What is a Cot Bed Bumper? Safe Alternatives, Tips and Tricks
IMPORTANT NOTE: It is illegal to purchase cot bed bumpers in the US states of Ohio and Maryland.
A cot bed bumper is a piece of material which can be inserted around the inner edges of a baby’s cot. It’s thick enough to prevent the infant from rolling into the space between the mattress and frame of the cot.
Cot bed bumpers are cheap and widely available. The styles and materials used are highly varied, making it a tempting addition to the baby room and a potential baby shower gift.
There are two types of bed bumpers, including the low and thick variety that may be more dangerous, and the tall, thinner variety (which may function more like a liner than a bumper).
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Do You Need a Cot Bed Bumper?
Unfortunately, baby bumpers have proven to be unsafe for infants. Most cot bed bumpers are separate from the bedsheet, which means that there’s still the potential for the baby to fall in between the space between the mattress and cot frame. Other solutions like folding materials in between the cot slats have their own associated problems. If you are using cot bed bumpers to make a cot bed smaller, you might instead try our other tips.
If you’re considering installing cot bed bumpers, ask yourself, “how old is my baby?” If your baby is 4-9 months old or younger there is a risk of the child rolling underneath the bumper and suffocating. Rather than using a baby bumper, it is recommended that you use a mesh liner for your cot. And only use one only if the child is too old for a bassinet, but still needs to be restrained from the slats of a crib. Some sources recommend the earliest age should be one year.
For newborns, a bassinet is the best option. When the child gets big enough to sleep in a cot, the mesh liner will last them until they start getting more active in their cot. Depending on behavioural issues and how secure you feel leaving your child sleeping on their own, you may change to using a cot bed bumper inside the cot or replacing the cot with a children’s bed.
What Are The Pros and Cons of Using Cot Bed Bumpers?
|They are cheap and widely available.||They may cause the infant to suffocate when they roll underneath the material and have nowhere to breathe.|
|They come in many different sizes, shapes and colours.||They could strangle younger kids.|
|Prevents you child falling out of bed as they sleep, or getting their legs stuck between cot slats.||Older kids can use them to climb out of the crib.|
Mesh Liners Are Safe Alternatives to Cot Bed Bumpers
For safety reasons, it is better to use a mesh liner rather than a baby bumper according to the CPSC. Here are general guidelines for using a mesh liner, please consult your product's manual for exactly how to use your mesh liner :
- Choose a liner which cannot suffocate a child. It must have thin, breathable material, be lightweight, and easily installed. It should be made of a thin but sturdy material which can be interwoven into the slats of a cot. This way, your child cannot climb onto it, be suffocated by it, tug it out of place or do anything else that will cause themselves harm.
- Begin securing the mesh liner in place.
- Take the end of the mesh liner and place it on the final slat before the corner of the frame.
- The edge of the liner should have a Velcro strip that will enable you to fasten the material to the slat. Make sure that you fasten it so that the Velcro joint is facing out from the cot, as you want to prevent the baby from unfastening it themselves!
- Do the same to the other side of the liner, on the other side of the bed. Secure the liner using the ties, making sure it is on the outside of the cot. Adjust the ties so that they are not too tight or too loose but hold the liner firmly in place.
- Tuck the bottom of the liner inside the crib, in between the mattress and the slats. This will prevent the baby from getting its legs caught in between the slats.
- Keep the baby’s cot in the same room as the parents. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that, while it’s dangerous to keep baby in bed with mom and dad, keeping it in the same room will be beneficial in case anything happens, and there can be a quick response to the needs of the child.
- Put your baby near the bottom of the cot so its feet are almost close to but not touching the slats.
- Make sure the bed sheets are tucked in securely to decrease the risk of suffocation. The less loose and soft materials there are, the better. The foam should be soft for the baby’s comfort, but firm.
- Regularly check that everything is in place, both when the baby has been sleeping for a period of time and when you put the baby in the crib.
Other Alternatives to Cot Bed Bumpers
- Side drops (IMPORTANT NOTE: these are illegal in many countries due to the increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome).
- Bed guards
- Infant sleeping bags
Side Drop Cots
IMPORTANT NOTE: It is not recommended under any circumstances that you buy a side drop. Side drops can be forced down by the child and create a space where the child can trap their heads and suffocate themselves. Even if you received one as a hand-me-down from friends or family, do not use a side drop cot. Second hand drop side cots are more dangerous than new ones.
Like bumpers, guards are not safe for young children. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, kids should be 2 to 5 years old for bed guards. They are useful during your baby's transition from a cot bed to a normal bed. They perform a different function to bed bumpers. Whilst a bed bumper is there to prevent a non-mobile baby from rolling into slats, a bed guard is there to prevent a toddler from rolling out of bed.
Infant sleeping bags
Unlike baby bumpers, this is an option for very young children (0-6 months). Infant sleeping bags are safe, but they must be well made, used appropriately and the right size. If used inappropriately, your child may get lost in the material and suffocate themselves or overheat. It is for this reason that you should not use one until your child is 8.8 lbs or over, and when you do, you should pay attention to the room’s heating. The temperature should be slightly less than normal room temperature (68-72°F), because humans are adapted to sleeping better at night, when the temperature is usually lower. Keep in mind that if the child is starting to grow out of their sleeping sack, they will lose circulation, resulting in cold arms and legs.
These are useful for younger infants who have low mobility, as they are essentially an open box to put the child in. They are easy to move, and do not take up as much space as cots. They have a simple shape that does not put your baby at the risk of rolling into things like slats or bumpers and hurting themselves that way. However, they are small. Children tend to get more mobile from the age of five months onwards and could easily climb out of the bassinet. So, you will need to think of a new sleeping arrangement, once your child becomes too mobile or outgrows the bassinet.