Safe baby furniture and baby equipment will help to protect your child. You’ll still have to watch your child and teach her safe habits to make sure she doesn’t come up with creative and perhaps unsafe ways to use your baby furniture!
Choosing safe baby furniture
There are several things you can do to find out about choosing safe baby furniture:
- Check with the Department of Consumer Affairs or the Department of Fair Trading in your state or territory for the latest information about child and baby safety. You can also check with Product Safety Australia.
- Look at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission – Keeping baby safe booklet.
- Buy, rent or accept equipment with the Australian/New Zealand Standards (AS/NZS) label. This label shows the product has been manufactured according to sound quality standards and, where necessary, that it complies with compulsory Australian safety standards.
- Go to SIDS and Kids for advice on beds and cots.
Check out our Home Safety interactive guide
for information on how to set up a safe nursery and to get a checklist for making your home safe for baby.
Second-hand baby furniture safety
Friends and relatives might offer you their old baby furniture. Although you don’t want to hurt any feelings, it’s important for your baby’s safety to check the furniture before you use it.
In general, the furniture needs to be solid, stable and have brakes or locking devices in good working order. There should be no rough surfaces, sharp edges, paint chips or parts that stick out, such as screws.
Baby cots and mattresses
These tips can help you choose a safe baby cot and baby mattress:
- Look for the Australian/NZ Standards label, especially if you’re buying a new cot. The standard for cots is AS/NZS 2172:2003.
- Use a tape measure to check that the space between bars is 50-95 mm. Gaps wider than 95 mm can trap a child’s head.
Check that the distance between the base and the top of the cot is at least 600 mm. This is important for preventing falls once your baby can stand up.
- Check that the mattress is firm and that the gap between the mattress and the sides and ends of the cot is no more than 20 mm, so your child’s head, arms or legs can’t be trapped.
- Make sure the cot has no horizontal bars or footholds your baby can use to climb out.
- Check the locking devices and stability of the cot before you use it, especially if it’s second hand.
- Do not make any alterations to the cot.
- Use portable cots only in the short term. They’re not meant to be permanent beds for babies.
- Do not use pillows, doonas, cot bumpers and cot restraints. These can be suffocation risks.
These tips can help you choose a safe highchair:
- Look for the Australian Standards label, especially if you’re buying a new highchair. The standard for highchairs is AS 4684:2009.
- Look for a highchair that is sturdy and stable with a five-point body harness – that is, a harness with 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.
- 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.
Using a highchair safely
- Always strap your child into the five-point harness in highchairs so he 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.
If you’re using a portable chair, keep a constant watch on your baby and make sure she’s always wearing a harness. That’s because your baby has access to everything within reach on the table.
There is no Australian Standard for change tables, so it’s important to look carefully at the safety features of any change tables you’re interested in.
If you choose to use a change table, these tips can help you choose one that’s safe:
- Make sure that table has a child safety harness and raised sides that are at least 100 mm higher than the changing surface.
- Make sure there are no gaps or spaces at the top of the table.
- Check that the table is stable and has secure locks.
- Look for one that’s a good height for you, so you’re not bending uncomfortably.
Using a change table safely
At home, it’s safest to change your baby on a mat on the floor, so he can’t fall. But if you use a table, these tips can help keep your baby safe:
- 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 she’s on the table. Keep a hand on her at all times to stop her from wriggling off.
- Teach older children to keep off the change table.
- Watch to make sure you don’t overload the side pouches.
Other baby furniture
If you have a bouncinette or baby chair, use it only on the floor, not on a table or raised surface. If your baby can roll over, don’t use a bouncinette.
If you decide to use a jolly jumper that hangs in a doorway, make sure the doorframe can support your child’s weight, and make sure you hang the jolly jumper securely. Check the clamps and straps before each bouncing session.
Don’t leave your child unattended in a jolly jumper, and tell older children not to push or pull the baby in the jolly jumper.
Baby walkers are not recommended. 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.
If you do choose to use a baby walker, the Australian Standards requires that baby walkers have an automatic braking system and safety warning labels.
A safer and cheaper alternative to a baby walker or jolly jumper is to put your baby on a play mat or blanket on the floor. This is stimulating for your baby’s development and is a good chance for baby to have tummy time