Frilly crib bumpers may add a whimsical touch to a nursery, but they could be dangerous for infants. A study published in August’s Pediatrics journal says that sharing a bed, as well as items left in a baby’s sleep area are risk factors in infant deaths, reports Time. How much of a factor depends on the baby’s age: The study found that 74% of the younger infants who died (ages newborn to 3 months) were sharing a bed with another person or animal, while 39% of the older infants (ages 4 months to 1 year) were surrounded by blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, or other objects.
Most of the babies in the study—which was based on information about 8,207 infant fatalities compiled from 24 states by the National Center for the Review and Prevention of Child Deaths—were non-Hispanic whites, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics; 58% were male. As Time points out, the study doesn’t prove any clear cause-and-effect: Researchers say they were simply trying “to determine any associations between risk factors for sleep-related deaths at different ages.” Still, the AAP recommends that parents create a “safe sleep environment,” which includes placing babies on a firm mattress with a fitted sheet in a crib that meets safety standards (not in an adult bed or on a sofa), keeping toys and loose bedding such as blankets and pillows out of the crib, and dressing the baby in sleep clothing (e.g., sleep sacks). (Click here to read about other sudden infant death cases and possible causes.)