December 3, 2007

Your JPMA At Work: Are Boomers To Blame For Crib Bumpers?

In her ongoing exploration of The Problem with Parents These Days, Judith Warner wrote about the deadly new trend of Helicopter Parenting. Uh-huh.

If there's a crisis in modern parenting, maybe it's that we lack context and historical perspective. I've been poking around the NY Times' recently opened archives, and the parenting trend stories of 15 and 20 years ago sound like they could've been published yesterday. How many of the head-scratchingest aspects of kid life are the arbitrary artifacts of media hype? Supermom, Mr. Mom, hipster parents. Would we worry about Grups and Mini-Me's if they were still called Peter Pan Syndrome? And what about the corporate factor? How much of the stuff we supposedly need was created solely to extract as much money as possible from the wallets of anxious parents-to-be? Crib bumpers, I'm looking at you.

Here's a quote from " All About/Baby Products; Smaller Families Perhaps, but So Much More to Buy," which ran in the NY Times 16 years ago this week":

"The business has grown dramatically, not just because of the number of births, but because of the amount of new products," said Shirley Pepys, the [Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association] president and also president of Noel Joanna Inc., a maker of children's bedding and accessories based in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. "New parents are open to anything and if you told them they needed 150 new products, they'd probably buy them."

Style plays a bigger role than ever in baby products, but so does safety, industry leaders say. And while 30-something parents [heh. -ed.] are skeptical of gimmicks, they are looking for innovative products that can make life easier for working parents. Many of these products come from new companies formed by parents turned entrepreneurs.

"It's very important how you decorate your nursery and a lot of money is spent on decorating that room," said Ms. Pepys of Noel Joanna, which sells wildly colored and patterned sheets, quilts and matching lamps.

Fashion baby bedding "is a huge business in the United States that came out of nowhere," said John Moeller, president of the Simmons Juvenile Products Company in New London, Wisc., which added bedding to its line of cribs recently.

Also, did you know that Safety 1st was founded in 1984 by the "Baby On Board" car sign guy?


This whole industry is baffling. Do people just ignore SIDS risks and put their kids in bed with bumpers and comforters, or are there people who actually make their kids cribs up every morning with comforters, bumpers, etc.?

In reply to Tim's question Do people just ignore SIDS risks and put their kids in bed with bumpers and comforters, above:

You do realize that most kids do sleep in cribs much longer than just the time they are infants, right? My son is 17 months old, is walking, and still sleeps about 50% of the time in his crib. (The other 50% of the time we co-sleep.) I don't expect him to move out of his crib for another year, at least (unless he starts climbing out on his own, which is its own set of dangers.) Thus, he has blankets, otherwise here in Maine he'd get cold at night. Putting him, as a walker, in one of those halo-jumpsuit-blanket things just wouldn't work - he'd try to walk around in his crib and trip, fall, hit is head, cry ....

We also have a crib bumper (it came with the set) - we started out not using it, but now that he's older and thrashes around as he sleeps we find that it keeps him from sticking his arms and legs out through the rails of his (Arts and Crafts style) crib - the arm or leg then get stuck and he tries to turn over and it wakes him and that wakes us.

The risk of SIDS in a child who is able to stand and walk is vanishingly small. Most babies are going to be in their cribs for longer than the first year -- its not really unusual for a child to sleep in a crib of some sort until almost the age of 3. Thus the need for crib blankets and comforters....

Just because we (bedding manufacturers) make something, it certainly doesn't mean you have to buy it! Do your own research. In more than 25 years of manufacturing, we've never had a single safety issue with our bumper pads. We're the first to tell our customers that they don't "need" a bumper, but if they like the way they look, fine. We have designed our bumper pads to ensure the highest level of safety. I can't speak for other bedding companies. It's up to the consumer to do their homework.

Here in Italy it is not unusual to hear of a 4 year old still in the crib. And as anastasiav stated: Crib bumpers are very useful for arms and legs that poke out.
It is funny to me that the article seems like it was written recently. I guess we've all had this neurosis for as long as parenting has been around.

I'm so sick of being judged as a bad parent because I refuse to heed the siren song of Paranoid Parenting. We used crib bumpers and comforters, so do/did about half the parents we know. Roughly the same % that enjoyed a good glass of Cab or odd glass of Guinness during their pregnancies.

Addressing the article at hand, despite my AMA I can't ever remember a time when babies, big business & paranoia DIDN'T go hand in loving hand.


[I'm probably a bit late to the discussion, but my objection to crib bumpers is based less on their safety and more on their perceived lack of utility: they're purely aesthetic, though obviously some people will disagree. For me, they fall into the same category as pillows #5-12 on the bed, which are there just to accessorize and "complete the look" or whatever. No disrespect to the bed stylist industry (Hey Jane!) or to respectable DT advertisers and contest sponsors like Javis Davis, but the product seems extraneous. And the JPMA spokeswoman made it sound even more like a product created to sell to gullible expectant parents. -ed.]

We're in the same boat with the crib bumper - we use it because our son is a restless sleeper and he bangs his head against the sides of the crib, and the bumper softens the blows. I am a bit fanatical about safety (my brothers call me "Buzzkill" :D), but I try not to go overboard, and my husband and I try to choose what is right for us and best for our baby.

now, here in the UK we're advised not to use bumpers before 12months because of the SIDS risk...
and not to use them after 12months in case kids use them as a step to climb out of the crib.

It seems their sole use is to make the nursery look pretty before the baby is born and/or while the baby is still sleeping in a bassinet next to the parents' bed.

I don't think I know anyone who uses one.

I've heard that, too, about the "step-up", but when my son steps on his, it crumples up under his foot. The way they're tied to the vertical slats on our crib, I don't see how they'd stay up enough for him to use as a step.

I just think it's odd that people who don't use one because they don't need one (i.e. haven't heard their baby crying and banging his head repeatedly against the crib), accuse everyone else of using it for aesthetics. I would never endanger my baby's life for something purely "for show", and I doubt very many other people are doing so, either.

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