28 Aug 2014 | Child & Youth Mortality Review Committee
This post originally appeared on the Trade Me Trust & Safety blog.
Babies can suffocate during sleep due to unsafe cots and bassinettes. This occurs by wedging of the infant's face, neck or chest between sleeping surfaces and/or bedding. Unintentional suffocation is preventable, and can be minimised if the right precautions are taken when purchasing sleep products.
Where deaths have occurred, cots and bassinettes commonly had an inappropriately sized mattress that allowed for wedging between the mattress and the base of the cot.
Another common factor was that the sides of the cot were faulty and allowed infants to slip through and become trapped.
The Child Youth Mortality Review Committee (CYMRC) emphasises the following guidelines for families and whānau when buying sleeping products:
When looking to buy a second hand cot, it is important to ensure that it is compliant with the mandatory safety standard AS/NZS 2172:2003. All cots sold in New Zealand must comply with this standard. It requires that the cot must not have any gaps or protrusions that could trap a child or catch their clothing, and it must not have any sharp edges. Additionally, the sides must be high enough to stop a small child climbing out and there should not be any footholds.
It is important to note that if a cot is old or damaged, it may no longer meet the requirements of the standard. A product bought overseas might also not comply with NZ safety standards.
The Commerce Commission enforces the law and have a great help page.
Instructions for construction
When buying a second hand cot or bassinette, always ask for the instructions or check that they can be downloaded from the manufacturer's website. You need to know how to set up the product and use it safely.
Safe sleeping for babies includes:
What to look for when buying a cot
Many infant products are covered by standards which aim to prevent injury or reduce the risk.
What to look for when buying a bassinette
As soon as babies can support their own weight and lift themselves, they should go into a cot. Note: there are no Australian or New Zealand safety standards for bassinettes.
What to look for when buying a portable cot
Avoid cots that have puffy fabric sides.
There also a ‘Community Watch’ button on each listing. You can use this to report a product you suspect may be unsafe. Trade Me staff will check the product and, if there are any concerns, remove it or refer it to the Commerce Commission.
Selling a cot
People wishing to sell a product on Trade Me that appears on the list of Banned & restricted items – such as a child's car seat or a cot – must confirm they have read the guide to the Product Safety Standard for cots and that their cot complies.
Trade Me works closely with the Commerce Commission in this space and notes the Commission may hand out heavy fines for selling a non-compliant cot.
In 2013, the CYMRC released a special report on unintentional suffocation, foreign body inhalation and strangulation. Here’s a full copy of the report.
Safekids Aotearoa, the national injury prevention service of Starship Children’s Health, supports Safe Sleep Day. They provide parents with important product safety advice, specifically about cots, check them out!