A nursery is supposed to be a safe haven for you and your little bean. As parents we aim to protect our little ones from anything and everything that could possibly hurt them. Unfortunately danger doesn’t necessarily lurk where we think it does.
Everyday household items, even ones that are designed for children can pose real hazards, so taking a little time to study which nursery items could be potentially dangerous could be the difference between a trip to the ER and a relaxed evening at home.
It’s a good idea for parents, grandparents, babysitters, and anyone who has regular contact with an infant to get a refresher on CPR, particularly since performing CPR on a baby is different than regular training which is geared towards saving the lives of bigger kids and adults. But beyond knowing what to do when there is an emergency it’s always a safe bet to avoid one all together.
Common baby related items are featured on most new parent’s “must have” lists, but while many of us assume these items are safe, some of them aren’t, or the way that we use them could be potentially dangerous.
Statistics show that each year over 66,000 children under the age of three end up in the emergency room for accidents related to products found in their very own bedroom. Here are 15 common nursery items that you need to be cautious of, particularly when it comes to your little one’s safety.
15 Lamps Pose Many Safety Hazards
Lamps are complicated, mostly because they involve three potential safety hazards: electricity, glass and heat, so make sure you take the proper precautions to avoid injuries. Select lamps with sturdy bases so they aren’t knocked over.
Tape or secure cords to baseboards so they can’t be pulled down by a pair of little hands, and be sure to put them far back on tables and out of reach of children. Floor lamps in a nursery can be a big no-no since many may tip over easily. Plastic lamps and ceiling or wall light fixtures, like many of the ones offered in the children’s section of IKEA can be a cute solution in a nursery.
For those who want the lamp to last for a few years stylistically pick something basic that an older child won’t find too “babyish.”
14 Improperly Installed Curtains Are Common
Window dressings are so standard in a home that we don’t give them much thought. While many parents want to make sure that their curtains can keep out sunlight, particularly when trying to establish nap and sleep routines with their little ones, most of us haven’t spent enough time thinking about safety.
Proper installation is key, as a fixture could fall on a crawling tyke who’s pulling on the fabric. Make sure that all of your curtain hardware is attached directly to a wall stud or in place with adequate dry wall anchors. Tension rods are not appropriate for a space where a small child is as they can easily cause a head injury, one hard pull can send them on a path directly towards your baby’s head.
Also make sure that any ties are smaller than seven inches to avoid strangulation hazards.
13 Houseplants Can Be Poison
Houseplants provide oxygen and will improve your overall indoor air quality, but they can also be a danger to little ones, who much like the hungry caterpillar, don’t know better than to eat everything in their path. Parents of very young children and pet owners should ensure that they purchase only nontoxic plants.
Plants including dieffenbachia and philodendron are very common plants. They contain microscopic crystals that release into the mouth when the plant is chewed, and this can lead to a lot of pain and inflammation. Contrary to popular urban legend poinsettias aren’t that poisonous to kids.
A child would need to eat about 500 leaves to die, but might throw up if they scarfed down more than a handful. The real bad guy here is holly berries, which are toxic. Some of the best non-toxic plants include: Boston fern, Jade plant, African Violets, and the miniature rose.
12 The Battle Of The Ill-Fated Bumbo
These were the perfect shower gift, particularly since you could fill them up for mom to be with baby products or a cute doll or teddy bear seated just like little baby would. These chairs are designed to help little ones who are not yet able to sit upright independently do so.
The Bumbo found themselves on a warning list from the CPSC in late 2011 after over 45 instances where infants fell out of the seats that were placed on objects including tables, counters, or chairs meant for adults. 17 of these infants ended up with skull fractures because of the distance of their falls.
Many recommend using a bouncy seat or infant focused activity center instead of a Bumbo and remind parents of the danger of placing a child anywhere but the floor since they could easily tip over.
11 Change Tables And The Long Fall Down
Changing tables in and of themselves aren’t a bad thing. They’re an often necessary item of furniture that I couldn’t wait to pass on the second my children were potty trained. Since these tables are at a height designed for a standing parent, a fall from one can be quite dangerous.
The CPSC believes that in 2009 alone around 4,500 children aged five and younger were injured in accidents related to changing tables. It’s recommended that any change tables used have a flat surface and heightened barriers on all four sides of the table to prevent baby from rolling or falling off.
Most parents can attest that there’s a moment of sheer panic when you realize baby’s bum is covered in poop, diaper is off, but the wipes are across the room, which is how I imagine many falls happen. Always stand near baby when they’re on the table with one hand on them, and if you have to step away bring them with you.
It’s also thought that most kids older than two are too big for changing tables anyway.
10 Avoid Crib Tents And Canopies
When kids get active and can crawl out of their cribs it can cause havoc on a parent’s routine. It can mess up nap time, bed time, and can result in a couple of nasty falls. That’s why so many parents loved the idea of these dome or drape style tents that were designed to keep a toddler from climbing out.
Unfortunately these are a huge danger since a child can get caught, wrapped up in the fabric, resulting in injury, or even worse strangulation. When your little one begins climbing out of their bed it’s probably time to bust out the toddler bed and begin a whole new level of toddler proofing in the nursery.
Some favorite toys, and letting your child pick out new bedding for their “big kid bed” can help with this transition for many families.
9 Remembering To Secure ALL Furniture
You know those hotels where everything is secured to the wall or table so no one can steal it? In baby-proofing your home, particularly a nursery, you’re going to want to employ the same techniques for safety sake. Toppling furniture can kill an infant or child in seconds.
The CPSC reported nearly 200 deaths of children aged five and under between 2000 and 2008 because of furniture tip and flip overs. In addition to this, 16,000 kids were treated in ER for injuries related to falling furniture. Secure book shelves, heavy furniture, and electronics to the wall using straps, and brackets (some advertised as anti-tip ones specifically for baby proofing).
If in doubt, just take the time to secure your rooms, because before you know it your little infant will literally be climbing up a giant bookshelf to get down their favorite book.
8 Walkers And Potential For Falls
Walkers were a great way to help a young baby stand up and walk before they were able to take those momentous steps on their own. These walkers can also allow a baby to quickly get into dangerous situations, and even fall down stairs, particularly since kids can get moving so quickly in them.
In 2010 alone it was estimated that around 4,000 children under five had suffered from injuries related to walkers, jumpers, and exercisers. While baby walkers are prohibited in Canada, they’re still common in many places, and many people with a space that is all one floor, with absolutely no stairs, still use these walkers with no issue.
Just the same make sure that these activity centres and walkers are in good working condition and that none of the safety features are damaged.
7 Infant Bath Seats Provide A False Sense Of Security
These are meant to help a child sit upright in the bath particularly when baby is too small to sit up on their own, but should not replace very close supervision. Unfortunately, sometimes they provide parents with a false sense of security. These seats can tip over and babies can drown in very little water.
The CPSC reported 300 injuries and 174 deaths in infants using such products. Many of these children had been left unattented, even just for a moment. For saftety in the bath never leave your child’s side and keep one hand on them at all times.
Hard plastic baby bathtubs are a good solution, and in just a few months after they’re born they will be big enough to bathe in the regular tub, just make sure they remain well supervised all of the time.
6 Protect Babies From The Older Sibling's Toys
When baby has an older sibling things can get complicated, and not just because of jealousy and trying to meet the sometimes conflicting needs of two children. Older kids have a lot of toys that could be potentially dangerous for their younger sibling. Any toy or object that is smaller than around two inches is considered a potential choking hazard for a toddler.
Also keep in mind items like toy batteries and remote controls. The reason so many infant toys have battery compartments screwed in is because little round batteries are very dangerous, and small fingers can grab batteries directly from remotes or other sources. Batteries can leak chemicals, cause burns, and have even been fatal.
Find good, safe and secure storage solutions and play spaces for older kids to ensure the safety of younger ones, heck this could even be a great way to make them feel extra special with their own version of a “man cave.”
5 Open Windows Could Be Fatal
Little kids like to climb, and if we actually watched them 24 hours a day we’d never get any sleep, so get your rest knowing that their window is safe. Even when it’s hot outside, think twice about opening the windows, particularly in a place they’ll be playing or sleeping without strict adult supervision.
Any window open wider than four inches can allow for a fall, and don’t let a screen give you a false sense of security, it will not protect your child. Special locks and window guards are a safety must, and ones with quick-release mechanisms should become a part of your family fire escape plan.
There are also more budget friendly options including a stopping device that attaches on the inside of a window frame, and prevents the window’s ability to open more than four inches.
4 Beware Of Soft Bedding And Crib Bumpers
How could something so cute and cuddly possibly be dangerous? Unfortunately as comforting as we find a warm blanket and fluffy pillows as adults, or even older kids, they could be a potential danger to a small baby with limited mobility.
Infant death and SIDS dropped dramatically since 1991 thanks in part to campaigns that showed parents the importance of placing young infants on their backs for sleep, but there continue to be problems. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that up to 900 infants suffocate in their soft bedding every year.
To keep the bedding and your little ones safe, ensure baby is sleeping on their back on a firm mattress with a tightly fitted sheet. To keep a young baby (who doesn’t have the neck strength or ability to roll yet) warm look into a blanket sleeper.
It should also be noted although that bumpers are cute and were designed to keep little ones from bumping their heads, they are a huge suffocation hazard with 27 children dying from suffocation or strangulation between 1985 and 2005.
3 Watch For Broken Hand-Me-Down Baby Gear
Taking in used baby gear is fantastic in so many ways. First it saves parents a ton of cash, not to mention that it’s better for the environment. It also makes us feel good to be able to help out our friends and family when we’re able to pass along our own old gear. This is the perfect example of “the road to hell being paved with good intentions.”
Used toys and baby gear may have broken or missing pieces. It’s also possible that this older equipment might not meet current safety guidelines, so look up the product online and inspect it for damage before setting it up in your nursery. Ensure that any items designed or that will be accessible to baby have strings, straps and cords that are less than 7 inches in length to avoid strangulation.
Although vintage or antique toys look fantastic they are probably best situated on a higher shelf since items with older metal or paint may contain toxic lead or other chemicals.
2 Out-dated Drop Side Cribs
Most people know about the dangers surrounding a drop side crib. They were connected with over 32 deaths since 2000, and hundreds of other accidents reported before they were finally banned by the CPCS in 2011 with millions of models recalled before the ban. Issues arose when the drop side dropped which was capable of injuring, suffocating, or strangling a baby.
While these items may not be present in your home be particularly careful when travelling, visiting relatives, rental properties, who may be unaware of this potential danger, and simply trying to provide a space for your baby to sleep. Use a crib with fixed permanent sides instead, and note that much stricter crib standards were put into place following this ban, so a safe bet is to get a crib that was made later than June 2011.
1 Balloons Can Be Fatal
While Balloons aren’t really a fixture in any house, we all get them from time to time, particularly after the arrival of a new baby or for a children’s birthday party. We also let our kids play with them, but here’s the thing, there are two potentially dangerous things about them: a string longer than seven inches and material of the balloon which could be a choking hazard.
The numbers aren’t huge, but since 1973 over 110 children have choked to death while they were chewing on and/or blowing up latex balloons. The reason latex balloons are so terrible to choke on as because they can conform to the shape of your throat and then completely block your breathing.
Always supervise children playing with balloons and consider purchasing Mylar ones instead of latex ones. When a balloon pops make sure you throw away all of the pieces right away!
Sources: Consumer Reports, Parents, She Knows, WebMD, The Spruce