Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Safe products for babies and toddlers

In the good old days, we bought or received (new or pre-loved) a bassinet, a pram, a baby's bath, a pusher (now known as stroller!), a cot and perhaps a changing table.  There wasn't much choice and designs were pretty basic.  We knew enough about safety issues to ensure that the paint used wasn't lead based, and that there were places where straps could be attached.

As in all areas of modern life, design, fashion, cost and safety factors have taken over the provision of baby and children's needs.  The canvas seat that hooked over the front seat has been replaced by all manner of super safe baby and toddler capsules and seats; old wicker or smarter vinyl prams on massive suspensions have been replaced by slick modern, easily folded contraptions and so it goes.  The cost of all the latest equipment has become amazingly high although the pre-loved baby fairs are booming.

What brought all this to mind was an article in the weekend news about new safety concerns with prams.  It was particularly concerned about the safety of seats for toddlers on prams, but also raised the issue of children jamming their fingers in folding mechanisms.  Many children are treated in Australian hospitals each year as a result of incidents connected with prams, mostly falls from them.

It seems to me that while minimum standards for pram manufacturers are important, parents themselves need to use some commonsense when using all children's equipment.  For example:
  • Babies and toddlers should always be strapped into prams and strollers;
  • Brakes should be applied before putting the baby into or out of the pram/stroller; 
  • Children should not be left unattended on changing tables: have everything needed for the change and cleanup ready before putting the baby on the table;
  • Children should always be strapped into high chairs and not left unattended;
  • Toddlers should be strapped into their car seats before putting the baby into the car and the baby should be removed first before releasing the toddlers;
  • Prams/strollers and carry baskets should never be placed behind or next to the roadside door of a car;
  • All children should be securely fastened in the car and any children not travelling should be held by the hand by another adult or inside the house under an adult's supervision before a car moves off.
Equipment for babies and children is regularly reviewed by the Australian Consumers' Association and results are published in their magazine Choice and online.  Guidelines for choosing equipment are given as well as reviews.  While detailed reviews need to be paid for there is a free 'Guide for Expectant Parents' that can be downloaded to help sort out what will be needed and how to make choices. The Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne also has a Safety Centre which can be visited by appointment as well as a website which looks in more detail at safety in the home, including fact sheets and other material to download and a very useful home safety check list.

Previous posts related to safety:
Safe Pedestrians 17/09/2012
Children, nannies and cars 09/09/2012
Safe Summer  11/12/2012

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