You shouldn’t be seeing any crib bumper pads on store shelves in Maryland. As of June 21st selling them here is illegal (PDF).
The decision to ban the sale of crib bumper pads (but not their use) came in November 2012 following an 18-month investigation into their safety. The ban also applies to online sales to customers who live in Maryland. After a warning, violations can be penalized up to $500 for each bumper shipped to or sold in the state.
“Our safety message is that babies sleep best alone, on their back, and in a crib,” said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Secretary of Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH). “Baby bumper pads are not part of this picture, and in fact can pose a serious threat to health.”
The ban on crib bumper pad sales is consistent with a 2011 recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics which concluded there was no evidence bumper pads prevent injuries and they actually raise the risk of strangulation and entrapment.
Experts at Frederick Memorial Hospital have been focused on promoting safe sleep for newborns and infants for quite some time, advising new parents that there should be nothing in the crib but the baby. That means no bumpers, stuffed animals, or even blankets. A swaddle sack is safer than a blanket because there is less risk of the infant getting tangled in the fabric.
Getting back to bumpers, the new Maryland regulation defines them as “a pad or pads of non-mesh material resting directly above the mattress in a crib, running the circumference of the crib or along any of the interior sides of the crib, and intended to be used until the age that an infant pulls to stand.” The ban does not apply to vertical bumpers that wrap tightly around each individual crib rail or to mesh crib liners, but the DHMH does not recommend using them, either.