Cot bumper pads – are they a risk? American experts say bumper pads are ‘not recommended’

02 November 2011

Baby in a cot

A new report is advising parents not to use cot bumpers in their baby’s bed because they are a known risk factor for cot death.

The report, from the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP), warns that babies can suffocate against or be trapped by cot bumpers - which wrap around the inside of a cot and are designed to protect a baby from injuring itself on hard cot sides.

The report says babies can also be strangled by the ties that attach the cot bumpers to the cot rails.

For cot safety advice from Which?, read our safe baby sleeping tips, which include the right room temperature for a nursery and the best baby sleeping position.

American cot bumper warning

Cot bumpers were linked to the deaths of 27 American babies between 1985 and 2005, according to research quoted in the AAP report ‘Sudden infant death syndrome and other sleep-related infant deaths'.

Which? Baby product expert Victoria Pearson says: ‘The report from the American Academy of Paediatrics draws together many strands that have been investigated by the Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, into the causes of sleep-related infant deaths.

‘We welcome its helpful and clear recommendations on the risk factor of cot bumpers, which are backed by the most recent scientific studies and provide advice that parents can act on.’

A dangerous sleeping environment

A poorly placed cot, full of climbing, overheating and suffocation hazards

Cot safety advice

According to The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID) there is no evidence that cot bumpers have contributed to any UK cot deaths.

It advises that cot bed bumpers are not necessary, but if they are used they should be removed when a baby is old enough to sit unaided and use them to climb out of the cot.

The Child Accident Prevention Trust said it supported the findings of the AAP report, due to the potential suffocation risk associated with cot bumpers. 

Cots should not be cluttered with soft toys, pillows and blankets for the same reason.

Our cot bed reviews include advice on using cots safely, as well as tips to help you choose the right cot for your baby.

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