The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has today launched a dedicated website -Your First Steps - where parents and carers can go for safety advice on how they can protect their baby when playing, moving, sleeping, soothing, bathing and changing.
“Young children, babies in particular, are among our most vulnerable members of the community and Your First Steps is a key part of our mission to help ensure their safety,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
“We know that preparing for the arrival of a new baby is an exciting time and that parents and carers can find choosing baby products confusing. Among all of the joy and chaos that a new baby brings, it can be difficult to choose safe products and understand how to use these products safely.”
The ACCC says Your First Steps covers new and emerging product categories such as soothing items, to help parents know what to look out for when selecting and using products in the first six months of a child’s life - and also provides important information about commonly used baby products that can be dangerous.
“We are increasingly concerned about a number of products marketed at soothing babies. Weary parents can understandably see these products as lifesavers in the haze of new-parent exhaustion, but they are potentially deadly,” Rickard said.
The ACCC says that tragically, the data over the 20 years to 2021 reveals around two infant deaths each year associated with inclined sleep products, and in the same period the death of around one child each year has been associated with other infant sleep aids.
“Your First Steps points to the significant suffocation risks around sleeping babies on inclined products such as bouncers, rockers and swings. We don’t want to scare new parents, but by understanding the dangers of these products, parents can make more informed choices to help protect their baby,” Rickard said.
Information about popular sleep aids such as soft toys and comforters is also included in the resource.
“Soft toys and comforters are marketed as being safe for sleep, but they can cover a sleeping baby’s nose and mouth and interfere with their breathing. Parents and carers should reconsider using these products and if they choose to use them, never leave baby unattended,” Rickard said, adding that cots, car seats, dummies, toys and bath aids are among the key categories covered by Your First Steps.
“Many everyday products can harm a baby through entrapment, falls, choking, suffocation and strangulation. This can be caused by unsafe product design or inappropriate use. It can also happen when parents or carers unwittingly use the products in an unsafe way. If you come across an unsafe product, tell the supplier and report it to the ACCC” Rickard said.
“Boring is best when it comes to soothing and sleeping babies. Only ever place infants to sleep on a flat, firm surface and avoid decorations or any soft objects in or around the cot.
“Your First Steps is an essential and trustworthy resource for parents and carers as they take their first steps on their journey to raising a safe and happy baby,” Rickard concluded.
Visit babyproductsafety.gov.au for the full guide on keeping your baby safe - and if this information has caused distress, the please call the 24/7 Red Nose Grief and Loss Support Line on 1300 308 307 or visit rednosegriefandloss.org.au(link is external).