To simply put it, crib bumpers are NOT illegal. There is a lot of hype in the media and knowing before you buy will allow you to be more comfortable. Bumper pads help complete the look of bedding, reduce the draft to keep baby warm, and prevent entrapment of limbs between crib rails. The main purpose of the pads was to prevent limb entrapment. The spacing between crib rails, back in the day, used to be very wide and the bumper pads helped prevent injuries.
Now, with the newer crib designs and better crib regulations, it's almost impossible for babies to get their head, arms, legs, etc. caught or twisted in between the bars. Nevertheless, for older model cribs or hand-me-down cribs, the possibility of getting a limb stuck in the bars is still high without the use of a bumper pad. If you rather not use a bumper pad, there are several alternatives such as breathable bumpers, individual wraps for crib slats, or not using a bumper. The best thing for any parent to do is to purchase a new crib that meets the current CPSC and JPMA standards, such as Baby's Dream cribs.
Overstuffed bumper pads can be hazardous and CPSC staff is currently re-examining the safety of all crib bumpers. It has been estimated that more than 60 child suffocation deaths may be "responsible" to crib bumpers. It was introduced in response to Tribune investigations that found federal regulators for years have received reports of babies suffocating in cases that involved crib bumpers, yet have failed to warn parents or investigate all deaths.
Sleep guides and government officials continue to communicate a very straightforward message to parents. To have a safe sleep environment for your baby remove stuffed animals, blankets, and other loose articles from a baby's crib to reduce the risk of asphyxiation, suffocation and strangulation. As long as you follow government regulations, your baby will have a safe environment in which to sleep; and you can also sleep in peace knowing your baby will be safe.