(CNN) -Crib bumpers may seem like the perfect finishing touch for an infant's nursery, but beware. The popular padded crib accessory poses a suffocation risk for small babies.
"They can suffocate by pushing their face up against the bumper or getting their face trapped underneath the bumper," explained Cleveland Clinic Children's pediatrician Dr. Elaine Schulte.
Recent research shows an increased reporting of suffocations due to crib bumpers and other objects in cribs. Researchers determined that infant deaths would have been prevented if a crib bumper had not been in the crib. They also found that there is no benefit to using a bumper.
Parents often believe bumpers are needed to keep their baby safe and comfortable in a crib, but Dr. Schulte says bumpers are not necessary and that infants are safest in a bare crib; no stuffed animals, blankets, pillows or bumpers.
In addition to suffocation hazards, once a baby learns to stand, they can use the bumper as a stepping stool to climb out of the crib, which can lead to serious head injuries.
"The bottom line is that crib bumpers are not safe to use in cribs. Babies don't need crib bumpers. They don't need anything in their cribs," Dr. Schulte said.
Dr. Schulte reminds new parents that babies should sleep on their backs and that a crib mattress should be firm and snugly fit the crib frame. Baby's crib should also meet all current safety standards.