Bumper alternatives growing in popularity
Jane Kitchen -- Kids Today, 11/1/2011 2:00:00 AM
It was The Thing on everyone's mind at this fall's ABC Expo: what is the future of bumpers? With the city of Chicago banning the sale of bumpers and the state of Maryland proposing to do the same, many retailers spent their time at ABC exploring alternatives to traditional bumpers as consumer awareness and concern began to grow.
But that was September. This month, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued new guidelines for safe sleep for babies that included a recommendation against crib bumpers.
The JPMA holds firmly to its stance that parents should be able to choose to use bumpers or not, and that an outright ban will lead to unintended consequences and parents using towels, blankets or pillows create a soft sleeping environment for their babies.
Meanwhile, manufacturers who have tackled the question head-on have seen tremendous response as the industry seeks to find alternatives for an issue that remains up in the air.
Susan Waters, co-founder of BreathableBaby, was one of the first to address the bumper issue when she created her company 12 years ago.
Wonder Bumpers are vertical crib guards that zip around the rail of the crib, allowing for air to flow through, yet providing a measure of padding. Available in a total of 20 prints and colors, Wonder Bumpers are sold in a pack of 24 for $99 or a 38-pack for $159.
Oliver b’s patent-pending slat bumpers offer the protection of a standard bumper while allowing aiflow ventilation. Each crib slat bumper measures 10 inches by 5 ½ inches with nine-inch ties. Retail price for a 20-pack is $74.99.
Designed with one pattern on the top of the sheet, piping along the edges, and a different design on the sides, Skip Hop’s patentpending Complete Sheet does the job of creating a bumper-like look without a bumper. Individual separate sheets retail for $24, and four-piece sets for $120.
Waters has recently changed the name of her signature product from a breathable mesh crib "bumper" to a breathable mesh crib "liner" to more accurately convey the nature of her product.
BreathableBaby's breathable mesh crib liner was born when Waters' own daughter was a baby. Her pediatrician had advised against bumper use, but the baby's arms and legs were getting caught in the crib slats.
"Sierra wasn't getting any sleep and neither were Dale or I," said Waters.
Determined to steer clear of traditional bumpers, Waters came up with the Breathable Mesh Crib Liner, which uses a spacer-mesh fabric that does not allow an airtight seal to be created when it's compressed - meaning even if baby's face gets pressed up against it, she can still breathe through the fabric.
When Waters first started her company, designs were limited, but today the Breathable Mesh Crib Liner is available in six colors and six prints.
"Mothers have wanted more fashion and more color," said Waters.
The original Breathable Mesh Crib Liner retails at an affordable $29.99, and Waters said she has plans to introduce bedding sets in early 2012 that will retail for under $100.
"People have been asking for us to do (bedding sets) for quite a while now," said Waters. "Currently our mesh liner works really well with other bedding sets, but we'll definitely be adding in more designs and really cute prints."
Waters said she's had a substantial increase in interest in her products from both major retailers and specialty stores, as well as an increase in sales.
Catherine Hall, president of Go Mama Go Designs, debuted her answer to bumper alternatives, the Wonder Bumper, back in 2008.
Hall had been in the industry with her Snug & Tug swaddling blanket, and was looking for bumper alternatives.
"I thought there had to be something else on the market that was cute and safe," said Hall. "In looking at the crib, we said ‘Let's go vertical.' We just went along with the nature of the design of the crib."
Wonder Bumpers are vertical crib guards that zip around the rail of the crib, allowing for air to flow through, yet providing some measure of padding. Inside the Wonder Bumper is a sleek piece of foam liner that Hall said mitigates against injury but doesn't present a suffocation risk.
"It never has to be removed, and the full rail is covered...Once they're on, they're on, and they always look great," said Hall. "...The zipper is a true safety feature - baby can't take it off, and it doesn't sag."
Hall said while she's always had a consistent group of retailers behind her product, interest has definitely peaked recently.
"This has definitely been a different time in terms of what's going on in Chicago and Maryland," said Hall. "This year was just kind of an explosion."
Hall is adding four new patterns to the mix in January, which will mean Wonder Bumpers are available in a total of 20 prints and colors. They are sold in a pack of 24 for $99, or a 38-pack for $159, as well as in packs of two for $10, so consumers can get exactly the number they need for their crib slats.
"We really feel like we have the stylish option in creating a nursery," said Hall. "You don't have to choose between safety and style - with the Wonder Bumpers you get both."
Skip Hop's new patent-pending crib sheet, the Complete Sheet, launched this year at ABC, is a truly bumperless alternative.
Designed with one pattern on the top of the sheet, piping along the edges, and a different design on the sides, the Complete Sheet does the job of creating a bumper-like look without a bumper.
"It's a visual alternative for those people who don't want to use a bumper," said Ellen Diament, co-founder of Skip Hop. "It gives the illusion of the bumper, because when you lose the bumper, you lose all the décor."
Diament said the Complete Sheet has been in the works for some time, and that many retailers had been asking the company about alternative bumper choices. Even before the new AAP guidelines, Diament said Skip Hop's own research showed 30% of new parents were forgoing crib bumpers.
Caden Lane’s bumperless
sets include two pieces, a
sheet and a skirt, with a retail
of $192. Brighter colors and
more extravagant crib skirts
help finish out the look of a
nursery without a bumper.
Mesh Crib Liner from
Breathable Baby uses a spacermesh
fabric that does not allow an airtight
seal to be created when it’s compressed — meaning
even if baby’s face gets pressed up against it, she can
still breathe through the fabric. Available in six colors
and six prints, the liner retails for $29.99.
"There are going to be changes in the industry in terms of what people want," said Diament.
The response to the Complete Sheet, she said, has been amazing.
"All the retailers really loved it," she said. "We're really excited."
The Complete Sheet will be shipping in December, and will also be available in four-piece sets that include a 200-thread-count Complete Sheet, wearable blanket, linen skirt and nursery blanket, all with coordinating linen trim. Retail price is a sharp $120.
"People want to make shopping easy," said Diament. "We want the Complete Sheet to be treated like any four-piece set, especially with registries."
The Complete Sheet is currently offered in eight designs in unisex, girl and boy looks, some of which are based on Skip Hop's best-selling traditional sets. Individual separate sheets retail for $24.
"I think it will appeal to a lot of people," said Diament. But, she continued, "... I think people are always going to want bumpers, and they're going to want to make that choice."
This article is very informative and I do respect the other companies out there that have made an alternative to crib bumpers. I have to say that Catherine Hall president of Go Mama Go Designs hit the target to the perfect bumper alternative. I purchased this product and was very impressed as soon as I received it. It was a heavy bag with the softest high quality material bumpers in it. Wonder Bumpers are beautiful and have sassy and cute designs, they are superior in every way. They zip up easy, let air flow through your infants crib in healthy way, and are great sound barriers. They are the answer to a safe crib and an answer to getting your infant to sleep through the night very fast. The Wonder Bumpers are often on sale and are 30% off to military familes. They are a product that can be passed on from one child to the next. I would purchase these Wonder Bumpers for your family or anybody that is having a baby shower.Aimee M. - 2012-09-26 12:47:01 EDT
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