6 baby safety rules that can genuinely save lives

Crucial info you need to know about your baby's cot, nursery furniture and bath seats

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Already this year we’ve seen a number of heartbreaking stories of babies who’ve died following tragic accidents.  As parents we take precautions in our homes to keep our babies are safe – but sometimes the unthinkable can happen.

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Some of the parents whose children were hurt or killed have spoken out about their experiences to try to prevent further tragedies. We’re not trying to frighten anyone but these warnings are must-reads.

It’s simple advice that really could save another baby’s life…

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1 Always keep nappy sacks well out of reach from a cot 

Nappy sacks may be small and thin, but they need to be kept out of the reach of your baby. Babies naturally grab for things and bring them to their mouths, and the thin plastic of nappy sacks can make them cling to your baby’s skin. It’s often a common thing to keep nappy sacks near a cot, as you might be using them close by, but make sure they’re not in grabbing range, especially as your baby grows. 

Prompted by: There have been 16 recorded nappy sack related deaths in the UK since 2001, according to RoSPA (the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents). Mum Beth Amison shared her story after her son Maison tragically suffocated in 2013 after he was able to reach the nappy sacks from a stand next to his cot.  

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2 Never attach hooks to your baby’s cot – or stick or add any item to the inside or outside

We’re diligent when it comes to trying to ensure our babies are sleeping safely, particularly protecting against SIDS or overheating. But there’s another less well-known potential cot hazard – a simple hook or any other protruding object that may catch and pull tight your baby’s clothes.

Prompted by: Furniture store IKEA has issued a warning for parents after 14-month-old Violet Anderson died from choking when her pyjamas got caught on a plastic hook that was attached to her cot. 

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3 Bath seats are not safety products – never leave your baby in the bath or in a bath seat, even for a moment

Every year in the UK, around 13 children under 5 die from drowning and around 4 of these deaths occurs in a bath. And bath seats have been involved in 1 in 3 accidental drowning deaths in children aged 2 and below.

Prompted by: Mum-of-one Suzie Dyball shared a warning on bath seats earlier this month after her 7-month-old daughter Felicity tipped over and got trapped in one while in the bath. Thankfully Suzie was with her and saved Felicity from drowning by freeing her from the seat and getting her to cough up water that she had ingested. 

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4 Always anchor any tallish furniture to the walls

Furniture tipping over is a serious safety risk in the home. While records have not been kept in the UK since 2002, when the home accident database was closed, RoSPA reveals at that time there were 2,300 under fives injured at home by falling furniture, with the majority of children being hit by a falling TV set.

Prompted by: In two separate accidents, two toddlers were tragically killed by IKEA MALM chest of drawers in 2014 after the furniture fell over and trapped the children

The Swedish furniture company recalled 27 million chests of drawers in the US and provided free wall-anchoring kits for its MALM chests. Here in the UK, IKEA says it already provides wall anchors with its furniture – but that you can request a free kit if you didn’t use the original one.

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5 Never leave babies unattended in a co-sleeper or crib with the side lowered

Co-sleepers and cribs are brilliantly safe tools for new parents when used correctly. However, they do come with risks if used incorrectly or not to the manufacturer’s instructions and can lead to SIDS, suffocation or other fatal accidents. One important rule is never to leave your baby to sleep alone if the crib side is partially or full lowered. 

Prompted by: Earlier this year West Sussex coroner raised concerns over the use of the popular BedNest bedside crib co-sleeper following the death of a 7-week-old baby. 

The heart-rending death of Grace Roseman happened after she had been put to sleep face down (the prone position) for a nap in a secondhand Bednest crib, which had its side panel partially rolled down and was tilted up. It appears that Grace managed to get her head over the side of the crib, and due to the weight of her head on the side of the cot, her air supply was restricted, which led to her death by asphyxiation.

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6 Install blinds that do not have a cord, particularly in a child’s bedroom

According to RoSPA there have been 27 confirmed deaths from blind cords since 2004 in the UK, with all aged younger than 36 months.

Most accidental deaths involving blind cords happen in the bedroom to children between 16 months and 36 months old, with the majority (more than half) happening at around 23 months.

This is because toddlers are mobile, but their muscular control isn’t fully developed yet, which can make it harder for them to free themselves if they get caught up in a cord.

European laws introduced in 2014, making it illegal for manufacturers to sell blinds with cords unless the cords are fixed to the wall or have a snap-mechanism that breaks the blinds when more than 4kg of pressure is applied.

The regulation also imposes a maximum cord or chain length, and recommends that professional installers fit blinds. 

Prompted by:

The recent death of 16-month-old toddler Bronwyn Taylor, who died after she became tangled up in a metal window blind cord at her grandparents’ home in Stoke-on-Trent.  In 2010, Lillian Bagnall-Lambe, 16 months, died after getting tangled up in a blind cord at her home in Stafford. The previous week, 3-year-old Harrison Joyce died at his home in Lichfield following the same accident.

These tragic accidents have led to furniture maker, IKEA, to discontinue all corded blinds in the UK.  IKEA now only sell window blinds and coverings with “no or non-accessible cords” as a precautionary measure to reduce the risk of child strangulation.

It’s best to get a professional to fit new, cord-less blinds in your child’s room – but if you’re putting up blinds with cords elsewhere in your home, make sure you follow the instructions supplied with the product to the letter, then check, check and check again that you’ve fitted them as safely as possible.  

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