Walking into a big-box baby store can be daunting. With aisles packed to the brim with different odds and ends, where do you start? Whether you’re a guest at a baby shower or a new parent putting together a registry, finding the perfect item takes a lot of research and patience.
As a gifter, you want to pick a gift that is not only useful, but safe. Over the years, safety standards change as products are tried and tested, so something you might have thought was a great gift a few years ago may not be today. In fact, according to Consumer Product Safety, 40 percent of all recalls last year were for kids’ products. You might even think baby items are government-regulated, but they aren’t necessarily. Plus, regulations often vary from state to state.
Here are some items you absolutely should avoid gifting or buying for a baby:
#1 Crib Bumpers (Suffocation Hazard)
This classic crib adornment tops the list because it’s probably the most dangerous item still sold in some states. Crib bumpers are designed to keep a baby from hitting his or her head on the crib’s slats. They are also a suffocation hazard and one of the leading causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
The Journal of Pediatrics found that 27 children from 1 month to 2 years old died from suffocating or strangling related to crib bumpers, including breathable models, between 1985 and 2005.
Babies are not strong enough to hit their head on a crib hard enough to cause any damage, so all you really need is a fitted sheet. That also means you should skip the pillows, bedding or other decorative crib products.
#2 Shopping Cart Seat Covers (Ineffective Germ Protection)
Shopping cart seat covers are actually really bulky to carry around. While they might look cute, they really serve no purpose besides added comfort for your baby.
Traditionally purchased to keep babies away from germs, shopping cart covers are actually less effective than antibacterial wipes because they aren’t washed as often as they should be. Also, exposing your child to germs is actually good for them because it helps build up their immune system for years to come.
#3 Infant Bath Seats (Drowning Hazard)
Infant bath seats are designed to help older babies sit up in a tub. However, they give parents and caregivers a false sense of security because they can easily tip over, leading to death from drowning. Hard plastic counter-top bathtubs provide a safer alternative.
#4 Baby Monitor Cords (Strangulation Hazard)
Baby monitors are a go-to item for new parents. Since they are on constantly, it’s tempting to buy a corded model to save on batteries. But cords pose a strangulation hazard, so a corded model in or near the baby’s crib poses a risk. Opt for fully cordless versions instead.
The same goes for cords of all kids, from baby toys to window blinds and shades. In general, anything with a cord longer than 6 inches is a potential strangulation hazard for babies.
#5 Bumbo Seats (Tipping Hazard)
These colorful, plastic chairs are really popular with new parents on social media. The problem is not the beloved item itself (it’s been remodeled multiple times to meet safety standards), it’s what can happen when a baby is left unattended. Any leaning or rocking can cause the seat to tip over, which is especially dangerous when used on tables or counter-tops.
Bouncer seats and activity centers are much safer and often include additional features that stimulate mental growth and development.
Safe Gifts & Safety Tips
You can research the safety record of any gift you are considering at the following sites:
One great gift idea for new parents is a set of address labels and a reminder to register all that new baby gear. Registering products with the manufacturer means that parents can be notified of any safety issues found for that product in the future. The address labels will help parents complete mail-in registration cards or remind them of the importance to register the product online.
If all else fails, stick to the registry or purchase a gift card. New parents often receive multiples of the same gifts or forget to register for something they need. Sticking to the store of their choice makes it easier to make returns and allows them to easily pick up something they missed.