The first step—make sure what you have is safe:
Check every children’s product you own, and be sure it hasn’t been recalled. Do not assume that if you have filled out the registration card you will be contacted if there is a safety problem or recall. Contacting consumers in case of a dangerous product is only required of car seat manufacturers, and recalls are usually not well publicized.  This leaves it up to you, the consumer, to seek out recall information.
Be cautious with used products and hand-me-downs:
Use caution when buying products at garage sales, thrift stores or resale shops. Some products for sale could be broken, recalled, or otherwise unsafe. A CPSC study in 1999 revealed that nearly 70 percent of resale stores sold at least one hazardous product. One of the top three products found at that time was cribs that did not meet federal safety standards .
Know how to check and stay current on product recalls:
You can check with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC: 1-800-638-CPSC or 1-800-638-2772) to find out about kids’ products recalls. Remember that a product can be recalled at any time, even years after it came out, so it’s a good idea to check regularly, and get on the CPSC’s mailing list.
- Find out more about children's product safety and recalls
- To learn about car seat safety and recalls, see YourChild: Motor Vehicle Safety.
|March 10, 1993||Playskool Travel-Lite Play Yards||If the side rails of the portable crib fold during use, an infant can become entrapped and suffocate. Three deaths have been reported.|
|June 25, 1997||Evenflo Happy Camper Play Yards||The product can collapse, trapping the child in the "V" formed by the folded top rails. The rotating plastic hinges can crack or break, presenting a sharp edge or possibly allowing the child to escape. Evenflo and CPSC are aware of three deaths involving the play yards.|
|December 19, 1994 & February 28, 2001||Baby Trend Home and Roam and Baby Express Portable Cribs and Play Yards||These cribs/play yards can collapse and entrap an infant. In January 2001, a 9-month-old baby in Longview, Wash., died of asphyxiation when her neck was caught in the V-shape created by the collapsed sides of her crib/play yard. There have been three other deaths and three reports of babies found not breathing (who were revived) associated with these products.|
|March 31, 2006 & April 19, 2007||Magnetix Magnetic Building Sets||Tiny magnets inside the plastic building pieces and rods can fall out. Magnets found by young children can be swallowed or aspirated. If more than one magnet is swallowed, the magnets can attract to each other and cause intestinal perforation or blockage, which can be fatal. This product is unsuitable for young children. CPSC is aware of one death and at least 27 serious injuries.|
|July 19, 2007||Easy Bake Ovens||Young children can insert their hands into the oven's front opening, and get their hands or fingers caught, posing entrapment and burn hazards.|
|August 14, 2007 & November 21, 2006||Polly Pocket Dolls with Magnets||Small magnets inside the dolls and accessories can come loose. The magnets can be found by young children and swallowed or aspirated. If more than one magnet is swallowed, the magnets can attract to each other and cause intestinal perforation or blockage, which can be fatal. CPSC is aware of 3 serious injuries.|
|July 2, 2009, September 17, 2008 & September 21, 2007||Simplicity Drop Side Cribs||The drop side can detach. When the drop side detaches, it creates space between the drop side and the crib mattress. Infants and toddlers can roll into this space and become entrapped which can lead to suffocation. CPSC is aware of 10 deaths associated with Simplicity drop side cribs.|
|September 11, 2008, August 27, 2008 & August 28, 2008||Simplicity Bassinets (also includes bassinets with Graco or Winnie the Pooh motif)||The Simplicity 3-in-1 and 4-in-1 convertible bassinets contain metal bars that are covered by an adjustable fabric flap which is attached by velcro. The fabric is folded down when the bassinet is converted into a bed-side co-sleeping position. If the velcro is not properly re-secured when the flap is adjusted, an infant can slip through the opening and become entrapped between the metal bars and suffocate. CPSC is aware of at least three deaths involving Simplicity bassinets.|
|February 12, 2009||Hill Sportswear hooded drawstring sweatshirts||CPSC received one report of a death involving a 3-year-old boy in Fresno, Calif. He was strangled when the drawstring on the hooded sweatshirt that he was wearing became stuck on a playground set.|
|April 2, 2009||Evenflo Envision High Chairs||Recline fasteners and metal screws on both sides of the high chair can loosen and fall out, allowing the seatback to detach or recline unexpectedly. Children can fall backwards or fall out of the high chair and suffer bumps and bruises to the head, abrasions, cuts and bruises. Detached hardware also poses a choking hazard to children.|
- Walkers: Walkers are very dangerous for babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics continues to recommend a ban on their manufacture and sale [3,4]. Contrary to popular belief, they do not keep babies safe. In fact, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, each year thousands of babies under 15 months are treated in the ER for baby walker injuries. The most serious injuries are caused by falling down the stairs. Even though the CPSC has developed voluntary safety standards for walker manufacture, in 2005, there were still 2,600 walker-related injuries reported . Research shows that walkers actually have no positive benefit for your baby, and may even delay motor development somewhat .
- Cribs: Slats should be no more than 2 3/8 inches (6 centimeters) apart, and no slats should be missing or cracked. The mattress should fit snugly, with less than two fingers' width between mattress edge and crib side. There should be no cutouts in the headboard or footboard. Cribs should not be placed near draperies or blinds where a child could become entangled and strangle on cords. Most crib-related deaths are due to crib defects or broken parts in older cribs.
- Infant bathtub seats and rings: These are meant to help hold a baby up while bathing. Bathtub seats are not safety devices. Babies can slip down, or suction cups can detach, causing the baby to tip over and be trapped under water. Children should be supervised by an adult at all times while in the tub. Parents may feel comfortable leaving a baby in a bath seat in the tub for a short time, or may become distracted, but it only takes a moment for a baby to drown.
- Find out more about water safety.
- Highchairs: Highchairs should have a wide base so they don’t tip over. When using a highchair, make sure the child is buckled in, and the chair is positioned well away from anything that could be dangerous to your child.
- Strollers: Be sure your stroller has a wide base so it won’t tip over, and don’t hang diaper or shopping bags on it because that could make it unstable. Don’t leave your children alone in a stroller, or allow them to play with it. Small children can slide into the leg opening, become trapped, and die.
- Playpens: Playpens, portable cribs and play yards with wooden bars like cribs, should have bars less than 2 3/8 inches (6 centimeters) apart. Do not tie things on the sides of the pen because babies can strangle themselves. Many portable playpens have been recalled. Be sure to check whether yours is safe. Many parents use portable playpens as a crib. As in cribs, babies can suffocate in soft bedding or added mattresses or cushions . All parents should be familiar with safe sleep guidelines.
- Thrift store baby equipment: Use extra caution if purchasing used baby equipment. Always check for recalls and inspect for safety. Use this thrift store safety checklist as a starting point when buying from thrift stores, garage sales, or using hand-me-downs.
- Toys: The most important thing to remember is to always supervise your kids when they are playing. Some potential dangers are: broken toys, toys with small, loose, or broken parts, loose strings, ribbons or ties, toy weapons with shooting parts, water toys that are not approved as flotation devices, and electrical plug-in toys. Some children's toys contain dangerous chemicals such as lead, other heavy metals, or toxic plastic additives. Keep in mind also, that toy chests can smash fingers or trap a child’s head if the heavy lid closes suddenly. The American Academy of Pediatrics toy safety page has more information, including tips for buying toys, and lists of the most appropriate and safest toys for each age group. Find out how to choose safe toys from the AAP.
- Balloons: Believe it or not, balloons cause more childhood deaths than any other toy. Any substance that can take the shape of a child’s windpipe or airway (like balloons or disposable diaper stuffing) is a more dangerous choking hazard. Most people don’t realized it, but Children ages 3-6 are still at risk for choking on balloons . Choose mylar balloons instead of latex rubber, and make sure you are current on CPR.
- Find out more: Visit the Consumer Reports Child Safety homepage for news, updates and information about children's products, safety and childproofing.
- All about dangerous baby equipment and recalls-how to protect your child.
The only way to be sure you are not using a recalled product is to check yourself. Use caution when buying products at garage sales, thrift stores or resale shops. Some products for sale there could be broken, recalled, or otherwise unsafe. You can check with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC: 1-800-638-CPSC or 1-800-638-2772) to find out about kids’ products recalls. Remember that a product can be recalled at any time, even years after it came out, so it’s a good idea to check often, and get on the CPSC’s mailing list. If you want to find out about car seat recalls, see Your Child: Car Seats.
Go through your house with this these childproofing checklists to see what you need to do.
- Whole house safety checklist—this checklist takes you through the major risks in all kinds of households, and explains how to prevent them. Please note: on this page, the emergency 800 poison control phone number is a national number (1-800-222-1222). However, the other poison contact information is local to the state of Arkansas.
- Bedroom checklist
- Kitchen checklist
- Bathroom checklist
- Living room/family room checklist
Installing and using basic safety devices: basic safety devices can be reasonably priced and save your family members’ lives. You need at least one smoke detector on each floor of your house. It's a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher on hand as well. Ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are for electrical outlets and help prevent deaths and injuries from electricity. Different kinds are available, and for different prices—ask at your hardware store. Hair dryers with shock protection are also available and can prevent electrocution. Use the childproof lids that come on medicine containers, and install safety latches on cupboards to prevent accidental poisoning.
Childproofing and safety products are available in hardware stores, baby and child stores, some discount and department stores, and in catalogs. These products can be very useful in solving safety problems around your home, and may give you more ideas on how to childproof. The CPSC recommends 12 important safety devices to protect children. On-line child safety catalogs include: Perfectly Safe, Safe Beginnings, and Safe ‘n’ Sound Kids. (These are listed for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement of these catalogs.)
- Prevent strangulation in window covering cords: Window covering cords, like those on blinds, shades or drapes can strangle babies and children. The above link explains how to childproof your cords. Even the inner cord that goes through the slats of mini-blinds to raise and lower them can be pulled out by children to form a loop, and has strangled babies as old as 17 months. Keep cribs and playpens well away from window covering cords. You can order free cord safety kits and tiedowns for free from the Window Covering Safety Council. Check out the Spanish language information video and the Spanish site.
- Plastic bags can suffocate children: Plastic bags are most dangerous to children under one year old. Accidents most often occur with dry cleaning bags, garbage bags, bags used for storage, and bags used to protect beds or furniture. Do not leave plastic bags around, even if they are filled. Never put plastic bags on a bed with a sleeping child. Children are safest sleeping in an empty crib.
- Large appliances, refrigerators and coolers: Children have crawled into freezers, clothes dryers, picnic coolers, and refrigerators and suffocated. Read these recommendations for information on how to prevent these accidents. If a child is missing, these appliances and picnic coolers should be the first place you check.
- Prevent TV and furniture tip-overs: Tip-over accidents occur when children climb on, fall against, or pull themselves up on furniture like TV stands, bookcases, dressers and shelves. Please watch this Consumer Reports video about furniture tip-overs and how to prevent them.
- Old baby gates: Accordion-style baby gates made before 1985 can trap a child’s head and kill or injure the child. These gates should not be used around children.
- Home exercise equipment: Exercise equipment causes a startling number of injuries in children. Keep children away from your equipment.
- Recliner chairs: Recliner chairs have caused death and brain injury in children playing on them. A child can become trapped when their head enters the space above the footrest and the weight of their body forces the footrest down.
- Is it dangerous for my baby to wear a necklace, or have a pacifier tied around their neck? Strings, cords and necklaces around a baby’s neck can strangle them. Never tie anything around a baby’s neck.
- What are the safety concerns at toddler birthday parties? Read some tips on toddler birthday party safety.
Here are some eye safety tips:
- Do not allow children to throw things at each other
- Do not allow children to run while carrying sharp, pointy or long objects
- Keep cleaning products up and out of reach
- Keep clothes hangers in the closet
- Set a good example by wearing protective eyewear when appropriate
- Get regular eye exams
Be sure your playground equipment, swings, and climbing equipment are sturdy and safe. Garden hoses should not be stored in the sun, because the water sitting in them can become so hot it can scald and burn a child. Make sure the yard is climb proof, except for safe climbing toys or equipment. In the garage, power tools, sharp objects, paints, solvents, pesticides and other chemicals should be stored out of reach, preferably in a locked cabinet.
Never mow your lawn with a power mower if your young child is in the yard. If your child mows the lawn, be sure you and they are familiar with these lawn mower safety guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Children should never ride on rider mowers.
If you have an automatic garage door opener, make sure it reverses, is well balanced, and operates smoothly. Children have been killed and injured by automatic garage doors. If yours is not safe, you should have it serviced, or disconnect it and operate it by hand (be careful around moving parts to prevent pinching or crushing your hands). Make sure the switch and door opener are out of your child’s reach.
First of all, always watch children near water—ALWAYS. Don’t let yourself get distracted.
Water safety at home is a matter of taking these three steps:
- Finding potential dangers
- Assessing the risk to your child
- Making changes to improve safety.
Pretty much anything in your home or yard that contains water could drown a child. Babies and young children are at highest risk for drowning in small amounts of water because their heads are heavy, and they fall in easily. To find potential dangers, walk your home and yard looking for the following:
- Pools, hot tubs, spas
- Standing water on pool covers
- Wading pools
- Any outdoor container that may collect rainwater
- Buckets of water
- Coolers with melted ice in them
- Outdoor ponds or ditches
- Post holes
Watch young children at all times when they are in the bathtub. Don't leave them alone—not even for a second—not even with another child. You can't count on baby bath seats or rings to keep your baby safe in the tub. Set your water heater thermostat so that the hottest temperature at the faucet is 120 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid burns.
Find out more on YourChild: Water and Pool Safety.
Visit these related topics on YourChild:
- Children and Safety
- Choking Prevention
- Food Safety
- Safe Sleep
- Fire Safety
- Guns and Kids
- Lead Poisoning
- Second-Hand Smoke
- Water and Pool Safety
- Playground and Outdoor Play Safety
- Personal Safety
- Babysitter Safety—What Parents and Sitters Need to Know
Check out this book: Consumer Reports Guide to Childproofing and Safety, by Jamie Schaefer-Wilson and the Editors of Consumer Reports.
Written and compiled by Kyla Boyse, R.N. Reviewed by faculty and staff at the University of Michigan
Updated August 2009
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