Over the last thirty years, infant and child safety has developed in leaps and bounds! Not only are we better able to study potential safety hazards with the help of computer-guided simulations, but we're able to disseminate information more rapidly and to more viewers. And yet, here we are - it's 2018, and people are apparently still buying dangerous crap for their kids. No, no - I'm not talking about giving your toddler a kitchen knife. I'm referring to the ever consistent supply of unsafe infant "safety" products. One might even find these items on the shelves of the premiere mom hangout - Target.
If I could choose only one policy to positively influence during my life...well, it would be some way to improve maternal and infant health outcomes. BUT - if I chould choose TWO policies to impact, it would be infant safety industry regulation. Look, when a product is deemed to be unsafe, it's removed from the market. Take Hyland's Homeopathic Teething Tablets, for example. This product contained a poision - Belladonna - that causes drowsiness in small doses. In larger doses, it can kill a horse. And Hyland's wasn't able to prove that each tablet carried the same small safe dose. So - the FDA pulled that product from shelves. All that to say: when we see something proven unsafe, we've removed it from the market before. Why does this after-market safety industry even exist???
Since I forgot toilet paper on my earlier grocery trip today, I had to go back out this evening. You'll see me here, disapprovingly taking selfies with these gems in the middle of a Target aisle. I should add, this isn't a critique on Target. They are absolutely not the only store that carries unsafe products in the baby section. Within just a few moments, I found a display full of things no one should be buying for their baby. (And I also realized too late that my eyeliner had melted down my face....)
Here are the highlights:
Carseat Liner And Cover
There are no serious safety concerns with a carseat cover (so long as baby can breathe fresh air!), but the addition of a car seat LINER is what makes this pack so treacherous. Look, if you listen to nothing else I've ever written, heed this: NEVER add anything to a car seat that didn't come packaged with it. If it wasn't in the box, it has not been tested for safety with that carseat. What's worse? Those carseat liners aren't safe on ANY seat - because they can create a slippery surface and add bulk that allows kids to slip right out of the straps in the instance of an impact.
Essential oils are increasingly common in medicines and body care products, which makes it difficult to find products that are safe for infants. No matter what your doTerra or Young Living rep tells you, essential oils have NOT been proven safe for kids. Seriously - there is no reliable research to support using essential oils on kids. If you believe that EOs are powerful stuff, know that this guideline is for the best. Better to stick with scientifically valid medicines as needed than to use the "natural" kind. Remember: natural doesn't always mean "better" or "safe".
Car Seat Strap Covers
This one breaks the same rule I mentioned above - no after-market car seat accessories are safety-tested or approved. Car seat strap covers are particularly cruel, in my eyes. They prey on a mom's instinct to keep her baby comfortable - no one likes to see red raw lines on their baby's neck from a car seat strap. Of course, the issue is obvious: adding fabric to straps make it easier for those straps to slip right off infant shoulders and eject the passenger. Just say no! Your kid will live with a little red mark on their neck - they might not if they aren't safe in the car!
Look, this one isn't out-and-out unsafe. Lots of parents safely use Bumbo seats and swear by them for their supported sitters! The key here is to keep kids on the floor - not on countertops or tables. That way, kids can't tip over and fall while stuck in their Bumbo.
Car Seat Toys
Once more: don't attach anything to a car seat unless it came packaged together in the box with it. Just. Don't.
I genuinely don't understand why these products (except for maybe the Bumbo) are even on store shelves. Can we come together to get them pulled and keep babies safe? We sure ought to! What's more important than the future of our world?
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