury, which is their main purpose.

A further study by Washington University School of Medicine, published in 2015, supported these findings and, subsequently, the Chief Executive of The Lullaby Trust in the UK released a statement, which reads:

This is compelling new evidence that cot bumpers do pose a serious risk to babies. We do not recommend the use of any sort of cot bumpers and urge all parents to follow our safer sleep advice to use a flat firm mattress in a cot or Moses basket with no loose bedding, pillows or bumpers.”

There are a few reasons why traditional cot bumpers are considered unsafe. Due to their thick padding, cot bumpers aren’t particularly breathable meaning they could obstruct your baby’s breathing if it was to cover their face. They can also prevent the circulation of air through the cot which could lead to an increase in temperature inside the cot. Finally, traditional bumpers are often tied to the cot with fabric ties which could pose a danger as your child starts to roll and move about in their cot.

Although some claim that ‘breathable’ cot bumpers are safer, unfortunately there is still a risk that these could come loose and fall into the cot or be used by older babies and young toddlers as an aid to climb out of their cot.

Cot Bumper Alternatives

Baby in a Boori sleeping bag

If parents are concerned about their baby knocking their delicate limbs, then, instead of investing in a cot bumper, we would advise that you opt for a baby sleeping bag, which will keep your baby safe and comfy too.

A sleeping bag still allows baby to move around and kick their legs, however the bag introduces a softer layer between baby and their cot. Rednose have a helpful guide on choosing the right sleeping bag for your baby, which we would recommend taking a read of.

For more information on choosing safer sleeping products for your little one, take a look at our post ‘Safer Sleep for Babies’. Always follow the latest advice from leading experts including Rednose.

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