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Choosing baby safe nursery furniture

Baby sleeping in safe cot in nursery with mother stroking his headSafety is of the utmost importance when buying baby equipment and furniture.

But how do you know what to look for? How do you know what is safe and what isn’t – especially when it is your first baby?

Here we have made it easier for you by putting together some of the main factors to consider when buying, borrowing or hiring nursery furniture, prams, strollers and other baby equipment.

And remember – having safe furniture and equipment is only the first step – safe USE is also very important so we’ve included some tips to help you with that too.

How to choose baby safe nursery furniture

Cots

Safety features to look out for when choosing a cot:

  • cots must comply with Australian Standard AS/NZS 2172
  • check that locking features are secure
  • look for a firm mattress and make sure it fits snugly within the cot – with no gap wider than a finger width all way round
  • has no protrusions that clothing could get caught on

Tips for the safe use of cots

  • Do not put anything in the cot with a baby. Hazards include pillows, stuffed toys and cot bumpers.
  • Make sure the cot is not placed near any potential hazards including power points, curtain cords,  mobiles hung too low, windows, heaters.
  • When baby starts to climb, replace the cot with a bed
READ: The SIDS & Kids Safe Sleeping Guidelines to set up your cot safely and reduce the risk of SIDS

Prams & strollers

Safety features to look for when choosing prams and strollers

  • Prams should comply with Australian Standard AS/NZS 2088
  • Prams and strollers should have wheel locks which are sturdy and strong
  • They should have a 5-point harness with shoulder straps, waist and crotch straps
  • A pram should be is easy to collapse for taking in/out of car, but should lock firmly when in use

Tips for the safe use of prams and strollers

  • Consider buying a sun and insect protection net
  • Don’t hang anything heavy on the handle which could cause it to tip over
  • Never leave your child unattended
  • Always use the safety harness
  • Always put the brake on when still (especially near roads or slopes)
  • Use the safety tether strap to attach pram handle around your wrist
  • Young babies should be placed in a lying, rather than sitting, position until they have sufficient head control.
  • Upright strollers, without adjustable back rests, are not suitable for babies under 6 months of age
READ: Our guide to child car restraints in Australia for information on safe use of car seats

Change Tables

Safety features to look for when choosing a baby change table:

  • There is currently no Australian Standard for baby change tables so look for one that is stable and in good condition
  • Check that any locking mechanisms are in good order
  • Make sure there are no gaps that could trap little fingers or limbs
  • Look for one that has roll-off protection, such as raised sides or a waist restraint.

Tips for the safe use of baby change tables:

  • Consider whether you absolutely need a change table. You can always eliminate the chance of your baby falling if you change nappies on the floor.
  • Make sure the change table is positioned away from any potential hazards: including power points, curtain and blind cords, windows, heaters and nappy changing equipment such as pins, lotions and creams
  • Use the straps if the change table has them or make sure one hand is always on your baby.
  • Be prepared and have all nappy change equipment nearby before you put your baby on the change table.
  • Remember – never leave a child alone on a change table
READ: Check out our Ultimate Guide to Nappies for more nappy changing tips

Bouncers and rockers

Safety features to look for when choosing a baby bouncer or rocker:

  • Bouncers and rockers should have a 5-point harness to keep baby strapped in securely
  • Look for bouncers and rockers with a wide base (wider than the chair) so that it won’t tip over
  • Looks for bouncers and rockers with rubber stops on the legs – these will prevent the chair from moving around as it rocks.

Tips for the safe use of baby bouncers and rockers:

  • Never change adjustable parts (such as back rest) while child is in seat
  • Use on level ground only – never on raised surfaces
  • Position well away from any potential hazards including power points, power cords, heaters, stairs, blind and curtain cords.
  • Always strap your baby in securely
  • Always supervise your baby while they’re in a bouncer or rocker – even if they’re asleep
  • Remove the baby before moving the bouncer or carrying it around

High Chairs

Safety features to look for when choosing a high chair

  • Look for a high chair with a wide, stable base
  • Make sure there are no areas where little fingers and arms could get trapped in moveable parts (e.g. reclining seats and tables that move backwards and forwards)
  • If it has wheels – can they be locked in place?

Tips for the safe use of high chairs

  • Always supervise your child when they’re in the high chair
  • Position the high chair well away from potential hazards such as electrical appliances, blind and curtain cords, hot drinks, stovetops or walls that the child could push against and topple the chair.
  • Use the harness to strap your child into the high chair
READ: Make sure you secure your loose blind and curtain cords to protect your baby

Baby Walkers

Baby walkers are not recommended by child safety experts as many serious accidents have occurred as a result of their use – either from tipping over or falling down stairs or because the baby is able to reach things they otherwise could not. There is a mandatory standard for baby walkers so if you do intend to buy one looks for the safety features listed below and take care to use them safely.

Safety features to look for when choosing a baby walker:

  • Baby walkers must have a braking mechanism
  • Look for automatic safety wheels which lock when a change in floor height is detected (e.g. at the top of stairs)
  • Make sure the walker is too wide to fit through doorways or stair openings
  • Look for wheel-locking mechanisms which can’t be reached by a child inside the walker

Tips for the safe use of baby walkers:

  • Only ever use under close supervision
  • Use away from stairs
  • Use on flat ground, never on raised surfaces
  • Put barriers around stoves, fires and heaters
  • Remember that babies in walkers can reach things that they normally cannot such as kitchen drawers, stovetops and benchtops. Make sure all hazardous items are out of reach.
  • Consider other toys or stationary activity centres to keep your child amused – they’ll be walking soon anyway!

Toy Boxes

Large toy boxes can cause very serious injuries if their lids close on a child’s fingers, limbs, or head.

Safety features to consider when choosing a toy box:

  • Consider having a toy box without a lid
  • If the toy box has a lid, make sure that it is lightweight and completely removeable
  • The lid hinge should lock in place when fully open and close only slowly
  • Look for a toy box with ‘air holes’ – in case child gets trapped inside
  • Plastic crates or tubs make safer toy boxes

Tips for the safe use of toy boxes:

  • If your toy box has a lock make sure a child could open it from inside if they became trapped
  • fit rubber stoppers on the underside of the lid so that it can’t slam shut (or buy one with rubber stoppers already)

Further information

To keep your nursery furniture safe, maintain and inspect regularly. Repair or replace immediately when signs of damage appear.

Download these child safety fact sheets from Kidsafe or the Keeping Baby Safe brochure from the ACCC. You can also find baby and child safety items and equipment in our directory.

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