Selecting Safe Products for your Baby/Child

With all the innovative products on the market today, it is easy to get swayed by the superficial (will the product match my furniture, is it trendy enough, what will other moms and dads think?). Safety must always be your number one priority when selecting a product.

Before purchasing a product, please examine the product carefully and look for the age appropriate warning label. All products are supposed to have a warning label which informs the consumer what age the product is safe for. Despite the common misconception, this product does not refer to the developmental age. I will frequently see a well meaning family member, offer their 9 month year old baby a toy that is certified safe only for ages 3 and up. The warning is intended to keep small parts out of the reach of babies, due to their choking hazard. Even with the label in place, a product that is labeled as safe from birth on up for example, can still be a choking/suffocation/other hazard if used without adult supervision, used incorrectly, or has defects from product manufacturing or is falling apart. Please inspect prior to each use and always use 100% adult supervision. With regard to second hand products (used), the problem is that this product may often arrived without it's original packaging, box, manufacturers instructions, warnings and most importantly, brand name and product number. Without this vital information, it will become very difficult to cross reference if this product has been recalled. Even if you do have this information, it is likely that your product will not confirm to current product safety guidelines. For these reasons, do not recommend purchasing second hand/used products. In addition, when one baby is less than 3 and the other above 3, parents must be extra vigilant since the items that are safe for ages 3 and up and are not safe for baby. Baby will want to grab the unsafe toys, so parents must be aware of this danger.

Formed in 1962 in the USA, The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) developed a basic voluntary certification program to help guide parents and caregivers towards purchasing juvenile products that are built with safety in mind. Parents can look for the JMPA seal on product packaging. Please consult the JMPA website at www. jmpa.org to access safety information as well as for information about product recalls (CPSC). Of note is the handy Keeping Baby Safe Guide, which you can print out and use as reference when going shopping for products. For readers outside of the USA, please consult your baby/child's pediatrician to learn more about the organization in your country, which sets safety standards for juvenile products, and find out if they have a logo/label and look for it on all products. If a product comes with a reputable safety label, please don't be fooled into thinking that it is 100% safe. I wish that this was the case, but alas, it is not. Companies/manufacturers are constantly announcing recalls of their products, even the well known and respected companies are not immune from recalls. I encourage my readers to check the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website regularly and often at www.cpsc.gov. Please make it your duty to find out what the equivalent organization is, in your country. Please be certain to read the specific product manufacturers inserts, with users instructions, guidelines and warnings. Please elect to register your product (if you have the option) via mail or email, as you will be more likely to be notified if the product is recalled. It is however your responsibility to keep up the date with product recalls.

In addition, there are many non-profit organizations that have formed and one of particular note is Kids in Danger, "dedicated to protecting children by improving children's product safety". Visit them at www.kidsindanger.org/protect/index.asp , to find out if your baby/child's product meets voluntary standards, learn more about recalled products, how to protect your child from dangerous products and even sign up for e-alerts.


Pamela Green said...

Wow, I NEVER knew this. I am ashamed to say that I thought that it was the Developmental Level of the toy...amd yes, we moms and dads have a tendency to think that our little bundle of joy is "advanced" and hence introduced them to toys that I now know are NOT certified safe (ages 3 and up, when they are still babies). Thank you for shedding the light on this.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know this either. Thank you for informing your readers.

David said...

I thought the same as Pamela and everyone else. Thank you for the useful links. The Baby Safety link on the JMPA website is great. I have printed it out and will use it when I go shopping for a crib, car seat etc. Thank you once again for the useful info. I am looking forward to hearing what you have in store for us next.