The United States just made crib sleep safer. On May 16, President Biden finally signed the Safe Cribs Act (H.R. 3182) into law. Passed by the House in June of 2021 and in the Senate earlier this month, the new law prohibits both the sale and manufacture of crib bumper pads and infant inclined sleeper products, which have been shown to be unsafe for infants.

Sponsored by senators Senators Duckworth (IL), Portman (OH), Blumenthal (CT) and Brown (OH), the act speaks volumes about the sentiment we all share when it comes to babies and safe sleep. It was only with the tireless efforts of the sponsors in addition to advocacy groups, parents and pediatricians that it is now law.

Andrew Apperly/Burst

The Act describes a crib bumper as “any material that is intended to cover the sides of a crib to prevent injury to any crib occupant from impacts against the side of a crib or to prevent partial or complete access to any openings in the sides of a crib to prevent a crib occupant from getting any part of the body entrapped in any opening; includes a padded crib bumper, a supported and unsupported vinyl bumper guard, and vertical crib slat covers; and does not include a non-padded mesh crib liner.”

Consumer Federation of America and Kids In Danger report that bumper pads do not make cribs safer and serve only as decoration. In fact, they “increase the likelihood of suffocation or entrapment. In addition to the direct risk of suffocation, crib bumper pads also contribute to sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) by reducing airflow in the crib and confusing parents on the safe sleep message that encourages a bare crib.”

Tragically, from Jan. 1990 to Mar. 31, 2019, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) received 113 reports of fatalities that involve crib bumpers. Rachel Weintraub, legislative director and general counsel with Consumer Federation of America, states: “Crib bumpers appear to be common and harmless nursery items, but in reality, the utility of crib bumpers is limited, while the risks are significant. These products are not necessary. The passage of the Safe Cribs Act in the Senate is a critical step to eliminating this hazardous product from the marketplace. We applaud this effort and urge the House to quickly pass this lifesaving legislation.”

This isn’t the first time that senators and consumer advocacy groups have tried to pass a similar law. The Sleep Safe for Babies Act of 2019 sought to get rid of inclined sleepers and crib bumpers, which did pass the House but was not enacted into law.

Not only does the law prohibit the sale of the aforementioned baby products, but it also requires that they be declared banned hazardous substances under the Consumer Product Safety Act. It will be illegal to sell crib bumpers and inclined sleepers 180 days after the Safe Sleep for Babies Act is officially enacted.


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