Consumer watchdog Choice has just unveiled their 2018 Shonky Awards, sharing the products and services Australians should be most wary of – and portable cots are some of the worst offenders.
Fail, fail, fail!
Choice says pretty much all of the portacots sold by (seemingly reputable) Australian and international companies put babies at risk.
“Since 2011 we’ve tested 60 portacots,” Choice say on their website, “and shockingly the vast majority have failed to meet minimum safety requirements.”
While you might assume manufacturers and retailers must ensure products for vulnerable babies conform to safety standards, Choice says this is not the case.
It’s only once a child is injured – or worse – that steps can be taken to remove a dangerous product from sale.
“There’s currently no explicit market-wide requirement under the Australian Consumer Law for manufacturers or retailers to proactively ensure that the products they sell are safe,” Choice explained. “This means that businesses can sell potentially dangerous products and aren’t required to take any action until after their products cause serious injuries.”
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A whopping 10 out of 12 portable cots tested by Choice in May 2018 did not meet mandatory Australian safety standards, posing suffocation and injury risks to babies. All twelve failed the stricter voluntary standard.
This is no trivial matter because Australia’s National Coronial Information System has linked eight child deaths to portable cot safety issues between 2000 and 2009.
Choice hopes that by highlighting this very big problem that manufacturers and retailers will comply with all the recommended safety standards – and prevent further injuries and fatalities.
“Unfortunately, models from many brands that failed our key safety tests are still on the market at the time of publication,” Choice said yesterday. “The following brands receive a particularly dubious Shonky for putting infant safety in second place.”
- Baby Björn
- Baby Solutions (Kmart)
- Elite Baby
- Love N Care
- Phil & Teds
- Vee Bee
Choice has published lots more details about the safety issues with specific portacots here – and responses from the companies in question.
Be vigilant and do your research
Susan Teerds is the CEO of Kidsafe Queensland and says that it’s important for parents to be vigilant when buying any product aimed at children and babies.
“My advice to parents and carers is to always fully research infant products before you purchase,” Susan told Choice.
“Look at the Product Safety website and check for recalls and bans and what standards products meet. And, in fact, if there is any standard at all for that type of product! They might get a surprise to see how many products are not covered by a voluntary or mandatory standard.”
Which portacot is best?
Choice has shared a bunch of portacot reviews on their site, but almost every cot had problems and posed a safety threat.
“We’ve found that all the currently available portable cots we’ve tested have multiple safety failures, which means we can’t recommend any of them,” Choice spokesperson Grace wrote in August of this year.
“If you head to our portable cot reviews you can see there are two portable cots which score over 60 percent. Both these cots are worth considering, although they can’t be recommended as they do still carry safety risks. Both these cots pose no hazard to the child when used without the bassinet attachment.”
Red Nose has shared some safe sleeping tips for families who choose to use portable cots here.