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Baby products 

Child safety

Childhood is an exciting time, but it can also be a dangerous period. Sadly there are some 20,000 children admitted to NSW hospitals each year because of injuries they have suffered. Some injuries involve everyday products most people take for granted as safe such as cots, strollers, high chairs and baby walkers. Choosing safe items and providing proper supervision are crucial in ensuring the safety of children in your care.

Baby walkers and bouncinettes 

There is growing concern about the dangers associated with the use of baby walkers because they are involved in a high number of injuries. Fair Trading consistently reviews the sale of baby walkers and recommends they not be used.

Most injuries are to the head and are suffered by children less than 12 months of age. Baby walkers make children mobile much earlier than normal and allow them to cross a room in seconds. They can pull boiling kettles onto themselves, reach open fires and heaters or fall down stairs. It is vital children are closely supervised at all times when they are in baby walkers.

Before you decide to buy a baby walker consider other products which entertain babies but do not have wheels, such as playpens. Only buy baby walkers that comply with the mandatory product safety standard – US Standard – Standard Consumer Safety Specifications for infant walkers F977-00.

Buy a bouncinette that has waist and crotch straps and keep it at floor level and under constant supervision to prevent accidents. Children have fallen from high places such as tables and bench tops, after being left unattended in the bouncinette. 

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Baby bath seats and water safety 

Children have drowned in the time it takes to step out of the bathroom to get a towel or answer the telephone. Every parent knows when it comes to playing in swimming pools, young children need to be closely supervised. Unfortunately, swimming pools are not the only drowning risk in the home. It’s a sad fact, but young children can drown in bathtubs, buckets, eskies, toilets, spas, hot tubs and other containers of water.

Always observe the following water safety tips when babies are in or near water:

  • Never leave a baby alone in the bath for any reason - not even for a second. If you must leave for any reason at all, take the baby with you.
  • A baby bath seat or support doesn’t make it all right to leave. It is a bathing aid, not a safety device. Babies can slip or climb out of the bath seats or supports and drown.
  • Never use a baby bath seat or support in a non-skid, slip-resistant tub because the suction cups won’t stick to the bathtub, or they might detach suddenly.
  • Never leave a bucket containing even a small amount of water unattended. When you’re finished using a bucket, always empty it immediately.
  • Store buckets and eskies away from children.
  • Always secure safety covers and barriers to prevent children from gaining access to spas or hot tubs when not in use. Some non-rigid covers, like solar covers, can allow a small child to slip in the water with the cover appearing to still be in place.
  • Keep the toilet lid down to prevent access to the water. Consider using a toilet clip to stop young children from opening lids.
  • Learn CPR. It can be a lifesaver.

IMPORTANT – All baby bath seats and supports must carry a warning notice reminding parents not to leave their children unattended in a bath. The warning is attached to the goods to remind parents and carers that these goods have been implicated in drownings. Read the warning and take notice of the message. It is NEVER okay to leave a baby in the bath for ANY reason without the supervision of a responsible person. Report to Fair Trading if you see a bath support for sale that does not have this warning.

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Baby slings 

Babies have suffocated while in slings. They are at risk if placed incorrectly because babies do not have the physical capacity to move out of dangerous positions that block their airways.

Two positions that present significant danger are:

  1. lying with a curved back, with the chin resting on the chest
  2. lying with the face pressed against the fabric of the sling or the wearer’s body.

Never use slings that place the baby in ‘foetal position’ with a curved back. A foetus doesn’t need a straight back to breathe, but a baby does.

When using a sling, put the baby in an upright position with a straight, flat back and check that their head is supported. Pay close attention to the baby and ensure their chin is always up and away from their body. Any pressure on the chin can close the airway. Ensure you can see the baby’s face at all times and that the face remains uncovered by the sling or your body. 

Remember - slings are not hands-free devices. You must always hold the baby with at least one arm.

For more details and to view a short video on how to position your baby in a sling, visit the Queensland Office of Fair Trading baby slings page.   

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Car restraints 

New national car restraints laws introduced in 2010 now require all children up to seven years of age must now be fastened into the right restraint for their age and size.

Always follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions. In NSW there are Authorised Safety Restraint Fitting Stations that can inspect and fit a child car restraint. Contact the RTA (Roads and Traffic Authority) on 13 22 13 for more information.

Here is a guide to which type of child car restraint you should use:

Up to 9kg (or 70cm in length)
Type: Infant restraint rearward facing.

8kg to 18kg
Type: Child seat forward facing.

14kg to 26kg
Type: Booster seat. Children outgrow the booster seat when they outgrow their weight range or when their eyes are level with the top of the seat back or head rest when seated on the booster.

14kg to 32kg
Type: Child safety harness.

All car restraints for children must comply with Australian Standard AS/NZS 1754.

IMPORTANT – Do not buy or use a second-hand child restraint if it has been involved in an accident or shows signs of wear such as cracks, frayed straps or broken buckles.

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Cots 

Babies spend a lot of time in their cots so it’s important their cots are safe. Most cot injuries are due to falls from the cot. Deaths have occurred when infants have fallen through or been caught in gaps found sometimes in old cots.

Some things to consider include:

  • look for cots that are manufactured to the Australian standard AS/NZS 2172:2003
  • always make sure the mattress fits snugly to within 20mm at the sides and the end
  • ensure a minimum distance of 500mm is maintained between the top of the mattress and the top of the cot sides
  • make sure there are no horizontal bars or decorations which could be used to climb out of the cot
  • make sure there are no protrusions which clothing can be caught on
  • remove climbing aids such as large toys, cot bumpers and cushions from the cot. These can help the child climb out.
  • do not allow small objects that could cause your child to choke to be placed in the cot or anywhere accessible to the child
  • the distance between the bars of the cot should be at least 5cm wide and no more than 9.5cm wide.

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High chairs 

Injuries involving high chairs are mainly due to falls and account for 25 per cent of nursery furniture accidents.

Note the following safety tips when purchasing or using a high chair: 

  • for maximum safety, choose a high chair fitted with a suitable harness system
  • check that folding high chairs cannot collapse accidentally during use
  • before you purchase a table mounted high chair make sure your table is able to support it. Make sure the slip-resistant mounting devices are in good condition.
  • never leave your child unattended in a high chair and always ensure they are properly restrained using the safety straps.

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Strollers/prams 

Strollers and prams are involved in a significant number of childhood injuries caused by the child falling from the stroller/pram or the stroller/pram tipping backwards. The mandatory standard for prams and strollers includes the requirement for them to meet certain requirements in Australian New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 2088:2000. It requires prams and strollers sold in Australia to comply with provisions for:

  • safety restraints
  • brakes
  • tether straps
  • safety labelling
  • testing procedures.

To help ensure the safety of your child whilst using a stroller/pram, follow these safety tips:

  • ensure your child is properly restrained in a harness
  • do not overload the stroller/pram or hang heavy bags from the handle
  • ensure you remove your child from the pram/stroller before adjusting it as your child's small fingers may get caught in the folding mechanism
  • do not leave children unattended in strollers/prams as they could try to climb out
  • always use the tether strap when the parking brake is not engaged 
  • always engage the braking system as soon as you stop pushing the stroller and before you take your hand off the stroller, particularly when using all terrain type strollers or 3 wheeler prams.

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Portable cots and playpens 

Portable cots and playpens can be useful, but if assembled incorrectly they may collapse whilst a child is in them. Always ensure all locking devices are secure and working correctly when the item is assembled and that your child cannot release them and collapse the cot or playpen. Manufacturers are required to place a warning label on the cot regarding assembly and locking procedures.

Folding cots are required to meet certain requirements in Australian New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 2195:1999.

Regularly check for tears in the fabric as a teething child can chew off pieces and choke. Remove all toys from the cot when the child is sleeping.

Only use the mattress supplied by the manufacturer.

IMPORTANT – Do not put additional pillows or mattresses in a portable cot as small children can easily become wedged between the mattresses and may suffocate.

Do not use a portable cot if your child weighs more than 15kg.

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Nursery furniture 

Always ask if the furniture is made according to Australian/New Zealand design standards.

Some things to consider include:

  • look for furniture that is free of rough surfaces, sharp edges, points and projections
  • make sure furniture is sturdily constructed so it will not collapse under a baby’s weight
  • test locking devices – they should function properly
  • look for hazards where it is easy for small fingers and limbs to get caught in gaps. Also places where the head and upper body can get caught and cause death by asphyxiation. Fingers can get caught in holes or openings between 5-12mm; arms and legs in gaps between 30-50mm and heads in gaps between 95-120mm.

For more information go to www.productsafety.gov.au

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