Is Your Baby Gear Safe?
By Kimberly Blaker
Regardless of their approach to parenting, one thing all parents prioritize is keeping their children safe. It seems like new recalls on child equipment occur each week. To ensure your child is safe and secure, keep the following in mind when buying and using child equipment.
Car Seats The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that car seats offer your child the best protection in the event of an accident.
The following are the three main types of car seats and how to use them. Search for and compare different car seats at nhtsa.gov/campaign/right-seat.
• Rear-facing: Babies and toddlers should face the rear as long as possible until they outgrow car seat height or weight limits.
• Forward-facing: Once children outgrow a rear-facing seat, they should stay in a forward-facing seat until they exceed its height or weight limit.
• Booster: Older children who can use a seat belt, but need to sit higher for the seat belt to correctly fit, should use a booster car seat.
Once kids are tall enough to sit on the seat with the seat belt in a safe position, a car seat is no longer required.
Check that car seat clips or seat belts are in the right place every time. Clips should be clasped at the armpit level. A seat belt should lay across your child’s lap with the top across the chest and shoulder (not across the neck or face).
If you’re unsure whether your seat is correctly installed or need help, reach out to a Sonoma County community services officer: sonomasheriff.org.child-safety-seat-installation.
In case of an accident, add a tag or sticker with important information about your child and emergency contact information.
If possible, avoid buying a used car seat. It’s important that a car seat has not been in an accident and that it has not expired. (Car seats are not safe 6–10 years after their date of manufacture.) It’s hard to determine either if its used.
Cribs Don’t use a crib with drop-down sides. Even though they were banned more than a decade ago for safety reasons, you still might find one at a garage sale or resale shop. Don’t buy it. Also make sure anything used you do buy does not have missing parts or issues with paint, splintering, or loose connections.
To avoid SIDS, babies should be placed on their backs, and mattresses should be flat and firm with a tight-fitting sheet. There should be nothing loose in the crib, such as blankets, pillows, or stuffed toys. Cords and strings increase the risk of strangulation. Make sure neither is anywhere near the crib. Don’t place heavy art or decorations over a crib as they could fall.
As your child grows, there is a risk that they will fall out of the crib. Ensure the mattress height is appropriate so your child can’t roll or climb out. When your toddler can climb out, the crib is no longer suitable or safe.
Changing Tables A safe, sturdy changing table is essential to keep your baby secure and reduce the risk of falls. The table should have a guardrail at least two inches high, and the changing pad should have raised sides to prevent easy rolling. A strap with a buckle is recommended to keep your baby secure. But don’t rely on it solely. Also keep diaper supplies within reach, so you never have to leave your baby’s side. Like any equipment, make sure the changing table is correctly assembled and be aware of the manufacturer’s recommended weight limits.
Swings & Rockers This type of baby equipment has had many recalls. Some rockers and swings are advertised for helping baby sleep or nap. But according to manufacturers and organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), swings and rockers aren’t safe for sleeping, especially without supervision. The safest way for babies to sleep is flat on their backs; swings and rockers put a baby’s head and neck at an angle, which can negatively impact breathing. In addition, babies should only be placed in swings when you are able to see and be aware of them. Discontinue the use of swings and rockers when your baby can sit up or roll. Also, always follow the recommended weight and height limits.
Check out the CPSC’s website at cpsc.gov for recalls, safety recommendations for parents, and equipment safety requirements for manufacturers.
Kimberly Blaker is a freelance writer who also owns an online bookshop, Sage Rare & Collectible Books: sagerarebooks.com.