Modern baby gears are convenient, but are they really safe?NURUL AISYAH MOHD NOR
Are modern baby gears really that safe to use?
Parenting, especially in the first few years, is tough as it is. This is where modern baby products or gears that provide any form of convenience, are in high demand because it makes day-to-day life for mum and dad a little easier.
Baby rockers are one of the many choices that are popular among parents. These portable gears offer a safe space for babies to lie down comfortably or even sleep for a short while, so parents can take a break from holding the baby all the time, thus giving them some space to eat or do house chores.
But in the recent weeks, reports of a 10-month old baby in the United States who became entangled in the dangling straps of a baby rocker had sparked a thread of conversations surrounding the safety of baby gears. Are they really that safe?
Consumer’s Association of Penang (CAP) president, Mohaideen Abdul Kadeer said the safety of baby products/gears is dependent on the designer of the product, the manufacturer of the product, as well as the user.
“CAP can only advise parents to take precaution by, for example, ensuring that all dangling straps, ropes, or electrical wires are securely bundled up,” he said.
Meanwhile, Secretary-General Malaysian Association of Standards Users, Saral James Maniam said
The utmost aim of the manufacturers is to attract most young parents who seldom know about the safety of the product.
“Known risk factors for infants/babies include being prone to strangulation by straps.
“When the swing or rocker is not in use, its restraint straps can dangle below the seat and non-occupant crawling infants can become entangled in the straps, posing a strangulation hazard. Any unused straps should be fastened securely and should not be removed easily.
Meanwhile, Mohaideen said parents have to ensure proper use of the equipment such as to make sure that children do not spin the swing instead of swinging it. The reason is that their neck can get caught between the ropes or chains thereby breaking their necks or strangulating them.
Child’s rights activist Dr James Nayagam said:“Babies can get entangled,suffocate and die - as reported in this case. There could be other forms of danger where the babies may get entangled in the parts of the product and the caregiver may not be aware.”
WHAT PARENTS SHOULD CONSIDER BEFORE PURCHASING
Before purchasing a baby gear, Dr James said parents should carefully ensure that the product certification meets the standards of a child safety board.
“They need to take note of the warning signs on the product by the manufacturer to ensure the product is safe to use,” he said.
Saral said a careful research and using reputable sources - backed by your pediatrician’s advice - can help you confidently choose safe baby products/gears.
“Study the functionality of the product/gears and learn how to use it. When we are able to injure ourselves while using the product, we may need to skip the product with a better/safe one,” she said.
“Safety hazards of baby gear are about security and stability. Sometimes safety also comes with the surfaces of the product that may have been painted with lead-coated paints. These two are the key factors in buying baby equipment/gears. and examine items carefully to make sure they are stable and without safety hazards.
She advised for parents to run their fingers over the equipment and touch every spot where the infant is likely to come into contact.
Inspect all hinges, springs, or moving parts to make sure there are no places where your baby's hands, feet, fingers, or toes could get caught or pinched.
“Examine all small parts, straps, and coverings to make sure they are fastened securely. If equipment needs to be assembled, read and follow all manufacturer's directions,” she said.
In the case of the 10-month old who became entangled due to dangling straps, the brand of the rocker was 4moms, a Pennsylvania based company.
More than two million rockers were recalled around the world, Malaysia included with over 700 units being recalled.