9 dangerous baby products to avoid and what to use instead

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These 9 items are dangerous. We explain why they are dangerous, and the safe alternative available.

We list 9 items are dangerous for your children that you should avoid, and provide you with some alternative options.

1. Drop-side cots

Why you should avoid them

These are dangerous because the moveable side can drop on the baby, causing suffocation or strangulation (see image above). In the USA, such cribs have been linked with over 30 deaths since 2000 and there have been many other reported incidents.

They were banned by the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) in 2011, with millions being recalled before that.

The safer alternative

Go for a cot with fixed sides. Ensure the cot has a simple design, because the risk of strangulation is still present if a baby's clothing gets caught on fancy cot embellishments.

If you are using a drop-side cot, you can immobilize the side that moves with special hardware, or call the manufacturer for a kit.

Also, if you are pregnant and thinking of buying a second-hand cot, do not get one that is more than 10 years old since there may have been safety modifications added to newer models.

2. Cot bumpers

Why you should avoid them

Bumpers are meant to prevent a baby from hitting his head on the side of the cot. However, they are also a suffocation hazard, and may be linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Dr. Bradley Thach, a professor emeritus of pediatrics at the Washington University School of Medicine, was the author of a landmark study in 2007 that first brought to attention the danger of cot bumpers.

His strong words of caution: "They are dangerous; don't use them." The American Academy of Pediatrics has also recommended that parents do not use crib bumpers, including 'breathable models'.

The safer alternative

Don't use any kind of bedding in your baby's cot -- all you need is a fitted sheet.

3. Sleep positioners/ anti-reflux wedges

Why you should avoid them

These are used while a baby is sleeping mainly to prevent him from rolling onto his tummy, and also to elevate his head and back to avoid acid reflux.

Once again, these items can cause suffocation if a baby places his face against it, or comes out of it and rolls into cot bedding.

The safer alternative

Paediatricians and other health experts recommend that babies always be placed on their backs to sleep on a flat surface, to reduce the risk of SIDS.

4. Blankets and pillows

Why you should avoid them

As cute as a baby may look snuggled in his cot with cozy blankets and soft pillows, these items pose a major suffocation risk, as pointed out by experts.

The safer alternative

Use an appropriate swaddle that does not bind the baby's hips tightly -- this is to avoid the risk of hip dysplasia. Otherwise, stick to age-appropriate sleepwear.

If you have received blankets as gifts for your baby, use them for tummy time.

5. Changing tables with less than four sides

Why you should avoid them

Your baby could easily fall off and injure himself seriously if left unattended for even a few seconds.

The safer alternative

Look for a changing table with four sides -- a safety strap to hold your little one in place would be a bonus. You could also use a changing pad on the floor.

Remember to always stay by your baby's side while changing him and place one hand on him at all times. Never step away from your baby on the change table, even for a minute.

6. Unsecured items of furniture

Why you should avoid them

If an unsecured item of furniture or even a TV set topples over on a child, it could kill them immediately. It can also cause serious injuries.

In the US between 2000 and 2008, "the CPSC received reports of almost 200 child deaths related to furniture tip-overs, almost all of them (93 percent) involving children 5 and younger".

The safer alternative

Simply secure your existing items of furniture to the wall with straps or appropriate anchors. Make sure you get them properly secured -- ask a home-improvement retailer if you are unsure.

7. Walkers

Why you should avoid them

They are supposed to help little ones stand and walk. But walkers also enable your child to scoot straight into danger, such as into walls or down stairs, causing serious injury.

Baby walkers can also hinder your child's muscle development.

When a baby is placed in a walker, they are forced to ‘walk’ without the use of the right muscles. They often tiptoe while in a walker, causing their leg and heel muscles to tighten.

The safer alternative

Get your little one a stationary activity center, which is secured on a firm base.

8. Bath seats

Why you should avoid them

Bath seats, which are designed to help babies sit up in a bathtub, can give parents a false sense of security. They can easily tip over, and therefore are a drowning hazard.

In the US, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 174 deaths and 300 incidents between 1983 and 2009 related to bath seats, many involving babies who were left unattended.

The safer alternative

Use a regular hard, plastic bathtub, with an anti-slip mat at the bottom if you wish. Never turn your back on your baby while he is in the bath and never, ever leave him unattended in the tub even for a moment.

Always keep one hand on your baby at all times.

9. Bumbo seats

Why you should avoid them

A baby in a Bumbo is a cute sight indeed. But little ones can easily fall from these seats by arching, leaning or rocking themselves, especially if the Bumbo is placed on a high surface.

In 2011 in the US, the CPSC issued an alert citing at least 45 incidents of babies falling out of Bumbo seats that were placed on high surfaces. Of these babies, 17 were under a year old and had sustained skull fractures.

The safer alternative

Use a bouncer seat or a stationary activity center, always placed on the floor.

*The information in this article is adapted from ConsumerReports.org.

**Lead image from CPSC website

We hope you found the information in this article useful. Do share your thoughts on it in a comment below.