As a parent of a newborn or young infant, you need every bit of help you can get. While this may often take the form of babysitting, many parents also rely on devices that assist with everything from sleep to diaper changes. However, keeping your baby safe should always be your highest priority, and many apparent parenting solutions may actually be cause for concern.
Unfortunately, the very products that make new parents’ lives seem bearable on such little sleep can also be extremely dangerous for the babies they purport to help. What’s more, the manufacturers charged with keeping families safe often place profits first, even when they know that their products are risky. This can make it extremely difficult for parents to determine which products to trust.
This infuriating problem recently hit headlines when Fisher-Price came under fire for ignoring repeated warnings about the risks of its Rock ‘n Play sleeper. Over 50 infants died before the company bothered to finally issue a long-awaited recall. Warning signs were evident even before the product was put on the market.
This is just one of far too many examples that suggest how little trust consumers should place in manufacturers. Instead, it’s better to look to authorities such as government agencies or consumer protection associations for insight.
The more you research the products you use with and around your infant, the more confident you’ll feel as a parent. To help, we’ve compiled several best practices for selecting the most reliable products — and using them safely.
Examine Consumer Product Safety Commission Data
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) offers detailed insight into which types of infant products are safe — and which places babies at risk. Browsing the CPSC’s website is easy; just type the name of the product or practice you’re worried about in the search bar. Otherwise, you’ll find a good starting point at the Cribs and Infant Products Information Center.
If you type ‘infant recalls’ in the search bar, you should find plenty of recent reports on products that may not be safe for your baby. Whenever you purchase a new item or receive something from a loved one, check to see if it’s already on the CPSC site. Hand-me-downs, in particular, should be vetted for safety.
Check For Small Parts
It’s easy to forget just how many small pieces are included with certain toys. What may seem like a nondescript block, figure, or other item is an attractive mouthpiece for an infant or small child. Be sure to scrutinize each toy or game before you purchase it, and, if you’re unsure of whether it’s too small for your child, play it safe and opt for something larger.
A small parts tester — also known as a choke tube — can be a handy tool for determining whether something is a choking hazard. If an item can fit in the tube, then it could potentially cause serious harm to your child.
Use Safe Products Correctly
Adherence to CPSC standards means little if you’re careless. Even products typically thought of as safe can be downright dangerous if used incorrectly. Consumer Reports highlights the following common safety issues that otherwise well-meaning parents may miss:
- Cords on baby monitors. While a baby monitor can help you keep an eye on your child while you’re out of the room, it presents a real threat if the cords aren’t secured. Cords should never be placed within arm’s reach of an infant.
- Humidifiers. Warm-mist humidifiers should be avoided, as the steam they produce is sometimes dangerously hot. Even cool-mist products can be problematic, as children may try to play with the power cord. As such, it’s important to remove these products from nurseries or children’s bedrooms when not in use.
- Harnesses on car seats, strollers, and high chairs. Regardless of how safe these devices are, if used improperly, they can still pose a serious risk of strangulation. For example: the most thoroughly tested, highly rated products will do your children little good if the buckles aren’t harnessed or sufficiently tightened.
No matter which devices you purchase or use, it’s important to examine the directions and warnings in advance. If your intuition tells you that your use of a particular product is unsafe, take it out of your rotation until you’ve done your research and feel confident that it won’t harm your child.
Be Careful About Daycare Centers, Nannies, And Babysitters
You feel secure in your ability to select the safest products and use them correctly, but what about your child’s other caretakers? Whether you rely on the occasional date night babysitter or need to place your children in full-time daycare, you’ll want to research your options thoroughly to ensure you make the right choice.
With nannies and babysitters, a lot more is within your control. If they provide care within your home, you can simply instruct them on how to use any devices that might hold safety risks — or remove anything you suspect could be a problem.
Guidance and oversight are important not only for any childcare professionals you hire, but also, for grandparents, aunts, uncles, or friends who watch your child when you’re away. Communicating safety protocol may feel challenging at times (especially among those who have previously raised children and have their own ideas about safety),our children will be better off in the hands of caretakers who respect your wishes.
To ensure that you place your children within a safe daycare environment, look carefully at feedback from other parents. Beyond this, you’ll want to tour the facility in person and ask plenty of questions. You should have every confidence that the staff is keeping your baby safe. During your tour, you can pinpoint any products that may be cause for concern.
Infant Injuries: Seeking Justice With a D.C. Personal Injury Lawyer
Has a defective product brought harm to your child? Even while employing the best strategies for keeping your baby safe, accidents may occur. If you do find yourself such an unfortunate situation, you should know how to seek justice and accountability.
First, you need a proactive D.C. personal injury lawyer in your corner. The team at Regan Zambri Long PLLC can help. Contact us today to learn about our approach to defective product cases — and to schedule your consultation.