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A better bumper

Cozy WedgeIf you have the temperament for it, one of the most fun parts of preparing for a new baby is decorating the nursery. Even for a decor-challenged mom-to-be (that’s me), there’s a thrill to choosing the colors and patterns that will adorn the baby’s room. Bedding is a big piece of the puzzle, and most well-dressed cribs sport a bumper.

I’m not sure when or how bumpers became so mainstream; I couldn’t find anything on the history of the crib bumper (shocking, I know). But my guess is that they came about shortly after cribs became popular. In theory, bumpers are designed to keep babies from hurting themselves on the hard slats of a crib. They prevent limbs from getting stuck, heads from getting bumped, etc. They made the inside of the crib seem a bit cozier, quieter and more protective. They also make the crib look less like a cage, which I suspect is a big part of the subconscious appeal.

But are they safe? Well. Most experts say no, that the added padding is just as dangerous as having a blanket or stuffed animal in the crib. This doesn’t stop most parents from using them, though (no comment). But the rising chorus of warnings have spurned several parent-entrepreneurs to explore alternatives to the traditional bumper design. One of the newest on the market is the Cozy Wedge, from the same brilliant people who brought us the Burp Catcher.

The Cozy Wedge is a set of triangular foam wedges, made of the same nonabsorbent foam as a pool noodle. It comes with a machine-washable slipcover, and the wedges interlock to surround the crib on all four sides. It does not pose a suffocation risk because the foam is firm enough that it won’t form a pocket around a baby’s mouth. It provides just enough height to keep a pacifier inside the crib, and protect against most head-banging and limb-flailing.

Because the foam is so firm, the Cozy Wedge is intentionally low-profile, so as not to become a step-stool for aiding and abetting crib escapees. So it doesn’t really perform the same decorative function as a regular bumper, nor does it provide the sense of quiet isolation. The slipcovers come in solid, organic twill cotton or cute cotton prints. The fashions are not quite on the same level as many of the bedding options available, but if you’re feeling nervous about a bumper, this is a good compromise.

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