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CPSC Focuses On Baby and Child Safety

Sep 12, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging parents to be particularly cautious with pillow use in the nursery, as well as other baby products.  As a matter-of-fact, the CPSC strongly urges parents to avoid placing pillows in cribs as they pose high risk of suffocation and entrapment and is aware of at least 47 infant deaths that occurred between January 2006 and May 2008 associated with pillow use in the infant’s sleeping area.  Also, between January 1992 and May 2008, pillows and cushions were linked to 531 infant deaths.  “Parents should be especially vigilant when preparing for a new baby,” said Acting Chairman Nancy Nord.  “Babies represent our most precious and vulnerable population.”

In response, the CPSC has issued a number of hints and warnings, which follow:

  • To reduce SIDS’ risks:  Always place the baby to sleep on his/her back in a crib that meets current safety standards
  • To prevent suffocation:  Never use a pillow as a mattress or to prop the baby’s head or neck.
  • To prevent strangulation:  Never place a crib near a window with blind or curtain cords—babies can choke or strangle on these cords.  Never use old, broken, or modified cribs and regularly tighten hardware to ensure the crib’s sides are firm.  Infants can strangle to death if their bodies pass through gaps between loose components, broken slats, and other crib parts; their heads and necks can become entrapped in these spaces.   Infants can also suffocate in spaces between the sides of the crib and an ill-fitting mattress; never allow a gap larger than two finger widths at any point between the sides of the crib and the mattress.
  • Play yards:  Properly set up play yards according to manufacturers’ directions and only use the mattress provided with the play yard.  Never add mattresses, pillows, or cushions, which can cause a suffocation hazard for infants.
  • Toy chests:  Look for a toy chest that either has a support that will hold the hinged lid open in any position in which it is placed or a toy chest with a detached lid or doors.
  • Small parts:  Avoid toys with small parts, which can cause a choking hazard—for and in children under age three.
  • Magnets:  Avoid building sets and toys with small magnets for children younger than age eight.  When swallowed, magnets or pieces with magnets, pose the risk of serious injury and death.
  • Toys:  Should be selected to suit a child’s age, abilities, skills, and interests and should be of sturdy construction, i.e., tightly secured eyes, noses, and small parts.  No toys with sharp edges for children under eight years of age.
  • Furniture:  Must be stable on its own and should be anchored securely to the floor or attached to a wall for added security.
  • Prevent electrocution:  Use outlet covers and outlet plates.

The CPSC suggests parents routinely check toys and nursery products against CPSC recall lists and immediately remove recalled products from the home.   Consumers can sign up for automatic recall notifications by email at www.cpsc.gov.


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