By Raising Children Network
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Choosing baby equipment and nursery furniture with care is an important way to help protect your child. You’ll still have to watch your child and teach her safe habits, though, to make sure she doesn’t come up with any creative and perhaps unsafe ways to use that furniture!

Did you knowQuestion mark symbol

The safest change table in the world won’t stop babies from accidentally rolling or squirming off. Keeping one hand on your baby at all times will keep her safe.

 

Choosing furniture

There are several things you can do to find out about choosing safe furniture:

  • Check with the Department of Consumer Affairs or the Department of Fair Trading in your state for the latest information about child and baby safety. You can also check the Product Safety Australia website.
  • Look for equipment that has the Australian Standards mark, showing the product has been manufactured according to sound quality-assurance programs and, where required, complies with the mandatory Australian Safety Standards.
  • Go to SIDS and Kids for advice on beds and cots.
  • Take a look at The CHOICE Guide to Baby Products, a book published every year by the Australian Consumers’ Association magazine CHOICE – it’s an excellent resource, particularly in regard to equipment safety.
  • Visit Kidsafe for useful tips and specific information for each state.

Highchairs

  • Look for a highchair that’s sturdy and stable with a five-point body harness (straps that go over the shoulders and hips and between the legs).
  • If the highchair has wheels, make sure the wheels can be locked.
  • If the highchair folds, make sure it can be locked firmly into position.
  • If you’re using a chair that hooks onto the back of an adult chair, make sure it’s slip-resistant and that the seat is level.
  • Always strap your child into the body harness in highchairs so she can’t fall out.
  • Keep the chair away from walls and cupboards so your child can’t push away and tip the chair over.
  • Always help your child climb into and out of the chair.
  • Hang portable chairs from sturdy low tables that won’t tip. Constant supervision and use of a harness are essential while the baby is in the chair because she has access to everything within reach on the table.
  • Look for a simple design – it’ll be easier to clean and also lessen the chance of small fingers getting caught.
  • Check that the highchair is made of non-toxic material.

Change tables

  • Look for a change table with sides raised 100 mm higher than the changing surface.
  • Make sure all the clothes, wipes, nappies and other gear you need are within arm’s reach before you lay your baby on the change table.
  • Stay with your baby while he’s on the table. Keep a hand on him at all times to stop him from wriggling off.
  • Teach older children to keep off the change table.
  • Watch to make sure you don’t overload the side pouches.
  • Once your baby is big and wriggly, try to change her nappies on the floor.

Other baby furniture

  • Leave the bouncinette or baby chair on the floor, not on a table or raised surface.
  • If your baby can roll over, do not use a bouncinette.
  • A baby in a baby walker is incredibly mobile – he could be down the stairs or out the door before you realise it. And walkers give extra height, which means little hands can reach all sorts of things you thought were out of reach.
  • Legislation requires that baby walkers have an automatic braking system and safety warning labels.
  • If you decide to use a jolly jumper that hangs in a doorway, make sure the doorframe can support the child’s weight, and install the jolly jumper securely. Check the clamps and straps before each bouncing session. And tell older children not to push or pull the baby in the jolly jumper.
  • Make sure the baby’s cot has no horizontal bars or footholds she can use to climb out.
  • Legislation requires that the spaces between the bars or panels of a cot are between 50 and 95 mm. Gaps wider than 95 mm can trap a child’s head. Also ensure that there are no gaps between 30 and 50 mm that could trap your child’s arms or legs.
  • Wait until your child is nine or so before putting him on the top bunk of a bunk bed, as he’s less likely to fall out by this age. Using a bed with rails on all sides of the upper bunk will prevent your child rolling out.
  • If you’re taking hand-me-downs, be extra careful to check things like the width of cot bars and security of folding hinges, as the furniture may have been made before safety standards were introduced. Antique furniture may be painted with dangerous lead or mercury-based paint: you can buy a lead test kit from a hardware store to check the paint.
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  • Last Updated 08-04-2011
  • Last Reviewed 25-03-2011
  • Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (2005). Keeping baby safe: A guide to nursery furniture.

    Ozanne-Smith, J., & Heffernan, C.J. (1990). Child associated injuries associated with nursery furniture. Monash University Accident Research Centre.

    Watson, W., Routley, V., Ozanne-Smith, J. (1998). Nursery furniture injuries. Hazard, 37. 1-16.