Clothing: preventing strangulation and suffocation
These general tips can help you reduce your child’s risk of strangulation and suffocation from clothing:
- Always take off your baby’s bib or clothing with a hood before putting your baby down to sleep.
- Be aware of cords and drawstrings on parkas and hoodies. These can catch on play equipment, then pull tight and strangle your child.
- Avoid putting necklaces and other jewellery on your child.
- Make sure your child always removes their helmet after riding or skating. Helmets can get caught on playground equipment.
Baby equipment: preventing strangulation and suffocation
There are simple things you can do to keep your child safe from strangulation and suffocation around baby equipment like dummies and bottles:
- Don’t use anything to keep a dummy in your young baby’s mouth. If your baby can’t spit out the dummy when they want to, they could be at risk of suffocation.
- Don’t use ribbons, strings or chains to attach a dummy to your child. These things could strangle your child.
- Hold your baby while they drink from a bottle. Don’t prop the bottle in your child’s mouth, because they won’t be able to spit out the bottle if they can’t breathe.
Prams, strollers and child restraints can also be strangulation and suffocation risks. Here’s how to avoid risks:
- Always supervise your baby when they’re in a pram or stroller. Some prams and strollers can fold slightly, even when a baby is in them. If a baby’s head gets covered when the pram folds, it’s a suffocation risk.
- Use a five-point harness to strap your baby firmly into a bouncinette or car seat. This will help prevent the risk of your child slipping down and getting straps tangled around their neck.
- Never use products like bouncinettes or car restraints as a place to sleep.
Bedrooms: preventing strangulation and suffocation
Use these tips to help prevent strangulation or suffocation in rooms where your baby sleeps:
- Use a safe baby mattress and a cot that meets Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 2172. You can read more about choosing mattresses and cots in our article on safe baby furniture.
- Keep pillows, cot bumper pads, soft toys, cushions, piles of clothing and heavy blankets or quilts out of cots and prams until your child is at least two years old.
- Keep cots away from blinds and curtains – children can easily strangle themselves on dangling curtain cords. Fit blinds and curtains with rods instead of cords, or wrap cords in a cleat or cord safety device, up high out of reach of children.
- Keep hanging mobiles out of your baby’s reach. Also keep mobile strings short.
- Make sure that bed railings fit tightly against the side of the mattress with no gaps between the mattress and bed railing. Gaps between the mattress and bed railings can be a suffocation risk if your child gets trapped or stuck while sleeping.
- Avoid putting baby to sleep on soft surfaces like couches, sheepskin rugs, beanbags, waterbeds, doonas and loose or fluffy bedding. Babies might roll over into an unsafe sleeping position on these surfaces.
- Put your baby to sleep in their own bed. Co-sleeping can increase suffocation and strangulation risks.
Put your baby in a safe sleeping position, lying down to sleep on their back, tucked firmly into their bedding. This can help to protect your child from sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) including SIDS and fatal sleeping accidents.
Blinds, cords and ropes: preventing strangulation
Simple precautions can reduce strangulation risks from blinds, cords and ropes around your house:
- Keep all cords out of reach of toddlers, and move chairs away from blinds so toddlers can’t climb up to reach cords. You can fit blinds without cords, and curtains with rods instead of cords.
- If your blinds have cords, wrap the cords in a cleat or cord safety device (available from hardware stores) attached to the wall at least 1.6 m above floor level. Make sure any remaining cords are wrapped around the cleat or hidden within the safety device.
- When young children are outdoors, make sure you supervise them if they’re using rope swings because these can be a strangulation hazard.
Bags, boxes and packaging: preventing suffocation
These tips can reduce suffocation risks from bags, boxes and packaging around your home:
- Make sure toy boxes don’t have lids that come off easily. Also make sure the boxes have air holes. If your child climbs into a toy box and gets stuck, these precautions can help prevent suffocation.
- Put child-resistant locks on any airtight boxes your child could climb into, including freezers. If a child gets stuck in an airtight box, they could suffocate before they’re found.
- Store plastic bags, plastic wrap and dry cleaning bags out of reach. Always tie a knot in them before storing them or throwing them out. A child could suffocate if they pull them over their head.
- Remove all plastic from cot and bassinette mattresses and throw it away. You can’t use plastic packaging as a substitute for a waterproof mattress protector.
- Choose balloons made of foil – rubber balloons pop more easily and can be inhaled. Long ribbons can wrap around children’s necks, so the ribbons should be no longer than 22 cm. Don’t give uninflated balloons to young children.