Protecting Your Child from Defective Products
One aspect of impending parenthood people look forward to the most is shopping for nursery furniture, buggies and baby clothes. With so many wonderful products and gorgeous attire available, it is easy get carried away with the aesthetics and forget to pay attention to the safety elements of the products you are purchasing. Babies and young children are extremely vulnerable to defective products, and unfortunately, there have been numerous incidents of serious injury and even death due to faulty merchandise.
So how can a new parent ensure the products they purchase for their precious child are safe? Are there certain things you should look out for when deciding what type of product to purchase?
This article will focus on four products; cots, changing tables, high chairs and pushchairs, examining how parents and caregivers can best ensure the safety of what they buy.
When it comes to where you place your baby to sleep, product safety is of paramount importance and the standards should not be compromised. In the United Kingdom, the cot you purchase should meet British Safety Standard BSEN716.
In the United States more children die every year in accidents involving cots than any other nursery product. In July 2009, a six month old baby boy in Fife, Scotland died when he became trapped between the mattress and the side of his cot. The inquiry into his death found the cot he was sleeping in “had a defect which rendered it unsafe” (as stated in the report). The manufacturer subsequently issued a safety device for the cot.
According to the European Child Safety Alliance: Child Product Safety Guide, when purchasing a cot you should ensure that:
• The spacing of the slats is no more than 6cm in width so a baby’s head cannot become trapped between the bars.
• The cot is less than ten years old, and is not broken or modified in any way.
• The gap between the edge of the mattress and cot bars is no more than two fingers’ width wide.
• If the cot is second-hand, it should not have a ‘drop-down’ type mechanism as these have been found to be unsafe.
A moment’s inattention can result in a baby falling off a changing table. If you decide to purchase a changing table make sure it has a wide surface to lay your baby on when changing them, and a safety strap to secure your infant and prevent him or her from rolling off the table.
Study findings released in December 2013 showed that in the United States there had been a 22% increase in the number of injuries involving children under three years and high chairs between 2003 through to 2010. Each year, 9,400 American children are injured from falling out of a high chair, with head trauma being the most common type of injury sustained.
Most injuries from high chairs are caused by falls; therefore, it is important to pay attention to the safety strap that secures your child in the seat when purchasing the product. Ensure that:
• The waist belt has a buckle that cannot be fastened unless the crotch strap is in place.
• The base of the high chair is wide and heavy for stability. You want to ensure that your baby or toddler cannot tip the high chair over if they start to rock backwards and forwards.
• There is a post in between the child’s legs which will prevent them slipping out through the bottom of the high chair.
The high chair you purchase should conform to British Safety Standard BS EN 14988.
In 2009 Maclaren recalled a million pushchairs in the United States after reports that children had their fingers amputated by the pushchair folding mechanism. The company did not recall any pushchairs in the United Kingdom; however, they did make hinge covers available on request.
When purchasing a pushchair for your child, ensure that:
• It has a five-point harness. You may need to purchase this separately if buying a second-hand, older pushchair.
• The harness fits your infant or child snugly, and is made of good quality, strong material.
• The brake is effective and locks the wheels.
The British safety standard you are looking for when purchasing a pushchair is BS EN 1888.
In summary, checking products for possible defects, ensuring they meet British Safety Standards, and following the manufacturer’s instructions when assembling furniture can protect your child from receiving injuries from merchandise.