5 Safe Alternatives to Crib Bumpers [Use These Instead]

Jessica Stone
by Jessica Stone
Crib bumpers have proven to be dangerous for babies over the years. Luckily, alternatives such as crib rail covers and mesh crib liners are much safer. Follow along as we explore how you can substitute your crib bumper for a safer alternative.

Countless parents considered crib bumpers an essential safety measure for their baby for the longest time. Unfortunately, we now know that crib bumpers can cause suffocation or injury, or even help a baby escape the crib. So, are there any safe alternatives to crib bumpers?

Mesh crib liners, braided bumpers, and vertical bumper pads are the best safe alternatives to crib bumpers. Crib rail covers are also a great alternative because they prevent a baby’s arms and legs from getting stuck in the rails. Baby sleeping bags can protect a baby from the danger of crib bumpers, but they don’t directly shield the railing.

Each alternative is unique and has distinct pros and cons. The best crib bumper alternative is a mesh crib liner because it is effective and easy to set up. Follow along as we explore the top 5 safe alternatives to crib bumpers.

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Are Crib Bumpers Safe?

Crib bumpers are not safe babies, especially if they are between 3 and 10 months old. However, crib bumpers are unsafe at any age for a baby depending on what stage of development they are at. Babies begin to roll at 3-4 months old, and that’s when bumpers pose a risk of injury or suffocation.

The surface of crib bumpers is not breathable and can prove deadly if a baby rolls into it. Crib bumpers become even more dangerous after 10 months when many babies can stand and pull themselves up. Babies can use a crib bumper as a step, and that increases the chances that they will fall out of the crib or injure themselves.

The main appeal to crib bumpers is that they can prevent a baby from getting their limbs stuck in the crib’s rails. However, that is often much less severe than the major safety risks that crib bumpers pose by comparison.

Safe Alternatives to Crib Bumpers

There are safe alternatives to crib bumpers that reduce the risk of injury for babies. Many of these alternatives are new and have popped up within the last few years. There is no reason to lose sleep at night and worry that the crib bumper in your baby’s crib is more trouble than it’s worth. Let’s take a look at 5 safe alternatives to crib bumpers.

1. Mesh Crib Liner

Mesh crib liners are the most popular safe alternative to crib bumpers. They are much safer than crib bumpers and they can keep a baby’s arms and legs away from the crib’s rails just as effectively. As the name suggests, the mesh liner encompasses the entire crib from the inside.

Mesh liners put up a soft barrier so that a baby cannot stick their extremities through the crib rails. The soft material also gives babies extra protection from the rails which are generally hard. However, it’s important to mention that the mesh material isn’t as thick as conventional crib bumpers.

  • Safety: Like anything, it’s important to listen to the experts and mesh crib liners are recommended by both the AAP and the CPSC. They assert that placing as few objects as possible in a child’s crib is the safest scenario. Traditional crib bumpers pose a real threat that mesh liners remedy with their breathable material.
  • Price: Mesh liners are made up of much simpler materials than crib bumpers. As a result, they are often available for under $25.
  • Practicality: Unlike crib bumpers, mesh liners can be adjusted to fit any crib perfectly.
  • No loose parts: The way that mesh liners are installed allows for no loose parts or gaps. It creates a cushioning, breathable surface that is entirely safe even if an infant pushes on it.
  • Lets light in: In addition to being breathable, mesh fabrics also allow light in. This can be very important if your child tends to spend a lot of time in their crib during the daytime. They create a very warm, calming atmosphere, which can be enhanced based on the color you purchase.
  • Won’t soften the blow: Unlike crib bumpers, mesh crib liners are not going to soften the blow if the child bumps their head on the crib. Instead, the primary purpose is to prevent the child from getting stuck in the rails.

2. Vertical Crib Liners

The reason why many parents are still attached to the conventional crib bumpers is to protect their babies from dangling limbs and unexpected head bangs. Vertical crib liners offer a bit of a different approach to the original idea behind crib bumpers. Instead of lining the entire crib in large, unbreathable pads, these vertical crib liners attach to only the rails.

It is unlikely that crib rails could trap a baby’s limbs with vertical crib liners. Space out the pads between each rail so that they won’t pose a risk to your baby. Vertical liners are a safe alternative to crib bumpers because they protect the extremities and have a lower risk of suffocation. They are also soft, cushy, and can prevent facial injuries.

You can find vertical crib liners in a soft, almost furry material or, if you prefer, they’re also available in 100% cotton varieties.

  • Easy to install: Vertical crib liners are very simple to install on each individual rail of your baby’s crib.
  • Safety: Like most other options on this list, vertical crib liners serve as a safe alternative to traditional crib bumpers. They will keep your child safe from bumping their head, prevent them from getting their limbs stuck in the rails, and also reduce the risk of suffocation.
  • Variety: Vertical crib liners come in a variety of colors and fabrics to complement the rest of your baby’s nursery.
  • Space between rails: The main downside to vertical crib liners is that it still leaves some space in between the rails. While it may be relatively unlikely and the space is slim, it is possible for your baby’s arms or legs to become trapped. However, the space is necessary to keep your child safe from the risk of suffocation.

3. Braided Crib Bumpers

A braided, or knotted, crib bumper is another alternative to the conventional design that offers both comfort and safety. This option is designed to place a soft cushion between the rails of the crib and your child. That way, the risk of their hands or feet becoming stuck between the bars is significantly lowered. It also helps to prevent the infant from bumping and bruising their heads on the walls of the crib.

These crib bumpers are very cute, aesthetically pleasing, and plush. Its clever design does not include any ties that could present strangulation risks. The braided crib bumper is simply placed around the perimeter of the crib and can also serve as a pillow, back cushion, or even general nursery décor. The design also allows for more breathability than conventional crib bumpers.

Braided crib bumpers are only a safe alternative to crib bumpers if the baby is over 3 months old. The risk of SIDS goes down once a baby is past 3 months old. Generally, braided crib bumpers are a great alternative if the baby is able to sit, stand, and roll around the crib.

Pros of Braided Crib Bumpers
  • Safety: Many parents choose braided crib bumpers for their ability to provide cushioning between the child and the walls of their crib. It essentially serves the same function as traditional bumpers, with the added benefit of being cute to look at.
  • Aesthetically pleasing: The major draw to this alternative is the design. Its braided pattern is very pleasing to the eye and can even serve a dual purpose as decoration in your child’s nursery.
  • Variety: Braided crib bumpers come in a range of colors and styles, including single braided and double-braided versions.
Cons of Braided Crib Bumpers
  • Still unsafe for tiny babies: Though safer than conventional crib bumpers, braided bumpers are still relatively unsafe for small children. Avoid using this alternative for babies that cannot sit up, roll over, or even stand on their own, as they could suffocate in the material.

4. Crib Rail Covers

Crib rail covers offer a great way to keep your infant safe from getting their limbs trapped in the railing of their crib. They are easily attached to the top of the railing, hanging down to reduce the risk of entrapment. It is a relatively simple solution that can serve as a safe alternative to traditional crib bumpers.

Another major benefit of a crib rail cover is that it prevents children from chewing on the railing of their crib. It’s not uncommon for children who are teething to find relief by biting crib rails. Obviously, chewing on wood or plastic is not necessarily safe and can harm their teeth. Installing a crib rail cover will prevent this from happening.

Pros of Crib Rail Covers
  • Simple installation: Installing crib rail covers is as easy as sliding them over the railings from the top and tying them to secure them in place.
  • Safety: This alternative will significantly reduce the risk of your child getting their arms or legs trapped in between the crib rails. Crib rail covers also prevent bumps, bruises, and biting by shielding the railings.
  • Variety: These covers come in a range of colors to match the design of the nursery, and aren’t unsightly when installed.
Cons of Crib Rail Covers
  • Exposed rails: Though crib rail covers help protect your little one from bumping their head suddenly and cover a majority of the rails, it still leaves the railings relatively exposed. The child could still get their arms or legs trapped in the spaces.

5. Baby Sleeping Bags

Another alternative to crib bumpers that have been gaining popularity in recent years is baby sleeping bags. When your child is asleep, it’s important that you keep them as safe as possible. By using a baby sleeping bag, the approach to do this is slightly different. Instead of shielding the dangers that the crib itself poses, you place the child into a sleeping bag that protects their body.

In fact, some babies might prefer sleeping in a sleeping bag than without, as many are designed with swaddling in mind. Researchers have shown that swaddling babies helps them sleep better by increasing their total time asleep and also their non-rapid eye movement. These sleeping bags are designed with the idea of swaddling and also for comfortability.

When your child is placed inside one of these convenient sleeping bags not only will they sleep better, but they also won’t be able to reach the railings. This means that there is no risk of their arms or legs becoming trapped in the rails.

While the design doesn’t necessarily protect their head, it does limit their movement so they won’t even have the opportunity to come into contact with the walls of their crib.

Pros of Baby Sleeping Bags
  • Better sleep: Using the idea of swaddling, your child will actually sleep better when using a sleeping bag than they would with any other alternative.
  • Warm and comfortable: The design is soft, comfortable, and warm, providing a wonderful sleeping environment for your child.
  • Limits movement: Baby sleeping bags prevent legs and arms from getting trapped and also heads from being banged by limited movement and protecting limbs.
Cons of Baby Sleeping Bags
  • Doesn’t shield railings: Since baby sleeping bags don’t do anything to shield the actual rails of the crib, the child must remain in the bag at all times to be fully protected.

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Jessica Stone
Jessica Stone

Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.

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