On April 20, Democratic Senators Tammy Duckworth and Richard Blumenthal and Republican Senator Rob Portman proposed a bipartisan bill, the Safe Cribs Act, which would ban the sale of crib bumpers nationwide. Although the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that nothing be in a sleeping baby's crib with them throughout their first year of life, a majority of retailers that sell nursery and baby gear advertise bumpers that attach to the internal sides of a crib. These soft, often bulky bumpers, along with other loose bedding items like blankets, "could increase the risk of entrapment, suffocation, or strangulation" when left in a baby's sleep area.
According to the AAP, "More than 3,500 babies in the U.S. die suddenly and unexpectedly every year while sleeping, often due to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or accidental deaths from suffocation or strangulation." Duckworth, Blumenthal, and Portman are hoping to prevent some of these avoidable infant deaths, as dozens have been linked to padded crib bumpers.
"The fact that these deadly products can still be found on shelves across the country is extremely confusing to new parents."
"The fact that these deadly products can still be found on shelves across the country is extremely confusing to new parents who don't believe stores would be selling them if they were truly dangerous to babies," Duckworth said in a press release. "We should be doing everything we can to help new parents and end preventable deaths like these, which is why I'm proud to be introducing this bipartisan bill with Senators Portman and Blumenthal that would ban the sale of deadly padded crib bumpers."
Portman, whose home state of Ohio has already banned crib bumpers, said in the same press release: "The use of crib bumpers pose an unnecessary threat to the health and safety of infants everywhere, there is no reason the sale of these dangerous items should continue. . . . Congress must also act to protect infants from an unnecessary and unacceptable risk."
In 2016, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) "identified 107 fatal and 282 non‐fatal incidents that were reported to CPSC from January 1, 1990 to March 31, 2016, in which a crib bumper was present in the sleep environment," according to a statement released by the organization in November of that year. In the same statement, the CPSC gave an overall recommendation that caregivers discontinue use of padded crib bumpers.
"Some caregivers may think that padded bumpers assist in protecting against head injury or limb entrapment. We strongly believe that the risk of death from padded crib bumpers far outweighs any purported benefits," the CPSC wrote. "We advise parents and caregivers that the best practice for a safe sleep environment for children is a properly assembled crib with only an appropriately sized mattress and a snugly fitted sheet, and that parents should never place soft bedding or other padded objects such as padded bumpers, pillows, sleep positioners, stuffed animals, or cushions in a child's crib, bassinet or play yard. When it comes to any child's sleep environment, bare really is best."
If passed, the Safe Cribs Act would make it unlawful to manufacture and import crib bumpers in the US, and would require the CPSC to enforce that ban nationwide. "This bill would ensure deadly and dangerous crib bumpers are pulled off store shelves," Blumenthal said in the press release. "New parents can still unwittingly purchase this perilous padding for their children's cribs despite dozens of babies suffocating. I'm glad to back this bipartisan effort with Senators Duckworth and Portman to prevent more needless tragedies."