The consumer watchdog’s request for feedback comes with its publication on Thursday of a consultation paper outlining a range of proposed regulatory options which aim to prevent infant injuries and deaths caused by inclined and other products when used for sleep.
“Tragically, since 2001, about two infant deaths in Australia per year have been associated with inclined sleep products such as rockers and bouncers marketed for sleep, while the death of around one child per year has been connected to other infant sleep products such as cots, inflatable beds and mattresses,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
“Sleeping babies are often placed on inclined sleep products such as bouncers and rockers by parents and carers who are totally unaware of the significant suffocation risks.
“That’s why we want to hear from product manufacturers, retailers, industry groups, consumer organisations and medical professionals about the most effective strategies to address the risks associated with infant sleep products, before we make a final recommendation to the government,” Rickard said.
The ACCC says the consultation paper asks stakeholders to consider a range of regulatory options, including whether products marketed for sleep with an incline angle greater than 7 degrees should be permanently banned and whether an infant sleep standard should be introduced under Australian Consumer Law.
“We have considered the available evidence and expert advice and understand that certain design features of some sleep products such as their curvature, rigidity and the breathability of certain types of materials may also be dangerous for infants. Holistic mandatory safety and information standards for all infant sleep products are an option we are seeking feedback on,” Rickard said.
“We are also consulting on proposed options to update existing mandatory safety standards for standard and folding cots and improve consumer education.”
Rickard notes that young children – babies in particular – are among our most vulnerable members of the community - and implementing strategies to prevent infant injuries and deaths caused by inclined products used for sleep and addressing product safety issues for young children, are priorities for the ACCC this year.
The infant sleep product consultation paper follows the ACCC’s recent launch of Your First Steps, a dedicated website, where parents and carers can get reliable, up-to-date information on best practices to keep their baby safe and unsafe products.
“Many everyday products can harm a baby either through unsafe product design or when parents or carers unwittingly use the products in an unsafe way,” Rickard said.
“When it comes to sleeping your baby – boring is best. Follow the public health advice and only ever place infants to sleep on a flat, firm surface and avoid decorations, loose blankets or soft objects in or around the cot.”
Submissions to the consultation paper are due by 11 September 2022 and can be made via the ACCC Consultation Hub