Trendy baby products come and go, and sometimes they go for intimidating reasons. Sometimes, at first glance, a baby product might seem totally safe and handy for parents. But then, something happens that makes people question the safety of the thing altogether.
Whether it’s a baby getting hurt or just something breaking at an inopportune time, there are a lot of baby products out there that even doctors used to think were safe. But as it turns out, nothing is 100 percent— and some baby products are more likely to harm than to help.
Over the years, plenty of baby products have entered and exited the market, and there are many that although they’re not exactly safe, they’re still on store shelves. Whether it’s something that is now banned in multiple countries or a product that’s just inefficient while not necessarily being totally dangerous, there are many no-nos when it comes to things parents buy for new babies.
Still, other items are unsafe because parents don’t use them properly. And whether that’s the fault of the manufacturer or a parent who doesn’t read the directions, the fact remains that someone could be in danger because of the way a product is used. Here are 20 baby products that just aren’t as safe as doctors may have thought.
20 Certain Kinds Of Thermometers
Thermometers are pretty simple, right? You either put them under the child’s tongue or you pick one of the types that’s a forehead strip or even a scanner. Taking a kiddo’s temperature doesn’t have to be difficult, even when you need it to be super accurate. But some types of thermometers are not exactly safe, but it’s not because of the product itself. Thermometers under the tongue or the armpit are great, but when parents try to use them for a more accurate rectal temperature, that’s usually when problems occur. It’s just not safe for someone who’s not a medical professional to attempt this type of temperature —and most doctors caution against it, even if the packaging says you can do it safely.
19 Jiggly Jumping Seats
Bouncy seats or swings are so fun for babies! Whether it’s the kind that hangs in a door frame—like a Johnny Jumper—or a free-standing model, babies tend to love to bounce in these things. However, they’re not always a great idea, as many doctors have learned over the years. First, parents often use them for babies who can’t yet sit up or hold their heads adequately, and that’s bad news, to begin with. Jiggling a baby around at a young age just isn’t safe, no matter how much they seem to enjoy it. And second, it’s not great for babies’ legs to be used unnaturally, and having a five-month-old stand up is decidedly unnatural.
18 Certain Types Of Car Seats
Up until recently, most parents went by the rule of turning babies forward facing in their car seats once they reached one year old and were over 20 pounds. However, although doctors used to recommend that, they don’t any longer. These days, new research has proven that it’s safer to rear face children as long as possible — as long as they fit safely in their seat. And with today’s car seats, most children can safely rear face until age four or even older, depending on the seat and the kiddo’s height and overall size. Thankfully, most doctors now acknowledge this change in policy, so today’s parents are better informed —and their kids are safer!
17 Hands-Free Walking Helpers
This is another tool that parents used to love and doctors used to endorse. But with new research on babies’ development, it’s clear that putting them in the position to walk before they’re developmentally ready is just not safe. It puts undue stress on their joints and other body parts, and it also makes them form unnatural walking habits. After all, grownups don’t walk around suspended by their bottoms or their armpits while they walk! The thing is, nature has the right idea with this one: wait until babies are ready to stand and cruise on their own, then offer them a hand if they need it.
16 Becoming Mobile With Wheels
Baby walkers are adorable and they’re such a helpful tool for parents. After all, if your kiddo wants to be near you but you have stuff to do, you plop them in a walker and they can move about while staying safe. Right? Not exactly so. Walkers are dangerous for babies, whether or not you have stairs or other potential hazards in your home. They’re so unsafe, in fact, that Canada banned the sale of baby walkers in 2004. The reasoning was that walkers allow otherwise non-walking babies to reach areas they couldn’t naturally—like toasty pots on the stove or the bathtub—and it’s also putting unnatural stress on non-walking babies’ bodies.
15 Innocent-Looking Suction Bulbs
Before the NoseFrida and other baby snot suckers, there were suction bulbs for cleaning babies’ noses. These things were pretty genius—and pretty simple—with one caveat. They were impossible to clean inside, and so while they fulfilled a purpose, they were practically a single-use item. Back in the day, hospitals would send parents home with one of these for their newborns. But when parents began cutting them open to check on the cleanliness inside, they found mold and other gross stuff. Bottom line? These innocent-looking bulbs harbor germs and who knows what else. Fortunately, newer models unscrew to clean — a good fix for a decent tool.
14 Homemade Baby Formula
Although there’s been plenty of argument about how healthy baby formula is these days, the truth is that it’s better than it’s ever been before! Parents these days can give their children formula without worrying about the nutrition part of it or whether it’s got anything harmful inside. In the past, though? Doctors used to think that a concoction of Karo syrup and evaporated milk, among other weird things, was a good substitute for a mom’s milk. Doctors even encouraged moms to skip nursing and go straight to canned milk substitutes. First off, ew. And second, not safe! Homemade formula has improved, of course, but it needs to be carefully mixed and contain the proper nutrition to be safe for a baby.
13 Plastic Baby Bottles
It’s been a while since the whole BPA outburst, but keep in mind that for decades, doctors thought plastic bottles made of who-knows-what were safe. When it came out that most plastics contained BPA, something we don’t want floating around in our or our babies’ bodies, there was a craze over glass and stainless steel bottles. New plastic bottles also emerged, ones without BPA, so that parents could once again feel good about what they were putting in their tots’ bodies. But way back when, docs had no idea plastic bottles were bad — it took years of research to figure it out.
12 Drop-Side Cribs
Doctors have always said that the best way to put babies to sleep is on a flat, hard surface without extra blankets. They also recommend that babies sleep alone — even in modern times when there are safe co-sleeping options to be had. So where should a baby sleep? A crib, of course. But up until a few years ago, drop-side cribs were all the rage. The problem? They weren’t exactly safe. There were many reported problems with these cribs, leading to a mass recall and manufacturers sending out kits to convert the cribs into stable ones rather than drop-side models. It turns out that not every crib is as safe as doctors thought.
11 Swaddling Blankets And Wraps
Swaddling and wrapping babies has been huge for eons. But in modern times, parents are following tutorials on how to tightly wrap babies to keep them calm and imitate like in the womb. Great for babies’ sleep, not so great for their tiny bodies. Because many doctors agree swaddling is great, there’s almost a push to do it with every baby — especially in hospitals with newborns. The problem is, as chiropractors and physical therapists have noted, that babies’ hips are positioned unnaturally in most swaddles. These days, docs usually caution against swaddling babies’ hips tightly — just focus on keeping their arms immobile instead.
10 Crib Tents To Keep Tots In
For parents who are at their wits’ end with a baby who continually climbs out of a crib, many doctors used to recommend crib tents. These tents fit over the baby’s crib and prevent them from climbing out. Or, at least, that’s the idea. Once doctors—and everyone else—discovered that not only were these tents easily ripped or torn, but that they also kept babies in sometimes unsafe conditions, they went mostly off the market. Especially with pets or junk sitting near the crib, the chances that something would fall over the baby, who couldn’t get out of the bed or move much, were pretty high.
9 Sleep Positioning Wedges
With a rise in co-sleeping, there have been tons of baby sleep positioners put out there to help everyone get a good night’s rest. But the problem is, many of those positioners are fluffy and cozy for babies, but decidedly unsafe because of it. It’s the same as not putting blankets or pillows in a crib; using a plush sleep positioner can block a baby’s access to fresh air. Plus, those wedges and things placed in a crib where a baby sleeps alone can also cause issues. To date, the only “safe” way to use a sleep positioner is by placing a wedge of sorts under the crib mattress. Many docs recommend this for colic and other baby health issues.
8 Co-Sleeper Beds
Although many doctors are now admitting that co-sleeping is a safe way for babies to snooze—when done right—they have some misgivings about many sleep products. Co-sleeper beds, for example, often have really low sides, tons of padding, and aren’t exactly secure sleep spaces. While babies being close to their parents is a great idea, many co-sleepers are intended only for babies who cannot yet sit up or roll over. If parents keep using them, the risks outweigh the benefits of being close to mom at night. So while docs used to recommend them instead of putting the baby in mom and dad’s bed, that’s not really the case anymore.
7 Car Seat Mirrors
Lots of parents swear by car seat mirrors so they can spy on their babes in the back seat while driving. The issue is that car seat mirrors are a distraction to parents, who need to keep their eyes on the road! Plus, in the event of an accident, the car mirror can turn into a projectile and possibly bonk someone on the head. Doctors used to say that it was good for moms to check on their babies while driving, but these days, it’s recommended that you either have someone in the back seat to keep an eye on them or pull over if you suspect a problem.
6 Baby Bumbo Seats
At first, Bumbo seats took the parenting world by storm. They’re cute, compact, and can help babies of nearly any age sit up. Looking at images of Bumbo seats, I saw a baby less than a month old propped in a Bumbo. And while doctors might have agreed at first that they’re a good seating option for babies who are ready for table food and such, these days, there’s more info about the drawbacks. Again, going against nature and propping up a baby who’s not ready to sit up yet can mess with their bodies and their little neck muscles. It’s decidedly unsafe no matter the scenario.
5 Sling Baby Carriers
Sling baby carriers were just one of the dozens of styles of baby carriers that became all the rage. And while it’s great that parents want to carry their babies, there are some newer safety rules that doctors recognized a need for! Sling carriers can make it hard for parents to see their babies’ faces or check their breathing. So instead of those, most docs recommend upright carriers where babies’ heads are close enough for moms or dads to smooch. This way, you can check their breathing and ensure everything is good while still keeping them close to you and comfy at the same time. Plus, hands-free is helpful for every parent!
4 Cereal For Baby Bottles
Another dated recommendation from doctors that’s frowned upon today, cereal in baby bottles is a definite no-no. Unless a baby has a specific medical condition and even more specific directions from a pediatrician, parents shouldn’t be adding cereal to baby bottles. If a baby isn’t old enough to eat from a spoon, cereal in the bottle can not only clog up the exit of the bottle, but can also cause the baby issues with their eating and digestion. Keeping only milk—whether formula or breastmilk—in bottles is the safest way to ensure babies are getting what they need at mealtime.
3 Rice Cereal In General
As far as cereals for babies go, rice cereal has a reputation for being the least likely to cause allergic reactions in babies. Therefore, doctors used to recommend it as a great first food option for little ones. These days, though, sources like Consumer Reports suggest limiting rice cereal intake because of the relatively high levels of arsenic in the food. All cereals can have a bit of stuff that’s not so healthy, but tests have shown rice cereal has more bad stuff than other cereals, leading knowledgeable doctors to caution parents against it as a first food. Besides, fruits and veggies taste way better anyhow!
2 Jammies With Flame Retardant
Because fire dangers are very real, doctors used to suggest that babies wear flame-retardant clothing. Pajamas, especially, were cause for concern, as a fire happening at night is more likely to spread before someone notices. This is probably one of the big fears parents have about babies sleeping separately from them. However, these days, we’ve learned that the flame-retardant chemicals used in kids’ pajamas are not safe. Instead of flame-retardant materials, doctors now suggest that babies wear snug-fitting pajamas that have no added chemicals. Snug-fitting jammies that stay close to the body are safer and pose less of a risk than chemical-filled ones overall.
1 Teething Gel
While there have been quite a few recalls on teething products, such as those with natural yet un-FDA-regulated ingredients, some are still on the shelves despite safety concerns. For example, Orajel and other teething gels that contain benzocaine are harmful to children, the FDA notes. They can cause harmful conditions in babies that parents may not notice right away — plus the onset of symptoms happens very quickly. To be safe, parents should avoid teething gels with benzocaine, and perhaps even opt for natural solutions like teething toys, cold yet safe to mouth on objects, and cold foods to snack on.
Sources: Consumer Reports, FDA